Monday, October 31, 2011
Interestingly enough as much of a nerd I am, I do not celebrate this "holiday" all that much. I would love to dress up but what bothers me is that when you buy a costume it never looks like the package. Sorta like when you buy a Big Mac, it never looks like the one you see on the commercial. More importantly, I have felt weird being someone other than myself. Most of the costumes you see out there are not particularly made for people who look like me.
I found myself looking at costumes a few weeks ago in case I may want to dress up for today. Most of the ones I was looking at were of black heroes like Morpheous from the Matrix, or Green Lantern. I thought about it, but then I decided not to. I am not sure that buying a costume is money well spent. I can thinking of many things I can do for $50.
I find it interesting that this day comes from Celtic traditional New Year holiday called Samhain. They would celebrate the end of summer and prepare for the coming of winter. It is also said that today, the barrier between the spirit world and the living is open allowing both intermingle. People would wear costumes to ward off any spirits that were to come near. This festival would begin October 31st and end on November 1st.
Growing up Catholic I knew what All Saints Day was. I remember my mother burning a seven day candle that you get from a Botanica in honor of this day. It never escaped me that Halloween was followed by All Saints day. I grew up believing in spirits and how they can influence the lives of others. I can tell many stories about how Latinos in general have a belief of the supernatural. While I am not so much into organized religion, I do very much believe that the spirits and souls of those who have passed on are still out there. I do not mean in the Ghostbusters sense either.
People in other cultures from Africa to Asia, all honor their dead in particular ways. While we accept the Celtic tradition of hollowing out pumpkins or the English tradition of "go a-souling" (where people would go door to door asking for food and exchange they would pray for their dead relatives), we tend to look at this day as a day where we dress up and act a fool. For some it is a day of making fun of other cultures. This day has real historical meaning in most cultures.
Take the time to remember those who have past today. Our ancestors have paved the way for us and we would not be where we are without them.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
This is something I have been thinking about. As my love life seems to be solidifying, I have had to do be more careful with how I deal with women in my life. I have learned many lessons over the last 3-4 years about myself and how to deal with situations in which I am not used to. After tallying the numerous amounts of mistakes, I think I have learned how I got where I am and how to move forward. Not to mention that I am taking serious consideration on changing my blogger profile.
Am I really still on this road to self redemption? I am not sure so I am anymore. I think the focus of my life and of this blog have changed. I think that I am still on a journey, but it is definitely not the same thing. My path has shifted and I have come to see a brighter future and it because of this that have had to make a few changes in my personal life.
A few months ago I started setting boundaries with certain people in my life. What I have found out that some people do not know what boundaries are.This may sound weird coming from me because I was an habitual line stepper but, I understand that there are certain lines that one does not cross without understanding the consequences behind them. Let's talk about what these boundaries may be. I know that flirting is something that people do and I have enjoyed doing that. I know what it and I can see it when it happens. I can tell when someone is flirting with me in person, over text, via email, on twitter, and on my Facebook wall. I can see when other people do and I can tell you that it is an art that very few people can master.
Flirting is either meant to be innocent to boost an ego or to prove you still got it or it can be a guilty pleasure that can get the juices flowing and thus getting yourself into all kinds of situations (not all of which are good). Since my situation has changed I have been very careful to not give off wrong impressions. The problem becomes that in dealing with some women that I have come to know, they may not understand how to read a stop sign from men.
Believe it or not, men do have stop signs. Some may not tell you this because they secretly hope that you ignore it. Others will straight out tell a woman that there is a line that should not be crossed from one reason or another. A real gentleman will tell a woman what the deal is and if he doesn't he may not have simply had the chance to or figured she would get the hint through non verbals.
There is also the issue of clarity. We all know of people that we have issues being clear with even if you spell it out in bold letters on a dry erase board. Perhaps I have that issue. I know that I can write and draw attention to certain phrases if I need to. This becomes difficult for some people to understand in a conversation. I think we can ask people to be polite and not act a certain way but then something happens and they cannot help themselves. This could be a case in which some women do not think that any man could possibly say know "No" to them.
