Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Year in Review

It seems like when we get to the end of every year we talk about how fast this year went. It makes me wonder what everyone else is doing because the last few years have been anything but fast. This past year is no exception and I am okay with that. I feel like I had too many losses this year, however, the successes that I did have outweigh all of that.

I started out the year figuring that I knew what I was doing. I made some resolutions that did not come into fruition. I started on what I felt was a great path into grad school. I chose to put all my eggs in one basket and put in my application to Sarah Lawrence. The Application process included bios, transcripts, and recommendations that lead to my ultimate failure. I am not sure why I was not accepted but I took it all in stride.

This year I gained some friends and I lost some friends and in some cases I regained some only to lose them again. It was not a particularly easy year for me in the friend department. I wonder if I have been misunderstood in certain cases or perhaps I cannot be friends with every woman I meet. There is no coincidence that I lost most of them when my girlfriend came into the picture. Some things can't be helped eventhough I believe that some friendships are repairable. I do realize I need to do more for my friends in the future.

There have been some affiliations that I very happy to be a part of. The November Media Group made me take my name and my persona on this blog seriously enough to consider myself a brand. So I did a photo shoot in March in order to have some head shots for publicity later. I thought this was a good investment and I am not opposed to doing this again in the future, it was indeed a great experience. Another affiliation that I am really proud of is The LatiNegr@s Project: Being AfroLatino. I was able to bring to together 3 other individuals to form a teams that is completely committed to education of the Afro Latino experience. Together we can do more than I ever could through our sites and on twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, it was a big year for me tweeting. I was able to get a company like Pep Boys to hear my gripes about them and their service. I finally met Frankie Negron when he came to Syracuse University to perform for Fiesta Latina. The best part of this was when I picked him up from the airport and the first thing he says to me is…."You look just like your Twitter pic!" He is an awesome dude and I hope I get to work with him again. I was also nominated for a LATISM (Latinos in Social Media)  Best Latin@ Micro-Blogger award. I didn't win but it was nice to just be nominated.

I also found what it meant to be truly single. I never really got into what my life has been since the divorce but it is not cake walk. Sure, I may have hinted at things here and there but those who have been through a divorce know that struggle becomes synonymous with surviving a broken marriage. I am not even referring to the institution of marriage, I am talking about dealing with people always asking about your ex-wife because somehow they are the last person in the world to know. There is also the fact that bill collectors give zero fucks that divorce happens.

Being truly single means most of those things you hear about bachelor life that has not been glorified. The fast food diet, the single man laundry day (thank God I do not use a trash bag to carry my clothes), the unshaven beard, the piled up dishes, and other things I wont get into because this is a family show. Needless to say being a divorcee is not a fashion statement and I have learned to deal with everything and to be as open and honest about things as I can be. Surviving a life that was once a two income life is a challenge when it become one. After a full year, I can say that I am a proud survivor.

My truly single days did not last long when I started seeing my girlfriend in July. This is the woman that I wrote all that poetry about. While I will not go into detail about this whole thing since I do enjoy a bit of privacy when it comes to this part of my life, I will say that things are going better than I would have ever imagined. I always take time to reflect and realize that I am a different person than i was years ago and will continue to learn from my past mistakes in relationships

The job prospects always seem bright when they appear, especially since I completed my 10th year at SU. I made it a habit to look at all the job openings I can find each Sunday. I was so confident that I would find a job this year that I bought two suits from Men's Warehouse not only for work but for some potential interviews I had lined up. In June, I had two interviews with Yeshiva University in Washington Heights. This was following a phone interview I had several weeks before. I was 90% sure this was going to happen. I kept it quiet because the whole thing with Sarah Lawrence made my parents believe that not everyone is on my side and can toss negativity out there into the universe. Needless to say, It did not work out at Yeshiva and neither did it work on at Columbia University when I interviewed there in November. 

