bookmark_borderAlternate universes

Since the statue genocide began almost two years ago, numerous activities that I used to enjoy have been ruined. I used to love exploring Boston and its suburbs, photographing buildings and landmarks. I used to love trains and buses, both as a mode of transit and as a cool thing to learn about and photograph in and of themselves. I used to love sports, particularly the Bruins, and frequently attended their games and practices.

However, now that Boston has become a city without my statue of Christopher Columbus in it, I do not love Boston anymore. I no longer get much pleasure from exploring or photographing it, nor do I really enjoy rooting for Boston’s sports teams. Whenever I think “Boston,” the fact that there is no Christopher Columbus anymore is front and center.

The same concept applies to almost all cities and states in the U.S., and many foreign countries as well. The fact that places do not have the statues and monuments that they are supposed to have, and therefore are ruined, significantly negatively impacts my ability to enjoy my former hobbies and interests.

I have struggled to figure out what to do about this. I have unfollowed some athletes, organizations, and photographers on social media either because they specifically expressed support for anti-statue ideology, or because I found their content to be particularly painful. But I am still following many social media accounts that are related to Boston, photography, public transportation, and/or sports, and seeing posts on these topics causes a variety of different emotions. 

Yesterday, I saw a post about the Route 71 and 73 buses that go through Cambridge and Watertown. What is unique about these buses is that they are connected to overhead wires that power them as they make their way through the streets, as opposed to using diesel or gas. Sadly, this past weekend marks the end of these buses’ lives. Due to a major road construction project, they are being taken out of service and will eventually be replaced with more high-tech buses. A train and bus enthusiast that I follow on Instagram took a trip on one of these buses over the weekend and posted photos and videos documenting the journey.

Seeing these images, I thought to myself, “I should have done that!” The old me, in fact, probably would have done that. An old-fashioned bus line is exactly the type of thing that the old me was into. The old me would have wanted to experience that and document it as a part of Boston history. I felt bad that I didn’t ride and document the bus this weekend; I felt that it was something I should do.

But then I had an epiphany. Riding the 71 or 73 bus is something that I would have done in a parallel universe, or an alternate reality. An alternate reality in which the statue genocide hadn’t happened. But unfortunately, the statue genocide did happen. I don’t live in a parallel universe; I live in this one. And in this universe, my priority is defending, honoring, and glorifying the historical figures who are under relentless, brutal attack. Each person has only a finite amount of time and energy, and given the horrific things that happened, my time and energy are best spent celebrating historical figures through art, poetry, and writing. 

Thinking about it that way, I am able to find some semblance of peace with regards to the activities that I used to do and the things that I used to be into. These are things that the version of me that exists in a parallel universe would do, but this version of me doesn’t do. Given what happened in this universe, these activities aren’t the most meaningful use of my time and energy.

I don’t mean to imply that the statue genocide was even remotely good in any way, shape, or form, but at least it has narrowed down my interests to a manageable amount. Before, there were so many hobbies and activities that interested me that I was constantly frustrated that I didn’t have enough time and energy to do them all. There was no way I could learn about all the topics that I wanted to learn about, no way I could explore all the places that I wanted to explore, and no way I could attend all the events that I wanted to attend. I lived in a constant state of exhaustion, time pressure, and overwhelm. For a while, the pandemic cut down on the amount of activities that were available, which was hugely beneficial for me (I know that sounds like a weird thing to say about a pandemic, but it’s true). The statue genocide, as horrific, unjust, and immoral as it has been, has given me clarity on my priorities in life, and on which activities are the best uses of my time and energy. 

