Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My 70-year-old self

If I had the power
to talk to my future
what would he tell me?
I can imagine
a wiser
better man
than my current
would he have
gotten all the answers
to the things I have
chased and longed for
would he have achieved
the happiness and
conquered the pain?
or would he have
battle scars from the
wars lost?

Would he tell me that
everything that happens
is worth it?
Would he tell me that
he is happy and ended
up being with exactly
the person he
was meant to be with?
Would he tell me
that he almost wasted
his youth
worrying instead
of doing?
Would he tell me
his biggest regrets?
the things he would
take back or
Would he tell me
that every thing has
a purpose…?

My future is
my fate unraveled
in events that
are created by
decisions and indecisions
that is so hard to
think about the what if
and it is so hard
to forget about what was
that the what could have been
is a fleeting thought
that our brain synopsis’s
keeps replaying over
again like a injured player
of the field that sprained
his heart while trying to score

My 70 year old self
may just tell me that
if he had the ability
to guide me
he would not
fore I may be just on
the right path to becoming him
a man that I have
strived to be despite
my short comings
and my lack of vision
a wise man is something
I can be if I just learn
From letting go
and letting fate
guide me to
my future self

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"I am boycotting Q-tips."

I have been thinking about this for a while now. Let me preface this by saying that this blog post is about 2-3 weeks in the making ever since "Black in Latin America Mexico & Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closet" aired on PBS. My whole thought process about this has been festering since then and I have not been able to devote the time to really express how I feel about seeing this episode.

I think that the Black in Latin America series was incredible to begin with. There was not a single episode that was not simply amazing in terms of the amount of information presented. This was a ground breaking series that all history teachers need to show their students. I enjoyed it so much because it made me realize that there so much more that I need to know about the plight of the Afro Latino. Each episode was filled with information that I enjoyed very much to tweet small bits of information that we all should remember.

My world view never really changed in any of the first 3 episodes. Most of the documentaries were not really surprising to me. Racism is prevalent in just about every Latin American country. It is a fact that most of the slaves went to Latin America and this series made it a point to reference that all the time. This becomes important when ignorant people begin to state that African Americans and Latinos do not have a shared ancestry. It even looms larger when Latinos in general start saying they are not black.

This brings me to the final episode to this series in which the two countries highlighted are Mexico and Peru. I want to say that I knew about Mexico and it's treatment of their Black Mexicans. I personally wrote a blog about Memín Pinguín and how racist those images are. So, nothing this documentary said about Mexico really surprised me.  I was actually proud of myself for doing that type of research, but nothing prepared me for Peru.

Let me talk about El Negro Mama, which is basically a minstrel show that is shown on prime time television.  This is character that portrays Afro Peruvians in such a negative light. This is worse than any black face incident or nonsense I have ever seen. I wont get into it as much as this blogger did, but needless to say this was something I was not even expecting. I plan to do my research on this and write about this properly in time for Latino Heritage Month.

The thing that had me really upset and reeling before they even showed El Negro Mama, was this one simple fact: Afro Peruvians pick cotton in the very fields that their slave ancestors did for $5 a day. This is something that I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around. It is one thing to have blatant and apparent racism in your face everyday, but to do that same job that your slave ancestors did? That is such a slap in that face and what really breaks my heart is that this is probably one of the better jobs one can get if you are black.

Think about this: people of color in the United States have it good. If you are working in a shit job and complain about how horrible work conditions are then I suggest that you shut the fuck up and realize that there are people who look like us practically being enslaved on this side of the planet in the year 2011! It makes me angry how people do not realize the implications of this. Sure, Peru is the only Latin American country to apologize to its black population about slavery but what does that really mean? Is it still ok to apologize for something you did wrong and continue to do the same things.

After that day I was ready to boycott Q-tips. Of course, I say that not knowing if Unilever (the manufacturer) actually uses Peruvian cotton. Trust me I did look this up and while I do not think so, it was the only thing I can say to raise an eyebrow and get a chuckle. I firmly believe that humor can be a way to spread awareness because the alternative is anger and that will not do me good.

