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I haven’t had health insurance in three years, which is a fact that netted me extensive media coverage.  What better way to prove to the Republicans that we need national health care than to trot out my over-educated, do-gooder self.  The problem with that is, and always has been, that even when I have access to western medicine, I rarely seek it out.  I don’t like the doctor, I don’t like explaining myself and I never really feel like I’m sick enough to need to bother a clearly busy person with my tales of (minor) woe.

But I’m determined to turn that around.  I am determined to be proactive with my new health care and get regular check ups.  I am going to develop a rapport with a doctor who will establish a file on me with a detailed medical history.  Together, we will document my health adventures so that when I eventually get cancer, we will have seen it coming.

My insurance officially kicked in February 1st, and I’ve been shockingly organized about the whole thing.

  1. I went to a meeting with the lady from the health insurance company and learned all kinds of things
  2. I asked around for personal recommendations for primary care doctors
  3. I filled out the paperwork and gave it to the HR lady in a timely manner
  4. I got an health insurance card

Except, apparently the soonest available appointment my doctor has, is not until April.  This leads me to wonder: why the hell is she accepting new patients if she can’t see those patients for four months?  I was prepared to get everything arranged, and then make an appointment for early February.  I called in early January, so I thought that would be plenty of time, but apparently that’s not the case at all.

Now I’m resentful of the fact that I’m paying for insurance I’m not using, which is why I never elected to pay for insurance when I was underemployed (also, I couldn’t afford it).  I could try to get in with another doctor, but then I’d have to change my primary care physician with my insurance company in order for them to cover it, which would take a while, and it seems like more trouble than its worth.  Also, what if this is how it is with all doctors?  A friend who has lived in several different states told me that Rhode Island is the only place she’s ever sought medical care where it takes forever to see a doctor.  She said if you need to see a doctor right away, her physician always just says “go to an urgent care center.”

I also had to frantically try to find a solution to the issue of needing to have birth control, which my doctor’s receptionist was not helpful about at all.  “The doctor won’t give you a prescription if you haven’t met with her.” she told me, and the doctor has not a moment of spare time until April, so I had to figure something else out.

People talk about health insurance like it’s the greatest thing in the world, and I’m sure, if you’re really sick, it is, but I am decidedly underwhelmed right now.  I’m trying not to let me it get me down, but I’m sure by the time my appointment rolls around my stress level will be markedly higher than before I had insurance.

I’ve also been having some back trouble recently, for which I think I might like to see a chiropractor (maybe), but despite the facts that my insurance covers 20 visits, I cannot go to a chiropractor without a referral from my super-busy doctor.  Considering the fact that I’ve been gimping around like an old lady, and have only run nine miles in the month of February (because of the pain), I’d like to get this looked at/adjusted as soon as I can.

In order to see a new doctor, I have to change my primary health physician.  I have to find a doctor that accepts my HMO, notify my HMO of the change, make an appointment and then wait for a card to arrive in the mail.  The whole situation seems remarkably ham-fisted.

Also, I got my dental insurance card in the mail yesterday, and they spelled my last name wrong. *sigh*

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Fargo, ND was recently awarded the title America’s Worst Weather City by the Weather Channel.  This dubious honor is something I voted for three times, told my friends to vote for and filled me with pride when I found out that the place I spent eight years of my life is now considered the hardest to live in.  I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with being tough, but there it is.

Only problem, one of the custodians at work, independent of this contest, has picked up on the fact that Fargo, and North Dakota in general, has very miserable weather, and won’t stop talking to me about it.

At first it was funny, “Fargo is so cold!” “Yeah it is!”  har har har.  But now it’s getting really old.

I’ll be sitting at my desk working or on break, and he’ll come up to me and say something like:

“My dad was stationed at Minot Airforce Base.  He used to do the trick where he’d throw a glass of water outside and it would be frozen before it hit the ground… he was just miserable, after that he wanted to go to Vietnam.”

“Man, I can see why you left–48 days of below zero temperatures!  Who can live like that?  What’s wrong with people that they stay there?”

“Do your parents still live there?  Do you ever have to go visit them or do they just come here?  If I was them, I’d come here.”