I have gone through an unimaginable amount of pain over the past two years. What happened is not okay, and I will never feel that it is. But slowly, very slowly, I am adjusting to the fact that this version of the universe differs from the version I expected and imagined, and my hobbies and interests differ as well.

bookmark_borderOn death, grief, and loss

As everyone knows, dying is an inevitable part of life. I remember the moment I first realized this. I was five, and I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and mulling over various topics. I knew intellectually that everyone eventually dies, but until that moment it hadn’t fully hit me exactly what that entailed. Somehow, at that moment, I came to the realization that one day, I would completely cease to exist. It would be like I was asleep, but permanent. I would not be conscious ever again. The events of the world would go on, but I would not be around to witness them. The entirety of what it meant to be me – seeing, feeling, thinking, perceiving – would come to an end.

That thought disturbed me tremendously. It caused a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. After a while, I fell asleep. Although I never again dedicated significant amounts of time to focusing on that realization, the knowledge of my mortality has been around ever since, an ominous presence lurking in the back of my mind.

Last October, my grandfather passed away. He was 91, had lived a full life, and suffered from various medical conditions that were gradually growing worse and reducing his quality of life. Over the past four months, my mom has struggled with this loss more than I have (not surprising since it is usually considered a bigger loss to lose a parent than a grandparent). One day she asked me how I was able to handle my grandfather’s death without getting sad. I thought this over for a while and then answered:

For me, Papa’s death is not truly a loss. First of all, because his medical conditions caused him so much discomfort and so many limitations, he is better off dead than continuing with that same quality of life. But more than that, the experiences that I’ve had with Papa are not gone. The memories of playing poker, watching football, and going to the racetrack with him, are still inside me. They always will be. Papa’s death means, of course, that no new experiences with Papa will take place. No more memories will be added to the collection. But that is okay. I am happy with the existing collection of experiences and memories, and that collection remains intact.

Papa dressed as Napoleon for my 13th birthday

My feelings about the loss of my grandfather stand in sharp contrast with my feelings about the destruction of historical statues and monuments that has taken place over the past two years. Although I love my grandfather very much, the latter has proven far more painful for me. I think often about the reasons why this might be the case. Why am I not able to view the deaths of the statues that I love in the same way that I view the death of Papa?

Perhaps it is because statues, unlike human beings, are supposed to last forever. They are not supposed to die. The loss of them was not a possibility that I ever considered I might one day have to deal with. Perhaps it is because, unlike my grandfather who died of natural causes, the statues were killed on purpose. Perhaps it is because, with the exception of the statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston, I had not actually seen these statues in person. The knowledge that they existed was enough to fill me with happiness. I intended to visit them eventually but hadn’t yet made specific travel plans. Now, because people decided to brutally and selfishly destroy them, I will never get to view these monuments, photograph them, take in the atmosphere surrounding them, or simply be in their presence. Now, I am robbed of the ability to ever have those experiences. I am robbed of exciting and interesting things to look forward to, robbed of any desire to explore the world around me, and robbed of hope for the future.

Maybe one day the anguish, grief, and rage that I feel will fade into the background and become bearable. Maybe there will be more days when I am able to go about my routine with lightness in my heart and images of beauty in my mind, and fewer days when I am completely beaten down by the leaden, sickening feeling of overwhelming injustice and loss. But more than one year and eight months after these disastrous events began, that has not yet happened. For now, the pain continues unabated.

bookmark_borderThe blizzard of 2022

In this blog post, I will be taking a break from politics to focus on something less controversial but still interesting: weather!

Today I made a brief expedition outdoors into the “Blizzard of 2022.” As someone on the autism spectrum, I have particular sensitivities to wind, cold, and precipitation, which arguably makes going out into a blizzard potentially one of the dumbest things to do. However, I also enjoy photography and exploring and documenting the world around me. So I decided to venture out into the frozen tundra that is Malden, Massachusetts.

The thing that was most remarkable about today’s blizzard was the almost complete lack of visibility. From inside my house, I could barely see the (admittedly few) vehicles passing by on the street, something that hasn’t been the case during any previous snowstorm. As soon as I stepped outside, the wind almost literally hit me like a ton of bricks. It forced me to walk backwards down my driveway in order to avoid snow violently pelting my face. Fortunately, because of the direction the wind was blowing in, I was able to resume normal walking when I reached the end of the driveway.