I have also come to find out that there a women that I can be friends with and some that I cannot be. I personally feel that I do not need to have sex with a woman to be their friend. I have many female friends in which that is not an issue. I chose to have more friends who are women because I can talk to them in ways that I cannot with dudes. Why in the world would I talk to a guy about females? I mean there are 3 men in my life I can talk to (My dad, my cousin, and my boy @panthbro). Only my dad has been 100% correct about women, but then again he has lived this life.
I am setting boundaries because I am taking my love life seriously. Any man who does this is someone who does not wish for those lines to be crossed or that boundary to be broken. If it is then the line between friends and defriend becomes very clearly on places like Facebook and Twitter. While, I do not define my love life in any social medium does not mean I cannot define a boundary. I think many people can learn from that lesson
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I guess this becomes a question that I need to answer when it comes to my income and any side hustles. It does seem like I am going to have to write my way out of Syracuse, I need to find an outlet that will let me publish. One thing that I have come to realize is that I have a wide range when it comes to writing. I can tell a story about anything. The things that I tend to lack in general are time and focus. But, if I focus my time, I know that I can do the work that needs to be done.
I am not even talking about my poetry. That is one thing that I can get published when I finally get the ability to set that money aside. But the money is not in the poetry, it is in the performance of the poems. Once I start doing that I think I will be in a better place. I was told that I have to perform next week (Nov. 3) in at the Underground Poetry spot in Syracuse. We will see how that goes.
What I am wondering about more is my short story submissions. With the feeling that I can write anything in mind, I know that the easiest thing is erotica and I am quite good at it. I just haven't posted on this site because this is a family show. However, these stories seem to come very easy to me. I can just write something from the top of my head and be down with it. Yet, I am intimidated about what that does to my credibility as a serious writer. I do not want to be just known for my poetry, or my erotic stories, or even my blog. I would like a well rounded experience in which I can write what makes me feel good…and get paid for it.
A few days ago I posted the story, The House. This was a fictional short all based on the picture posted. I was given a pictures as a challenge. All I had to do was write a short story about that picture. It took me about a week and I came with it. I enjoyed that so very much because it made me think about so many possibilities. It was a different way for me to tell a story without having to think to much about an outcome. I know that I have the talent when I can do that in a week.
So what do I do? I am not entirely sure of that. I think ,back in the day, people just submitted to a magazine and hoped they get published. But, this is the internet age. I should be able to get published but it does seem that the monetary aspect is low. I totally get that beggars should not be picky and also understand that when you are at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole, you need to pay your dues. There is also the fact that I could very easily write under a ghost name. I feel that there are things about this whole thing that I simply do not know. I know I need to ask more questions, but the funny thing is, I do not know what questions to ask.
I will admit that I have been very foolish. I thought it was the smart thing to wait until I moved to NYC to start this career as a writer. People would ask me why in the world was I waiting. I guess I thought that being in the city, I was going to have more time to commit and be just generally happy in my environment. I realize now that I have to build my talent up. Sure, people may think that I can write or that I am great in some way, but the majority of people have no idea that either I exist or if they do know me, they do not know that I even have a blog. So, I have work to do in the sense that I will just have to put my head down and just write the stories in my head and publish the ones that I have already committed to paper.
I just need to know where to start.
Monday, October 24, 2011
A few weeks ago I was informed over Twitter that I was nominated for a LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) award. The award is for the Best Latin@ Micro-Blogger. To be honest, I am very honored to even be nominated. When I look at the stiff competition I am up against, I realize that I was put in a very honorable class of people.
What is a Micro-Blogger? Well, it is my Twitter account. When you write in 140 character increments it is considered a micro-blogging. I have managed to get my thoughts out in that tiny amount of space. Some people use website to "tweet longer" because I suppose they need to have more space, but I do not. My twitter account is my personal soap box that I use to talk about everything from sports to racism. I tend to have conversations with students and meet new people. It is also a great way to market my blog and to read others. My Twitter account is my brand. This how I represent myself and that includes this blog as well.
LATISM is a force (I mentioned this a few years ago). When you take a group of people together to form something larger, you hope that it lasts. I have seen LATISM from it's infancy stages and now it has grown to something that is bigger than any of us. While I have never been to conferences, I have heard great things about them. I met @AnaRC a few years ago when she was in Syracuse and we talked about how LATISM can help our people. I have wanted to be more involved and perhaps I will in the future.
