Saturday, November 20, 2004

"At least now you know I have them."

The students on the island have a fairly well established hierarchy. It has been quite easy to pick out where each individual fits in this heirarchy. One of the gammas seems to percieve himself as beta as demonstrated by the fact that he is the most likely to express aggression, give commands to other students, and in general engage in posturing. Testosterone flows freely in this void of seratonin.

The island also has a very obvious omega. Whenever something is missing, this student is accused. All the boys take opportunities to order him around, criticize him for weakness, and in general harrass him. This last week more physical forms of
harrasment increased to the tune of multi-student gangs taking punches or kicking and the victim lying in the fetal position covering his head with his hands.

There are arguments going around about how to help this kid make some personal progress and the social environment now complicates it. He consistently refuses to stand up for himself and tries, sometimes literally to hide behind the staff. The fact is he cannot possibly feel safe. But at the same time he cannot possibly be safe if he requires a constant adult bodyguard. This is something the victimizing students like to frequently point out often as a justification for their abuses. "We're trying to help you learn to stick up for yourself", they say. That claim is of course complete crap. It is quite simply the power-trip. These guys are just getting off on dominating someone, and doing it quite completely.

His cowardice is not entirely unfounded. It's not like this is an average ability kid who's merely psychologically blocking himself. He's kind of tall but he has very little physical strength and poor coordination: products of his background. I'd hoped that my pathetic attempts to participate in island athletics would encourage him to get out with the others and get some exercise. After all, if I can get out there and play as poorly as I do and make it back okay, surely he would see that he could as well. Unfortunately as ill-suited as I am, my abilities are much closer to that of the other folks than the omega's are to mine.

One of both the funniest and saddest events involving him occurred the other night. A few people were in the kitchen where teh alpha started tease the omega by feigning and eventually kicking him. In fact one kick landed right in that special place no true male wants to get kicked. "I didn't mean to kick your nuts", the kicker protested laughing. He continued to apologize profusely while the kicker was bent over in pain. "At least now you know I have them", he said. Indeed he has them. Now if only he could find them.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Proposed Anthem

Due to my position as Poet Laureate of Flannel Haven I have assumed responsibility for composing lyrics for a national anthem. The said lyrics follow, and I seek a response from the Triumvirate or other interested parties. I have no idea how the music will sound.

You tell me that you love me
That you'll do anything.
But just what exactly
Does 'anything' mean?

Will you give me riches
In money and gems,
The wealth of the earth,
Silken robes with straight hems?

Will you give me your flannel?
Will you give me your flannel?

Will you work, sweat, and suffer
For all my commands?
Will your strength, heart, and labor
Bend to my demands?

Will you give me your flannel?
Will you give me your flannel?

Do you love me more than your mother
Than your gimp little brother?
Would you sacrifice things most dear to your heart:
Your hobbies, awards, and plumbing to start?

Will you part with addictions,
Forsake privacy?
Will you risk precious limbs
For your loyalty?

Will you give me your flannel?

* At the end of the song the singers should repeat the word "Eep" five times in a high pitched voice in succession.
The proposed title of this anthem is: "Will You Give Me Your Flannel?"

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Den of Theives

The title of this post inspired by this last week's events on the island refers to three events of theft.

Event number one: student code name "Delta" was in school with student code name "Iota." As we were leaving school Delta took posession of one of Iota's magazines. When it came up missing Iota accused Delta, he having been the only one besides myself with opportunity to take it. For whatever reason Iota was not inclined to suspect me. Somehow the sketchiness of my charachter has yet to be rewarded. Upon returning to the house the magazine was observed being hidden in a couch by one of the staff and was quickly recovered. The motive for stealing the magazine having not been satisfied Delta proceeded to snatch magazine number two. This time he took greater labors to accomplish his goal by not leaving it in such an obvious location. Delta in fact made the unreadable for future purposes by depositing it in the latrine. Iota responded to this event with a great deal of ire but inquired of Delta his motivation. Delta said, "Because I have no use for it." The total lack of consideration of feelings intensified Iota's ire and he decided to pummel Delta for a breif period before being restrained.

Event number two: Student code name "Epsilon" snatched all three existing pool cue balls from the house. In their absense other students took a spare 8 ball and colored in the white bits with a red marker to use as a cue. Within a day or so a student walking in proximity of the schoolhouse came upon one of the old wells and there spotted at the bottom of the well three cue balls sitting in a row. This same student, code name "Alpha," proposed that he might retrieve them as a form of community service. At the well a variety of things were attempted and proposed. All efforts that would accomplish the job from the surface availed nothing due to the depth of the well. It was then proposed that Alpha enter the well bodily as lowered by a rope. A couple different ideas were tried but the best was that he sit on a type of bouy and hold a rope. However, when lowered into the hole Alpha panicked, refused to release the surface to grab the rope, and was drawn again from the hole.

Event number three: This final theft probably three students code named "Beta," "Rho," and "Tau." How exactly it all came to pass was never fully discovered. After coming in from football one day, the shift leader announced that something had been stolen. The thief was given the opportunity to return the unnamed item or room searches would be done. Noone fessed up so the rooms were tossed. One of the students asked if it had been a something from my person which made me suspicious that he knew something so I checked to find my key to all the island locks missing and then heard from a staff member that someone had broken into the office and stolen his cigarettes. The search found nothing and things went back to something of normal with heightened supervision of students. As this was going on I came down the stairs and apparently walked in on a conversation between Beta, Rho, and Tau that cut off quite suddenly and suspiciously. It seemed that Beta and Tau had been explaining to Rho what they had done. It have been just the night previous that while walking with Beta and Tau on the island that Beta had seemed far too interested in the fact that I had a key.