So, I had been brooding about this weeks after it aired on May 10th. I was thinking about all this so much that when I was at a reception a week later, I stated to a group of friends and colleagues at the table I was sitting at that I was planning on boycotting Q-tips. Now, this was a joke. I was just pissed about the whole picking cotton thing and we were talking about this documentary. What makes this story hilarious was that at this very table was the Dean of Student Affairs (my boss' boss). I know him personally and he is a great guy but all he asked was....why are you boycotting Q-tips?

This of course this made me laugh as I had to carefully explain with no curses what this documentary was and what they had shown. His reaction was really serious like...."so Q-tips uses this cotton?" I wanted to bust out laughing and I told him that I was joking. But, I appreciated that he understood where I was coming from.

So where does this leave me? It leaves me with the feeling that I need to learn more about Afro Latinos. My world view has changed a bit, at least when it comes to South America. Of course, I know that Latinos are a complicated people, but there cannot be a time in which any of us really believe that it is ok in this day in age to treat others like second class citizens. More importantly, it is the mentality of many of the Afro Latinos that do not see how they are being oppressed is what makes this even more tragic.

I plan on buying this series on PBS.com and I highly recommend that you all watch these episodes which are available here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The World did not End. So now what?

I have had a lot of fun with this end of the world stuff. My Facebook and Twitter have been filled with jokes and sayings about something that some people have taken so very seriously. But, that's the point, isn't it? To make light of something potentially disastrous in order for people to not really panic thinking about the actual end of the world. Of course, I never thought it was going to happen, however, I did think that it would be some real shit if it did occur.

Most of the day, I did not entertain the idea of civilization's end. I went about the business of mowing the lawn and doing my household duties. I received a notice in the mail from the utility company, Niagara Mohawk, asking me to pay more money on a bill I already paid. So, I call them right away because I figured it was a mistake on their end. I get connected to an associate and I state my usual name, address and last four digits of my social security. Then we get into a very interesting dialogue that I will be thinking about for awhile.

He asks me if my last name was Cuban. I tell him the I am Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian. I must have come off a little stand offish at first because he asked if I was offended. I told him I wasn't and changed my tone. I was calling to fix my situation and not get into a discussion on what diaspora my name was from. As he was looking up my issue he mentioned that I sounded very much like his father. At this point, I was thinking that there is no way I sound that old. So I tell him that! He responses that his dad was 36 when he passed...

Now, I feel like shit. I tell him that I was sorry for his loss and that yes and I am 36 as well. As we talk and he fixes my issue, he admits to me that he is tearing up because I sound so much like his dad. I tell him that perhaps this is a sign that he is watching over him. He agreed and he went about finishing his business. We continued for a few more minutes and we are about to get off the phone I tell him to take of himself and we both say "God Bless." I hang up thinking that the universe works in mysterious ways. My bill being fixed is nowhere near as important as this dude's validation that his father is looking over him. It just made me again think about how I need to remain grateful for the things I have.

Then there is my stepmother who called me later on in the day to tell me that if the world does end today, I should know that I am loved. Sometimes people criticize me for being too emotional, but I feel that very few people in my life truly understand that life is short! Fine, the world is not going to end but it is ok to tell people you love them anyway and that is what I did. Before 6pm, I texted some of my closest friends that I cared about that if the world does end they should know that they are indeed loved. I did this thinking about the guy on the phone. I will say that some people laughed thinking that I was joking, some never responded, but generally most told me the same thing.

My point is this simply, we never know when our time is up, whether it is collectively or singularly. We should always tell the people we know and love that we love them. Not just because they may die and we will never see them again, but because WE may die and they may never know or understand how much they mean to us. The universe does things to remind us that we are here for a purpose and while we are all laughing at these fools for this false alarm, the point of all this may have been God telling us to not take our lives for granted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The End of Days? Hardly.