This is officially out of bounds.  As the old saying goes, you can’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile  in his shoes.  Or my versions: You can’t make fun of my parents because you haven’t had to live with them, and you certainly can’t make fun of North Dakota unless you’ve been there.  You haven’t earned it.  This is a rule that is very important to me.  This is a rule that has lead me to read many, many lousy books so that I can hate on them with authority.  Although I know his good-natured ribbing is intended to be good-natured, it has gone too far.

Let me dispel a couple myths about Fargo:

  1. Yeah, it’s cold, but it doesn’t feel that cold.  I lived in Fargo for eight years, and during that time, I barely wore gloves.  This wasn’t because I was a moron or wanted frostbite, I just didn’t really need them.  In talking to another North Dakotan who now lives in Providence, both of us have increased the amount of weather “gear” we own since moving east.  There is a constant blanket of snow in Fargo from November-April, and that makes it feel warmer, plus, it’s very dry.  I feel colder in New England than  I ever did in Fargo because here the air here is damp and it gets into your bones.  Also, New Englanders don’t seem to know how to heat their houses properly.
  2. It’s kind of an adventure.  My brother put it very succinctly recently when we were talking about the impending flood.  “It’s that ‘we’re all in this together’ bit. You put out sandbags, you work with your neighbors, and you know that everyone is putting up with the same thing as you so no one whines about it.”  Stoicism in action.  Whenever I try to make plans with baby-having best friend, she usually says something like, “well, I won’t be able to go then, we’ll probably be under water.”  But she never says it in a ‘woe is me’ way, it’s just a fact of life.  Every winter, there will be blizzards and every spring there will be a flood.  There might be a couple days of anxiety and a “Floodwatch!” graphic on the local news, but life goes on.  In Rhode Island, you get a few snowflakes every year, and everyone flies into a panic.

I may be romanticizing my time in Fargo, and I certainly don’t want to move back there, but I’m also sick of people who don’t know anything about it calling it Frozen Hell on Earth just based on looking at some numbers.  If you are a person who is terribly interested in slamming Fargo to everyone within earshot, please, go visit it first.  After you’ve been, I will join you in mocking the overabundance of strip malls, and that desolate stretch of road between 32nd ave and 45th street where you seem to run out of city and then meet up with civilization again, or the ridiculous Multiband Tower, which looks more like a blue wart on the Prairie than a tower of any kind.  But making fun of the weather?  It’s just unimaginative.

I mentioned years ago that the weekend I moved to Providence, the Pentecostal church down the street was having some kind of extravaganza the likes of which I had never seen.  Then I never saw them again, and surmised that maybe the party was them saying goodbye to that church in favor of a newer, better building.  My current situation has nothing to do with Pentecostals, however, but Portuguese Catholics.

Last year, when I was camping in upstate New York, the church down the street had some kind of hoopla.  I heard about it via exclamation point-filled text messages from Gentleman Scholar, but didn’t really get the whole picture.  Now I’m living with it, and I have to say– when will the merriment end?

It all began with the creepiest parade I’ve ever seen, which of course went right past my house.  I took a video:

Sadly, I didn’t get the beginning of the parade when they carry the virgin on some kind of platform toward either the church or the mini carnival they set up in a parking lot, but the video does capture the creepiest voice in the world repeating “pray for us.”  It’s like the female version of the voice in Fitter Happier.  I can get past that, religious ceremonies are interesting, hearing music in Portuguese out my window at all hours makes me feel very urban and I’m glad they’re all so happy.  The problem is, it’s been three days now.

It’s colored my whole existence.  GS and I got into an argument about the origin of Chorizo, and the fact that I don’t know anything about Portuguese mourning customs (why would I?).  Once a day, or more, we talk about what they’re up to, or a parade goes by, or we lament the fact that we’re just hanging out while they seem to be accomplishing so much–though we really can’t leave because they have parades all the time that basically make a ring around our house.

The parades happen with seemingly no rhyme or reason but they always have a police escort as they shuttle the virgin statue from church to someone’s house (this is according to Gentleman Scholar) then back to the church, or maybe just out for a walk–who the hell knows.  I have no idea what they’re celebrating or how they know when they’re done celebrating, but today is VJ Day, which I think trumps this overly-elaborate merriment, but who knows.  Rhode Island is known for both its religious tolerance, and for still celebrating VJ Day, perhaps they two shall overlap?

providencebannerI’m finding an odd new trend now that I’ve graduated–everyone seems to think I want to leave.  I came to Rhode Island, got my education, and now certainly must want to high-tail it back to the Midwest.  This should be an easy enough misunderstanding to rectify, but I’m having a hard time convincing people.