Overall, I wanted to write more and complain less. There seems to be a surge in popularity of this blog that I am humbled by. I look at the stats and page views only to see that this year has given me more hits than ever before. In fact, November has been my most popular month. Much of it seems to be past posts that have led to me getting paid a small amount of money for something that I wrote 5 months ago.

More importantly, I still maintained the ability to be creative through either poetry or writing a short story. I am still committed to pointing out racism and injustice where I can, as well as calling out men or boys out on their crap and showing the world the true colors of people or magazines. I look forward to year 3 of this blog as I try to expand myself as a brand and as a writer. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Last Year on Earth.

"Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'YES!'"  - Winston Zeddmore

Beware! This time next year is slated to be the end of the world! They made a movie about it so you KNOW that it has to be true. The Mayans have predicted this! They are authors of an ancient calendar that ends on this day next year. Now all of a sudden people want to listen to Mexicans.

I am always amazed that every few years someone is either predicting the second coming of Jesus, the rapture, or now the unexplained reason why a calendar just stops. I have read that some archeologists have suggested that it is simply the end of an era and that the world will not end. I tend to believe this. Although, I am a little bit more practical. I say that the calendar resets or maybe they got tired of doing all that math. I do not recall the Mayans having a knack for telling the future nor is there any accounts that state the ending of "civilization."

However, there is seems to be a religious component to this (of course). The end of Ancient Mayan Calendar (aka Mesoamerican Long Count calendar) is supposed to mark the return of the Mayan God, Quetzalcoatl. Without going into further detail, he is a very powerful serpentine deity who was also worshipped by the Aztecs. There are many stories about his true nature but one thing was for certain, it was believed he was the God of the morning star (Venus). He avatar is more like a dragon than anything else but the the most interesting description comes a blog I read about Quetzalcoatl: "Legends say that Quetzalcoatl was tall and light-skinned, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a beard, in contrast to the natives who were short, dark skinned and dark haired. He is said to have worn a long, flowing robe. Quetzalcoatl was special because he was a god of creation."

This raised my eyebrows because that definitely sounds like a European Cleric to me. Upon further investigation, there a people who believe that Quetzalcoatl is actually Jesus. There are some Mormons who believe that after his death he visited South America. I am not sure this is a Mormon thing because I remember hearing this somewhere in my 12 years of Catholic School. So according to some there is a link to Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ. Maybe all those rapture people were off by a year?

It is indeed interesting that the Ancient Mayan Calendar stops on Winter Solstice of next year. I can see why people, who probably have limited knowledge about ancient civilization, can pick on that small piece of info and think something catastrophic will happen. Never mind that cycle for this calendar is 5,125 years long. The Mayans were astronomers that studied the ways of the universe so they can map calendars and astronomical alignments. So there is no suprise that ABC News reports that "The Mayans predicted a final event that included a solar shift, a Venus transit and violent earthquakes." Of course there is a failure to mention (which ABC News does state) that there is evidence that dates beyond 2012 were indeed recorded.

No one person or people this side of Nostradamus can predict the future and for what it is worth, people tend to bend Nostradamus' words into whatever may happen in the world today which makes what he says ambiguous at best. What I am not understanding is what is the obsession with the end of the world? Are we not satisfied with the world we live in? Not that we should be. But, from a religious stand point, if you are just living your daily crappy life waiting for a better life in the ever after then I supposed you want that to happen as soon as possible.

But, what if the "end of the world" means something that is totally not physical. Perhaps a mental transformation. Such paradigms shifts have happened before after the atomic bombs were dropped in Japan in August 1945. Some could argue the world ended right then and there. The world that they knew was gone because from that point on the world got smaller and more dangerous. Since then we have lived under this shroud of Nuclear war up until the Cold War end. Some could say the world ended on September 11, 2001. The world we know as Amercians has changed so much since then.