Everything around me was white and/or gray, the only pops of color being street signs, traffic lights, a fire hydrant, a flag, and occasional red leaves still clinging to branches. As I made my way down the street, the snow for the most part was higher than the tops of my boots. Because of the vicious wind, the snow was much deeper in some places on the sidewalk than others. I tried, with mixed success, to step in the random places with relatively little snow in order to avoid snow getting into my boots and making my feet disgustingly wet and cold.


I passed through the large intersection where my house is located, and headed down the street past a playground, tennis courts, soccer field, baseball diamond, and cemetery, taking photos as I went. Very quickly, my fingers began to hurt because it was so cold, so I put gloves on.



Along the way, a few plow trucks passed, as well as the occasional car, but for the most part the landscape was eerily deserted.

I proceeded to the pond at the end of the street, surrounded by a park and wooded area. The pond itself was almost invisible in the blowing snow, but I took some photos of the view. I considered turning back at that point, but the sidewalk going around the pond had some relatively snow-free parts, either because someone had shoveled or because the wind had blown the snow away. So I followed it for a bit and took pictures of picnic benches, a trash can, and some trees.





By that point, my fingers were hurting even with the gloves, and a sudden, particularly violent gust of wind came out of nowhere and made me scream in pain, so I knew it was time to head home. Unfortunately, because I was now walking in the opposite direction than I had been before, I once again faced a situation where snow was being violently and ceaselessly whipped directly into my face. Because this is something that I find physically painful due to my sensory sensitivities, I opted to walk backwards along the sidewalk for most of my journey home. In addition to looking extremely strange, this made it difficult to navigate the uneven snow and, alas, resulted in more instances of accidentally stepping into really deep snow and getting my feet soaked.

As my luck would have it, the only person that I saw on my exploration was a guy shoveling his walkway, whom I passed while walking backwards and simultaneously muttering about how annoying it was that the wind was forcing me to walk backwards. Oops. Another interesting thing I noticed while walking home was that my footprints, left just a little while earlier, were almost completely gone! A testament to how much snow was coming down and how wildly it was blowing around.

By the time I got back to my house, my hands were numb, my face hurt, my feet were disgustingly wet and cold, and I was quite irritated at the wind and the fact that it had put me in the position of either walking backwards or being subjected to constant torture for my entire walk home.

Even though one would expect a blizzard to be cold and windy, the Blizzard of 2022 was even colder and windier than I expected. It was striking how deserted the streets and sidewalks were, and how severely visibility was affected. Overall, I guess I’m glad that I went. I am definitely happy to be indoors with a cup of (decaf) coffee, looking out the window at the plows doing their job and the snow glittering quietly on the ground.

bookmark_borderA tiny sliver of justice

A couple days ago, someone on Twitter wrote a nasty reply to one of my tweets. I clicked on this person’s username to find out more about them and to view the rest of their tweets and found that their page was filled with exceedingly vicious content ridiculing and insulting Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was killed by a police officer while protesting at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

First of all, in his/her bio, this person (and I use that term loosely) bragged about having been blocked by an account dedicated to remembering and seeking justice for Babbitt, as well as an account dedicated to supporting the January 6 defendants. The fact that someone would brag about having acted nastily towards people who stand up for justice and fight back against authority is messed-up and bizarre.

This “person” repeatedly tweeted images of Babbitt bleeding to death on the floor of the Capitol building, accompanied by words ridiculing and insulting her and calling her a domestic terrorist.

In response to tweets about an artist’s tribute to Babbitt, the “person” responded with something to the effect of “my dog creates tributes to Babbitt twice a day,” accompanied by a picture of a dog going to the bathroom.

The “person” suggested to those who wish to commemorate Babbitt on the anniversary of her death that if they cannot find a suitable picture of Babbitt, they should instead use a picture of Timothy McVeigh, Charles Whitman, or another name from a list of murderers.

