My parents wanted to go to NYC to see some of the displays and the Rockafeller Center tree. Marlon straight up refused to go.
I really did not want to go but I thought it would not be so bad.
It started off okay, with us parking in JC to take the PATH in at Grove Street. But I struggled to find a place with a public restroom, so I ended up using a Johnny on the Spot after asking a security guard at a construction site. I realized I'd forgotten my iPhone charging cable, despite bringing my external battery. My phone was already dead
Then I helped a pair of Chinese women (limited English) who wanted to refill their Metrocard but only had cash, no credit/debit cards. One of them gave me cash, and I put it on my debit card.
It was interesting to be on the PATH again. 33rd to Herald Square. Then it began to go downhill for me. I really wanted the rest of the family to enjoy, but I was personally getting progressively more irritated at the crowds that were there to see all the touristy stuff I semi-resented ever since I lived in city, which I still live otherwise. Huge lines for bathrooms. Overpriced holiday food stalls in parks. People stopping in the middle of crowded sidewalks to take pictures, pictures, pictures. Social media culture has magnified and made this shit worse
The last straw was when we got to Fifth and about 49th. There was a massive crush of people stopping on the freaking corner to watch and capture the Sam's Fifth Avenue store light show. I got separated from everyone. The packed crowd jostling against each other extended for about a block and people were still stopping to take goddamn pictures. I was full on enraged at all this, and it took me about 15 minutes to get half a freaking block, shuffling and pressed up against people, getting shoved from behind and causing me to shove the people in front of me.
Unable to contact the rest of the family otherwise, I went to a Duane Reade/Walgreens and bought an overpriced Lightning cable. I knew full well that it would be relatively useless to me after this night, since most 3rd party cables do not it fit through my life proof case. I had to remove the case.
I decided I was not going to jostle back through the stagnant crowd again just to meet up with them so we could jostle through more crowds to see freaking tourist things I don't give a shit about seeing in person.
As soon as my phone turned on, I sent a series of texts to everyone:
You can go wherever. Don't wait for me. I bought a charging cable from Duane Reade so I will be getting your messages.
At some point I will meet you somewhere that is NOT CROWDED. Just tell me where. I am not going into Rockafeller or back on Fifth
And to the expected "where are you" and "we will wait for you"
Don't call to clarify with me. It will just be a pain in the butt. Just go on wherever you want to go to. I will hang out away from the crowds. I really don't care about any of the displays or touristy things anyway. There is nothing here I want to see and the crowd in Rockafeller is a nightmare
Just message me if you need tips getting around
I began to walk west, which was the opposite direction of the big crowds, but soon I hit the pedestrian traffic around Times Square, which is another place I find irritating. I was thinking of just stopping in a McDonalds, but I decided to keep going. I considered seeing if my friends Lawrence and Connie in Hells Kitchen were at home, but I felt a bit hungry and decided to stop a cheap restaurant I vaguely recommended ordering from.
I am just walking around on 9th by myself. I can meet you if you go sit down somewhere or once you're done seeing Rockafeller / Times Square area
Peace and quiet -- at least for the city. I was able to stop being angry. I didn't find that restaurant I was thinking of, but I spotted a tiny, authentic looking noodle place (named Hand Pulled Noodles II)
The only table was almost right up against the door. I didn't mind at all. When have I minded something like that? They gave me a pot of jasmine green tea and I ordered a beef stew noodle bowl. After all that, it was just the best.
I told him I'd meet them there, and then ate my soup eagerly and noisily, like you're supposed to. I finished up the remaining soup by drinking from the bowl directly. I used the bathroom and told them to keep the 20 (which was the same bill Chinese lady had given me). The cashier looked at me, stunned, but I told her, hey it's Christmas. I didn't mention that this was the redeeming part of the whole trip
Zipped up my jacket, retied my shoes, put on some headphones, and headed over to 33rd and Broadway at a nice, brisk city pace.
Met up with the family at the base of the 34th street entrance to the PATH station.
I wasn't sure if my parents were angry at me for refusing to meet them in the crowded center. But later I figured they were just tired, but satisfied with what they did
Got back to the car on Warren and Columbus Ave. Put on Sakanaction as we got onto the Turnpike. As we glides down the highway, I found the array lights of the industrial centers and the airport stretching into the distance more beautiful than anything the packed crowds had stopped to ogle.
I thought about what I frequently think about -- anxieties about people expecting me to want the same things in life that they do. A sort of disbelief that anyone would be indifferent to things like having a nice house, a good career (or creator of the next Big Thing), a prestigious title (Vice President of something or another), a huge salary, and an impressive office. There are crowds packed, jostling against each other to get to those things.
I realized that today had been a microcosm of my life, and what I value from it.
