Baltimore days, part 1

circa 93–94′
I moved to
Highlandtown
in Baltimore
to be a part
of Chris Stain’s
stylish
Krsna temple
I left my job
behind
and he
gave me
the master bedroom
on the top floor
for 100 bucks a month
his grandmother had
moved out
into his parent’s place

we were sort of
revamping this
old townhouse
and filling it
with life
the best we could

there were roaches in the kitchen
and at night
I could hear in the walls
rats squeaking and scratching
claws over wood

a few of us
were living there
and we put on
evening programs
occasionally
for classes and
vegetarian feasts
(prasadam: food offered to God, sanctified)

good days
but hard, too

at times I was the
shoe-in for being
the blunt end
of a practical joke
or two
naturally I had
to swallow my
pride if
I wanted
to keep them
as my friends
and
I felt
I was above it
anyway — if they
wanted to humiliate me
and exploit my
trusting nature
it reflected on them
not me
so while they
were laughing
I was smiling
and moving on
wondering
what the next
practical joke would be

Dave pretended
to be
on a downward spiral
Chris told a tale
that he found
McDonald’s
wrappers
in Dave’s car
and was also
suspected of
coming home
late blasted

buying into this
I was
concerned
and the
hilarity of it
would be in
“how will Glenn
confront Dave
on this
‘sensitive’ issue?”

me
being me
I finally
blew up on him
very directly
blurting out
something like
“are you drunk often
and eating swine?”

. . .

wasn’t long till
we felt we
were devoted enough
to take that
next step
and move into
a real temple

myself, having lived in
temples before
I bitched against the idea
“we already
have something
very powerful…
the austerities there
will snap us”

this was taken into consideration, but quickly thrown out. the possibilities were too exciting. so I joined them. we left the house standing as a storage shack to be robbed three times despite barred windows.

. . .

ISKCON’s Catonsville
this was Dharmaraja’s doing, now that I think of it — a guy who lived close by and was hanging out, who we sort of accepted as our elder. I can appreciate it in retrospect, how he was pushing us to question things (and you’re doing this why? and why are you doing that? well what does that mean? think about that for a second, the definition of that word…). but he had an agenda in this not to help us, but to show us how deep and intelligent he was, and thus surround himself in admiration and “followers.” for some time we were intimidated by this person who was articulate and focused. he was the one who talked us into moving into Catonsville, and me almost out of writing.

for you, writing will be hard.
“it already is. always has been.”

your writing isn’t direct enough. it’s artsy.
he didn’t see soul and rebellion
he didn’t understand poems

perhaps Dharmaraja was an essayist at heart.

. . .

do this and this and that and your dreams will turn into solid gold. Dharmaraja was hot on the self-help circuit always committing us to Napoleon Hill books and the like. I’m not against this sort of thing, but some of it resonates as a little cheesy, and I can’t take it seriously word for word. of course, I can find humor in some of the smallest things and am one of the quickest to start wise cracking, even in inappropriate conditions.

he had us type out some of these quotes to tape on the wall.

as I had predicted, temple life was rigid. the four of us — me, Chris, Dave H., and Dave M. — were living in one room smaller than my current living room. it was not always easy. of course Winter was the roughest. Spring is the Bhakta breaker. you come out of your shell and want to leave for good.

tension in
this cramped
room
Dave H.
and I
quarrel
things are
not what
they used
to be
when we
would talk
on the phone
now we
live together
and he
often rags
on me
I find myself
looking
to hit
back and
cause damage
and there are
days more
calm and chill
but things
get said wrong
either one of us
can be so
touchy and
feel hurt

Dharmaraja
has Chris
fucking pissed off
a lot of the time
D. is always
so critical
always laughing
at you
for something
he’ll always
find something
it’s really
annoying

that solid quote
on the wall
today
Chris
turned it
upside down
and is
smirking
waiting to
see if Dharmaraja
will notice

. . .

the rat is not real. another practical joke. for weeks I thought it was real, but tonight the temple was roaring. I threw it from my chest a fake rubber toy, and was like, “shit…” ha ha. ya got me. I should be acting this out on stage. lights out for now.

. . .

the temple president wanted us to sign contracts, committing five years of our lives; this would provide them steady man-power. this never happened. we got sick of each other and started moving out, one by one.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s