The funny thing for me is that my twitter name is listed as Tony Snark. I want to explain this for those who are wondering why my real name is not up there. It has nothing to do with lack of ownership of what it is I say but more of the persona I portray. Plus, consider that I tend to make my account private at times since I am still currently searching for a new job in New York City. I never thought of the possibility I would be nominated for any awards which is why I am so honored in the first place.
I am personally encouraging all those who know me and who read this blog to not just vote for me, but to look at the other nominees and the other categories. There are some very powerful personalities who have a lot to say and tons to contribute to our community. These nominations are not entirely about those winning, but more about those getting the exposure we crave.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
This whole day has been a blur. I’m not entirely sure how I got here. I have spent my entire life doing the right things like supporting my family, working long hard hours on the job, and going to church every Sunday. Even with all this, I managed to lose it all. Now I am in the one place that I never thought I would be, a jail cell.
A small town jail cell that looks nothing like what we see on television. They never talk about the smell on Barney Miller. This stale moist smell as if someone barely cleaned the urine from the floor. I just stare at this stone floor because I don’t want to look up. I don’t want to see the other people who may be here. These are the people I thought I would never be in the room with, much less sharing a prison.
I cannot help the tears from my eyes. I lost everything that defines me and all I was trying to do was stay one step ahead of this marriage. Marcia! I can’t event think about what has happen between us. As much as I try to bury my head in between my hands, I will never be able to hide from myself.
All I wanted to do was to get rid of this house! This god-forsaken house that we bought 5 years ago thinking that it could be our summer cottage, when in reality, it became the bane of my existence. A virtual money pit that seemed to turn my marriage upside down, I only blame myself for all of this. It was my idea to buy it. I wanted to have a place that Marcia and I can spend time away from everything and everyone.
It was no secret that our marriage was in trouble even then. I thought that the incredible amounts of money I brought home every paycheck would have kept her happy. I was a true company guy. When there was a conference to go to, I was there. When clients needed to be entertained, I was the one to make sure they were taken care of. I was good at my job and I loved every minute of it. But, I knew that I was barely home and she missed me (or so I thought).
This house was my solution to our marriage. I figured we could spend quality time together and reinvigorate the passion we once had. I thought she would be surprised when I told her I bought it, but something didn’t sit well with me about her reaction. I thought she would be happy but she complained about the money and not including her in the decision. Hide sight being 20/20, she was right. Had I knew then what I know now, I would have realized that my marriage was already over.
I knew the house was going to be something that needed to be fixed. I thought we could do that as a family. Andrew, my dear son (I can only imagine what he thinks of me now), would have helped us. But, things just fell apart just about a year after I bought that house. I lost my job. The company I worked for was one of those places that people love to talk about. When ‘we’ received a bailout, it didn’t mean ‘me’ or ‘us’. I was laid off like thousands of people.
I could not find a job and had two mortgages. Marcia, who was a stay at home mother, could not stand my presence. Always agitated that I didn’t have a job and the money we saved was evaporating quickly. The house would always be brought up and became a wedge between us. I didn’t tell her that I knew the real reason she was angry with me being home all the time. I found out a week after I got laid off that she was fucking my co-worker, Jeff. I woke up late one morning while she was out on her run. She left her phone on the kitchen table. I had no intention on looking through her phone but when she got a text message, out of habit I just looked at the screen. He texted her about possibly meeting that weekend, I was stunned.
I looked through rest of her messages hoping and praying I was wrong. There were hundreds of messages, dirty messages. I felt numb. Maybe it was the depression of losing my job but I simply left to work on that house. I had this idea that I would spend the rest of what we had to fix it up. I worked on the house everyday and she hated me for it. I did look for a job when she wasn’t around, I would send resumes out as often as I could. I had a few interviews here and there, but it turns out they were not hiring a man in his mid 40’s with tons of experience.
I spent four years fixing that house to what I wanted it to be. I replaced the roof. I rebuilt the chimney and replaced all the windows. I installed a brand new furnace and redid that entire kitchen myself. All the while, my beautiful wife of fourteen years was committing adultery. This was going to be the house I lived in. I was going to leave her when I was ready, when I finally got a job. Of course she had no problem finding a job.