The peace I found when I got away to enjoy a bit of soup and some tea at a tiny table by myself, seeing beauty in the sight of lights coming from myriad warehouses and industrial installations, the sense of liveliness of walking through the city on my own terms -- these are small examples of the quality things I am looking for on the big scale.
Today was a light day at the package sorting hub. We finished extremely early. While that means fewer hours, I found it convenient, since I will need to be up very early tomorrow morning to head to NYC.
The light load was also fortunate, since my counterpart--I'll call him Cowen--was not in. He stands on the other side of the belt and also assists in intercepting certain packages. Without him there, the light load was moderately difficult.
Being alone at my station meant that I had the whole time to think to myself. Or, depending on how you look at it, I had to think to myself the whole time.
Every once in a while, my mood dips. Some days I don't get enough sleep (around nine hours for me) and that can lead to anxiety and depression. Other times I experience an event that brings up bad emotions. Shame often predominates my depressive moods. At least, that's what I call it--it's the opposite of feeling proud.
I'm only bringing this up because the second thought I had that day came up when I was trying to keep myself from slipping into a bad mood earlier that day. The thought was:
Sometimes, to get out of a bad situation, you have to cross something out.
I feel like that makes sense in a practical way. If you're stuck or trapped in a bad place, position, or state, you might be able to get free by removing something. Remove some of the walls or surfaces keeping you pinned down.
I'm still trying to figure things out. I've accepted that if I'm actually going to go after things I want in life, figuring it out is going to be mostly up to me. There isn't really a template to follow. And while I can chat with some friends, I get the sense that most of the people around me are following very different scripts. And I'm writing my own. To some extent, I have to remind myself that some of the people I know actually take some cues from what I am doing, even though I'm still really, really making things up.
Since I don't have ready made scripts, I use a lot of models in thinking about things. They aren't perfect, and some of them are at most loose metaphors but they help me a lot.
One model I've been thinking through Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I'm pretty sure I'm still stuck towards the bottom of esteem layer. I haven't progressed very much in society's terms--I don't earn a lot of money, I don't have a very prestigious career, and I haven't checked off common life milestones, like having children, getting married, or even a long-term significant other. On the more superficial side, I don't even have many experiences that can generate nice pictures to post on Facebook or Instagram. I don't have a college degree, and by all reasonable expectations, I'm probably going to be struggling with that for a while now. A lot of the time, especially because I'm close to my brothers, I feel all right.
But it gets to me. Last night, I was seeing everyone's baby and engagement and wedding photos.
If only I could cross out a large part of that pesky esteem layer! If only I could say, okay, not going to feel shame. If only I could save all the mental energy preparing to explain my life factors in terms other people can understand, only to have them give pretty pointless advice.
But I do kind of do that, or attempt to do that. From my own experience, my own hierarchy has a truncated esteem layer, or at least a very leaky border between self-actualization and esteem. Whenever things feel safe enough, I begin trying to tackle esteem and self-actualization sort of all at once.
What if I just reject the common social scripts that don't seem like they're going to work for me? A different model helped me see that quitting, exiting, or throwing out arrangements that aren't working for me has been a thing I tend to do naturally.
But you don't quit without side effects. I sure didn't. For social/life scripts, the side effect usually is that you have to write your own stuff. And then a bigger side effect is that people don't understand what's going on with you, while your script is still a work in progress. They'll try to pattern-match you to many tropes that just ain't relevant. And then, there's always the possibility that quitting carried a larger price overall than you first thought.
I'm dreading some encounters with relatives this winter. Even though I've felt that I'm learning very quickly how I want to live my life, and how I don't want to live my life, I know it will seem to them that I'm falling into a particularly bad script. And they will have suggestions about what I should be doing instead.
But for right now, I find myself in an interesting stage. I started training at the package hub just an hour after I completely failed an interview. It was sort of a desperate move at the time. I'd been looking for a job all fall, and I'd expected to keep searching in software development. Back in June, I wouldn't have expected I'd be working on a conveyor belt.
I feel strangely at ease, though. I earn enough to just barely pay bills, so I really don't want to stay forever. But most days, I feel really relieved at not feeling that I could be doing something else. While I'm at the hub, I'm doing my best almost all the time. No one there expects that I should be doing more. The packages keep coming down the belt, and I have to do my best to keep up and pick them off. But that's about it. Really, the hardest times of the week to deal with are my days off.
I know it's very temporary, and very limited, but this arrangement has provided a weird sort of haven from most worries. Maybe I'm not out of the rut yet, but at least there's some shelter for the rain.
Even though the pay sucks, the hours suck (even though it's part time), and I'm sore and tired the rest of the time--
If someone came up to me and asked, "Hey, how about you do this [software job] that pays a lot more?" I would still be hesitant. I don't know what that says about the the way things are right now.