So what will end exactly? Will there be a new paradigm shift? I certainly do not believe that the world will suddenly be visited by an ancient Mayan God like Gozer (Sumerian God) from the Ghostbusters, but I do think that Mayan Calendar could mean an end of an era, but for what, remains to be seen.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas List 2011

Last week my girlfriend (still love saying that) asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I was a bit thrown back by this because I cannot recall the last time someone asked me this question. My parents don't ask me this because I get money from my dad and step mother (which is always appreciated *smile*) and my mother usually gets me a sweater or something like that. So it has been indeed a long time since anyone has simply asked me what I wanted for Christmas.

But, the funny thing is, I never answered her because truth be told I don't know what I want. I mean, I have my list of 5 things I want to get myself for 2012, but I do not expect anyone to help me get for them. This is the 3rd year I have done this list and it helps me figure out how to live a little. The best part about last year's list was that I was able to get all 5 things. However, this list is a little more grand, so we will see.

Blu Ray makes this worth it!
I will start with a Playstation 3. This is something that I wanted to get myself as a gift for all the hard work I put in this year. My plan was to get this when I started a new job, but that never happened. While I got a Nintendo Wii earlier this year and still play it, a true gamer as to have another system that is either a PS3 or a X-box 360. I debated both and even asked people on Facebook and Twitter as to which I should consider since both systems have basically the same games. PS3 won out because of one basic feature...the Blu Ray player.

I love the vest and tie!
Earlier this year I made the choice to buy 2 suits at Men's Warehouse because it was close to graduation and I had planned on interviewing. It was apparent then that I needed a better wardrobe because the selection was so awesome. The quality of clothes alone make a trip to this place worth it but these clothes are extremely expensive. Then I go to JCPenny a month ago with my girlfriend to shop for some gifts for the holiday season and they have this kiosk that you can search anything they sell online or in the store.  It also allows customers to scan the bar code and send the items to email. This renewed my sense of of getting new clothes.

Straight up, I need a new washing machine. Mine broke down months ago and I am tired of saving quarters. I have tons to choose from, but I think I will get a Maytag. The most important thing is to get one that has water level control. This helps with the water bill. Home Depot usually has some good deals. I will have to give some thought to coin-operated machines, but as I said, I am tired of saving quarters...although, I could me getting more loot. I would get one from Lowe's but not after reading this.

I love my glasses. I love them so much that I debated never wearing contacts again. There was a point in which contacts just got annoying for me to wear. However, I find myself not wanting to put my glasses through the everyday grind. So now, I want to return to wearing contacts for this reason. I may have to get picky on brands because I am not sure why some contacts bother me more than others. One thing I would like to be able to do again is wear sunglasses.

The final thing is something that I wanted to add to my collection and that would be The Black in Latin America DVD. I really enjoyed doing workshops on this documentary, but the DVD is owned by Syracuse University. I want my own so I view and perhaps watch it with others that are in need of an education. In addition, I feel that I learn something new with each additional viewing, perhaps something I missed due to being focused on an issue.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Let me catch up you up as quick as I can. The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are two rival schools that play an annual game. If you know anything about sports than you would know that rivalries make meaningless game worth watching and meaningful games irresistible to view. This past weekend's game saw an all out brawl the likes of the Knicks-Heat playoff brawl of years ago or your basic Hockey game. The brawl was so monumental that the refs called the game over with time left on the clock. Players were in each other's face, punches were thrown, and blood was spilled, but it is what happened after this that makes me want to shake someone.

Let me start by saying that people forget the one crucial element in all of college sports. These athletes are kids. Sure, they may have a pro game but they are mentally still children and more importantly, students. Fights cannot always be avoided and it is truly unfortunate that a special player like Yancy Gates throws a haymaker that he will forever be remembered for. It is also unfortunate that he is being viewed a thug which is something that I take issue with. Maybe he is a thug and maybe he isn't but who are we to judge him?

I have seem numerous amounts of fights on many levels in different sports but do not recall the word thug being used to describe a player. I think about Pedro Martinez when he was a Boston Redsox and the fight that this team had with the New York Yankees. Pedro (in what turned out to be in a hilarious moment) grabs the oldest player on the field, Don Zimmer, and throws him to the ground in a move that would rival any matador. After the hilarity and shock wore off, Pedro was vilified a little bit, but there were no name calling to suggest he was some Dominican gangster.