The “person” claimed that Babbitt’s family and friends were to blame for her death for failing to attempt to persuade Babbitt to change her political views, and that if they truly loved her they would have intervened to try to change her views as opposed to accepting her for who she was. (This despite the fact that trying to change who someone is as opposed to accepting them is immoral and the opposite of love.)

In tweet after tweet, this “person” repeatedly ridiculed and insulted Babbitt, the January 6 defendants, and anyone who had the audacity to express support for them.

In short, this person went out of his/her way to take the side of an authoritarian government against a woman brutally killed by said government. This person, who lives in a society where the political establishment and the majority of the population shares his/her views, and therefore where he/she gets his/her way on essentially every policy issue, chose to ridicule and insult a woman who was killed for questioning authority and expressing political dissent. This is incomprehensible, disgusting, repulsive, and despicable. 

Tonight, I returned to Twitter to look up this person’s account again for the purpose of composing a blog post criticizing them, only to find that their nasty reply to me, and their account itself, appear to be gone. 

So instead of rebutting the person’s disgusting statements point by point with screenshots, the only thing I have to say in this blog post is that a tiny sliver of justice appears to have been done. Whether the “person” deleted their nasty reply to me, deleted their account entirely, or had their account deleted by Twitter for violating its terms of service, the world is a better place without such nastiness in it. It is always a victory when a blog post rebutting someone’s disgusting statements turns out to be unnecessary.

bookmark_borderStop the Mandates rally in Boston

Today I attended an event called the “Show Up Strong: Stop the Mandates” rally in Boston, MA. Several hundred people gathered outside the State House to protest against vaccine mandates in general, and the city of Boston’s vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, theaters, and sporting events in particular. 

As a band played pro-freedom rock music, protesters lined both sides of Beacon Street, holding signs, waving flags, and chanting “Wu Has No Heart.” I held a sign that read, “My body my Choice / No vaccine mandates.” Starting a few minutes after noon, a variety of speakers addressed the crowd from the steps in front of the State House, including a state representative, a rabbi, the owner of a popular Italian restaurant, the chairman of the Constitution Party, a veteran and gym owner, a police sergeant who lost her job for opting against the vaccine, and an occupational therapist who lost her job for the same reason. The crowd of protesters was racially and politically diverse. Unsurprisingly, Gadsden flags, F— Biden flags, Trump signs, and “Let’s Go Brandon” apparel dotted the crowd, but there were also left-leaning types and signs containing the “A” for anarchy symbol. People of all races danced and chanted about love, truth, health, and freedom. 

Numerous drivers honked their horns and gave the thumbs up from their vehicles as they drove past, including a UPS driver, a school bus driver, a taxi driver, and drivers from various food companies, a flower shop, HVAC companies, and construction companies. A pickup truck with signs saying “Impeach Biden” and “Impeach Warren” drove by several times, honking loudly to express support. Photographers and videographers from various news outlets captured images of the crowd, and a few police officers milled about.

The only aspect of the rally that I did not enjoy was the weather. As someone on the autism spectrum, I am particularly sensitive to cold, wind, and rain, and I considered not attending because the forecast called for exactly those things. A cold rain came and went throughout the afternoon, not enough of a downpour to drench anyone, but enough to make everything and everyone damp and shivering. 

Shortly before 2:00, the protesters took to the streets, marching from the State House to City Hall (where Mayor Michelle Wu had decided to close the building and order staff to work from home) past Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market and on to the North End. Chanting “Let’s Go Brandon,” “Shame on Wu,” and “My Body, My Choice,” we took over the streets of Boston, forcing cars to stop and paying no attention to traffic lights. At the head of the procession were people with bullhorns, as well people holding a large banner that read, “Medical freedom: the new civil rights movement.” Along the way, people going about their business stopped to watch and take videos on their phones. Construction workers in bright yellow vests cheered, and old guys hanging out near the “Connah Store” clapped their hands. People peered down from the windows of apartment buildings, some flashing the thumbs up, some simply gawking in curiosity, and only one giving the middle finger. Along the way, we passed the statue of boxer Tony DeMarco. Noticing that someone had placed a mask on the statue’s face, one of the rally leaders promptly removed the mask and threw it on the ground.

