I moved to Boston to pursue a relationship, which disintegrated within months of moving. I ended up staying in Boston anyway. Going back to Philadelphia didn’t feel at the time like it would be moving forward with my life, although it would have been much more comfortable.
After spending some time working in a deli at a local food coop (where one day someone ordered “a half sour pickle,” but was surprised when I handed him half a pickle, and then I was in turn surprised to find out that the pickles were “half sour” in contrast to “sour pickles”), I was hired to do some freelance editing for Skinner House Books, which is a publisher of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Then I did some freelance work for UU World, where I was eventually hired as a copyeditor. I had to argue with the HR director that no, I really was tired of being a senior editor and yes, I really did want to be a copyeditor. I occasionally regret the return to greater responsibilities.
On February 2, 2003, I slipped on a patch of ice in front of my house and broke my right ankle and leg in three places. I had surgery, spent several days in the hospital, and later had another surgery to remove a pin. I still have two pins in my ankle. It still bothers me. Being overweight aggravates it. It’s a pain in the butt. Don’t break your ankle if you can avoid it.
In November 2006, while home sick for a week, I decided to check out Second Life, which someone from work had mentioned. I was hooked! With ebbs and flows of engagement, I remain active in Second Life. My Second Life persona, Otenth Paderborn, blogs at Tenth Life.
The biggest change that Second Life has created for me is a greater engagement with music. I started out as an event and weekly program DJ for Radio Riel, an internet radio station, and still do event DJing in Second Life. I have somewhat of a reputation for the obscure and for unexpected juxtapositions. I’ve uploaded a few of my playlists, adapted for the rules of streaming music online.
While I’ve had my share of friends die, from my early 20s right on, two deaths since I’ve moved to Boston have special significance. My friend Barbara Hirshkowitz died from pancreatic cancer on March 2, 2007. I wrote a post remembering her five years later.
Barbara began feeling unwell about a year before she died. She eventually had jaundice, and finally was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the late spring. Her doctors moved quickly to get her into surgery for a Whipple procedure, and I flew to Philadelphia on very short notice. As ever, I had quickly searched the internet, and although I was confused and frightened by what pancreatic cancer might mean for Barbara, it was clear that the surgery itself was quite dangerous. I was determined not to take the chance of her dying in surgery without having seen her. Our conversations were quite blunt; we had both always been fairly plain-spoken. And so when Barbara dropped me off at the airport, we said goodbye knowing that we might never see one another again. I still treasure that moment of looking in Barbara’s eyes with honesty and acknowledgment of our mortality. It also made the next nine months much easier to have already, in some degree, having said goodbye.
On September 24, 2012, my mother died of breast cancer. Boy, does that change things.
London Nov. 2012-Jan. 2013
The Unitarian Universalist Association grants sabbaticals to staff! I gave a staff chapel on one aspect of the experience, “The Mirror Cracked”.
updated February 2019
In the years since my sabbatical, the biggest change has been the amount of live music I’ve attended—a LOT. Classical, opera, pop, folk. I like small, cheap venues.
I don’t remember when it happened, but after several years of periodically looking on social media for old friends, I reconnected with my old housemate Jim Ford. It’s been wonderful to catch up with one another’s lives and to have someone who shares experiences from so long ago. And Jim has been the occasion for several visits to the Metropolitan Opera while visiting him in Brooklyn.
My father died on November 15, 2017. And I thought my mother’s death changed things! I feel like I really need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. (No, really I just feel like I need to do some combination of imagining and planning for ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.)
With very little planning, but a lot of excitement and hope, after seeing a notice on Facebook in January 2019, I went to look at a year-round studio apartment in Provincetown and put down a deposit on the spot. I’m moving on March 2, and at this writing I’m somewhere between astounded and alarmed. I’ll continue in my current job, working remotely, and see how I feel about Ptown or what comes next in a year. And I have another sabbatical scheduled for this summer! I won’t be going and living somewhere else for this one. Ptown seems like a big enough change on its own.