Monday, January 21, 2008

Have Peace in Your Soul

It has been four days since the black of my blinking eyelids have been replaced with a colorful image of Dan’s latest hair-do, his blue streaked pompadour. My friend, Daniel Anton Yakovleff, is drinking bubbles at the eternal gay bar in our hearts.

I know many of Dan’s friends, both Boston and Connecticut, are struggling with emotions of fear, loss, and anger resulting from unanswered questions. I don’t have all the answers but I do know this: Dan’s life will be celebrated by the ones who knew him, who knew him and loved him on the last few days of his always peaceful life.

I know I can speak for all of Dan’s Boston friends when I extend warm condolences and a never-ending lifeline of support to Dan’s family. Please do not hesitate to contact any one of us in your time of need, and the days, months, and years following.

The gayborhood was our playground. Dan and I worked across the street from each other in the heart of Boston’s South End. With Dan at Liquid, and I at Tremont 647/Sister Sorel, nearly every day was filled with Starbucks runs, weekly mani/pedis, laughter amongst friends, hair parties in my kitchen, and quick trips to H&M. Thursdays were for industry night at Toro and boyfriend hunting at The Beehive. Sundays were brunch days and my weary pajama wearing body would always be rejuvenated with a burst of positive energy while I served Dan coffee and eggs.

When Michael called me at noon on Friday asking if I had talked to Dan at all, I did not guess for second that Dan was in any danger. Given Dan’s gentle nature and appreciation of a good late night dance party, I simply assumed he had called Michael to make plans for a nothing short of stellar evening. Michael then explained why he asked. Dan had not been to work in two days. Dan doesn’t miss work. Dan’s life is his work. Dan was starting to worry me. I immediately called him. Straight to voicemail. Mailbox full. Sarah and I spent a good portion of the time allotted to folding napkins and polishing silver hiding in the Tremont 647 bathroom calling local hospitals and police stations. YAKOVLEFF… y..a..k..o..v…yes V as in Victory. I wish I knew then that my worry for my friend would not turn into a victorious occasion.

The following days leading up to these words have been nothing less than extraordinary. I am amazed by the number of people who have been touched by Dan’s presence. The support that was have all received by each other, Dan’s coworkers at Liquid, and my coworkers at Sister Sorel, has truly been a force that Dan would be proud to say he was once a part of.

We lit this candle on his chair at Liquid and loved. We laughed, we cried, and then laughed some more. I thank the staff at the salon and praise their strength. Now and in the trying times that are ahead.

I’m not quite sure which is easier, being on the immediate inner circle, or being on the outer, the outer of the immediate information. Because of the timeline of the evening that our friend was taken from ALL of us, the proximity of information is overwhelming. I can assure you the last time we all saw Dan, he was demonstrating his amazing gift of gab and enjoying his colorful life with the amazing people who gravitated to him.

Please know that despite the lack of media coverage (which we are all very distraught and confused about as well), that this was not a random act and rather an isolated incident. Although speculated we have all collectively come to terms that Dan was not killed solely because he was gay. I am lucky that I have this support net to tangle me into love and remind me that I wasn’t in the third floor walk up apartment, in the triple decker building, on the tree lined street, in neighborhood of Dorchester that evening. Some questions will never be answered. The one thing I know is that Dan would never want us to stop questioning, never stop searching for answers about who we are, the lives we want to live, and the people we want to become. Dan would never want us to stop living. Dan would never want us to stop believing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

That's Bologna!

I spent an obscene, disgusting, American style amount of euros in Bologna: the type of money that could feed a family of eight tagliatelle with bolognese sauce for an entire month. I just hit week five of being in Europe and with The Sox two games away from the World Series, homesickness is brewing in the bottom of my stomach. In order to cure my ailments, I turned to an age-old American remedy: I went shopping.
I kept the consumer urges at bay for just two hours while I lit a candle for the Red Sox, took in the Host, and saw the world’s largest zodiac sundial at St. Pietro’s Basilica. There are two great things about attending mass in a different language. The first is it is OK to not know all the words to the prayers. It is not my fault that I American in an Italian Church. It is my fault that I can NEVER remember the Act of Contrition at St. Christine’s, and my penance always represents that. The second is the feeling you get when you shake hands with the people occupying the space around you and confidently chime “peace be with you”. I have always loved this phrase. Peace be with you.

