With America's government shutdown, the glorious and handsome President Vladimir Putin vows to help his newly acquired peoples receive their tax refunds in a prompt and efficient manner. If each productive member of Новая Америка gives 50% of their annual rubles to the Russian Federation, they will get big break of tax and refund next year, in addition to two beets. Have papers ready at your nearby H&Я Bloc and be prepared with social security numbers to get faster filing and a bonus beet.
School was never really a problem for me. I was always much further ahead than my classmates and in the 5th grade, both of my teachers even recommended that I skip ahead to the 7th grade in the beginning of the fall term. The lowest grade I ever got during elementary and middle school was a B+ so yeah, I was the egghead and the teacher’s pet. I never once got a dentation in my life. I was that awesome.
However, I was bullied a lot as a child. In fact, kindergarten is the only time that I was ever happy attending school for this every reason. My mother was a teacher and always managed to help me make the best of things growing up in the same local system that she taught in. Things started getting worse by the time I was in the 7th grade, and continued to get worse through the 8th. My middle school decided to add a wood waste recycling dumpster near the playground for shop class, and one day, I was actually physically assaulted on the schoolyard near the basketball hoops by a class bully who was wielding a 2x4 that he procured from this dumpster.
I had massive black bruises over my ass and shoulders from this attack and it hurt like hell to ride the bus home for weeks as the terrible roads in town bounced me around with those injuries. As high school started to loom over my future, my family was desperately trying to find an alternative to sending me forward with the same people who had beaten me up on a near daily basis for several years. A coworker of my mom’s had a sister who recommended that I be enrolled in a parochial school forty minutes away for a fresh start and a better academic challenge compared to the local system, and just like that I was attending a school that I will refer to as St. Nard’s.
For the record, this coworker’s sister was going to be sending her own son to the same academy and it was seen at the time like “at least you’ll have one friend going in!” but he ended up enrolling in the local high school to her chagrin and I was completely alone in a strange, new world…
Now, I’m not Catholic. In fact, I’m Wiccan. But I know my way around Catholicism and the whole Christianity thing so it wasn’t so weird. At least, I thought it would be fairly simple to navigate. I was so, so wrong! These are the strangest, wildest and in some ways, funniest stories I have about my time at St. Nard’s.
The Dress Code
If you were to go out and purchase an extra starchy dress shirt, a thick bland tie, khaki pants and the itchiest, most flammable sweater you can find, you’d have the St. Nard’s uniform. We actually had two uniforms, the summer and winter versions. What I just described was the “winter version” and that was what we had to wear from late September until the end of April, or as you can tell, the majority of the school year. The summer version was mostly the same except we got a far more comfortable, short sleeve polo shirt instead. Boys could only wear brown or navy blue pants, and girls wore skirts or pants in the same colours.
Dress shirts had to be white, light blue, lavender, yellow or pink. It was generally recommended that boys only wear white or blue, whiles girls could have more options. One of my few male friends dared to wear pink with only a few nasty comments thrown his way, and I wore pink for graduation after years of nothing but white and blue had damaged my fashion sense. That was the closest I ever came to rebellion.
Boys were forbidden to have facial hair of any kind, including peach fuzz, and we had to shave every morning. If an administrator deemed you to have even a single stray hair, you were immediately sent to the main office where you were required to shave again in the tiny adjacent bathroom, using the school’s crappy Bic razor. It was a legend that St. Nard’s had only a single, ancient razor that was to be reused by everyone, but the reality was they replaced it weekly. Yes, you read that correctly. I also have to note that the headmaster, principal and vice-principal heavily enforced this rule and would watch you shave, while they all had thick beards of their own. The lay teachers called them out on this hypocrisy but as you’d expect, nothing was changed.