I’ve been job hunting all summer, and the hunting has resulted in a few interviews.  The first interviewer was a very brusque woman who looks at my application and said, “You moved here from Minnesota? What brought you out here?”

As this was a job in a cafe, I was hoping to avoid discussing my masters degree since it seems like a huge black mark against me, but as I really have no other reason for being here in Rhode Island, I had to admit, “I moved out here for grad school.”

“So do you want to move back? How much longer are you staying here?”

“I don’t want to move back.” I assured her, but she sat expectantly waiting for me to answer the second part of the question. “I don’t know for sure how much longer I’ll live here.”

“A year? Two years?”  This woman was not letting it go.  So finally I had to play the card that I really really hate playing, but seems to be the only way to convince people.

“My boyfriend is in a PhD program and has at least three years left.  If I want to keep him, which I do, I can’t really move.  Also, I love it here and have no desire to move.”

She wrote something down, “So you moved here because of your boyfriend?”

“No, I moved here for grad school, I didn’t even know him then.”

It was at this point in the interview when I realized that there was simply no pleasing this woman, and I would probably not be getting this job (also the fact that I told her that I only wanted to work part-time seemed to offend her in some way).

She followed up with asking me how much time I would potentially take off over the holidays to go visit my family, and when I told her “none,” she seemed to not believe me, and also think I was an ingrate/terrible daughter.

“I always work on Christmas,” I told her, “I worked in television for five years where there are no days off, and because my family doesn’t really do Christmas, I volunteered to take that day each year because it was more important to other people.”  I didn’t mention that traveling at holiday times is also A. way too expensive and B. my idea of hell.

“Well, we’re obviously closed on major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.” she told me, “but if you wanted to take off three weeks in December, that would be an issue.”

Needless to say, that was an interview FAIL, but in subsequent interviews I’ve also noticed a bit of the “what are you still doing here?” vibe.

Most people are more reasonable about it. When I tell them that I love it here and don’t want to leave, they seem to understand me without me having to denounce my family, and cling to my boyfriend, but they still seem vaguely suspicious.

Living in my parent’s basement and refusing to look for work anywhere that I couldn’t walk to seems like it would be more acceptable than just saying, “I know this state is in shambles and jobs are hard to come by, but I’ve made a life here and don’t want to leave, so I’m going to stick it out.”

Also, I realize that interviewing and hiring is a tedious and unpleasant process, but I don’t think I should have to promise in an interview that I will live here for the next ten years.  If I take a position and then want to leave it because I’m moving back to the Midwest, moving to India, found a box of money, hate the job etc., that’s my business.  I’m not signing any kind of contract.

No one ever asked me why I was still in Fargo after I finished grad school there, even though the only reason I moved to that town was for college. Quite the opposite, people seemed confused and horrified as to why I wanted to leave.  Even going back for a visit this past spring a former co-worker said something like, “You’ve got your degree, you might as well come back.”

Come back to what, though?  I don’t have a job there any more than I have one here.  Just because I know all the staff at Fargo Public Library doesn’t mean they have a position for me.  Most of my friends in Fargo moved away long before I did. My parents left the town I went to high school in before I even finished my undergrad degree and now live in what I call a “Stepford Village” of identical duplexes that I hate visiting in a town I’ve only seen a handful of times.  From my perspective, I actually have a full life here.

A while ago, I read the New York Times article entitled Towns They don’t want to Leave, which listed Providence and Fargo as being in the top five of US cities where college grads wind up staying–so I’m not even that strange, the New York Times has proclaimed me completely regular, why all the questions?  Also, I know that I’m not even alone among my fellow library school graduates who have come here from “somewhere else” and want to hang around a little while longer.  I’m wondering if they are getting these questions too.

I don’t much care for Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I appreciate his contribution to literature and philosophy, so we went to his house.  One thing that was interesting about this tour was that they do continuous tours, which I’ve never seen before.  What that means is, you ring the doorbell like you’re coming to dinner with Ralph, and then you join a tour already in progress.  This is nice because it eliminated all of the milling around in the giftshop waiting for the tour to start.  This was bad because we began the tour upstairs, and did not get all of the background on who all lived in the house.  Then the tour guide would say things like “so and so’s room” without explaining who so and so was, and we did not understand the significance at all.

