Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back at MY 2012

"Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize, just as I did, that there's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path" - Morpheus

I always try to take one look back before I proceed into the future. 2012 has finally come to an end and I cannot help but be amazed of how I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. I will say that as much as I wanted this to be a good year, I wasn't so confident that it would end that way.

The first thing I decided to so was to take more risks. The truth of the matter was that at this time last year, I knew I needed to change my life before I went spiraling down in a flame of debt and foreclosure. What I learned from my woman was that taking risks shouldn't always be that scary. After a afternoon of learning how to ice skate --without falling once, I realized that I needed to invest in myself and take those risks that may turn my life around.

At the same time I realized that this blog was becoming a venue for me to complain and talk about things I would love to do but never follow up on. I was done with that. I need to stop talking and just do. The result ultimately ended up with me having less blogs than I anticipated but, the major goals I set were completed. Yet, as a writer, I did get more exposure than I ever thought I would with being selected as blogger for the Huffington Post. Yes, I feel like I keep saying this but I still find this to be amazing.  I wrote 4 articles and acquired a great deal of fans on that site.

Although, there were some bumps along the way, my second blog for the Huffington Post received some comments that I was not excited about. Looking back at it, it wasn't that big of a deal but, I did feel a certain way about it. I craft my words carefully (which is why I was called a Word Ninja) so that people can understand where I'm coming from. Usually, there are people who take my words to mean something entirely different (I'm still getting used to that). There was also the time in which the Huff denied a post from me. That was particularly hard to swallow, but I got over it.

I still believe that this was a banner year for racism. Despite the fact that Barack Obama won a second term, I believe we have seen so many signs of racism in the country that it is almost laughable if it wasn't so tragic. The death of Travyon Martin really took its toll on me when it happened. I think there is a lot to be said about the gun laws in this country and while I wrote nothing about Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings...I think eyes need to opened when comes to which populations are being effected by certain laws. I think more importantly it is the perception that people have that really shows how "tolerant" we are of other people. This does not mean I have strong words for just white own people can be ridiculous too.

Of course with the things that I say or do, come people who have either a difference of opinion (which is fine) or people who downright cannot deal with me. This year, I have learned to take the good with the bad. Let those fester in there thoughts while I continue to move forward. I can spend a whole blog post on the telling of stories about people and incidents that happen earlier in the year that will be completely hilarious. However, in doing so, that will make them look bad. I am determined to be the better person always. I think I have succeed in that one thing before I left Syracuse.

There were several proud moments for me this year, but nothing did it more than me getting an A in my graduate course in the spring semester. Another reason for the lack of blog posts was the simple fact that I was taking a class. The reason why this was big for me is because I never got an A in any class in my college career. I think I did pretty good on this.

My, departure from Central New York involved risks has I mention above. I was lucky enough to sell my house and get an apartment for a short amount of time. There was also so much risk in just keeping the faith and hoping that my job search would find me something. I'll be honest, there was one point where I gave up. With my last job application submitted, I told myself that it was either now or never. If I do not get a job in NYC, I would have looked into Grad School in California. I had schools already picked out when Barnard called for the interview.

I will never forget that afternoon when I was told that I was hired. With my return imminent, I thought about all the things I would do when I got back home. But, I had to ultimately say goodbye to good friend. Yes, it was hard to say my goodbyes to colleagues, friends, and students but it was the hardest to say good bye to Rocky. I still love and miss that dog. He has remained in Syracuse with the x-wife. I still think about him everyday. Sad to say that all good things come to an end...SU will always be in my  heart.

However, I did learn that everything is truly connected. In the wake of my decision to move, my mother suffered a heart attack. This required her to have a quintuple by-pass surgery that we all were very nervous about. Of course, Columbia Presbyterian is one of the best places she could have very gone to, there is was always that horrifyingly small chance that something may go wrong. The good thing is she fully recovered which made my return even more glorious.

The rest of the year was filled with apartment hunting while being broke, Obama was re-elected, Sandy damn near destroyed lower Manhattan, my Macbook broke, and I am near obesity.

I think this was a good year. Very successful. Next year will be better. I will share a toast tonight for my friends, family, and to all of you who continue to follow me. Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Goals for 2013

I will have to admit that 2012 was really good to me. I dare say it was one of the best years that I've had in a very long time. While it had it's up and downs, I attribute my changes in life to the fact that I set goals for this year. While that might be a bit cliche-ish in the realms of Higher Education, it does indeed work when a plan is laid out.

If you read last year's post, then you will know that I no longer set resolutions for the New Year. That whole business is done. I will set 10 goals as I did a year ago and try to accomplish as much as I can. I completed 60% of my goals for 2012 and I will try to do better in 2013.