The downward spiral started small; there was a strip of H&M style shops lining the street leading to my hotel. I passed these shops an average of four times during the first two days in Bologna without a blink. Enthralled by a European university, a stunning statue of Neptune and his member, and more vegan restaurants than a lesbian from JP knew what to do with, shopping was not high on my list. Until day three. It stormed the night before and the damp city was cloaked in wool hats, and leather boots. I thought about calling the states in order to fill the hole my small intestine seemed to be missing. No luck, it was 4:30 am on a Saturday. I could think of a few friends that would most definitely still be awake and would answer with drunk enthusiasm and continue to yell and pass the phone: “It’s ELLE, from EATALLY!! She has salmonELLLLA in her phELLLLEophian tube.” but none of these warm ideas materialized, as I had no numbers stored in my head for such an event.

The first purchase was just a warm up, a small purchase in which all three items were on sale. I walked out of store number one with a small change purse to house my camera, some running pants for the imaginary runs I will be taking on the last leg of my trip, and a tank top that reads: There are no more punk rock heroes. The latter of the three purchases is a lie: There certainly are existing real life punk rock heroes and I wish I could name three to prove it, but I can only come to one, a real life example of a real life punk rock hero: Nate Stearns. Although his music isn’t exactly defined as ‘punk rock’ he owns (and wears) more arm jewelry than I, so he is in fact, far more punk rock than me, not to mention one of my heroes.

By this time, a gray cloud rolled through and settled right over downtown Bologna. A chill? Hmm, I must need a heavier jacket. The 45 euros I spent the day earlier on Thinsulate wool mittens weren’t keeping me quite warm enough. In the states you can walk into any Wal-Mart, Bob’s, or Sports Depot and buy a pair of these wool mittens, the kind that have finger slits, and Velcro, and double as a glove and a mitten, a glitten if you will, for no more than 20 bucks. In Italy, these glittens are trendy, hence the cost more than tripling. I can understand the inflation of price due to shipping, but good lord we are not talking about buying an ’01 Brunello di Montalcino in a Boston Enoteca, it is a sporking pair of wool gloves!! Regardless, I needed a new jacket seeing as the one I purchased in Montevarchi two weeks earlier was in the back of my former co-guides economy Fiat named after Picasso somewhere in Florence. Another H&M knock-off, another purchase. Walking out of the second store I said to myself, out loud, “I can’t believe you just spent 60 bucks on a polyester jacket from FRANCE.” It wasn’t the 40 euros I could use to house or feed myself that I was worried about, I think it was more the thought of wearing the brown polyester jacket in Boston wishing I had that cash to go to the real H&M in downtown crossing and buy leggings, and big cheap sunglasses on a cold January afternoon after feeding myself at the Buttery on Union Park with Michael.

My heart and soul, along with my love for not having credit card debt all went missing when The Bank of America plastic was thrown on a glass counter top the third time. Remember the leather boots that I mentioned earlier, somewhere between a slice of pizza and two scoops of gelato I convinced myself that I could not possibly get on a train to Ferrara without some. I knew exactly what I wanted. My love affair with these boots started in the very first hour that I first arrived in Florence. I visited these brown boots three times before I started my bike trips. At first, I just flirted with the idea of having the boots, where I would wear them, who they would be allowed to meet, and which city streets they would be allowed to see. The second time I was in Florence, I actually tried to convince the boots, through a glass window pane that had a film of city grime on it, that they would love Boston as much as I did, and that even though Florence was nice and all, it didn’t have a large enough gay community to fully be appreciated. No dice, these boots were not budging from their 300-euro price tag, and certainly would not be traveling across an entire ocean to reside in Boston. The boots that will be traveling with me to Boston are a close cousin to my long lost loves in Florence. I will never love them as much as the original; one never loves another as they do their first. The only thing I have to remember is not to get too attached: I might have to sell these boots on EBay come January to feed myself at the Buttery with Michael one afternoon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Parla Englese?