Later, while in class during the math bit, I deliberately did not get out the calculators that were locked up and the students asked why. I explained that my key had been stolen and as so many times from Beta's response I was reminded of Claudius and the players. Beta and Rho claimed no knowledge and that they didn't believe in stealing 'cause it's bad hmmmmkay! During school Tau visited class. He had been working in the kitchen. A secret not was passed from Rho to Tau. The contents were later discovered to be a plan to return certain of the stolen items. Meanwhile, in asking questions and describing the awfulness of stealing Beta revealed that he knew exactly what had happened and how.

By lunch the key had reappeared along with the package and 5 cigarettes.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Place

Hopefully this reading will be worth the while of anyone who bothers to test it.

I am now happily settled into a transitory state. I told many folks that I was going to be moving temporarily into an apartment on the cape until I could get a satisfactory residence within walking distance of a Boston train station. When I first heard of the apartment I was given very little detail except that someone at the school had arranged for it and that the proposed rent was 250/month. This would be rather excellent considering the location. It would also prove incredibly convenient for me in that I would have the opportunity to more fully investigate Boston and have time to pick out the most perfect apartment. That things should not be so rosy should have occurred to me much sooner than it did because the trail of breadcrumbs had been laid out. However, my bleeding optimism and offerings of benficent doubt eventually caught up with me. The morning I arrived for work a couple of weeks ago, one of my bosses asked about my housing plans. I told him that I didn't know for certain all the details except those things that I've told everyone. He concurred that he was of similar information but that the expected rent was in the range of 250-300. I also got some information that indicated cooking was going to be constrained. Later that day I found out the name of the person who'd made the arrangements and in another discussion was told something about a barn. This notion of barn had me a bit confused but I figured it could have been a kind of joke, a rennovation, something other than me sleeping in a hay loft.

Because I had to go out to the island that morning I didn't hear more of it for a couple of days. Wednesday one of the students was graduating and a group of staff came out to the island. The party included the gentleman who'd arranged for the apartment at which time I learned that it was in fact a barn with some modifications. A well insulated bedroom and bathroom had been put in the second floor. Certain windows were not to be opened during the winter because heating issues and potential for freezing pipes and several other things I couldn't commit the details of to memory. The presence of a smart but disabled old lady was clarified and confusingly she was consistently referred to as "my land-lady." That is to say that Mr. So-and-so spoke of her as his land-lady, not as mine. He also mentioned that there was some linen available for me to use in the house. He would turn on the water heater and turn off the dish network and remove the TV for me. All of these things were clues to what I would find but, I missed and ignored their signifigance.

The blessed day arrived. Friday came, I made it back to shore, and my boss was to show me the road to this barn turned apartment. We met the old lady at her house which was next door. Turns out it was a barn of her family's and she's been selling off little bits of a huge lot over the years around there other out buildings being converted into homes over the course of it. She explained that the place was clean but she'd been up there to find a bit of clutter around. On this comment I imagined bare rooms with a few odds and ends left behind in corners or on shelves, something akin to what I've left behind when I've moved out of apartments in the past. The old lady gave me the key. The barn was locked up by a padlock. The three of us openend it and climbed the stairs. What we found there defied all of my expectations. The first room of the second floor was filled with boxes of random bits of a man's past. There was a long pipe along one wall covered in hanging clothes. The floor was covered with bits of hay tracked in from downstairs. The dresser was covered with material on top and the drawers beneath were still half-full of clothes.

I was surprised by this but not too. I had been given the impression that the spaces outside of the bedroom and bathroom were not particularly organized or otherwise taken care of and considered how much work it would take to fix things up a bit as we looked in the bedroom. Someone surely still lived there. The bed looked as if it had recently been slept in. There were bits of paperwork, pocket knives, deodorant sticks, coins, business cards, a million different things that a person needs from day to day. The TV was still there and my boss noticed what she thought was a belt sander. Convenient, if I was looking forward to doing any kind of wood sanding...? We crossed over to the bathroom and found a similar sight. Everything had been newly constructed and seemed to be in working order, in fact as if it had been used within the last twenty-four hours. The vanity was covered with toothpastes, shaving cream cans, after shave lotions, facial moisturizers, and yet more sticks of deodorant. I was stunned.

My boss may have been even more stunned. She apologized profusely protesting that she too had been misled regarding the conditions to be found. She left, and for me the moment of true agitation had not yet come. I climbed back up the stairs and went into the bedroom to get my bearings on how exactly I was going to move in and what I was going to do with my stuff. It was then that I took a close look at the bed and discovered rodent feces. Rodent feces on a bed that looked like it had been slept in the night before. A bit apalled, I looked around at the floor to discover more signs of the passage of mice.

Before I came out here I had determined that I might live in this place as much as 6 months. That would allow me to get my bearings and spend the time to find an absolutely perfect place in Boston. Now, I thought a month sounded like plenty of time and wondered why it shouldn't be within a week. I won't detail all of my responses to this situation but, let me say I continue to find interesting and fun surprises. The belt sander turned out to be some kind of massage device. I found a passport, a fridge full of fungus and something that looks like vomit, bits of hay covering bathroom and bedroom floors, etc, etc. I hope I don't have to be here too long.