One of the things I am most proud of this year is joining the ranks of the Huffington Post. However, I haven't written anything for them since May and it has been very noticeable to me. I need to refocus and write more Huffington Post Articles. While I personally feel that I have no excuse for the drought, I know that May was the beginning of all the major events in my life.

In general I need to write more. I have been very passive about writing for many different reasons and yet I also feel limited in the venue in which I present my blog in. I have decided that is it time for a change in websites. I plan on doing a site switch early in 2013. In the effort to gain more exposure for myself I created an additional site on wordpress that has remained unused. I will follow up on details when it become ready. I will still keep this site however.

Writing remains important to me and when my Macbook crashed, I felt very fortunate that I backed up all my writing before the hard drive had to be replaced. One of my goals that I failed to deliver in was to self publish my poetry. To be quite honest, I never had the money to do this. While I was investing in myself, I had to sacrifice a few goals. Now I need to put this back on the table and get this done.

Speaking of money, I believe I am in a great position to finally get my financial life in order. I'm making debt reduction the highest priority in 2013. All those years of owing people are done for me. I am not saying that I am making crazy amounts of money because I'm not, but I am finally comfortable with my income. Now, I can get rid of bills that have been plaguing me for awhile. One thing that a divorce does is really kill your finances and now after 3 years, I am ready to put myself in a better position.

With putting myself in a better position financially, I also have to find an apartment. My situation has always been temporary and now that the holidays are almost over, I can concentrate on this very important goal. I love Washington Heights and remaining here would be ideal, but who knows where this search will lead me. I do not want to be too far from Barnard College so being on the west side of Manhattan is critical. At the end of the day, I can live someplace that is quaint and affordable. I would like the neighborhood to be decent. I think I can manage that.

My health remains very important to me. I need to find a PCP and a dentist.  I already replaced my glasses so I can check that off the list. However, the most important thing to me is to lose 20 pounds this year, preferably by the summer. This is not as vain as it sounds, while I want to plan to go somewhere warm, the idea is just to be as healthy as possible. I will admit that clothes seem to fit better on me when I do not have a gut blocking the way. I have several things planned to main my health including a 5k run.

I also need to go to some games in 2013. I am not just talking about Met games or Knick games. I am not adverse to going to Yankee games. I have not been to the new Yankee Stadium. I have not been to the Barclay Center either. I think going to sporting events is a crucial part to being a New Yorker. There are tons of things to do in this city and going to games is one of them. I am also looking forward to the All Star Game in Citifield in July and the last Big East Tournament that Syracuse will play in March.

Some how, with all this going on, I would like to start the Master's Program at Columbia University in the fall of 2013. I am waiting for the fall because I am not sure how busy this upcoming spring semester will be. This also gives me more time to research what I need to do. I am still aiming for sociology at this point but, with all the programs that CU offers, I need to look closely at my options. I am not going to forget my ultimate long term goal of getting a Master's Degree.

Finally, the one thing that Christmas as reenforced with me is that I need to spend more time with friends and family.  I have always been that person to get caught up in what I am doing. Sure, I can multitask all day, but sometimes I seem to forget what is important. In many cases, I have a bad friend to many people or a bad cousin to others. Overall, I think I need to recalibrate the way I spend my time and with whom. I am grateful that I am with a woman who understands my need to sort of be everywhere with my family and I think there is going to more times when it seems I am spread thin, but it is family so it ends up worth in the long run. In terms of friends, my mission is to reconnect. That will mean lunches, dinners, drinks, and possibly parties...clearly this is not a bad thing.

My goal is to do 90% of the list above. That may sounds ambitious since I really want to do a 100%. However, I know from experience that life changes and shifts from month to month. I am ready for 2013 and everything that comes with.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tony FAQ

I wanted to compile a small list of questions that people have been asking me since I moved back to NYC:

The number one question that I have been hearing lately is "how is the new job?" It can often times be more specific like "How is Barnard?" This is a fair question and I feel as if I need to come up with a universal answer since I have often been repeating myself. That is not to say that I do not like answering the question because anyone who switches jobs will tell you that the question of how your new job is will happen well past the first two months from the start date.

Barnard College is great. I cannot be happier right now. The job I have right now is very similar to what I had at Syracuse University with some differences. The campus is smaller but the fact that it is so neatly tucked into Morningside Heights makes it really special. There is hardly any sense of apathy which is a real change from Syracuse. These young women are very attuned to what is happening in the world and it really impresses me. I suppose being at an Ivy League institution will do that. (Which freaks me out -- Ivy League??)

Here is another question I get, "How's the transition?" The funny thing is, I never considered moving to NYC to be a transition. It was very easy to go back to the public transportation mode. My work hours are relatively the same and I am treating my living situation similarly to what I had before I left Central New York. The only things that took a while to get used to was not having Rocky in my life and the constant Parking Wars that go on in the streets of NYC everyday.