Every single person who has traveled abroad has warned me of the cravings. 23 year old, hell, 30 year old, Red Sox Cap wearing guys would say, “You’ll miss peanut butter so much”, or “Just wait till you are two months in and all you want are some twizzlers.” You would think that reformed backpackers were all at one time pregnant women late in their second trimester, craving the oddest of combonations. I didn’t believe any of them. Who could possibly have cravings in Italy? All the fresh food, the delicate balance between savory and sweet. The second my feet hit the Santa Maria Novella train station in Firenze, I had my first craving, and knew it would never be satisfied. Raw Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough. The White Hen Pantry down the street from my Phillips Street apartment seemed to have a never-ending supply of this stuff, cellulite in a tube, and chemicals spoonful upon wonderful spoonful. The wrapper instructed Lindsay and I to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. The only preparation for a tube of cookie dough that I did was to change into a pair of leggings that had an elastic waste.

My first meal in Florence was Smart Food that my uncle had packed in a plastic Ziploc baggie twenty-four hours earlier and half a bottle of warm lemon-lime Gatorade that I purchased in the Rome Airport in my British accent. I arrived in Florence at 22:00 (10 pm) and took a nice long walk to my hostel in La Piazza Della Libierta. I wasn't lost, I was exploring. The first hostel I stayed in was perfect given I didn’t have to share a room with anyone. The rest of the less than perfect details didn’t seem to matter when I didn’t have to listen to anything but the Vespas speeding by out my window. So, I organized my life, washed my face, ate my smart food and drifted off to the thoughts of Spaghetti Cabonara and Funghi Aranchinis.

For the first five hours exploring Florence, I only ate things that I could point to in a case, or pick up myself and pay for at a register. For breakfast, I had a mozzarella and pomodoro panino and a cappuccino. I pointed to the sandwich in a sparkling glass pastry case that was in a small café in La Piazza Della San Marco. I immediately looked at a clock and quickly asked for un cappuccino. The time was ten thirty and was just thankful that I could still be socially acceptable and order a cappuccino, never mind that the word, ‘cappuccino’, doesn’t have to be translated. My lunch consisted of two small snacks, and I spoke as little as possible to obtain each. The first snack was a bottle of water and two bananas that I bought from a street vendor. The vendor was Moroccan and spoke as little English as I spoke Italian, so we were both patient with each other. The second snack was after I took a nap and decided to get a gelato while I walked around to find a place to eat dinner. The second hostel in Florence, is much nicer than the first, much more modern, filled with young travelers and a hell of a lot cleaner than the first. The only trouble, which some people would find a perk, is that the hostel is situated one block from the train station in the Hotel Plaza. I knew only one thing: I had to get out of the Hotel District to find a decent, economic meal that would be my first real food experience in Florence. I stopped by una gelateria and pointed to the flavor I wanted to which the sweet woman behind the counter replied, “Only caffe?” and I nodded, I couldn’t even get out a Si, and this woman spoke English. I regretted that decision about six spoonfuls into the cup and wished I had combined to coffee ice cream with orange sorbet. I learned from that mistake, and will never let one flavor of gelato inhabit a cup alone again.
The shops in Florence are not very different than the likes of Modern Pastry or La Salumeria in the North End; all the people behind the counter speak both English and Italian. However, when in Florence, speaking English is responded with rolling eyes. When I ask Maria at Modern Pastry for un cappuccino doppio at Modern Pastry back home she responds “Brava”. Brilliant.