Clearly, someone miscalculated last time...
There has been a lot of talk about the world ending lately. I find it amusing on so many different levels that I just had to incorporate this into my blog today. Over the last year, I have been thinking about my personal relationship with God. I have been thinking about what it is that I truly believe in and how does that determine my life from this point on.

I have always made it known that I am a "recovering Catholic" and this is just to show others and myself that I am not fond of all things that the Catholic Church preaches. On one hand they can teach that Jesus wants us to love other and yet on the other hand that love is conditional based on sexual orientation. Let's not forget that in the past that the bible was used to subjugate people by forcing them to believe that there is a better life after death if they just accept their current fate. So while talking about people like Osama Bin Laden and radical Islamic views, lets not forget many of the people in the past who were murdered in the name of Jesus.

Those radical views are not views that I share. Twelve years of Catholic school has led me to believe that I should always believe that there is good in everyone. Of course, that has bitten me in the ass more times than I can count, but the God I believe in is based on love. However, I am not blinded by faith to think that things will be handed to me. I know that I need to work for what I have and help others when I can. I think this is why I find my job with working with students so rewarding.

My personal relationship with God involves me praying and having conversations with him/her. There was one point in which I find myself praying for the people that I love and wishing them happiness and success and not praying for my own happiness. I often times pray for strength because I feel it is one thing that I need the most. It is not that I do not want to be happy because I know that I need to fight for what I want, but I know my life is not as bad as other people around the world. I recognize my privilege and I cannot take that for granted.

I have always found it hard to describe my relationship with God. I am not one to preach about it. I think we are all entitled to what we believe and we are also entitled to not have other people's views of God forced upon us. However, when I read The Shack by William Young (which is an amazing book), I finally felt that the personal one on one relationship was validated. I do not need church to believe in something. I am a good person and would never intentionally harm anyone; I just find it hard to see the bible as more that just a book written by man.

So when I see things like this, which is describing dates of when the rapture begins leading to the eventual end of the world, it makes me shake my head. Why do people feel the need to concoct such things as if God would ever make it possible for any one of us to predict when he/she decides to judge us? The planet Earth is just a marble in this vast Universe, this beautiful universe that was created for a higher purpose that you and I can never comprehend. I almost consider us to be like an atom in the body of this universe or perhaps maybe this universe is the body of God. So in that respect, he/she will just disregard us based on text that man wrote? I have dreams all the time that zombies are coming after me, does this mean I should write it down and call for the end of days?

Then I can only imagine the reactions of the people of other faiths who read this stuff and be like, what the f*ck? I can see Muslims shaking their heads and laughing while saying, "and they think we are crazy." I am not sure I have seen any other religions try to calculate the exact moment when those who are "righteous" will be taken away while the rest of the heathen fight to stay alive in a real life version of the Night of the Living Dead. This type of thinking is the root of the elitist mentality that some people are better than others.

This elitist mentality has been played out in history as well as in our current time period. The bible has been used to show that there are heathens out there that are less than human and deserve what comes to them. You can include the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the massacre of the Indigenous population in the Americas as just examples of "elite" people playing God. You can see it now in how so many people are against gay marriages by saying the God would never allow it because homosexuality is a sin (less they forget that Jesus died for ALL our sins...but clearly that is irrelevant).

I am digressing here. In my past posts and poems, I have often talked about fate and the universe. These things are synonymous to me talking about God. Those phrases are one and the same. We all have to figure out the paths in our lives. I was recently reading a passage from The Alchemist that leads me to really think about what is really in store for me in my quest for inner peace:
There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.... The soul of the world is nourished by people's happiness.
The world is not coming to end whether it be Saturday or 6 months from then. We should focus more on what we want to do to make this world better than dreaming of a time when we separate good from evil because none of us are perfect...even if we do go to church on Sundays.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dr. Inspiration PhD

Commencement is finally over. The Class of 2011 has left and the campus is not empty. I am left to reflect on my thoughts about how the school year played out and how this calendar year is shaping up for me. I think that I finally have my life back. April has always been a hard month but getting through it is always a challenge and an experience. So when May comes, it is a surreal feeling of finality. This is my 9th graduation and this particular year was bittersweet.