There is not a day that goes by in which I see a dog that reminds me of Rocky. There is always someone walking their small dog that bears that resemblance. There is a dog park over by Riverside Drive that is called Rocky Run. I took him there once and I am the mayor of that place on Foursquare. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I think about him every time I check in. Of course, I am over that way because I have to park the car, which is also about 15 blocks from where I reside. These are the parking wars that I am getting used to and can probably dedicate an entire blog post on this subject.

"Where are you living now?" I am still in Washington Heights. It is interesting to not live in the Bronx or in Mount Vernon. The parking wars are serious in this section of Manhattan this for sure. I do feel very comfortable living here, more than I thought I would. Perhaps because I was so used to everything being slower and quieter. When I was in Syracuse, I felt like I was moving faster than everyone else or that perhaps I was just a little bit louder. I feel like I fit right into a busy neighborhood that plays so much Musica Latina.

I think there is a lot to be said with me coming back to a place that has had the culture that I have missed so much. Before you assume that I am making this all about Spanish food and Latin Music, there is a definite culture in being a New Yorker. It is the feel of the city, the thrill of the sports, and oddly enough the subway train rides. It is these things that have made my return easier for me on all fronts.

Finally, "How is your mother doing?" She is doing remarkably well. I often say that you would never know that she had a quintuple bypass surgery. I believe there is a part of her that feels she now has a second chance at life. I have often wondered what it is like to get older and face death, but I think that because she was a nurse in The Bronx, she has seen her fair share of death.

She is walking around more than she did in the past. While she may not be as strong as before she will get to where she needs to be with PT. Her body is not just recovering from the surgery, as I mentioned before that she does have Diabetes. Taking that into account will all the other ailment, like Arthritis, and you get a picture of how she should look and feel. But, she doesn't look like one of those old ladies. As long as she continues to pay attention to diet and maintain her exercise, I think she will be fine for years to come.

If you have any more questions feel free to send me a message on here or through Facebook!

Monday, December 17, 2012

5 Days until the End.

Earth will not be Vulcan in 5 days.

A funny thing happened during the supposed last year of our existence, I was living life. I had not paid much attention to any count downs or apocalyptic warnings. Yet, I am wondering how much time people have put into the belief that the world will truly end. I will admit that because of my propensity to have a vivid imagination that sometimes I may get caught up in the illusion of such things. Yet, this time around I am not concerned with any of this, even if it is for humor's sake.

However, I feel compelled to write about this because I haven't really mentioned it since I first wrote something about this last year. The point I made then was that this could be the end of the world as we know it, (cue song from Independence Day) which was more of ideological notion of the world around us. I know that based on the changes to my personal life that the world around me has changed forever.

Now we are 5 days away from finally hearing the end of all this Mayan talk and I truly believe that the world has changed within this year. Of course, the world I refer to will be largely localized to this country but still, most of what we know about the world are things in our immediate area of familiarity. I still believe one of three things happened when it came to the "ending" of this calendar. The first being that, like every calendar, the numbers simply start over. Secondly, when the Mayans were wiped out by European Settlers much of their records died with them. Thirdly, however improbable as it may be...perhaps they were charting something bigger than this planet...maybe another Galaxy. Think about that.

In any case, the world is not same. For many Americans, the re-election of Barack Obama means the ending of their proverbial world. Many people have pointed to this as the end of the power that white people have held in this country. Personally, I do not believe that but I do think that it does mean that people of this color now have more say in who runs this country. So in many ways there has been a paradigm shift within politics that will resonate for decades to come (if you believe in that sort of thing... *waves to New World Order*)

Many people have been pointing to Hurricane Sandy as the reason for Obama's win and also as a sign that the end is near. I think with every big storm there is a call for the end of days in which there is the expected 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse to show up. Climate change has made people really wonder how much time we have left because there really is nothing mankind can do again Mother Nature. The other side to the climate change argument has been that weather patterns have just been repeating from century to century which does makes sense in some ways considering that America is still fairly young and we have no adequate records of such (outside of Farmer's Almanacs), but that does not address the polar ice caps melting. (I digress....)

Sadly, the death of 20 children in Newton, CT at the hands of mad man can also be pointed to the end of days. The death of innocence that has been felt all over this country for last few days has caused many people to rethink our society's policies. Veteran politicians who have been all for the NRA have now been changing their tune looking to redefine gun laws. That would be a major step in changing the world as we know it. Unfortunately, the world at large is used to dying children. In places like Syria and Gaza, parents bury their children on a regular basis due to war. That does not mark the end of days but just how barbaric we truly are to each other. We do have a chance to really show what the value of a child's life really is...AND that will change the world indeed.