Sure, we had many fights during these past few years but we decided to stay together for Andrew’s sake. He is a freshman at Syracuse University and we didn’t want him to worry about us. Thank god he is such a smart kid. He was awarded a full academic scholarship. He is majoring in Forensic Science.
Yesterday I found out I got a job. Nothing spectacular, but it is a second chance. I would be able to finally handle things and eventually start the divorce process. I went to that house to install some light fixtures in the living room when I saw it, a small earring on the futon. She had been there! I left a spare set of keys with Andrew but he is away at college. She must have gotten them from his room. Why would she be here?
I was so angry. I will not let her take this way from me! I cannot have her screwing this man in my house. I worked too hard for this. So, I plotted to do the only thing I could do.
I walked out onto the deck and grabbed the bottle of lighter fluid that I used for the brand new charcoal grill I bought. I sprayed lighter fluid everywhere. I was not going to let this woman do this to me. I am not going to live in another place where she has fucked her lover. I just had this house appraised and I will just collect the insurance on it. I empty the bottle and jump into my car. I have every intention on lighting this house in the morning while she on her morning run.
The drive is a good 40 minutes coming and going. I wipe the bottle clean and put in the trunk of her car. She will get blamed for arson and I will be free of her. Divorce will be an easy thing after that.
I woke up early this morning from my peaceful slumber on the couch and I noticed that her car is gone. Today is Saturday and it is way too early for Marcia to go for her run. There is a knock on the door. I open it and there is the County Sheriff. “Mr. Stephens?” he asks. I nod my head and ask him what is going on. “There has been a fire and I am afraid we found your wife…and another gentlemen, dead”
The rest of today was a blur. I was arrested for suspicion of Arson. They take me in for preliminary questioning. Where were you last night? I was home. Did you know your wife was committing Adultery? I had no idea, officer! The fire department found traces of lighter fluid all over the house, how do you suppose that got there? My wife was jealous that I spent all my time and our money fixing up the house. I have no idea how it got there. I just finished renovating it.
My day was spent answering question after question. It was pretty much over for me. I begin to sob and say how I cannot believe my wife is dead much less that she had a lover! The tears were real, but my words weren’t. This was the first time I admitted to myself that Marcia really did not love me. But, now what? I’m not even sure how the fire started!
So, now I sit here waiting for my fate. I never asked for a lawyer because, technically, I really didn’t set that fire. I hear the jail cell open. “Mr. Stephens, you are free to go. The evidence shows that your wife died trying to set the fire. We found that a cigarette was the initial cause of the blaze. Did your wife smoke?”
Marcia was never a smoker and neither was Jeff. “Yes, my wife smoked. It was a nasty habit.” I walk out of that jailhouse knowing that I have lied for the final time.
The only person I know who smoked, was Andrew.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Perhaps my patience is like a reservoir that is slowly drying up. Lately, I have been getting upset and angry over things that have been happening in my life. I feel like I am so much better than the work I am producing. Not just my work at SU, but my writing as well. I grow frustrated because I am worth more than I am being paid and my bills are unforgiving. I grow frustrated with this economy and the lack of jobs out there. I grow frustrated with me questioning myself.
I live in chaos. I feel like a game show contestant locked in a sound proof chamber in which money is blowing in the air for me to collect. But, instead of money, I am collecting shards of my life. I know that sounds crazy but work is one of the only things that have kept me centered.
Interestingly enough, I am actually happy. My social life has fallen in place and I am enjoying every minute of that. I think things have finally turned around in that portion of my life that I can actually have fun whenever I choose. Yet, I am stuck at some point worrying about everything else. I begin to lose that patience because I really do feel that my life would be better if I can just do what I want to do.
My father has told me that he has admired the measure of restraint that I have with just about everything I do. But deep inside, I am very impatient. I have to convince myself that things will be ok. I am an optimist but that in itself is difficult because I am a total realist that knows that anything can happen. I have almost come to expect the worst, particularly in my love life. When that changed, then my expectations on just about everything changed. I have come to expect good things to happen. So, now I feel I am stuck waiting.