It wasn’t bad though, overall.  We had two different tour guides.  rwe_concord_ma_06One started with us upstairs, then handed us off to another one in the parlor, then finished up again in the alcove.

Upstairs girl was the better of the two, but they were both rather awkward.  Upstairs, she mostly indicated at paintings and told us who was in them.  She said um a lot, and seemed like she was rushing a bit.  A couple people asked questions, and she said “I don’t know, but the lady downstairs does.  We can ask her.”  at least she didn’t try to make something up.

Downstairs girl was similar to the girl we had at the House of the Seven Gables.  She was awkward, and very hard to understand.  The situation was made more awkward by the fact that when we were on her part of the tour, we were the only two people.  She stared at the ceiling and orated on the life of Ralph Waldo, while we scanned the walls trying to understand her.  I think that there’s a trend among tour guides in New England to not only have a regional accent, but also a speech impediment and a penchant for mumbling– I’m kind of over it.

Fun facts about Ralph Waldo Emerson: In his later years, he was always late to church, and he blamed it on the fact that he could never find his gloves.  Thoreau built a special drawer into Emerson’s chair, so he would always have a place to keep them, but he was still late all the time anyway.  He had also been a minister for years when he was younger– must have been sick of church.

The best part of the tour was the end when we went downstairs and had a lovely conversation with the woman manning the gift shop.  She was a librarian as well, so we complained about the lack of jobs, and made fun of library school.  I kind of want to go back just to hang out with her.

I honestly do not know how many times I’ve read Little Women.  It must be getting close to ten times, and I’m currently listening to an audio version in my car, which is also very good.  I’ve read Invincible Lousia— a Newbery award-winning biography of Louisa May; Little Men; Big Guy, Little Women, which is a rather amusing book about a girl who is obsessed with Little Women, and then four girls move in next door to her who are almost identical to the characters; and I attempted to read A Modern Mephistopheles— Louisa May’s take on the Faust story after she claimed she was sick of writing  “Moral pap for the young.”

Jewish Friend claims that her childhood visit to -OrchardHouseConcord2CMAOrchard House is one of her happiest memories, so we were both pretty pumped for this one.

The Alcott family moved around a lot.  Bronson Alcott was a noted transcendentalist and educational reformer, neither of which paid any money at all, so it fell on the women to earn as much as they could.  He started the Concord School of Philosophy in the backyard of Orchard House, and it still stands today.  We tried to go in, but Skidmore College has reserved it for the day to host a lecture on the Great War.  After we asked, we were told that we could stay for the lecture if we wanted.  We opted out, but Jewish Friend snagged a nice leather bookmark of which she was inordinately proud.

The tour of Orchard House was top notch.  Our tour guide spoke in a clear resonant tone and knew her stuff.  She answered questions thoroughly, was approachable, and engaged us as tour participants rather than just talking at us.  The tour begins with a video of an actress pretending to be Louisa May, which I thought would be really lame and stupid.  It honestly wasn’t that bad.  She provided a biographical sketch that wouldn’t have fit into the house tour very well, and didn’t do that stupid faux English accent that so many people do when they’re imitating 1800s  folk.

This same actress, or a different one, may also make appearances at the Colonial Inn, just down the road.  The bartender told us that some chick pretending to be Louisa May shows up there from 12-5 on Sundays and parades around offering answers to questions and posing for photographs.  We didn’t see her, but I’m intrigued by this notion, and I think it would be hilarious if they had a second person there pretending to be Thoreau reading in the parlor, and then he and Louisa May had strident showy conversations.

I can dream.

The Alcott women were just as fascinating as the men, well, man.  They were all very similar to their characters from the book.  May Alcott “Amy” was a success full artist, and her drawings can be found all over the walls of the house.  She was also six feet tall and married a man 15 years younger than she– well done, May.  Beth was so painfully shy that she would knit mittens for the neighborhood children, but was too scared to actually hand them out.  Instead she left them on the front steps.  Anna Alcott “Meg”, was the pretty one, just like the book, and never actually lived in Orchard House, though she was married in the parlor.

I love Orchard House.  I want to go back.