I could go into more signs but it is pointless. The truth of the matter is that we live in a vast universe in which the cosmos is still growing and unless the sun were to go nova, which it wont for another 5-6 million years, we are fine from any cataclysmic event. Besides, if anyone remember how completely underwhelming Y2K was, then hopefully you can join me on the morning of December 22nd when I have a drink of Coquito to celebrate surviving, yet another, end of the world event.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I am near Obese! (26.4% Body Fat)

Yesterday was the day I decided to get my ass kicked. I will admit that I didn't join a gym to get a personal trainer. But when a free session was offered to me, something inside me told me that I should at least try it.

What I've come to find out is that running can only get me so far. Sure, I can build stamina all day but if I cant lift a simple box around the office than what was the point? I started doing light arm and chest work outs with weights in addition to my ab workouts. the problem is never knowing when you are doing something wrong. Twice last week I ended up tweaking something and I knew that if I am not careful, I could be in some real pain.

So the whole personal trainer idea was not sounding so bad. I made sure to run hard last week (3 days = 7.5 miles) and get four days rest leading to this fateful day. I was not going to disillusion myself, I knew what I was in for and I expected the worse. The fact that she was a short woman who seemed nice made it worse. I wasn't falling for a sweet face of a person that could quite possibly know how to do a helicopter kick (i.e. Street Fighter).

Without going into the gratuitous and sweaty details of the slaughter that took place to my physical being, the work out was good. I had two goals in mind, the first was not to scream like a baby when I couldn't do it anymore and the second was not to beg her to stop. I accomplished both, but I was pushed to my physical limit. I felt the muscle soreness right away. Thank God she was not berating. I had images of Jillian Michaels (The Biggest Loser) yelling at me to get my fat ass in gear. But I survived it and only had one thing to do after getting stretched, and that was to discuss future appointments.

This is the part I hate the most. The debate on whether I should pay to have my own personal trainer. There is no question that this woman would help me get to a certain weight and body type. But the price was too much for me. It was something like $380-400 and that was payment #1.  She questioned my motivation and my immediate response was that money is my motivating factor for not continuing considering that she wanted me to make a payment right away. That wasn't happening

She measured my body fat and I knew it wasn't going to be good. This is an area about my health that I know the least about. A man my age should have an ideal body fat percentage of about 13% - 20%. The average percentage is 20.2% to about 25.6%. Anything above these can be considered obese. Of course mine is 26.4%. She tells me how bad this is for me and that she can teach me the proper form in exercise, which is true. I learned new ways to work out that I am still feeling. The body fat percentage is a big thing to me. I joke about how fat I am (even though I really don't think I am) because I know my family history.

However, I think my motivation is in the right place. I pay for a membership to a gym where I go 3 times a week. Paying an additional amount of dollars when I still have bills to pay and an apartment to hunt for is not the best way to go. Even when I mentioned that I was on a budget, I got this look like I will never train with her again. Which I did say that I still could, just not right now (it's not you, it's me). Very simply, the budget that I share with the girlfriend will be compromised by a decision to pay for something thing without consultation. While that may have come across as me being whipped, I would challenge any man who shares expenses with their partner to make a big payment without checking and see what occurs.

Of course I won this argument, but I lost the war. I am obese by all indicators and yet I don't feel that way. I know we live in a country that subscribes to an anorexic style of beauty but I also have to consider science. My mother's heart attack was very much about her diabetes. My Father's cancer may not have been avoidable but I know that taking of myself now can help me in the future. Does this mean I need a personal trainer? I am not sure. Maybe I do. But, I do have additional motivation and that is to be as healthy as I can.

P.S. My BMI is 27.7. You can calculate yours here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back it up! (Macbroke Pro)

There will never be a time when my life cannot be a thing of simplicity. But I suppose that having things complicate our lives means that we are building character. Then again, life would be pretty boring if things were consistently the same all the time. Last week was interesting for many reasons starting with my back spasms to me dropping my laptop.

Yeah. The back thing was a bit annoying to me but the laptop was devastating. It didnt drop that far or that hard but in the world of electronics, that is all that needs to happen. My woman is a computer genius and quickly ran a disk utility on it. I have seen plenty of error messages when using a PC but seeing them on a Mac is something I'm not used to. Terms like invalid record count and invalid node structure is something I needed to learn about. Of course, once I learned what they were I realized that I am in trouble.

The last thing I need is to get a new computer. I have replaced several PC laptops (without dropping them) and it gets old to red-do everything and get comfortable with the settings I have. With a Mac, I never had to worry about computer virus or clunky programs that slowed down my performance. One mistake and my computer world was rocked; a slip from my hand when I wasn't paying attention and a drop that was less than12 inches from the ground. So now I am computer-less wondering what to do.

The most annoying thing is that I do not have a current back up. Of course, I should know better. I had just found my portable hard drive a few weeks back and I had planned on backing up everything just in case. Luckily for me I had just backed up all the writings I have been working on before this incident.