Staying in a youth Hostel overseas is like moving into your freshman dorm, minus the parents to argue with. At first, everyone is timid and politely smiles in the graffiti hall walls that leave premonitions of visitors past. I was the first to check into the three-person room at two thirty. For four hours I prayed that no one else was staying with me. Praying doesn’t work, clearly. The first bunkmate arrived at six thirty. I have no idea what his name is, he is from Germany so we’ll call him, Schnitzel. Schnitzel is thirty-three years old and here in Florence working on his dissertation for his PhD in Art History. Schnitzel’s focus in Art History is Saint Sylvester and his influence in Renaissance art. Schnitzel has been in Florence before, but has been traveling Italy for the past three weeks visiting different churches viewing the frescos that Saint Sylvester is in and writing about them. I immediately asked Schnitzel if his likes boys or girls, a custom the boys that hang at Sister Sorel back home have grown quite accustomed to, and he immediately says, girls. He followed that quickly with, “I know my jeans are tight, but I am European.” The second was Japanese, didn’t speak much English and left just as fast as he came.
Schnitzel convinced me to venture over the bridge to the University area of the city where he had studied, get this, eight years ago. Eight years ago, I was skipping my study block to go Wendy’s and buy dollar French-fries. So Schnitzel and I walked over the river and through the Duomo to a small trattoria that did not have single table open. Good sign. Schnitzel asked if we should wait of find something else, I told him we should wait. I don’t remember actually eating, because we I was too busy talking about food with Schnitzel and translating the names of animals from his unpracticed English. “What is the animal that you eat on Easter?”
“No, the animal, it has nothing to do with the church, like Santa Claus”
“Oh! The Easter Bunny, which is really a Rabbit, but we don’t eat that on Easter, we eat Lamb. The Easter Bunny just hides the eggs.”

Our entire conversation went on and on and on exchanging small facts about our different customs. Dinner ended with crème caramel and espresso. Schnitzel, being an Art History major knew far more about all the buildings architecture and which painting was in which church than I would ever care to read in travel guide, or in a museum pamphlet.

So with a full stomach, and a complete understanding on why all the Jewelers are now situated on the bridge rather than the butchers, I am looking forward to my first day in Umbria in the Morning. Here’s hoping my padded bike shorts arrived from The States to greet me.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

I am on a train somewhere between Pisa and Florence. My luggage is somewhere in Canada routing on the Blue Jays while I am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival to an address I don’t yet know. It is 9:53 pm on my second day in transit. Gloria, the oh-so-friendly women I spoke to at the baggage claim in Pisa informed me that I could not file a claim until I reached my final destination. I suppose my final destination is Boston. Living without that suitcase would prove difficult, but definitely not impossible.

I was woken yesterday by my refreshingly naïve eleven year old cousin at 8 am.

“Shelly, it’s five of eight, I have to leave for the bus soon. I know you told me that you would walk me to the stop, but if you want to sleep, I -“

“I’m coming baby, let me just brush my teeth.”

Tori missed the bus by 45 seconds, while my Aunt Linda was still packing her lunch that would have to be dropped off later. I ended up dropping Tori at her generic elementary school in the middle of suburbia. We sang ‘Born to be Wild’ in it’s entirety on the way to 6th grade. I should have taken it as a sign when the blur of the big yellow school bus and flashing lights whizzed by us before we could open the front door, that this trip across the pond was going to fall dangerously on the line where easy intercepts really flippin’ difficult.

I suffered from a ridiculous case of anxiety all day. It was the type of anxiety that you want to curb with coffee and nicotine, but really should be treated with a balanced breakfast and counting backwards from ten. The only two times I remember the anxiety leaving me were before I even left the South Shore.

The first was playing one on one kickball with Jack on my Aunt’s perfectly manicured law, the only one on the block that manages to remain an envious shade of green while a water ban is in full effect. Jack, my four year old cousin does not fall for “The quiet game”, “The let’s see what’s on Nickelodeon game”, or even, “The I’ll give you some ice cream if you leave me alone for five minutes game”. Jack is way too smart for the latter of the three, he can now push a chair across the kitchen floor and open the freezer to get his own ice cream. Kick ball was nothing more than me kicking a 3-dollar rubber ball from Wal-Mart in the air and Jack trying to catch it. The game of kickball was mindless, and quite fun to watch Jack, the miniature man run around aimlessly with this eyes on the sky trying desperately to catch a blue rubber ball. I eventually convinced Jack to take the puppy for a walk. The new puppy, as you will have it, is actually not a puppy at all. Benny, even though he came from a puppy mill, is actually 3 years old and has the muscle strength of a veal chop. Therefore, ‘walking the dog’ is a loosely used term for, ‘ Let’s put Benny on a leash and have Jack follow in around in a 4 foot radius for ten minutes so the grown ups can actually get something done’. Benny gets walked about 25 times a day.