At 2:30, we arrived at the Paul Revere statue in the North End, where we posed for a group photo and sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” By the time the march concluded, I was shivering uncontrollably from the cumulative amount of time spent in the cold and rain, and my hands were numb. My sign, as well as numerous other people’s signs, was soaked, and the letters were starting to smudge. However, it would be a no-brainer to say that I was glad I went. All of the horrible things happening in the world have really been getting me down, particularly comments on social media saying that people like me are not welcome in Boston and that we should stay out of “their” city. Participating in this rally and march gave me the sense that I am not alone and that I do have a place in the city of Boston. Marching en masse through the streets, bringing traffic to a halt, and attracting stares from passerby, was truly a powerful and exhilarating experience. For a couple hours, at least, I felt that I had a voice and a community. That in itself is a big victory.

Continue reading “Stop the Mandates rally in Boston”

bookmark_border2021

2021 was an interesting year, to put it mildly. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights:

  1. People bravely decided to protest against the installation of Joe Biden as president, and a ceaseless torrent of vicious, relentless, and defamatory insults – not to mention unjust criminal charges – promptly began, not only towards the protesters but also towards all people who share the protesters’ ideology.
  2. Biden took office and proceeded to enact one horrible, authoritarian policy after another, accompanied by horrible, authoritarian rhetoric more appropriate for a totalitarian dictator than a president of the United States.
  3. Covid continued, and so did authoritarian policies intended to mitigate it. People were told that the rollout of the covid vaccine would mean a return to normal, but it instead led to increasingly authoritarian policies coercing, requiring, and forcing people to get the vaccine, which is the antithesis of a return to normal.
  4. The vicious, senseless, and bigoted war on beautiful statues and monuments continued.
  5. I lost several family members, including an aunt, grandfather, great aunt, and great uncle.
  6. My cousin (age 31) learned that he had brain cancer.
  7. I made the difficult decision to leave a job at a company that I loved.
  8. I ended relationships with several people because their political beliefs were too different from mine. Previously, I have never really taken people’s political beliefs into account when deciding whether or not to be friends with them, but the assaults on historical figures and bodily autonomy have made political issues become quite personal for me, and I was no longer willing to stifle myself and pretend that everything was fine while people openly advocated for the destruction of everything that makes my life worth living.
  9. I gained more confidence in speaking out about my beliefs.
  10. I was ridiculed and called a racist, a white supremacist, an idiot, and a disgusting person because I spoke out about my beliefs.
  11. I started an awesome new job at an awesome company.
  12. The American people began to wake up and to fight back against authoritarianism, via lawsuits, protests, and the now ubiquitous “Let’s Go Brandon.”
  13. At least one statue of Christopher Columbus and several modest Confederate statues were erected in various locations around the country.
  14. I ordered my very own statue of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, which will be arriving sometime this year.
  15. I attended a protest against vaccine mandates.
  16. I attended a protest against getting rid of Columbus statues and Columbus Day.
  17. I met a variety of new, like-minded people from all different walks of life.
  18. A halfway decent person was elected governor of Virginia, in something of a rebuke of the despicable statue genocide that took place in that state.
  19. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted, handing a rare defeat to the intolerant, politically correct bullies. 
  20. While going through drawings and writings from my childhood, I had an epiphany about the true purpose of my life. More on that will follow over the course of the year.

2020 and 2021 were by far the most difficult – and at many points, demoralizing – years of my life. However, in the second half of 2021 there have been a few glimmers of hope. Here’s hoping that 2022 is a better year. It is hard to imagine how it could possibly be worse.