However, it is incidences like these where you can break a product and find out how good or bad the company you are dealing is. I took it to the Apple Store this weekend and I was already warned that they do not deal with data retrieval, but if the memory was easily accessible they would be willing to transfer it. I was down to by a new portable drive on the spot. But, in this case, it just was not possible. I need a new hard drive and it will cost me $230. I think that is an amazing price. I loved the fact that everything was explained to me including getting a list of place that do data retrieval as well as replacement of a hard drive. I have some investigating to do with week so I can restore my laptop to its tip top shape.

I am just mad at myself for the entire thing. I was also getting to the point of possibly getting an ipad so that I can use that for my everyday travel needs without carrying a laptop. The reason for the back issues was because I am carrying too many bags for too long. So if I can lighten my load on daily basis, things maybe better.

We will see. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Building a Better Me

My abs hurt. They need to hurt because the domed shaped gut that protects them is just too big in my opinion. That opinion still holds even though I am currently losing weight and slimming down some. Yes, I am still a slender type of person but I really need to work more on myself. I am about to reach the 4th decade of my live soon and I need to be healthy.

While building a better me is not just about physical traits, I think that it is important to look good for myself. Several years ago, I went through this process of running all the time and slimming down a pretty good weight. I looked thin and it was something that I really enjoyed. It was process that I started with a definite outcome. I am on that same path I was years ago with one major difference. The motivation has changed.

Three years ago my motivation was based on anger. I was angry at everything. The best way to get past everything was to just run. I took all that pent up anger and threw myself on a treadmill until all the anger and pain left. I would run so hard to see if my physical pain could match my emotional pain and the results showed. Anger is such a powerful emotion that makes just about anything possible. One can do incredible things alone just based on anger alone. The issue is that anger fades eventually and what you are left with is a sense of exhaustion.

Now I have a new motivation that is based on the drive to be a better man in every sense. 2013 and beyond is going to be about my health and well being. These thoughts were never really present in my younger days. In those days, I could seemingly do and eat anything. Sadly, those days are coming to an end. What happens now is that everything that I have eaten then will have an effect on me now if I do not take care of myself. I would also love to get to a point where I feel comfortable with what I wear. I have taken pride with looking professional when I am at work and beyond. Much of that is based on how I feel about myself. Another words, I just get tired of seeing the gut.

I think the change in motivation is key. While anger is a very powerful emotion it can be very temporary for me. I can never stay angry for too long thus the desire to continue is not longer there. That is why it is so very important to me to gain a sense of purpose. I've proven this year that I can do anything I put my mind to and fixing my physical state has moved high on the list. I mentioned in the past that is it very easy to be complacent in Syracuse but that is not the case in New York City. I almost get the feeling that I need to always keep moving or be in a constant state of motion. 

My workout plan has been simple because I want to ease my way into things. I am going to the gym 3 times a week where I run for two miles on the treadmill, then I do about 75 crunches, and then I work on the arms. The goal is to be toned. I am not going for a superhero look but my main goal is abs.  One of cousins is dying for me to do this killer working out, which is much like boot camp, and I am simply not ready for that. I do feel like I need to be in a place where I can do the same workouts consistently. Once I get there, then I think I will be ready for crazy stuff.

Right now, I am just working on building a better me. I think that is something we should always strive for. We should always try to make ourselves better because life should not be about being and doing the same things all the time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas List 2012

Its that time of year again where I'm being asked what I want for Christmas. While this may seem early (because it is), I think that with the number of sales happening and my mind wandering to small things that I may want for myself. I do this for purely selfish reasons because I know there are people out there that are hurting in a bad way. This has always been a list that I never expect anyone to get me, but rather things I would like to acquire as I enjoy my own success.

This is not exactly the same list I gave to my girlfriend since some of these seem kinda extreme to me. But hey, sometimes you have to live in a fantasy world. I am not one for too many material things because I do beleive that in the end it is all just stuff. If I am lucky enough, I will get a few things that are truly sentimental over my lifetime.

Alright let's get to it:

I love to read!
Is it me of have books made a huge come back over the last few years? There is always something coming out that has to do with reading books digitally. I mean, I read comic books online as it is, so it would make sense that everything else would just be that way in this day and age. I already have the first gen Nook from Barnes & Noble and sadly (it is not broken) its time to replace it. I very much want the Nook HD. Perhaps this is just a thing of vain, but I will say that having an E-Reader has made me read a lot more than I did before. With this upgrade, I will be able to read in the dark (it is back lit).

This next item is a no-brainer for me. My contract with AT&T is up and I want to upgrade to an iPhone 5. Unlike most people, I do not care about all the bells and whistles. I just like what it does for me. What I have come to realize after owning this phone is that one will never uses all the features. It gets tiring to try to use EVERYTHING after day 3 of owning it, however, I like the features that I do use. With a better camera, the ability to read Comics, watch movies, do my fantasy sports, and face-time with family (all just a few examples), I am happy with what an upgrade will do for me.