Let's look at the NHL. Perhaps it does not help that I know very little about the sport outside the basic rules (I know enough to play Hockey on playstation), but it seems that fighting is almost encouraged. We are certainly not seeing a post game press conference about any in game fight because it is so much engrained into the psyche of the NHL and their fans. Better yet, you will see at least a fight a night on ESPN's SportsCenter when NHL highlights are being shown.

So what makes this different? Is it because we are dealing with African American players? Is it that because these kids are being recruited from a ghetto near you that they must have this gangster mentality. I know that today's Hip Hop culture with the sagging jeans doesn't help but calling these bunch of kids from both teams thugs is sorely irresponsible.

Take into account that these knuckle heads were being dumb. They let the heat and the passion of the game get to them and they snapped. I do not see the referees being admonished for not calling the technical fouls they should have to let cooler heads prevail, but instead, they let the trash talking continue. No one can tell me that neither coach did not recognize how enraged their players were getting. A well placed time out to remind players that this game is not about them would have sufficed.

Instead you had pandemonium break loose to such a level that Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters is looking to press charges. That is insane and uncalled for. Yancy Gates and the Cincinnati players are all remorseful for what happened. Their status on the team is in question. Their scholarship was undoubtably in question and that multi game suspension is some thing that hurts more than any punch thrown and received.

The pain on Yancy Gates' face is evidence that he is just a kid that made a mistake because real thugs and gangsters don't cry.

Friday, December 9, 2011

If I had $250 Million...

Yesterday was a very interesting day in sports with Albert Pujols signing a huge deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. For those who know anything about baseball or just sports in general know that Pujols is the best player in Baseball right now. In fact, I think he may go down as one of the top 10 players ever. With this being the case, of course he has the ability to get top value for his talents thus signing a 10 year, $254 Million deal. That is about $25 Million dollars a year!

But, it makes me wonder what I would do with all that money. This amount is just about unfathomable to me because it is so ridiculous. I am sure there are is a certain lifestyle that one would automatically live with that kind of money, but I gotta say that being debt free would be amazing. My first checks would be to pay off the car, the house, and that damn Salle Mae. I would take care of all and any debt that I currently have because I cannot stand bills.

Before people start any thoughts toward judgement, one must walk in the shoes of people who have been divorced. It is damn difficult to live a life in which two incomes were needed to live the life they had. It is not like any bill collector has a divorce option. It is not like they will reduced payments or take into consideration that there is a hardship. So being debt free is something that is would be far more liberating than having the money to do just about anything.

The next thing I would do is pay off mortgages and/or student loans for those whom I love. Various friends and family would not have that burden. My nephew would get a free education from this moment on. This would be my way of paying back the people who have always supported me. Life is so much easier when you do not have to worry about paying off things that you own.

I would start my own publishing company. I feel that books and reading are so important in this life. It would be an upstart company for those who want to be published but do not want to self publish. This would be my full time "job". I would travel the world not only to see things I never seen before but to also gain inspiration for future writing endeavors of mine. I would also go back to school worry free of tuition and the time constraints of employment.

It would also be great if I could create scholarship for students who apply themselves academically but also are involved in their campus communities. There is much to be said for student leaders on campuses across America. I am not so sure they get recognized for the hard work they do to put on programs and workshops. Leadership skills should be rewarded to those who demonstrate how to be a leader. I would start that scholarship at Syracuse University.

I would invest my money in projects of fellow alums that need someone to believe in them. I would also invest monies in the market so that I cant continue maintaining that large amount of money in order do things I want to do. I would give money back to communities that need building. I am not out right saying I would be a landlord but I think fixing up houses and buildings in dilapidated neighborhoods helps build confidence within any community.

