Friends, here's my latest autobiographical entry: As an earlier blog posting noted, I was born to international parents in 1968 in Manhattan. We moved to a larger apartment in Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx about two years later. My father taught at Lehman College, and my mother was a nurse at the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged (near the Veterans Administration hospital). We lived near a reservoir and within walking distance to good schools, including Our Lady of Angels. My brother Peter arrived in 1973.
During the 1970s, the northwest Bronx was suffering from urban decay. As in many U.S. cities, the Jewish, Italian, and Irish middle class fled to the suburbs, as Eastern European, African American, and Latino people moved into New York's outer boroughs. Despite the civil rights progress of the previous decades, segregation and poverty, as well as the oil crises and political turmoil of the time, led to an increase in grime and crime, which were not the fault of certain ethnic groups but rather societal problems.
Still, I have fond memories of growing up in da Big Apple. More than my younger brother, I enjoy living in or near large cities, and I missed the multicultural atmosphere when we moved to a house in Yonkers in Westchester County in the late 1970s. My father was denied tenure and ended up teaching at Fordham and Pace Universities, and my mother still worked the night shift at the nursing home.
I was unpleasantly surprised to find more bigotry among some of my new, wealthier neighbors than I had found in the Bronx, feeling the sting of racial insults for the first time. As a Belgian/Filipino-American, I can only imagine how more identifiable minorities must have felt. My interest in social justice and later participation in College Democrat outreach to minority organizations stems from noticing the differences between my childhood in the Bronx and adolescence in Westchester.
Still, we had a yard and a playroom, kids about our own age to play with in the street, and a quieter neighborhood. We went to Saint John the Baptist elementary school (where I was a difficult student in terms of discipline) and Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains.
Time and nostalgia may have dimmed some of my memories, but I still consider myself a New Yorker, despite having spent most of the past 20 years away from the metropolis. Of course, more changes were to come, when I went to college in Upstate New York and graduate school in Washington D.C…
Back in the present, Janice and I had a productive weekend. On Saturday, we drove down to Stoughton and Avon, Massachusetts, to look for a new dining room set. We hadn't given each other anything for Christmas in the expectation of this expense. Our existing six chairs and table are getting rickety, and our relatively large eat-in kitchen provided some limitations in terms of available space.
After looking at Ikea, Jordan's Furniture, and Affordable Furniture to Go, we ended up buying a pub-style table and chairs (several inches higher off the floor, providing extra workspace) at Bob's Discount Furniture. They'll be delivered later this week.
On Sunday, I played "City of Heroes" online with Kim M.E.A.G., caught up on filing some comic books, and watched the first season of "Avatar: the Last Airbender" on DVD. Director M. Night Shyamalan plans to direct a live-action version of this fantasy series:
Janice and I would put this anime on the same level as "El Hazard/the Wanderers" or "Full-Metal Alchemist," but it's more family-friendy and is based on real-world Chinese mythology and martial arts.
Unfortunately, the stomach bug that kept my boss Michele L.D'F. home on Monday also forced me to take a half-day's sick leave. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, many co-workers have been ill lately. Let's hope I'm better (and not contagious) during tonight's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" game or during my in-laws' visit later this week. I'll have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day off next Monday, so I may move my next heroic fantasy session…