the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: February 2008

Back to basics

Am finally in Boston. Fortunately it was an uneventful transition, unlike the last trip to Manhattan. It feels extremely strange to no longer be living alone. Am now staying at the International Guest House on Beacon Street, and it’s very reminiscent of living in the dorm in Spring 2004 with Sofiya, Alicia and Amanda, right down to the mealtimes and nonexistent cell reception (thank God was able to coax the wireless Internet connection to life). Have not been to Boston in over a year, and had almost forgotten how beautiful it is. Will spend the rest of the week getting reacquainted with Newbury Street, Copley Place and Prudential Center, before the TEFL training starts next week.



No return

The gas light is now flashing

Sometimes it isn’t about what we want, but what needs to happen. And no matter how well-prepared we think we are for it, when it really does happen, we realize that all the preparation and pep-talking we put ourselves through had been of absolutely no use at all. And then we fear that we may wake up two weeks after it happens and realize that we can’t reverse it, and we’ll have to live with it for the rest of our lives.

So much to say, so much to do, and so little time to say and do it all.

Getting with the times

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” – Stewart Brand

After more than three years of unswerving loyalty, the beloved iPod Mini has been put out to pasture. Would have liked to just get the battery changed, as that was the 1st Generation 4GB iPod Mini and my first iPod and I loved it to death, but it has long since been discontinued, so now am only able to trade it in for a newer model with a 20% discount from the iPod Recycling Program. So am now owner of a blue 8GB iPod Nano.

Also, have now been reduced to using the laptop — now about two weeks shy of its fifth birthday — after selling the much-loved (and much much faster) desktop on Friday. And it was so excruciatingly slow that had to take it to Best Buy today to get the memory upgraded, which has made it comfortably faster and will be able to tide over until am home.

Will be car-less in less than 24 hours, for the first time in over three years, and after that will spend the next five weeks on foot. Am rather sad about having to give up the car, but this car has been in and of itself an oxymoron.

The untold story

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness.” – David Dunham

Have finally started clearing out the house. Managed to clean out the kitchen, linen closet, bathroom and basement today, and am not sure how thrilled the management would be when they see the trash cans in the garage overflowing beyond belief with boxes and odds and ends. Thank God the Pitches bought the piano and Johns and the Chips took away a lot of the furniture tonight. Am now hoping the bed and desk will sell, or will have to make the Salvation Army or Buffalo City Mission come and pick them up. Hate bloody moving. And after telling the story of how UPS Freight came to take away the boxes last Friday to Shirley, Johns and Maddi — all three of whom found it simultaneously horrifying and hilarious — will regale it here as well, as a future reference to impending/aspiring movers/immigrants/emigrants.

Thursday, 2/14/08:

Lucy from EuroUSA (shipping company):
Do you have someone to help you put the boxes on the curbside?
Me: No, I live alone.
Lucy: Did Patrick tell you that you have to have the boxes on the curbside ready for the driver?
Me: (beginning to panic) Wait, no…
Lucy: Well, you have to have the boxes on the curbside, because the driver won’t come into the house unless you pay a small gratuity.
Me: (figuring that since am already hemorrhaging money into the shipping company’s pocket…) Oh, that’s OK, I’ll pay the gratuity.
Lucy: OK. Do you live in an apartment building or a house?
Me: Apartment, but I’m on the first floor.
Lucy: Are there steps going into the building?
Me: Yes, but there are only like three steps up. Why…?
Lucy: Well, the driver will not enter your apartment if there are steps, because he’s in the labor union and they don’t allow that.
Me: (disbelief) OK, nobody told me that, and I live alone, so what else was I supposed to do?
Lucy: You can call Labor Ready and ask them to come and move the boxes out for you.
Me: OK, let me get back to you on that.

A few minutes later…

LR: (Labor Ready): We charge by the hour, but it’s a four-hour minimum.
Me: (horrified silence; it would have taken only less than 15 minutes to move the boxes from apartment to sidewalk)
LR: What time would you like them to come?
Me: (yet another horrified silence; the email from the shipping company states that the driver would arrive anytime between 2PM and 6PM) Let me call you back…

As more time goes by…

Me: Is there any way I can check to see what time the driver will be coming? I don’t want Labor Ready to get here at 2 and run the risk of making them wait until possibly 5:30.
Lucy: Yes, there is a 1-800 number you can call, but you can only call tomorrow between noon and 2PM. And anyway it says on the packing order that the driver will call you when he’s on his way so you can get the boxes ready.
Me: (almost hysterical now) But Labor Ready requires a two-hour heads-up so that they can get people to come out here…!

After all the back and forth haggling and raging, managed to get Jeremy to come over after his morning classes to help.

