Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sull's Blog Turns One!!!


I've maintained this blog for one year as of this Saturday. Every five days or so I spend an hour or two banging away on my laptop, hunt and peck method, trying to archive my thoughts. In my first post I equated blogging to literary masturbation because its something you do by yourself for your own satisfaction (statistics show the number of hits the average blog gets per day is just above one). How did I find myself on this onanistic path? Here's the back story.

Late in the summer of 2006 I was driving home from a weeks vacation in Maine. My wife and two boys were in one car and I was in my Grand Cherokee loaded to the hilt with beach gear, suitcases and sand. Since we had separate cars I decided to detour south, down to Boston, instead of heading west, out to Western Massachusetts. Driving in my solitude toward the city of my birth and where I spent my formative years was an exercise in the art of melancholy. Crossing the Tobin Bridge into the city I could feel the weight of my past pressing down on me squeezing out long suppressed emotions. I didn't have a particular destination in mind, but I knew where I'd end up. I went to visit my mother's grave site.

My mother's ashes are buried in Saint Josephs Cemetery in West Roxbury in the grave site occupied by the remains of my Grandma Norton and Aunt Rosie. You could say that the three of them are my "Holy Trinity" as they were the three most important people in my life in my first twenty years of living. I didn't have a father growing up, but I had three mothers. I spent about a half hour there, thinking about them in life and how much they would enjoy my boys if they were here now. Instead of my usual "tour" which would include visiting various places in my old neighborhood I felt a strong urge to visit my brothers grave site. He was buried with the Sullivan's at New Cavalry Cemetery in Mattapan, a short ten minute ride through Roslindale, but a world away emotionally. Derek died as a two month old and buried with him was much of the connection to the Sullivan side of my family as my parents divorced shortly after.

As an adult I had only visited Derek's grave once. In 1995 I had work related business in Boston. I had remembered that my mother said that Derek was buried "up on Walk Hill road", so I drove over to American Legion Highway and turned up Walk Hill road. There are a number of cemeteries in that area of the city, so I visited a few before I found the one I was looking for. I went to the gate house in each cemetery and gave them the pertinent information in order to find the grave site. The first two cemeteries were a no go, then at the third the man behind the counter said "well, we do have a grave site with a Thomas Sullivan and an Anne Sullivan, but no Derek. Just a "baby boy" Sullivan died 1970". As I drove through the chasms of headstones windshield wipers working frantically I saw the site. I didn't even have to look at the names. The familiarity of the place struck me in the gut as I remembered being here as a child. I walked over to the four foot tall stone bearing the name SULLIVAN in large raised block lettering. Upon reading the names on the gravestone I knew I was in the right place, but something was missing... my brothers name. The autumn rain got colder and intensified. I stood there crying. My heart hardened. It couldn't get much harder.

Now I was back at Derek's grave ten years later. It was hot and dry. My anger with Sullivan's had died with my father's passing in 1997. I hadn't been back to his grave since that rainy November day, but found it immediately. I thought about what he'd look like now. Would he be a good guy? Would he be happy? Would he love me? After a few minutes of sobbing and contemplation I started perusing the names on the grave. Anne T., Daniel J., James E.. I started making connections with the names. I knew that Thomas C. Sr. was my grandfather and Thomas C. Jr. was my uncle. I knew that Daniel J. was my great-grandfather and that James E. was my father's uncle Jimmy who used to live with my Auntie Pat over on Hyde Park Ave. There were give or take another eight names there and it sparked my interest in who were the people I was named after. I went to my car and got an eraser less pencil I got to keep score while playing golf at The Ledges in York, ME a few days earlier. I wrote in large block lettering above the top name on the stone "Derek 1970". I got in my car and headed west.

As soon as I walked in my house I started Googling names of the people I had seen on the stone. Almost immediately I came across a website called "Political Graveyard". Its a site dedicated to achieving all of the burial places of dead politicians. I knew through my mother that the Sullivan's had "connections", but thought all of them were nefarious as my father was know as a small time criminal. I was shocked to see that my grandfather and uncle and many great uncles, have all held elected office in Massachusetts. I even saw that my cousin Jimmy who I hadn't seen since I was three ran for Mass. State Rep. I googled Jimmy's name and there it was, Sul-Dog-O-Rama, Jimmy's blog. I started reading his stories, thoughts and commentary. I spent the good part of two days studying his blog, looking for keys or clues to my past. I came across an entry he had titled "The Gift". In the post he describes a gift he bought my "Auntie Ba" and when describing the scene on Christmas Day eludes to "couple of infants, the boy's cousins". "That's me!" I thought. At that point I knew I had to make a connection, but when and how? Then in an ironic twist that could only occur in a life as twisted as mine my cousin Jim posted about the death of my cousin Joey. I had some relationship with Joey even after my parents divorce because Joey lived close to my home in Hyde Park. We occasionally got together to cause trouble, but as we got older his trouble was much more dangerous that that I liked to partake in, so we drifted apart. I emailed Jimmy my memories about Joey because I couldn't figure out how to post them to his blog comments. At that point we shared some emails and I started becoming a regular commenter on his blog. I admired his writing abilities and penchant for storytelling.