The second time the anxiety left me was actually during a conversation about going number 2. I’ve never been one for bathroom talk, menstrual talk, or sex talk, but for some reason, I felt it necessary to share my fear of having to poop in public places for the next three months. The conversation stopped almost immediately after a few jokes about Hershey, not the candy bar, and a few about Crop Dusting, and we were nowhere close to a corn field. The whole idea of having that conversation put me at ease and reassured the validity of on of my favorite pieces of literature as a child, “Everybody Poops”.

I was greeted at Logan with a cellular telephone call from Mum. My flight was delayed due to the weather at the JFK International Airport in New York City. The Delta customer service representative reassured Mum several times that I would absolutely make my connecting flight to Heathrow in time. The Delta customer service representative convinced me that there was no way that I will make my connecting flight, and should hop on the next Delta Express to LaGuardia and take a taxi to JFK. I said sure, as long as I make my connecting flight to London. Somewhere down the line, I ended up boarding my initial flight to JFK and my one and only suitcase was on it’s way to LaGuardia. Womp. Woomp. Wooomp.

I eventually arrived in Rome and a sparkle of hope that I would finally have my face in the Tuscan sun was fizzled the moment I realized my six hour lay over quickly became eight, as my 35 minute plane ride to Pisa was two hours delayed. I toyed with the idea of skipping the flight and taking a train straight to Florence, but thankfully remembered I had to argue with the women at the baggage claim at the Pisa airport. So, I decided instead to find a chair and sleep instead. Before naptime though, I needed one large bottle of water, and il panino formaggio. To be honest, that is one of the only phrases I know in Italian, a cheese sandwich. While in the Rome International Airport, I spoke entirely in the English accent I picked up on my layover in London. I did this for two reasons, to ease my frustration with not speaking Italian, and well, because it was terrifically fun to say words like ‘bloke’ and ‘fag’, and not have those two words enrage someone. I spoke in my new English accent until I found myself chime, “Hello Puppet”, to a small child. One look from the child’s mother and I realized it was better to sound like a dumb American than a pedophile from Chester.

Traveling across 3 state lines, an ocean, multiple countries, and through two Italian regions, proved my preconceived notion, that International travel, especially on the eleventh day of September, is more frustrating then watching The Sox close a game in mid-September. It already looks like this year will be better than the last.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Party's Just Begun

If gay does in fact translate to "really, really, really happy", as my dad explained to me circa 1992 when I was 8 years old, than it is only appropriate that my bon voyage was spent with my favorite Mo's, and a 5'10" rock star, and a Southern Belle, and some other really really really cool people.

Even though we woke up somewhere and JP and were judged by functioning Sunday Strollers and raging lesbians, it was nice just to be near you, thank you so much for venturing up to Yankee territory before I left.

"Do you s.t.r.e.t.c.h. before you k.i.c.k"

"Giovanni, NO!" Elle needs Warner in Florence now, because she is prettier than Selma Blair and doesn't want to hang out with Mo's alone. Miss your guts already.

There are no words. I left a piece of my heart at 28 Phillips street #2 and will have aujoda until I see your pretty face at Thanksgiving, or when you show up sometime around November in Amsterdam (just a thought).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

.strange conditions.

It’s a strange coincidence how music directly correlates to others. Others, being past lovahs, not to be confused with lovers, friendly acquaintances, phone date buddies from Christmas past, and those who have made such a fool out of me. The strangest coincidence is how these music moves come out of left field while channel surfing with a new lover, not to be confused with lovah. Ray’s raspy voice telling me what we’re going to do on one channel, reminding me of an outskirt law student and Ms. Furtado reminding once again that I really didn’t mean a thing to a downtown law student. Perhaps the strangest coincidence of all, is the feeling that settles deep down in the stomach upon hearing a third rate euro pop jam that shouldn’t mean anything to anyone, except the person who produced it. The type of chorus line that makes you reach to the phone to sing into one’s voicemail, but some how, some way, the creator of the play list knows that just isn’t possible for you.