It is a lot more that just waiting. I have been trying to create opportunities. Lord knows that here at SU, I have been doing things to pass the time. I have been doing workshops and planning events for a student population of Latinos that are just too entitled for their own good. I lose patience with them because they rather be partying and drinking as opposed to learning outside the classroom. But, God forbid they do not get what they want. I am not sure they even understand what apathy is.
In the end, I feel that I may have to write my way out of Syracuse. It is the one thing that I never lose my patience with. Mainly because this is mine. I meet my own expectations and the value of that is something I can soon put a price on.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It is no secret that less and less men of color (with the exception of Asians) are getting into college. The dropout rate of men who do enter college is increasing as well. So roughly about 20% of males of color who graduate High School enter college. Out of those who make it, roughly 25% of those men join fraternal organization (at least that is the rough number at Syracuse University). This makes these boys feel as if they are elite or cream of the crop. I would consider them leaders and so would the national organizations of NPHC, NAPA, and NALFO.
So with "great power come great responsibility?" Well, not according to data we collected. The perception of Fraternity men are not that great. Many people feel that these men would rather "pad their numbers"(in terms of women) than performing the community service that their National organizations preach so much about. While we asked men and women, both greek and non greek alike, it was the women who had such deep feelings about men.
There is this perception that the letters shouldn't define these boys, that these men should define the letters. This was a big thing for the women on this campus. Which leads me to my ultimate point of being a man. When I started this campaign on showing boys what being a man is about, I asked @pathbro to help me define what this is in terms of selling this to Fraternities.
Dr Walter M. Kimbrough, who was also at Values Academy, made a presentation touching upon the points about they types of messages that Fraternities and Sororities give. He wrote the book, Black Greek 101. Read it. He challenges the notions and rituals of what it is considered to be a Black Geek.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I find it interesting that I have not written about this until now. Perhaps I wasn't prepared in the best way to really voice my opinion on Columbus Day. Over the past years, I haven't given the attention that it needed. I usually just ignored it all together because there is no reason to celebrate such a day. However, while learning about things from Black in Latin America, I realize that this day should be addressed on this blog.
Lets talk about this often romanticized word called discovery. A dictionary defines discover as "to be the first, or the first of one's group or kind, to find, learn of, or observe." Christopher Columbus is talked about as this explorer that discovered the free world. I wont talk about how he got lost or that he thought he found the other side of China, but I will talk about how he wasn't the first to the free world. That is not to claim that someone else, like the Vikings as an example, beat him to this. It means the simple fact that no one can discover a place that is already inhabited.
To believe that he discovered something means that one would subscribe to the European-Anglo version on the world. That leads me to the second definition of discover, "to learn about for the first time in one's experience." This is the state of history being shown from Anglo side. This was a new thing for Spain at that time. Clearly this was a discovery to them. It is very much like when an astronomer finds a new planet. It is new to them, but just because you find a penny on the floor does not mean you discovered money.
From the way it was explained to me in High School, today is very much a celebrated day. There was no mention of the subjection. There was no mention of the massacre that ensued. Absolutely no mention of the raping and the pillaging of a people that were deemed worthless. History books often show that Native Americans were on the opposite side. They are viewed in history as the people that Americans had to defend their livelihood against and making it seem that peace treaties were made to maintain a very delicate peace that was consistently broken.
Columbus day is constant reminder to those, like me, who "discovered" the truth about this day. One could say that this day was created by the establishment as a subliminal message to those who were and are victims of Colonial Imperialism. I recently heard the term Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome which deals with the mentality of always thinking, as people of color, we are not worth anything. The images of what we were and what we are only make us self destructive. So is there a similar term for Native Americans? Post Traumatic Columbus Syndrome perhaps? I am not yet versed in these terms.
I call this day what it is, Massacre Day. That may be a tad harsh for some people but I think I am being very generous with this title. I could have called it Genocide Day, or Rape a Heathen Day, or Give Small Pox to a Native day. Please understand, when talking about the effect of Columbus in the new world there has to be that knowledge that entire peoples were wiped away. Their histories are gone and for the most part, can never be told. These are people that are, quite potentially, my ancestors.