He has a eye-wear line??
At the moment, I write this blog wearing some serious antiquated glasses. The problem is I lost my glasses off the coast of Fire Island a few months back. This means, I am in dire need of some glasses. I wore out my only pair of contacts (which is another thing I need) in the process of waiting to get paid. But never fret or fear, I will get new glasses this year (always the poet). I will have 2 goals in mind for a brand new pair: a) Glare Resistant and b) something that does not slide off my face easy.

One Ring...bitches
There are many things that I lost in the divorce. Many of these things were just divided amongst the both of us and there were things that I fought to try to keep and other things I just let go. Of the many things that I did let go, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (extended edition) was a definite treasure for me. Rarely do movies such as these come out, I knew that I would have to repurchase them. My thought was that if I left go of the DVDs, I will just require them as Blu-Ray discs.

My last 2 items are a bit far fetched and to be honest, I wanted to put something on this list that was border line absurd. First, It has been a LONG time since I have gone after anything remotely related to Darth Maul or Star Wars. In fact, I purposely took the Star Wars Saga Blu-Ray off this list because of this lovely statue right here. I haven't really decided if i am going to go back to collect on a grand scale only because all this stuff accumulates quickly and if I move more than once in my life time... it will be too often.

Ready for walkers!
On the other hand, there is this thought about how much I love the Walking Dead. When I did this list in 2010, I told myself I would venture down this road with the books and since then I have never looked back. But the other day I asked myself how much would a Katana run me? Needless to say that if I wanted something to kill Zombies with (besides my wit) I could easily spend less than $100 on this beauty.

I hope that everyone has a great time holiday shopping.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I suppose it is a bit cliche to list the things to be thankful for but I just find myself reflecting on what seems to be a very good year for me. This year was the tipping point for me and I knew that coming into it. I felt it was a make or break year for both my career and my personal life. I am so very grateful for those people in my life that helped me achieve the goals that I set.

Much thanks goes the my buddy for buying the house. I think that everything after that was just a domino effect. I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to be able to pull it off but I did. I am certainly glad that I took the risks that I did, but it was the encouragement and the willingness to understand how hard things were that made selling the house to a good friend worth it all.

I am thankful for Syracuse University. Even though my employment has ended there, I can still feel the people that I used to work with and their words to me. If it wasn't for SU I wouldn't be where I am right now. I am good at my job because I was good there first and I was given the room to fail while still learning.

I am also so very thankful to Barnard College for the recent employment opportunity. They clearly saw things in me that other institutions decided to pass on. In the few short months there, I have learned so much about how small schools work. I am thankful for the lack of red tape that I have grown so accustomed to. More importantly, I'm glad that I am able to be back in New York because of them.

Being back home has made me realize how much I have missed family. I know that being home means I get to see them more often depending on work schedule. Now that the holidays are here, there will probably be a plethora of visits being made and a number of times that my presence is being requested. I am very grateful for that because not many people can have a big family.

I am also grateful for my dad who was like my own personal council. He may not have agreed with all the decisions that I have made this year but we can both agree that the outcome has been a long time coming. I am thankful for his presence in my life.

Right now, my life would not be anywhere near as complete if it wasn't for my girlfriend. I am thankful that despite everything that we have been through, fate chose this particular time for us to be together. I am very doubtful that I would have been able to deal with the move and the lack of any finances if it wasn't for her. Everyday I am thankful for her in my life.

Finally, I want to thank those of you faithfully read this blog. I am glad I am able share my experiences with you. I hope, in some way, you have been able to come with me on this journey of mine. I wish all you all a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Michonne: The Ultimate Black Heroine?

Let me tell you what I am grateful for. The woman called Michonne. Even if you do not watch The Walking Dead, you should recognize what is going on here. We are seeing the birth of the most unorthodox and most unlikely of heroines on Cable Television. A sword wielding Black Woman that kicks ass and takes names.

We live in a time where we see plenty of White women play a that hero role which breaks all kinds of barriers and gender roles. I can name countless movies like Aliens, Prometheus, The Hunger Games, and the Underworld movies just to name a few, yet can you name a real movie when that same person was a Black Woman? While my thoughts go to Pam Greer in Foxy Brown back in the seventies...  most roles for African American women, in particular, are usually neatly carved out as maids, hoes, and single parent mothers trying to make it (and that is just in Tyler Perry films).

But, seemingly, out of now where comes this dark skinned woman in a world where you "fight the dead, and fear the living." Most people seemed to taken by surprise how good this all looks. Can you imagine if a Black Woman was allowed to take out her "post racial" frustration on the living dead? What would that look like? I can tell you that reading the comic book, she is a survivor that takes no chances and trusts few people and that translation has worked well on screen down to her long dreads.