No, I would not live in a mansion. I do not desire to do that. I don't even think I would live in a house, although I would own land. I would like to live in a place that is suitable for me and a possible small family in NYC. I would own one car that would probably be expensive but that would be my personal gift to myself. While I would have nice things, I doubt that I would spend crazy amounts of money on articles of clothing or unnecessary things.

Having all the money opens up so many things for me and for the people I care for. It would be nice if my children could have an education free of student loans and not because I work for a university. Clearly I am writing this as a broke 37 year old man so I would hope that money would not define me. But the things is, I just don't know. Money has a way of change people as well as circumstances. Just like that saying goes.. "absolute power corrupts absolutely"

What I do know is that I know what is to survive on less than a 100 dollars between pay checks. I am mature enough to understand that even though I cannot take the money with me when I die, I can leave a legacy…

…and leaving a legacy is much easier when you have $250 million in your pocket.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Goals for 2012

It may be early December, but I don't think it is early enough to start talking about goals for 2012. I feel that I need to get a leg up on the next year. This year has been filled with many surprises and disappointments that I am just going to look at the next year to continue my on going journey back to New York City. I have come up with five goals I need to complete in addition to sub goals that should help me. Besides, do I really what to create a set of New Year's resolutions? I think I would rather set goals.  A resolution is an expression of an intent. A goal is an objective that you can plan for, which is why I want I think about this now as opposed to 3 weeks from now.

Getting a job in NYC is my first goal. This is not a new thing. I have been trying to do this for two years now. The interviews themselves are hard to come by when you compare it to the number of applications that I submit. It seems that looking for employment is almost a full time job. I have been at this for about two years and I have only gotten interviews from five institutions.

Which brings me to my sub goal, getting more interviews. The odds will work in my favor if I can increase the amount of opportunities that I get. I am still trying to figure out if being in Syracuse is a reason why I am getting overlooked in the first place, which is why I am going to get some additional help. Employment counseling is my primary focus for the moment. I need someone to evaluate me and my skills in a interview as well as looking at my resume to tell me where I may be going wrong.

When it comes down to it, I need to Publish this book. I have already named it, My Twisted Life Through Lines of Poetry. I have already written all the subsequent poems that will be in it, I just need to buy the ISBNs required to publish. $250 is a lot of money to me and I was about to pull the trigger about a week ago but, this is the holiday season and I know that I will be in NYC for at least two weeks and I am really not trying to come up short with any kind of money. I am looking to make this purchase at the end of the year to start the designing of this publication. I may have just found the cover photo too (see above).

Getting all this done will require me to do more Performances and Get More Speaking Gigs. Let's be real here, I need to get off my ass and put in the work. However, I believe in my heart of hearts that I need to get the publication going off the ground before I go out there and tell people that I have a book coming out. It will sound superficial and ridiculous if I don't. The only person who can market me at the moment is me. I am making the personal commitment that this is one thing that needs to be done.

I need to Take Care of Myself. Over the last year in a half I have fallen off this routine that I have had. I finally admitted to myself that I have let my own personal health go. I am not saying that I have been getting sick because that is not the case. I think I have been in good health, but I know where I was in 2009. I need to get back on the health kick. Sure, I stopped drinking soda and replaced it with water in my diet, but with lack of exercise is noticeable to me. I wont even get into the fact that I need to see the dentist more as well get a check up. One requires money I don't currently have.

However, I think Running Again will put me back on track and make me feel great about life in general. I did buy a pair of running shoes to replace the old ones that I literally ran to the ground. I am not sure what it was about this year that made me fall off my running game, but I am not going to let that happen next year. After all the holiday mess at the end of this month, I am going to change my diet to something that is worthy of a runner. I will say this, I gave up Splenda last month and I think that is a fabulous start.

I have not spoken about this in a very long time but, I need to Get another Roommate. At the beginning of this year, I had 3 roommates and things were good. One decided to leave due to issues with the other two. It was a fluke to even have the the 3rd roommate anyway given the condition of that room. It needs some work done on it. I need to spackle and paint the walls and one window needs to be replaced.