I wanted to start a blog, but knew with two small boys and a job and no time that it would be years until I could write. Why did I want to blog? Lets see I'm opinionated, I think highly of myself, I like to bullshit; seems like I was made to blog. Last March I wrote my first entry titled "Another Stupid Opinion". I hope I have been true to the sentiment expressed in that post that I promised that if anything my blog would be entertaining.`70+ blog entries later I don't really have a sole purpose for my blog besides archiving stories, dispensing my opinion about sports and social/political issues and pulling the occasional laugh. I can't promise you anymore than you've seen this past year except maybe more stories about drunkenness, stupidity, learning the hard way and life. "Bluster and Blarney Since 1965" describes my blog right under the title at the top of the page. One of my prized (and I mean that with all sincerity) employees Tim McGonagle probably best describes my blog with a description of my blog in his blogroll:

Sull's Blog: My boss Sully's blog. Very entertaining Masshole memoirs.

Masshole Memoirs.

That about sums it up.

14 comments:

Anali said...

Happy blog birthday! Why did I think you had been blogging for a lot longer? Anyway, I'm glad that you are in the blogosphere. Your posts always seem to make me go through such a wide range of emotions all at once. That's great writing. : )

Mushy said...

Happy Birthday man!

I have enjoyed you almost that long...keep it up.

ZACK said...

It's amazing how the painful aspects of our lives can be used to bring forth good things.

This blog is a pure example of that. It is a heartfelt account of a good man who just wants to express himself to the world.

Thanks for sharing with us how your blog came to be.

Keep posting!

Suldog said...

Happy Blog Birthday, Cuz!

I've very much enjoyed the couple of times we've gotten together since you contacted me, and I hope we can have many more such times in the future. You're a good man, and I'm proud to be related to you.

And thank you very much for the many kind words you've had for me here. I treasure them all in my heart.

Your Cousin, Jimmy

(Suldog)

CapCity said...

Happy blog birthday, David! I feel like I've "known" u longer than that! ;-).

Ellen said...

Just stopped by from your cousins. Good story! Happy anniversary!

Buck said...

Like Ellen, I'm wandering in from Jim's place. This was a good read, Sull... and congrats on your blog-o-versary!

suldog's mom said...

First of all, Congrats on a great blog. I pop over whenever I get a chance and truly enjoy you "gift" for writing.

Secondly - thanks for adding Derek's name to the stone. I remember his funeral. We all rode to the cemetery in a funeral car and your father had Derek's tiny white coffin in his lap. It was all so terribly sad.

Hope I haven't upset you. Hope also to meet you some day (although I guess I actually have at sometime in the past)

David Sullivan said...

Thanks all for the kind words.

Connie: I've got pictures of us at Thanksgiving dinner in 1967, so there is physical evidence that we've met. Thanks for stopping by and maybe we'll cross paths again.

kestenbaum said...

I'm glad to hear that my web site (Political Graveyard) was helpful to you in figuring out your family. Very best wishes!

Dirty Red said...

Happy First Blog Day Sully!!
I cosign with Zack. This is a great Blog man. It is always good to get someone else prospectives on things. (Even if you share most of the same views) As we so often do. Keep writing man, and I will keep reading.

David Sullivan said...

DR: Its called validation! LOL

Thanks

the blue state blogger said...

What a great story. For all the whining people do about the internet and it's penchant for making us all obese, it's also been a lifeline for keeping people together who may otherwise have drifted apart, or, in this case, in reconnecting to people thought lost long ago.

plez... said...

happy belated! it's only been a year?!? seems like we've been doing this thing for the better part of the decade!

well, keep up the good work. i know that i don't visit often, but when i do, i know that i'll be in for a treat... thanks for the love, david!

p...