This year I have seen many ups and downs and despite it all, I still seem to be very good at my job. My lows consist of various failures that I have refused to let stop me in my ultimate goal of leaving Syracuse and return to my friends and family in New York City. That leads me into my second goal of getting my Masters Degree and going back into the higher education field on the academic side through teaching college courses in writing. I take this all into account because I feel that I have found my goal but have also found obstacles in my way of achieving this.

Interestingly enough, one of the first events that I end up having to handle is the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. This is where the PHD program candidates walk across the stage and get their hoods to declare they have indeed become a doctor in their field of study. I watched as a dear friend of mine, Dr. Paul Buckley walked across the stage and I thought to myself...that could be me. Why shouldn't it be me?

The rest of the weekend was filled with ceremonies and convocations that sort of blurred into together. Seeing various students in their gowns and meeting their families in a time of happiness are always great to see. But, in the back of my mind, I was asking myself that question. I know that I do a lot of talking on this blog, this forum that I give myself, where I put myself on blast and let the world know how I am feeling and what my dreams are. This forum that has gotten increasingly hard to write in by the minute. I have been talking to talk, but not walking the talk. I need to change this.

So once again, seeing Dr. Buckley (because I have that much respect for this man) at a reception just for him, I listened to everything he had to say about the life and family and how he had people to get him through it and inspirations that he had to look at. I can see that he had an inner peace that I am not sure I have seen in anyone else. It is the kind of inner peace that one has one they reached something that was so hard and so worth it.

Perhaps this is what I have been looking for, an inner peace, something to accomplish. Will getting a Master's Degree be enough? Maybe not, can I imagine someone calling me Dr. Otero? Yes, actually, I can. I need to fight for this dream, but what will I a doctor in? Well I have some ideas that will be for a later post. But, I feel that I have spent so much time and energy in thinking about love and my lack of woman when I should just improve on me. I thought about a slogan that just made me laugh when I thought about. This is not to offend anyone, but more to motivate my desires and me: Fuck Bitches, Get Degrees. :)

I am not content with my place in the world and now that I have carve my niche, but you know what? I am done talking about this. I am done writing all this down. I need to do. I have my plans that I have not told many people because I feel that I jinx myself and I am just tired...so very tired. But, this weekend reminds me that there is always hope in the inspiration of others. I can find that inner peace in the things that I accomplish. I have often wondered what the universe has in store for me. I hope this is it.

As for Dr. Paul Buckley, he will remain the inspiration, that bar that I need to hold myself to. That example of inner peace I will need to not only obtain, but also accomplish.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Such a Geek...

There are times when things can be so stressful or hectic that we forget what it is that can truly makes us happy. Those are the moments that we can have that will make all other moments just fade away. I had one of those moments last week. No doubt about the fact that I have personally had a challenging past few weeks in where I had to look at my life and really ask what do I believe in.

I am struggling with many aspects of my life that have to do with failure. I am not afraid to fail per say. I told a student last week that Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team, imagine if he decided to give up? So taking that into obvious consideration, I needed to look past many of the things that have got me down and continue to move forward. Of course, doing that is easier said than done. It was getting to the point in which I was pondering the possibility of depression. Even saying that now is kind of awkward because it seems so unlike me. So, I decided to go ahead and do what any geek like me would do and go see the midnight showing of THOR.

Now, while that sounds like some really nerdy shit, understand that there has always been a reason for why I was so into comic books most of my life. I needed to get way from my real life. Reading comics as a child really built my vocabulary as well as indulged my imagination. The world always seemed perfect when superheroes were in it. It spoke to me when Spiderman was having more woman issues that I was having. I got to me when Hawkgirl finally admits her love for Hawkman before they are both killed.