More importantly, I bring this up as a constant reminder to those people who talk enough garbage about "Homeland Security" and the protection of our borders from illegals. Mexicans were here before any of were here as well. The Manifest Destiny gave people this notion that we as "Americans" own this land and should push the natives as far as we can from it. Of course, now, the land belong to the corporations but that is another blog post.
Discovery is a big word and like most words in the dictionary, most people have very little concept of what it means. Sure Columbus found something that was new to him and his side of the world and yes it was a big deal. He was the reason why two land masses are now connected, but at what cost? I often wondered if my teachers in grammar school knew the truth about this day. Were they forced to just stick to the book? It is our responsibility to teach both sides of History so that we understand where we have been and where we are going.
Monday, October 3, 2011
They say we
are one with the universe
we live in a country
that is diverse
and being brown is a curse
being black is worse
yet I speak this verse
wondering what it's worth
I see a future
that is not about you and me
that is not about black or white
but a color we can't afford
a pale shade of green
is the only color line
that will exist
Imagine crossing that color barrier
with the yellow police tape
that will surround the ghettos
and the non existent
middle class because
this is a disaster area
but FEMA isn't coming for us
We will be the migrant workers
picking the silicon fruits
to make the new i-Human
because even we become less valuable
like the almighty dollar that turns
black when it burns
they chose to burn the economy
when the president became black
400 and something years
and the economy built on African tears
finally falls in the future that I see
and you may laugh when I say
we're STILL in a state of slavery
just look at the west sides
just look at the east sides
you will see that pale shade of green
become a dark shade of red
We the people
will eat each other
and then get taxed on that food
before the rich eat us
and get a tax break
this pale shade of green
people worship the symbol it means
in god we trust became
in banks we distrust
with its mighty white pillars
and CEO preachers who
tell us to believe
but as far as I can tell
green is the new shade of hell
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Today marks ten years since I have been in Syracuse. I came here looking for a career and I certainly found one. I left right after 9/11 and it was such a blessing to have an escape from all the death and sadness that was in NYC at the time. What I do not mention is that before that fateful day, I didn't have a career, I had a job that I did not like. So still being here after all this has been both a blessing and curse.
|2004 Fiesta Latina|
I landed in a place called MHN (Mental Health Network) and it was job that I liked at first, but it became repetitive. However, I loved the area in which I worked. It was right on Wall St. The World Trade Center was right there and so was the South Street Seaport. I could buy anything and eat anywhere. The job itself was boring to the point that I restarted one of my older blogs and I taught myself HTML. One day, in August 2001, I get a call from my buddy (@panthbro). He tells me that department I worked at when I was enrolled at Syracuse was hiring and I needed to jump on it.
Without hesitation, I did just that. I get an interview, which included a presentation and meeting with several people, and I knocked it out the park. The following tuesday was 9/11 and I knew that this was going to be my last month in NYC.
|Making sure my students work lol|
I worked hard to get to know the students. I specifically looked out for students in La LUCHA. This is when I met @theJLV. By the end of the 2002, I was their advisor, thanks to him. I had also noticed that Black History Month was being celebrated the way it should be, but nothing was really being done about Latino Heritage Month, outside of La LUCHA. So, I tried my hardest to bridge the gap between Latino students and faculty/staff because there weren't many of us then (and there still aren't many of us now). I created the Latino Listerv to start building those bridges. I worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to generate a calendar for Latino Heritage Month. I also started Fiesta Latina in a conference room when it was just a mixer in 2003.
|I even met Rakim!|
I have made sacrifices. I got married and divorced in those 10 years and I have endured. I have seen how successful I can be when I can out aside my issues and just be me. I have worked hard on my image and continue to peruse a path that is better for me. I have gained weight and lost weight. I have taken classes and started this blog that has allowed me to rediscover myself. I have created and presented workshops that benefit the student body. I have cultivated student leaders and have been a psychologist to others (some of them call me dad…I swear I am not that old…right?). I try to be the best supervisor I can be. I teach them to be the best they can be in a thankless environment.
|I support my students!|
In the end, I am just glad that I have maintained my sense of self and…my sense of humor.