But I know I should basically expect to be stuck here until I really begin to make a move
I'm not really sure what this all means
The first episode, "After the Mayflower" tells the story of the Wampanoag, an Algonquian-speaking people. The Wampanoag were at the forefront of the difficult relationship between the English and the American Indian peoples: the United States holiday of Thanksgiving has written their alliance with the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
The series tells the story from the perspective of two generations of Wampanaug leadership, and how it would coem to shape the future of American history. It begins with sachem Massanoit, who chose to enter into an alliance with the small group of English separatists who landed in what would become Plymouth Bay Colony, allowing them to survive. It ends with Massanoit's son Metacom, known as Philip. Philip became sachem after this father's death. He would become famous for leading a confederacy of tribes against the English in what would later be called King Philip's War.
The episode examines the motivations for these key figures, as well for Wampanaug in general. It depicts them as decision makers trying to help their people survive amidst deadly disease, invasions, economic upheaval, and political betrayal.
Although the stated intent of the series is to help people to see the struggle of the native people of the Americas, the episode accomplishes more than that. It helps the viewer understand early American history from the perspective of the native people. It helps people understand a much talked-about, but often not very deeply understood period.
The episode assumes a vague familiarity with the history of the English colonization of North America and very basic geography. The main subject of the episode takes place in present-day Massachussetts. The episode makes use of maps to illustrate events and key movements of people. Some general background information might help the viewer better appreciate the series, it is not critical for understand what is going on. Most Americans who hav had some history even at the elementary school level will be able to benefit from the episode.
Because it tells the story of English colonization from the Wampanoag perspective, "After the Mayflower" immediately invites the viewer to empathize with the concerns of the tribe and its leaders. It immediately removes misunderstanding that North America was mostly empty before the Europeans. The story begins with the Wampanaug sachem Massanoit trying to find a way forward after sickness killed nine out of every ten of his people. The Pilgrims appear as outsiders. The Wampanaug are cautious, because of the reputation of Europeans as brutal and ruthless. But the Pilgrims who take up residence in the abandoned village of Patuxet include women and children, many of whom die before the end of the first winter. Still, some in the Wampanaug tribal council think they should wipe out the newcomers before they have a chance to do more harm. But seeing the women and children there, Massanoit decides to let newcomers live. As they make contact, he sees an alliance as a way to protect against the threat of rival tribes.
The common narrative of the Thanksgiving holiday centers around the Pilgrims. This religious sect saw Massanoit and the Wampanaug as having been sent by God to further their (the Pilgrims') mission. "After the Mayflower" depicts Massanoit not as a tool, but as leader facing difficult choices and an uncertain future. It begins with the Wampanaug more powerful than the English settlers, who were at the mercy of the environment and people of this foreign land. By doing this, the episode overturns the usual narrative and invites the viewer to see history through the eyes of the people who lived it--without any set path.
The episode looks at several aspects of the Wampanaug culture, and that American Indians in general, affected the relationship with the English. It discusses how the English misunderstood wampum, which were beads made from clam and other shells. The Wampanaug and all tribes of the Eastern Woodlands region respected it and used it as a ceremonial amulet. The English, meanwhile, assumed wampum was merely a type of currency. Without any respect for its cultural significance, they bypassed the usual relationships between coastal and inland tribes, and manufactured wampum to trade for resources like animal furs. This was one factor that led to decisions by Massanoit and other leaders to sell off their land.
Perhaps most of all, the episode teaches us the Indian way of thinking about relationships, and how its mismatch with the English way of doing things shaped relations and conflict between the two groups. When Massanoit entered into the treaty with the settlers at Plymouth, he not only saw it as a pact between equals, but a joining of their peoples. This was the Indian understanding: an alliance meant that their peoples would become as one, and help each other. Massanoit himself was not an ruler, like a Royal Governor or King James, but a leader whose people had picked through consensus, and whom the whole tribe respected. In contrast, the English, particularly the religious sect of the Pilgrims, were wary of living in too much close contact with the Wampanaug or any other Indians. As more English arrived, this concept of the Indians of outsiders that they needed to change and control grew among them.
Although the history of the United States usually follows the English perspective, I expect many viewers to see the English ways of the period as comparatively barbaric: from their penchant for hierarchy and dominance, desire to control outsiders, to their use of punishments like dismemberment, and their use of human heads as war trophies. I think modern viewers will relate more to the consensus-finding, compromise-seeking approaches of Massanoit, who better represents the ideals of leadership in modern democracy and a respect for a common humanity. Even his son, Philip, who took up arms against the English, only did so as a last resort, in response to injustice, broken promises, and political maneuvering to completely destroy the Wampanaug and related peoples.