I mentioned a while ago, that Jewish Friend and I went superfunadventuring to Salem for a trip to the House of the Seven Gables.  More recently, we made a daytrip to Concord, MA to visit Orchard House, and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s estate.  The plan is to embrace this summer of underemployment and use this deluge of time wisely– fill it with learning.  The response to my photos from the Concord trip was almost overwhelming, and many people commented on how much fun it seemed to be (and it was!). It occurs to me that maybe people who are interested in this kind of thing, don’t know what all we have at our disposal here in the Northeast.

Since I’m a nerd, and have a lot of time on my hands, I made a list– what I think is the definitive list of literary tourism in this part of the country.  I’m going to hit as many places as I can, and do a little write-up of each.  Since I’ve eaten almost all of the mac and cheese Providence has to offer, I have to have opinions about something.

Here’s the list:

Massachusetts:

Concord:

Orchard House— house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women and lived for many years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson House— self-explanatory.

Walden Pond— Pond where H.D. Thoreau camped out and wrote smug essays.

Wayside— Another home occupied by the Alcott family, and the only home that Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in outside of Salem.

The Old Manse— Place where R.W. Emerson lived before settling in his later estate.  Also, Mosses from an Old Manse by Hawthorne…

Amherst:

Emily Dickinson Museum— Self explanatory

Fall River:

Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast— Not exactly literary, but a lot of books have been written about Lizzie.  If you stay there overnight, which is grossly overpriced, you must vacate your room at 11, 1, and 3 so the proprietors can run tours through it, but they serve you a breakfast similar to the one the Borden’s consumed on that fateful day– hilarious.

Pittsfield:

Melville’s Arrowhead-– You can find Melville stuff all over this area, plus there are two annual marathon readings of Moby Dick, one of which allows you to stay on an actual whaling ship (if you book early).  Arrowhead is the estate where Melville and his family settled and lived for 13 years, during which time he wrote extensively.

Springfield:

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden— Awesome.

Connecticut:

Hartford:

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center— I really don’t care for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and I have no idea what else Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, but what better way to learn?

Mark Twain House and Museum— My parents have find memories of Twaining in Hannibal, MO, but all they have there is his boyhood stuff.  In Connecticut, you get Twain as adult, and can view his beautiful 19-room Victorian estate.

Lenox:

The Mount–Edith Warton’s country estate– huge, beautiful, designed by Edith Warton.  Sassy Redhead has visited this place already, and seems very happy in pictures.

Cambridge:

The Longfellow House–occupied by H.W. Longfellow from 1837 to 1882.

New York:

Tarrytown:

Sunnyside— Home of Washington Irving.  I’ve wanted to visit Tarrytown since I was about 9-years-old and first read Otherwise Known as Sheila The Great.  In that particular book, Sheila Tubman, menace to Peter of Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing Fame, leaves NYC for a summer in Tarrytown.  A friend of hers lives in Washington Irving’s old house (which is clearly not true, but really cool, I thought).  This was the first time it dawned on me that you could go to places where authors had lived and wrote, and I’ve been desperate to go ever since.  The fact that I’ve lived this close for a year and a half is something that I’m not very proud of, but it is what it is.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery--I’m not terrifically excited to go to a cemetery, but these old ones can be pretty cool. Also, you can’t do a literary tour without Sleepy Hollow– for reals.

Cooperstown:

Fenimore House--Just what it sounds like.  Apparently, there’s a Cooper house in New Jersey too…

Vermont:

Dummerston:

Naulakha (Kipling House)-– Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while living in the mountains of Vermont.

Shaftsbury:

Robert Frost Museum–Just what it sounds like.  I don’t care much for Frost, which is why this is last on the list.

It turns out that the dryer I was so desperately hoping to find installed in the basement on Saturday would not fit down the stairs, so landlady was forced to get the old one repaired.  In the interest of hating draping my wet clothes on furniture, I volunteered to hang around and supervise the repairman while landlady went to work.  “I have a very flexible schedule these days,” I told her, “It’s no problem.”  Then, of course, she wound up scheduling the repairman the same day as Jewish Friend’s and my Superfunadventure Salem trip.

So I reneged on promise to landlady.  In my defense, repairman was in a common area of the house– not an individual apartment, and this particular repairman has come to our house on at least two other occasions.  He is not strange repairman unknown to me, but rather nice older man, who did a great job on my fridge.

I went downstairs, and spoke with repairman.  During this conversation, he told me that he had to replace the sdhag.kjlhdf, and deal with the sjdkfgbhl;jkh, also the drier was in about 12 pieces– this was not going to be quick work.