Which brings me to my next point. She is in a comic book! Can anyone tell me the last time a black woman was a major character in a comic book (that is not Storm from X-Men)? I immediately think about Captain Marvel from the Avengers books in the 1980s. But perhaps Milestone Comics had the most recent Black woman character with "Rocket" from the Icon series which came out in the nineties. I will just just answer my own question and just say that Amanda Waller in DC comics Suicide Squad is the only other MAJOR character in a comic book that I know of currently.

This raises a lot of questions for me. Is there some sort of thought that perhaps Black Woman are not seen as the hero types? I know plenty of strong Black Women that do not need a sword or the power of the Gods to fight crime. This is why seeing Michonne on The Walking Dead is refreshing. I knew about her for a long time by just reading the book (in which she is still alive). Her recent fame is only the tip of the ice berg when it come to her character and over all development in the psyche of the United States when it come to Black Women. She is a well developed character that is no laughing matter unlike Hally Berry's Catwoman that might have set back African American woman back a few decades.

I challenge anyone who can find me an African American comic/movie/television hero that may have a stronger impact than Michonne. I think anyone will have trouble finding this fictitious person. Please do not include Storm in your searches because she is African. I wish you good luck and read The Walking Dead.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Yes, 4 More Years

You know, I started this blog in 2009 — two days after Barak Obama was inaugurated. I felt so much hope for the country, for my students, and for my own life (which was in turmoil at that time). So I like to think that this blog lives on during his presidency in some small way. It also made me think that I needed to get back to who I am…which is a writer.

That hope that I have for myself and my continuing journey has seen a lot of hardship along the way. I have doubted myself and many times almost succumbed to fear. Yet, I have turned on the television and see the leader of the free world and know that I have to keep working at it. I need to continue to believe in myself. Even more importantly, I think about how many young boys and girls are going to grow up knowing a Black man will be president for 8 years of their life. That stark reality is amazing to me.

Of course, the fact that Obama is getting another 4 years does not excite everyone. This is a deeply divided country, in which, he did win the popular vote but that is just by a little more than 1% more than poor Mitt Romney. While the GOP is reeling, there are tons of unhappy conservatives who are making it known that they do not want a nigger in the White House. These are things that I simply cannot make up and while most of these people may be ignorant, these were the people that also came out in full force against Obama (and not necessarily for Mittens). That is why I had a bad feeling but I suppose I was just being overly cautious.

The truth of the matter is that I said it all along, this is a race issue. When the networks were analyzing the data they came up with some staggering numbers about the white vote. While I may be off in my numbers, the percentage of white votes dropped about 8% from 2008 white Latino voters increased about 10%. When we are talking about millions of people…that is a huge amount. There is no secret that people of color came out in full force. The funny thing is that this is no longer a voting trend. This is a fact that people of color are becoming more dominant in this country and in the political landscape. That is something that the GOP will have to figure out before 2016 because the extreme ideas about immigration and women's right will not fly anymore and that is not even considering gay marriage.

Times are changing because Latinos will eventually force states like Texas to turn from a red state to a blue state. Gay Marriage is upon us faster than anyone anticipated and I am all for it. There is now even legalized Marijuana in Colorado and while I am against that particular issue, the fact of the matter is that this is what people voted for. These are things I never thought I would see in my life time and that also included the proposition of Puerto Rico to become a the 51st State. I can be very vocal on this issue of Puerto Rico, but I will save it for another time.

All of this makes me think about where I will be in 4 years. While I have pretty much done what I said I was going to do this year, there are still more goals that I have to reach. There are still some plateaus that need to crossed. I know that I can do anything I set my mind to…and when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, all I have to do like that our President and realize that he has accomplished his goals…so that means I can accomplish mine.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Electoral Bad Feeling

There is something not right going on that I cannot put my finger on, but I have a bad feeling about the outcome of this election. There are too many variables as always but this just all seems too familiar to me. I almost feels like Gore vs Bush again and we learned how a person or a party can really steal an election. I feel that we are in for something oddly familiar with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

I just can't escape this feeling that one of two things will occur (and to be honest I hope they don't), either Romney steals this election via some kind of recount situation or Obama loses narrowly loses the popular vote but still wins the electoral college. Unfortunately, ever since Tim Russert died, I cannot trust real news coverage on the election. The real problem for me is that I see things ending badly because as a whole, people do not want a black man for president (cue the eye rolling conservatives - do they even read this blog?).

Before someone comments about how this issue is not about race, I will say that the amount of disrespect that people can have for one person (who is in the highest office in this country) is unreal. I think a large majority of people hated Bush, but there was never a call to assassinate this man. So to say that color is not an issue in "post racial" American only proves one's ignorance and/or privilege. However, I do not believe it is all about race. I think this is also about class. This seems to be about the have and have nots.