Bagpipes still give me goose bumps and absolutely always will. Pale imitations of others will always being filling the pedestal, which I made myself, out of scrap wood I have found along the way, held together with recycled nails and finished with a half fast paint job. Old rusted Cadillacs will remind me of fields collecting rain. Silver pools of light will fill up corners coffee shops where an attempt at the great American novel fell off said pedestal and result in bruised elbows.

Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell, and spirituality is for those who have already been there. It’s the difference between hearing the sounds of violins long before it begins and arguably making the most comfortable bed in the city while others run in the rain. It wants to do it better, and keep it together. Itching for a fight in the loneliest hour, just to make up and love. Loving the one you’re with. Non-traditional students making musical transactions.

Crash and burn mentalities that leave rifts. Broken falls and cushioned heart breaks. All the wild horses that love all the stars in the sky. Fun songs that result in laughter, the most fun songs that leave scars. Red cheeks from embarrassment, wet pants from jokes, and lost moments at stoplights. Sunday kind of loves in heather gray, sweatshirts; stolen articles. It is love, It is survival, It is being alive. Don’t take away me today to give up yesterday.

Stories and cigarettes ruin lives of lesser girls. But don’t girls just wanna have fun?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let Life Spill Over.

We are all old. And by old, I mean 22, an even number that is charged regardless of it being even. Brian and I realized this on his couch while nursing Bud Lights and he ate pasta with sauce, which has become a staple in his diet. He probably won’t eat in balance until he is married, or moves back home with mom and dad, which may never happen. We chatted about Summer 2005, 5 am sunrises on the roof deck and how cold and damp his last apartment was. We asked about people who have floated into our lives over the course of our friendship, and have floated out just as easily when the seasons changed. I keep in touch with some, he keeps in touch with others, and just as he asks about one, another asks about him. When did we all become each other’s “in” people. I may be one friend’s “in” to another group of friends who are actually just as distant with each other, relying on other “in’s” to form a group of individuals that look solid from the outside, but when you are actually “in”, you realize its hollow. There is no nucleus of solid relationships, fun friends make up the white, what about the yellow? What happened to the yellow? Is the yellow made up of the people who we love because they’ve been around so long? The people we put through the most because we know they’ll never leave us? The ones who know our flaws and when an attractive stranger shows interest they say… “She’s amazing, not a bad word to say about her.” We dance around the subject that technology, IM, facebook, and email has made us the impersonal generation. We make memories with each other, take photographs and post them with captions pertaining to inside jokes and allow them to be displayed to virtually anyone; strangers, ex-boyfriends, old friends who seem to have vanished into this abyss of space, cyber space. Photos are 2 dimensional. I would like to think we are all living enough to fill up all three dimensions completely until life overspills onto each other. We’re not. You would think that we are socially awkward, all unable to communicate without a keyboard, a firewall to protect us from our words, our feelings. Most of us are. I love sending cards, largely because I love getting them. I send cards for stupid things like, hey you left something at my house, or I lost your number, I would love to meet up for lunch. I very easily could send and email. A card sends along a little bit of a smile, intimacy that may take two days to get there via the post man, rain, sleet, or shine. The post man's kids have to go to college too. With so many advances in the speed of communication, how do people lose touch so easily? Blackberries, PDA’s and laptops. Wireless Internet, usually stolen. You would think that we are all a key stroke away from one another. Essentially we are, we’re all right there waiting for someone to actually hit the send button. A small note, a “hello”, a “how are you?”, a “hell, its been to long.”. Poking is getting really old, and should not be considered an acceptable form of communication much longer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


A 1:30 am serendipitous meeting on the corner of Charles and Beacon. Three long time pals. Sidekicks, sources of fun. Three beautiful girls with beautiful souls who have brought laughter from tears and more importantly, tears from laughter.

Three long time pals who find themselves single in the city, yet completely emotionally unavailable. Vulnerable, heartbroken, defeated, at the corner of Charles and Beacon. Unanswered questions, from each other, from themselves.

The corner of Charles and Beacon. Rainstorms: both emotional and getting caught in the elements. Breakdowns: physical, unpredictable and automotive. Love Spells: drunken, consuming, complicated. Blackouts: the result of exploding emotions as well as exploding man holes.

Three beautiful souls that are waiting to be balanced, to be found with equally open hearts. Find. Us.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?