“Well, my friend is here, so I need to take off pretty soon.”

“Oh, you have big plans?”

“Yes, we’re going to Salem for the day.”

“What do you do there?”

“There’s a lot of Nathanial Howthorne stuff, and a witch museum, should be fun.   Would you  mind giving me the bill, so I can write you a check?”

He graciously acquiesced and started tallying up the total.  As he did his calculations, he glanced at me surreptitiously and asked, “Are you still reading the bible?”

At this question, I actually glanced around to see who he might be talking to, then realized that it was just the two of us in my basement, so he must be talking to me. “No.”

“Wasn’t that you? Weren’t we talking about the bible last time I was here?”

“No, that wasn’t me.”

Then he launched into a full on conversion narrative that caught me so off-guard that I just stood there listening and nodding and wondering how much longer he was going to talk.

After I escaped back upstairs, I told Jewish Friend what had just happened.

“What did you do?” she asked.

“Well, I listened, I didn’t know what else to do.”

“You are a lot more polite than I am, but I bet this hasn’t happened to you as much as it has me.  I don’t think an atheist is as much of a coup as a Jew.” Then she told me some horror stories about the lengths people have gone to to make my Jewish Friend into my Christian Friend from Upstate New York.

Then there was a knock of the door, and the repairman was standing eagerly in front of my door with some literature–Abundant Life New Testament, and tucked into the book, a list of suggested readings.

Again, I was polite, but by this point I was seriously annoyed.  I’m very live and let live when it comes to organized religion.  It’s not for me, but if you get something out of it, by all means– good for you!  It’s the proselytizing that I find not only disgusting, but offensive.

I don’t know if I triggered something in the repairman when I mentioned going to the witch museum (which we didn’t end up having time for), or if maybe he’s constantly casting about for people to indoctrinate, but either way, it was unwelcome.

When I dropped off the receipt to landlady later that night, I felt that I had to mention this.  I have no idea where she is, religiously, but the whole exchange was very inappropriate considering the fact that she was paying for his time.

“I’ve never used him before, so I didn’t know he was like that.” She told me, “He kept trying to talk me out of having the dryer repaired, and just knocking down walls to fit a new one in, which I’m not willing to do.”

“I just thought I should tell you,” I said, “It made me really uncomfortable.” Then I went back downstairs feeling like the whole world was crazy.  She had hired him before, he had fixed my fridge twice a little over a year ago.  Does she really not remember, or does she just not care?  This is also the second time I’ve had issues with a repairman for reasons un-understood by me.

From this point on, I’m going to be less nice and more direct.  I’ve been planning on trying that out anyway, but I think this is my breaking point.

I was riding along with Jewish Friend a while ago as she navigated her neighborhood.  As we turned a corner right behind her house, I saw a rent-a-cop, a series of white awning-type-things, and a bunch of people sitting around at tables under the awnings.  There was a partial barricade, but the rent-a-cop waved us through apathetically.  I careened my neck around.

“Is this a yard sale, or something?” I asked.

Jewish Friend made a face, “No, it’s that damned Brotherhood ruining my life some more.”

“Is that some kind of weird religious group?”

“No, it’s a TV show.”

Turns out The Brotherhood is a TV show on Showtime.  It takes place is Providence and showcases the city’s colorful, mafia background.  It’s the kind of show that if I had seen it before moving here, I never would have moved here.  I got the first disc of the first season from Netflix and within the first five minutes of the pilot the word niggar had been used about ten times, and someone was killed with a shovel.  It’s interesting enough, a bit talky for my taste, but rather fun to watch just to figure out where exactly they are within the city.

For example, the main character, lives 1/2 block away from Jewish Friend in a fictitious neighborhood known as “The Hill” (there are actually seven hills in Providence– can you name them all?); they shoot extensively within the State House (since one of the characters is a politician), and at various familiar locales around town– there was a scene where a girl and her boyfriend got beat up right in front of my favorite bookstore!  It’s kind of like Where’s Waldo.

This morning I was walking to work and I saw two men standing outside of a parked car.  What first made me take notice of them was the fact that they were white and wearing suits.  This could be explained away as they were standing in front of the funeral home, but as I looked closer at the scene of one man leaning down and talking to the driver of the car and one man standing slightly behind him, it all seemed a bit strange.  The man standing completely upright, had a very deliberate posture, and his skin seemed a strange color.  I’ve been sick lately, so I’m a bit slow, but suddenly it hit me, these men were ACTing.