Girls were subject to some of the most humiliating treatment I had ever seen. It was common to see my female classmates randomly asked to perform the archaic finger and floor test, where they would have to show the all-male administrators that their skirts, were in fact, the proper length. Even those wearing obviously long skirts were checked while the administrators ogled them. If it wasn’t the higher-ups doing this, it was the school’s single, bony old nun whose mind was trapped in the 1930s. I’ll get to her in another post. Even parents made frequent complaints to the school about the skirts, and when I was a sophomore, all the girls in the school were required to attend an assembly on “female decency” (I’d like to see how that would fly with today’s MeToo movement) and the administration considered banning skirts altogether and requiring girls to wear a very restrictive jumpsuit instead. That never happened either.
Regardless of the uniform, we all had to tuck our shirts in. If your shirt was too baggy you were screeched at to tuck it in again. Every morning before homeroom, the halls were filled with a cacophony of religious teachers demanding that our shirts be righted and lay teachers kindly reminding us to do so before the “others” saw them. Those instructors rocked.
There was also a sort of unspoken and rarely enforced rule that made it so a guy’s belt had to match his pants colour. Only the nun seemed to care about this, but if she saw you wearing a brown belt with navy blue pants she would freak out and demand you get a black belt right away.
The dress code became fully draconian my senior year, when the new headmaster came up with a rule that students with “unnatural” hair colours would be sent home until they dyed it back to “normal.” This also forbade girls from getting highlights which caused an uproar, and it was changed so that only “natural” coloured highlights could be worn. I saw two of my classmates kicked out (with a 0 for the day in each of their classes) for having hair that was too blonde or highlights that were too red. This same addition to the dress code outlawed natural hairstyles for the very few black students at St. Nard’s, forcing them to receive distinctly “white” haircuts.
Two of my female classmates had natural red hair, and despite this, they were penalized for having “radical hair colour” which resulted in both of them obtaining blond dye jobs just to conform to the rules. It became that insane.
It is for reasons like the above that I have an enmity towards uniforms and strict dress codes, in addition to my antipathy for their traditional nature of dehumanizing individuals in order to instill control over a group. I was taught from a young age that a uniformed body is a uniformed mind, and that is a dangerous entity to be dealing with. This sort of animosity likely stems from my German and Polish family, who fled to Canada and the United States to escape the pogroms of the late 19th century and the rise of the Nazi party. My great-grandparents, settling in the States from Germany, would hide in their basement when the post or milkman arrived, fearing he was a Nazi spy sent to take them back to Europe.
After high school, I wore a tie exactly five times in fifteen years. If I ever perform in a venue that requires prestigious attire, I will happily wear a dress. You've been warned, Carnegie Hall.
I hope you've enjoyed the first entry in this series of school stories. I have dozens more about St. Nard's and realized while writing this first one that there was no way I'd be able to fit it all into a single blog entry. I'll probably be focusing a lot on high school at first since I have a list of topics to go over, including the time the administration brought in a self-described abortion survivor during our week of mandatory right-wing protests, a speaker who plagiarized a well-known chain email, and a rapping Jesuit priest who told racist jokes to break the ice.
Years ago, I ran a humour blog called Krowness Chronicles. The character of Krowness was a creation of mine dating back to 1999. He began as a fish out of water geek, the son of corporate pirates (literal pirates that drove a land ship and raided skyscrapers for paper booty) who would go on various misadventures in short stories I’d share with classmates well into high school.
By 2007, I was taking a course in writing for the web and part of the class required that I keep a blog and update it daily. The content would be of our own choosing, with a few required writings sprinkled in. I had the idea to make my own comedy platform where I’d rant about tiny nuisances in everyday life, or review strange school scare films and bizarro music. However, I had no idea what to call the blog and just tossed on Krowness as a placeholder. I never got around to changing it, and my musings were gaining popularity (and I was getting a ton of both fan and hate mail, mostly about a one-off article where I whined about my lack of interest in American football), so it stuck.
I ended up rebranding Krowness as a great Space Viking, born of Odin, sent to Earth to defeat stupidity. He was killed in battle on 9 November, 2016 when the powers of idiocy triumphed in a wave of neurological failure emanating from the United States, ushering in Ragnarok. His spirit was briefly sent to Valhalla before he joined his brothers and sisters in the final battle on the fields of Vigrid.