Sure, the room is livable right now if someone really wanted it. It is not in terrible shape but, a fresh coat of paint and a new window will go a long way. What am I waiting for? Right now I do not have a window replacement budget. I can but the window from Lowes because I have already researched that, it is not too expensive but who is going to install it? Exactly….I need money for that.

Lastly, I think this may go without saying, but I think I need to Be a Better Man. I think in many ways I fail to live up to my own standards of what I think a man should be. A man should be able to deal with all the issues that I have listed above./ I have many of these issues due to self doubt or poor decision making in the past. So, I am looking at things now in order to just be a better person, but being a better man means being a role model and a leader amongst other men. I am not sure I do as well as I could with this.

I also want to Be a Better Boyfriend. This is not to say I am a bad boyfriend right now but, I feel that my past relationships have ended in part because I was not mature enough deal with what life was throwing at me. I think that I could have done things better and handled myself better. I want to be more than I was before because I am not longer afraid of holding back for whatever reason. I think that my relationship with my mother haa gotten better and the fact that I want to move back to NYC to be with family makes me more compassionate and understanding. In short, I want to experience a romance that I have denied myself for far too long.

I would encourage you all to think about goals rather than resolutions. I am tired of making resolutions I cannot meet because I didn't have a plan. I would much rather plan out a goal so I can prove to myself that life gets better as I get older.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Simple Cooking Lesson

I absolutely love to make French Omelettes. This is something that I have learned to do years ago when I took a cooking class during my Sophomore year. While there are many things that I can cook, nothing really satisfies me more than to make a French Omelette because it symbolizes something to me. It was a lesson that I had to learn years ago on the consequences of being over confident and the how to deal with failure because of that.

When I took this class, I was quite confident that I would pass this course with what I considered to be an easy A. The class itself was not hard. You had to listen to tapes on cooking about safety and cooking temperatures among other mandatory lessons. The "lab" portion was cooking in the the kitchen with rest of the class. It was good to take this class with a friend because then you had a lab partner. When I looked over the syllabus I had a feel of how the semester would go. There were things that seemed to be very simple to me. We cooked meats, baked cakes, and even made ice cream from scratch. All those were easy…until we got to omelettes.

I have always taken some pride that I know how to cook something as simple as eggs. So when it came time to make the French Omelette, I knew I was golden. Eggs are probably one of the easiest things to make. It doesn't take much time to cook and you can do so many things with it. I felt I had this in the bag. The only thing to me that I had to be concerned with was burning the eggs. So, I made sure that my stove was not on high. The thing is that we were cooking with electric stoves and not fire so cooking can be a bit of a challenge.  The problem was that I had the burner on too low and mistimed myself which resulted in problems with me folding it. 

We are not talking about a complicated omelet. This was just one fold. There are other types of omelets that are folded twice or even tree times depending on the preference of the chef. So with the my miscalculation, I could not complete the fold. It broke apart and I was not happy. I failed the lab that day, in fact I ended getting a B- in the class as whole. This was definitely a case of being so overconfident about something and it comes back to bite me in the ass.

Since that time, it has always bothered me that I failed that egg lab. Every chance I get to make a French Omelette, I nail it. I have made it with one fold and two folds. I get better at this dish every time I make it. It is a reminder to myself that I can move on and learn from something that I failed at. I also have to continue to remind myself to stay humble. Over confidence is something I cannot fall victim too. 

The problem that I have with this is that the line between over confidence and lack of confidence is so blurred. I know that I can do anything I put my mind to. I have done it time and time again in my professional life and in my personal life. It is one thing to know how good you are but it is often hard articulate it without sounding pompous. Confidence can be as delicate as the eggs I am cooking with. Sure, I may know what I am doing, but one little mistake and it can break apart.

Looking at my interviews I have had over this past year, I am beginning to wonder at what point did I become over confident or not confident enough. In either case, I am going to keep trying until I get this right.


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