There was another somewhat official looking man, milling around on the sidewalk, and then I noticed an expensive-looking camera mounted on the car.  I recalled how many shots in the one or two episodes I wantched of this show were shot through car windows just like this, and concluded “many.”

As I continued on my route to work, I saw the standard rent-a-cop, trailers with shiny silver signs, and the hateful, hateful white paper signs reading “No Parking, Tow Zone” stapled and taped to poles.  These signs never have dates or times on them, they are just there, and I swear half the time, The Brotherhood forgets to take them down when they change location.  Last time I got a haircut, it took me fifteen minutes to find any patch of street that didn’t have one of these signs, and I was too afraid of being towed to just take a chance.

There was a similar incident this past fall.  Apparently Richard Gere was filming a movie in Rhode Island and needed a few academic looking shots.  An email came out to all URI students telling up that for three days, we would not be able to park near campus.  We were still expected to go to class, of course, but parking would be taken up by movie crews and streets would be blocked off, and we’d best just find another way.  I didn’t have to go to campus any of the blackout days, but still told anyone who would listen to me how outraged I was, and demanded “why aren’t I seeing a cut of the money they must be making from this movie?”

So now The Brotherhood may be leaving Jewish Friend’s Hill to come to my Hill, but I’m really not too bothered by it just yet.  It makes the walk to work a bit more exciting, and maybe if I keep watching the show, I’ll see myself prancing through the background.

As I’ve said before, I do love my neighborhood.  However, recent events have made me very frustrated, and left me in a position of little control.

A while ago, the house that we share a driveway with was abandoned and subsequently repossessed by the bank.  Since that time, a handful of realtors, handymen, and potential renters/buyers have been wandering around, blocking my driveway, and trying to sell me and Jewish Friend property.

That’s not a problem, so much as it is a bit strange and annoying at times.

With the abandonment of the house comes the abandonment of the yard.  The property lines for the abandoned house are very strange in that the yard closest to my house, the one that looks like my yard, actually belongs to the abandoned house.  This is the big yard that recently had the fence run into.  Since the fence has been run into, the gate does not work, and that wide open space is apparently a giant neon sign to the kids in my neighborhood “hey, make this yard your new hangout space.”

Because this yard is right next to my house, naturally, so are these kids.  I mentioned to my landlady a while ago, that it makes me very uncomfortable to have so many people (adults have taken to cutting through the yard as well to save the extra 10 steps it would take to go around the corner) right outside my window.  I stand at the sink doing dishes, and boom, there’s a stranger right in front of me.

“It’s not my fence,” landlady said, “I don’t see why I should have to pay to fix it.”

In her eyes, people are taking over the yard because they know the house in abandoned.  In my eyes, they didn’t start doing this until the gate went missing, and if the realtors can’t figure out the property line, why would she assume a bunch of 8 to 12-year-olds could?

The other night, I was talking to my brother on the phone and I heard scuffling and whispering sounds coming from the yard.  I pulled the curtain back to find about six kids, hanging out, listening to me talk on the phone.  Since they have been spending more and more time there, they have gotten more and more comfortable, and I keep half expecting to find them in my living room once it starts getting colder out.

Something must be done, and I will do it myself.

First, I took the garbage can and placed it in the space where the fence gate is supposed to be.  Within a day someone had moved it aside– clearly my message was not received.

Second, I took the detached bit of gate, and leaned it up against the rest of the fence, then pushed the garbage can against it to hold it in place.  Within a day, someone had figured out that you could still open it from the other side, and (I think) kicked in the door to the potting shed just to spite me.  So now I know that they are a determined lot.

My new course of action has been to take a length of wire, and length of chain, and my recently acquired gunlock and secure the fence in place that way.  If they are very determined, they can unwind the wire, but I made it as complicated and annoying as possible to do, or they can get tools and cut both the wire and chain.  If that happens, I guess I will go buy thicker chain (though I don’t really want to spend money on this situation any more than landlady does– but I would rather not get robbed), or perhaps take a page from the ACME handbook, and sprinkle a lot of tacks along the sidewalk.

I’m not giving up. 

This is them hanging out on my front steps and atttempting to climb my fire escape.  I wasn’t just being an alarmist when I said they are getting too familiar.  Damn kids.