One of the staples of Krowness Chronicles was a jumble of bullshit under the title of “Here Comes [Year]” where I would make unrealistic predictions of the coming 52 weeks. 2012 was a favourite of mine as every other line was “The world will end on 21 December.” Remember that nonsense? I also repeatedly projected/begged that American Idol would be cancelled, it was (eventually) so this legally makes me a psychic.
Now that all my work is under one roof, I feel it is necessary to restart this annual tradition, so here’s what we can expect in 2019!
I'm just going to start by saying that I hate myself. I'll explain this in more detail as this piece goes on, but it is a critical part of my personality that keeps me writing anecdotes, articles and more over utilizing video.
Currently, the denizens of the internet are happier with a video first experience over reading. With the massive growth and popularity of YouTube it is not surprising to see websites originally created in the late 1990s and early 2000s gradually shifting to such methods for the distribution of content. There's nothing wrong with this; it is honestly more engaging and provides people with a way to experience content while multitasking (how often do you play a video just for the sound while you are browsing a different website?), but it's just not for me.
I might be old fashioned, but I simply prefer reading an article or book to watching or listening to one, and it has nothing to do with a certain American leader who may be illiterate or some misguided, narcissistic sense of pseudo-intellectualism on my part. As a result, I also prefer to express myself in writing over producing vlogs or podcasts but there are other issues that I have with myself that are responsible for this approach to communication.
I have a lot of body image issues that prevent me from making video content. When I was a kid in middle school, my weight fluctuated a lot due to the asthma treatments that I was undertaking. In one grade I'd be the tallest and thinnest kid in my class, the next I'd be a pudgy butterball that still managed to tower over my peers. Yes, even the girls. This was due to the overprescribing of prednisone by my pediatrician which is notorious for adding pounds when used frequently. And I was taking a daily regiment for over a year at a time. Yes, this is horrible for your health but they didn't really know any better in the late '80s and early '90s and my pediatrician was awful (she nearly killed me twice with a misdiagnosis of pneumonia and again with the wrong dose of allergy vaccines that sent me into anaphylaxis).
I was given every foul name in the book starting in the first grade and up until high school. By then, I had developed anorexia and was over 18 kg underweight. I was 190 cm and weighed only 65 kg. By my junior year in college, I had gained over 20 kgs after my medication and diet changed. I was just over 95 kg, and this was at the same time I started to make myself more visible online. My YouTube videos were filled with comments where I earned such flattering nicknames as "Tits Boy," "The Rack," and "Shitty Titty."
Today, I am 79 kg and still 190 cm, but I still feel like a bloated, ugly puss bag. The idea of showing myself on camera brings back all those YouTube comments (this was 2008, I was in my 20s and didn't know any better) and the heckling of children on the playground. I get so anxious at the idea of being seen in motion pictures that the only times I allowed it as of late was in Deliverance Chips where part of my face is visible for only a few frames, and for a brief instance when I appear in a Slender Man costume as a gag. Irony.
Adding to my body image issues, my hairline has thinned quite a bit over the past several years. This has been mostly due to exceptional anxiety (see the previous posts about my experience as a stalking victim to understand why) and, again, misuse of my asthma medicine. For most of my life I only took albuterol, and was taking my rescue inhaler and a nebulizer several times a day (14 to 25 for the inhaler, twice a day for the nebulizer). My blood pressure was high, my heart racing and my stress became worse as they fed into one another. As a consequence, I have a thinner spot of hair in the back, and down the middle.
This makes me unbearable uncomfortable. I know it's stupid and vain, but I feel like I'm opening myself up to further attacks based on these sorts of petty things. My hair has been growing back since changing my asthma medication and relaxing more, but it's a slow process. For an example of this, my headshot on this site is from late 2012, and in any recent shoot I've done I always wear my Irish knit hat or a Red Sox cap. There, I've admitted it.