My point here is that real life is so overwhelming disappointing some times that escaping in books or movies can be the only way to go. I am not saying all this because I want people to feel pity because as I write this, I realize that I will be fine. I just need to be able to allow myself to escape to another place. It has been quite awhile since I picked up a comic book and a long time since I have seen a real good movie, so I was looking forward to seeing the midnight showing of THOR.

Midnight showings are in a class of its own. You have to be able to find one or two people willing to go with you. They have have the passion to actually see the movie because people who complain after midnight just become that much more annoying. If this is a superhero movie, than you need to stay until all the credits roll and if you are not sure if you should stay...then stay anyway. The best part about all this was that THOR was good. Some people may not have thought so but it did the one thing that it needed to do and that was entertain me.

When I was done and I walked to my car and I felt so exhilarated. The movie help me realize that I was not slipping into a depression and perhaps I was just in a funk that I needed to get out of. Perhaps I have been working to hard and taking my losses harder than I need to. We all get knocked down, it just a matter of how fast we get back up. I am just glad the geek part of me was there to rescue.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Practical Joke.

I have to admit that it does not happen often but they got me good today. So good, that I need to document this occasion for the simple fact that a small war has been started in my office. I am ok with that because I think that I am the funny man of the office. The one that will not only make you laugh but will make you see the other side of an issue that you did not see. The devil's advocate and a bit of a jester. I keep in real and I keep it light as well because we can work in a stressful environment.

Today was set to be a day that was potentially stressful. It was the last day of class and graduation is just around the corner which means that planning for the next two weeks has become paramount. It was raining this morning and I was rushing to get in like I normally do. I walk into my office suite and say my hellos to my student employee and my assistant. I open my office door, put down my laptop bag, and take off my coat. The first thing I do is turn on my computer and start reading email. Then it happens, I hear this beep.

It sounded like one of those short beeps when you leave something in the microwave and it makes a noise to remind you that your food is still there. I look over to my right and I am like....what the hell was that? I know that I did not have any electronic stuff laying around. I check the general area where I heard it and I see nothing. I sit back on my chair just looking in that general area. At first, I am thinking that this has got to be me or quite simply...maybe one of my students left something in my office and the battery is dying. This is not a far fetched thing. So I take my laptop out just make sure that is not me.

I get distracted by work and I get into it and another beep happens. This time it was different. I am now looking up and to my right. I know that the light above me has had electrical issues in the past. It has flickered and gone out, but they fixed it more than once. Although that light was fixed awhile ago, I am thinking this has got to be it. It wasn't that big of a deal at the time but it was becoming a small distraction. I make this joke that perhaps this is a bomb and it just my time to go.

This kept on for a little bit. My assistant and my student heard it so I know that it was not me. I had to get coffee and do some running around so it was forgotten for the time being...until I came back only to hear it again. A co-worker of mine comes into my office to discuss something and I tell him to sit down in hopes that he would hear it and help me identify what this is. In the effort to not use real names I will just day his name is DAVE. He sits down and we talk and then it happens again. Of course I ask him. "Did you here that?" He is tells me that he did and we are both looking around. I tell him that I think it is the light and perhaps we need to call Physical Plant so they can see what is going on.

So minutes later, PHIL (we are not mentioning real names <..sarcasm font..> ) walks in and I explain the situation. This man is not very understanding. I am making jokes that perhaps it is big brother watching and the battery in the camera is dying. So as we are talking, it beeps again. I asked Phil if he heard it and he says NO! He was too busy talking to hear it, which I believe because lord knows he loves to hear himself chattering. Dave says he heard it. So I ask Phil to sit down so we can talk about whatever until it beeps again. I told him that it seems to go off every 5-6 minutes. He comments that if the interval shortens that I should run (ha ha -_- ).

It beeps once again and Phil tells me he heard it! But that he thinks it is my computer or laptop. Perhaps I need to clean my office up including all the electronic chords because it sounds like something is feeding back. I am looking at him and say "no." At this point, I am thinking this man is useless. He has no clue what the hell he is talking about. I give him a sarcastic agreement so he can leave. Phil humors me and checks the light and promises someone to look at it later.