Friday, 2/15/08:

Jeremy: Is that a honk?
(A huge white truck pulls up outside the apartment. Jeremy looks out the window and on the passenger door of the truck it reads UPS Freight)
Me: But it’s only 1:30…!
Jeremy: And the driver didn’t call!
(At this point the driver, who fortunately turns out to be a very nice man on overtime, is already at the door and am frantically labeling boxes with Jeremy’s help)
Me: I’m so sorry you have to wait. But the shipping company said that you were coming between 2 and 6, and that you were going to call when you were on your way so I could have the boxes ready.
Driver: Well, we got an email saying we had to come over here and get your boxes, but it didn’t say anything about calling ahead or what time.
Jeremy: Fucking shipping company is telling you guys different things. (turns to the driver) Are you really not allowed to go up and down steps, even though there are only like two?
Driver: Technically we’re not supposed to, but it’s OK, I’ll help you. Whatever makes the job easier.
(After Jeremy carries out the twin 24x24x32 boxes, he comes back in and lifts a 23x32x27)
Jeremy: Are these the shoes?
Me: No, the first two boxes you took were the shoes.
Driver: Wait, those two boxes were just shoes?
Jeremy: She’s a girl.

Fast forward in slow motion

Plans for the coming weeks:

February 26 – April 1: Boston!

April 1 – 7: Buffalo

April 7 – God knows: Home

With just over a week left in Buffalo, the panic is starting to set in, although it’s somewhat lifted by the thought of spending five weeks in Boston. After 270 sq. ft. of bubble wrap, 517 yards of tape, and innumerable hours of wrapping, folding, rolling, arranging, rearranging, crying and crawling all over boxes to tape them as securely as is physically possible, 99% of worldly belongings is now on its way to New Jersey to be shipped back to the other end of the world. Am left with the rest of the house to clear out, the car to sell, and what feels like a million other little things to do before going to Boston.

As the end draws near, some people tend to get retrospective, and start reflecting on everything that’s happened in the past. I, for one, overload on it. In the four-odd years that I’ve been in Buffalo, the mistakes I’ve made could fill a Library of Congress. I made ‘friends’ I wish I’d never made, because in the end they were only ever around when they needed something, and the list of Relationships From Hell has since grown longer, while the list of Relationships To Remember still remains completely empty.

And yet I can’t say I wish I’d never come to Buffalo, because I might not have had the same experiences and opportunities if I had gone to any other school. I was fortunate enough to live in a dorm with people I could actually get along with, and later on learned to live alone and be self-sufficient. I made my first real friends in Buffalo when I joined the Royal Pitches, and then got to know the Buffalo Chips, subsequently making all the other friends I can’t imagine never having made. I managed to get into the UB Choir, which, thanks to Professor Rosenbaum, opened up so many new doors and brought so many new experiences as far as performing is concerned. And no matter how quickly I grew up while I was still in school, the past year alone made me grow up even faster, because I had other people to take care of besides myself, and that has helped me decide what I want to with my life, and to realize that even though some things don’t work out the way we wanted for planned for them to, in the end it’s what we choose to make of it that counts.

Make it stop

Am going to Syracuse later for the Chips’ ICCA Quarterfinal. Thank God Syracuse is only 2 hours away, so will be able to come home tonight, and after last weekend am not looking forward to spending that much time in a car again. But former director Johns is hell-bent on going to witness the Chips either ‘lose a placing without his leadership’, or ‘win a placing and be able to come back to Buffalo and tell others how it really happened’, so have agreed to accompany him to Syracuse.

Packing has come to a standstill. Am not sure how to pack certain things, or how much to really pack as am terrified that the shipment will not have arrived by the time am actually home, and am terrified that the shipment won’t even make it home. Will obviously have to spend the next week pulling several all-nighters to make sure everything is done by Friday, and after that will have to work on clearing out the apartment. Now that am facing deadlines, the days seem to be harrying by.

One of the things that makes it so difficult to let go is the fear of the unknown — the fear of not knowing where we’ll fall once we let go, how much the fall would hurt, and how we’ll recover from it. We’re afraid that the plans we’ve made might fall through once they become real, because no matter how much we brace ourselves for it, sometimes the real thing might not be what we had hoped it would be.


Have finally made substantial progress with the packing. Spent the whole morning bubble wrapping every piece of jewelry in possession, stopping only to go for the monthly Brazilian and to pick up something at Macy’s. Johns came over earlier this evening to help assemble and line boxes with bubble wrap, as am not tall enough to do it, and thank God he came, because that finally brought on the motivation to actually pack. Have so far filled up four boxes, and am now left with half of clothes and other miscellaneous items, which will hopefully take up only one more box. The books will have to go into smaller boxes, of which there will probably be quite a few, as the books seem to have increased in number simply with the prospect of packing. These days when am asked about plans for Chinese New Year (which have only very recently discovered is this Thursday) and Valentine’s Day, the answer is, “Packing.” (Fortunately have no liking for either occasion.)