You might think "Well, there's a lot of people out there who don't use actual videos and just speak over images or stream a podcast, try that if you're too picky about your body image!" I hate to break it to you, but of all the things I hate about myself, I hate my voice the most.
I have this odd vocal range. I can sing baritone without any difficulty, but my speaking voice is noticeably that of a tenor. And not just any tenor, but the sort of tenor that has some shrill articulations that make many telemarketers think I'm a woman when I clumsily answer the phone to their hijacked numbers. (And I am all woman and all man. Two spirits!) Every time I hear my voice in a recording, I intentionally use effects in Ableton Live or with the iZotope Nectar plugin to lower its pitch. It's that embarrassing to me!
In addition, I have a speech impediment. I stutter like Bill in Stephen King's It when I get nervous, and when I'm recording video or audio of myself, oh boy am I at the mercy of Pennywise! I often hold over vowels or consonants like "s" while repeating any sounds with a "p," "t," or "b" in them.
However, I don't have to worry about any of this when I'm writing. I have no obligations to try to capture my disgusting figure before the camcorder, and there is no possibility of me stammering. This reduces the need for excessive jump cuts, transitions and other forms of video editing just to share a short anecdote or tutorial. Never mind that it's much easier to just sit down and write over setting up camera equipment, plugging the microphones into the camcorder, adjusting the lighting, iris, and sound to be presentable for the shoot, and then all the editing. This includes colour correction, audio mixing and mastering and much more beyond jump cuts and any wacky filters to emulate whatever gaming channel is popular on YouTube at the moment.
In writing, I am in control. I am confident and I am free to express myself without excessive work in postproduction, or my personal hatred of my horrible body. I have honestly considered a podcast, but am currently missing additional people to collaborate with. That would make recording my voice so much easier if working with friends or colleagues and provide more entertainment while discussing various topics. While there are solo podcasts out there, it's just not something I can mentally or physically do right now. I mean, look at this, I just wrote an entire essay on why I hate myself!
I shouldn't do that. I should end this on a high note like, "I feel awesome no matter what random people say!" But, we all know that's not going to happen. Let it end like this.
Ho. Ho. Ho. Fuck.
Gods, I just want 2018 to end.
This year, without a doubt, has been one of the most challenging I have faced in my life, and comes in around only second to 2004. For the past 12 months I have enjoyed:
It should come without surprise that the Chelmsford Police are now under a massive state and federal investigation, not only for what I have experienced, but for several alleged instances of egregious misconduct throughout the department occurring over the past several years. Similar scrutiny plagues much of the northern communities of Middlesex County, where Chelmsford is located. Maybe this is just what happens in a state where heroin runs rampant and oversight beyond Boston is little.
Below are his messages. I have only blocked the names of the innocent parties whom he had made direct threats of violence and kidnapping to. His official Town of Chelmsford email was clearly used to log into the comments section, and a VPN changing his location to Paris, France was also incorporated in a weak attempt at hiding his identity. Working with my host, I was able to find this officer's real IP address as the VPN he used was a free, run of the mill, and poorly constructed proxy website. The real IP address shows that these messages were sent directly from a computer inside the Chelmsford Police Station.
Warning! These messages contain highly offensive, graphic and racist language targeting my Jewish ancestry. I am only choosing to show this as evidence against these crooked cops:
Apparently, this guy can't be too good at his job if he doesn't realize I'm Canadian.
I have closed all comments on my site indefinitely to prevent any future occurrences of harassment.
Now that I am finally safe, I have resumed working in public as a musician and artist, but have made it a point to never perform in or around that corridor of Massachusetts for as long as I live. I will go to Boston, Worcester and Springfield, but I will never perform or show a gallery in any North Middlesex city, town, or hovel. That region is to me what Innsmouth is to the Cthulhu mythos. In fact, it'd probably be safer for me to work with the fish people and cultists of Innsmouth than it would be to make an appearance in that county.
Before I end this article, I must share some very important information with you:
I hope my story can help others find the strength needed to overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Please remember that you are loved and take care of yourselves this holiday season, and all year long.