At this point, I am thinking this is crap. I have work to do and I will have to figure this out. I leave my office in order to check on an event. I need to pass along some information to one of our students. So I get back to my office 10 minutes later and I am busy...and it beeps again. This time it is different. A short beep a little louder and definitely not coming from the light. It sounded like it came from the back of one of my file cabinets. I quickly move shit out the way and I see this:

What the fuck is this????? As you can see I took a picture of it. I certainly was not touching it. What if it is something like a bomb? Oh hell no! I go to Dave and I show him this very picture. I ask him if he has seen anything like it...

...and he starts laughing! O_O Dave tells me that he cannot believe I found it. Then he proceeds to tell me that he went in my office and placed it there this morning! The entire office busts out laughing! They were all in it. They all knew. Dave tells me that he would change the beeps every time I left the office. He tells me that he told Phil to play along. After I tell him that I hated him, he tells me that is called "the annoy a tron". His wife bought it on ThinkGeek.com. So in effect, he got me...but this does mean war...

Clearly I tweeted all this...

Judging Others

It has been a long month. I cannot begin to share how much I have had to go for each poem I posted last month. Everything I wrote was either about someone or something that has effected me over the last year. I told myself that I was not going force the writing of 30 poems unless I felt it. I was only able to come up with 21 and I am ok with that. I have shared so much of myself this passed month that is it almost difficult to go back to normal blog writing, but I feel that after a month I do have a few things to say.

I have come across some interesting things over the last month that has just struck a nerve with me. I have written about so many things since I started this blog, but I have barely touched the subject of judgmental people. This goes far beyond people who love to hate on others. This has to do with the fact that there are people in the world that feel the need to judge others on their actions. There is s distinct difference between  whether you think someone is wrong or and judging them for said actions. We can never walk in someone else's shoes.

There is that saying, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, well the reason for that is because we are all human. I also noticed that those who judge the most are the ones who have made some of the biggest mistakes in their lives and usually refuse to acknowledge this or they just lie to themselves in general. The ability to judge someone suggests that one may feel they are better than someone else.

Often times, I will have people tell me about their problems and usually they ask me not to judge them. I almost have to laugh every time because I have said this more often than not: after everything I have done, I am in no position to judge anyone. I understand that mistakes are made. I understand that we have the tendency to follow our hearts with no regard of reason. I understand that it is so hard to let go of things. Why in the world would I judge anyone when I have made the same mistakes? It makes no sense to me, but I have seen people do this.

I have seen people judge me. I have seen people judge their friends. It is something that all of us have this capacity to do. We think that we have a higher moral code than others but who determines what that higher ground is? Do not get me wrong, I don't pretend to be this person that likes everyone because I do not. But, I base my likes and dislikes on their character. I don't think that we are all born to get along with everyone, but we are born with the ability to respect a person for who they are and not judge them for who we think they are.

This is a big deal to me because I know that there are people who shape their view of the world on other people's judgments. Some people will act a certain way to avoid judgmental opinions of their friends. Others will just adjust their lives due to fear of what people may say and sure maybe they just do not want to hear what others have to say, but at the end of the day, most people care about what other's think.

We live in society in which, if you are rich and famous, who get that fine microscope turned on you because everyone wants to know your business. We do this to each other on a smaller scale, but it is so very similar. It should not matter if someone is dating a person we like or not especially if we cannot get our own shit together. Most of us do not go to Law school and practice it in order to ware a robe that allows us to push a gavel and judge other for their crimes against society.

People judge others because they feel that if they were in the same situation they would do something different. The fact of the matter is, we would never know. If it is a matter of the heart, we can never know. We can only try to understand the hardships of that our friends and family go through. Judging people only makes you, the judge, look petty and immature and when it comes around to your turn to go through a hardship, just hope the eyes of judgmental do not fall on you.


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