The personal focus on Massanoit, Philip, and other key figures from the period make this film unique. While the two Wampanaug leaders play the biggest roles in this ultimately sad story, the episode makes a point to show their relationships with the English. Massanoit became close friends with the second-in-command at Plymouth, Edward Winslow. Winslow took it upon himself to be the ambassador to the Wampanaug. When Massanoit seemed to be deathly ill, Winslow came to be there with the sachem. The episode depicts a scene where Winslow embraces a severely ill Massanoit, and helps him to drink and eat. After he recovers, the show has Massanoit say to Winslow, "I will never forget your kindness."
The show takes care to illustrate all the figures in its story as complex people, with their own desires, hopes, and apprehensions. It avoids simplistically characterizing entire groups as simply good or bad--at the very least, it invites the viewer to think about the political, social, and personal motivations that shaped their actions.
The show uses a mixture of narration, historical pictures, commentary by historians, experts, and current day tribal people to present its information. But maybe the most important aspect of the show was using actors to depict the historical figures. This helps to engage the viewer with the historical story and the experiences of the people they are learning about.
This focus on the experience of the Wampanaug has the potential to change viewers' way of looking at history beyond this period. People watching the show get to see just how much promise the alliance between the Wampanaug and the Pilgrims at Plymouth seemed to hold for relationships between the Indians the English in general. The close friendship and respect between Edward Winslow and Massanoit underscores this. Knowing only about their strong bond, that the sons of these two would become fierce enemies seems shocking and surprising. But history, as people around the world live it, really often is that shocking. Even if we look back and analyze the factors, the people who lived through those events had no real way of knowing just how the story would turn out.
The story of Thanksgiving is important to the American national narrative. It depicts the American ideal of mutual help and cooperation of free peoples of different backgrounds. Although much of Thanksgiving is myth, "After the Mayflower" shows us that much of it was true. For a period, the Wampanaug and the religious Pilgrims at Plymouth cooperated and lived together, some forming close friendships. The Wampanaug, in particular, taught the Pilgrims all about how to survive in their land. Under Massanoit's leadership, they included the the English newcomers as part of a united people. But here is where the clear myth of Thanksgiving ends. Most Americans recognize the name of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the group of English religious separatists across the Atlantic Ocean.
Not so many are aware of how closely this event was tied to another event in early American history--the uprising known as King Philip's War. Metacom, or Philip, was the son of the same sachem Massanoit who entered into a treaty with the survivors of the Mayflower. The show shows us the "second" Thanksgiving the settlers at Plymouth celebrated: Philip's defeat, death, and dismemberment at the hands of English forces. The English at Plymouth displayed Philip's severed head on a pole for two decades.
"After the Mayflower" gives us a look into how Massanoit, Philip, and others must have really experienced this important episode in out history. It is a valuable educational tool that invites us into the perspective of native peoples trying to their best in a world of calamity from disease and invasion. The use of actors portraying the key figures adds a special immersive element to the story. This show reminds us how these experiences of native people are a part of our national historical heritage.
Yes, I am about to write some cheesy stuff. Prepare yourself.
Life has been good lately. It has been good to me for a while, but only recently have I felt skilled enough to internalize it, to begin to give my own answer.
I make mistakes and have setbacks every day. but I've also do a lot of right things. The memory of my friend gives me determination to move forward my own story. I complain less to myself or to anyone about trouble. I seek fewer chances to postpone or escape or hide or distract myself. I may pursue different activities and goals at times, but my life is one thing.
I wish my friend were here to see this. I wish he were here to share in the future we are all building together. Selfishly, I wanted him to see the stories I could create.
I asked myself before: how many more? How many more friends will be gone before I am ready to share the tales I have been spinning with my days? How many loved ones will never get to see what I want to bring to life?
I hear those questions again daily now, but no longer with fear. I am determined not to wait.
Today, I am neither saint, nor sage, nor warrior nor poet. I'm just a dirty traveler, still not fully used to true hardship, just barely getting started. It doesn't matter if it doesn't look like much now. It doesn't matter if outside circumstances get better or worse. I choose my path by choosing my next step in the right direction. I strive to become more skillful and to transform the ingredients of the present for the future.
I have many memories. I have many moments, many emotions that are part of me. I've passed through many intersections, dead ends. I've seen seasons and ships pass me by. But the decades do not weigh on me. There are so many with fewer years, more hair on their heads, more money in their pockets, more achievements on their biographies who are nearly corpses. When I consider it even for a moment, I have neither envy nor scorn for them. What I have: pride in my friends and family, in my path, in my determination for the future. Life is short, but that is fine. I am young, and I refuse to be any other way. The length of days and nights wax and wane, but they are laden with purpose. The road stretches far into the distance. The story is just beginning.