Republicans in general do not want big government. They want people to take care of their own with no handouts because this country was founded on the idea of our founding fathers (and on the backs of their slaves). But, when a hurricane hits a coastal city or a tornado wipes out a few flat land states...then FEMA (big government backed) is the greatest thing in the world. Then it is not so bad to have something like this to give "hand outs" to people who have lost everything.

What I really have a bad feeling about is how a candidate like Mittens can have no plan and no real answer for anything can be leading in the polls. This is the same man that was called out as a liar (see below) by his own affiliated party (Newt Gingrich to be exact). I am not saying Barack Obama is perfect because he is most certainly not, but let's give this man credit for being consistent considering that Mitt Romney is not. New York City Mayor Bloomberg (who I do not care for) can be considered the leader of the independent vote, wanted to endorse Romney (thus endorsing Obama) if not for the fact that Mittens has reversed every known position he has ever had. Why are people still willing to vote for this man? Then it makes me wonder how much of these polls I'm willing to believe.

The thing that really startled me is the rumor that Romney's son owns voting machines in swing states through H.I.G. Capitol. Whether this is true or false, the fact is that this is possible. Before I start asking exactly how, I think about the haves and the have nots. There is no way someone like me or person who makes my pay grade can just buy voting machines or invest in a company who has them...and further more, why would I? Very simply, when you are rich, you can do just about anything you want! Don't believe me? Ask Donald Trump. This the man now wants Obama to show every transcript and every fiber of evidence that he either went to school or is a US citizen. Now if I say that this is racist are the conservatives who do not read this blog gonna roll their eyes again?

Yet, it remains a close race because all of these people are unhappy. Never mind that a Republican Congress did its best to counter every move the President has made so this has nothing to do with actual politics. This has to do with what our country is going to look like in the years to come and who will represent us. The far right or the far left? There is no middle anymore.

No matter what happens, I have an ever growing bad feeling that come tuesday this country will be turned upside down.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Valuable Stuff in the wake of Hurricane #Sandy.

We are lucky more didn't get damaged in the Heights

I feel very fortunate to get past this storm without any major problems. I feel even luckier that everyone in my family is doing well. Its times like these that we begin to really see how frail we, human beings, are when up against a massive force like Hurricane Sandy. It gives me the time to search for clarity and understanding that life can be very short indeed.

A few days before Sandy hit, my sister in law called me concerned with the things I put in storage in her basement when I moved. In the past, water has gotten down there when it has rained hard. There was a serious expectation that water was going to be plentiful with all the rain. There are few things in there that would probably be damaged. The things of value that I do have there are most likely protected in there own right. For example, I have tons of comic books...and yes they are in cardboard boxes but, they are each individually wrapped in plastic. I wasn't too worried about that. However, I am sure there are other things that are in there that probably would get damaged or destroyed.

The thing is...this is just stuff. It is hard to explain it as such, but material things are great but what value do they really have? If I'm meant to have it then I will have it. Sometimes terrible things happen as we were all witnesses to during this devastating storm. I put my car in a garage because I didn't want the only tree in Washington Heights to land on it. Any items that are ultra personal or are just about priceless to me, I have with me. So anything in a storage box that I may not readily use, may not be of too much value.

As I watched on TV, what is left of Atlantic City, The Jersey Shore, and Lower Manhattan, I wondered to myself how did I get this way? People are crushed by the lost of their property and material assets. I'm not sure if I would be that upset. Yes, I know that if my house was destroyed while I was still in Syracuse I would be very upset, but I cannot help but wonder, in the back of my mind, if something like was a blessing in disguise. There is a scene in Fight Club where the narrator loses all his possessions and as he wonders what he is going to do with his life, Tyler Durden simply states, "Things that you own, end up owning you." (Yes, I've said this before)

This year it just seemed to me that I have been relinquishing more and more stuff from my life. It started with the sale of the house, then the moving to the new apt in Syracuse, then the moving to NYC, and if I am lucky...the moving to a new apt. The moving process is always a long a tedious one because there is need to make those decisions on whether to keep something or throw it out. This type of consolidation is just easier if you think about possessions as just stuff that might fluctuate in value depending how old you are.

Yet, the last item of value that I really lost was my glasses off the shores of Fire Island this past summer. It took me a few days to just get over something that was just made out of plastic. Of course, I held them to a higher value because they made me see better, but in the long run, I could live without them. But, then I think about Rocky and he is just about as invaluable to me as any comic book I have. 

Human life is one of the most valuable things on this planet. We squander it in such obscene ways and we wonder where it all went when get older or even close to death. There are some people that don't believe in the value of life and there are some people who "believe" in it so much they ignore science for religion. So when it come to the "stuff" that I have, none of it is all that important in the long run. I cannot take these things with me when I die and 9 times out of 10, material things are replaceable. People, however, are never replaceable.

I am just glad to be safe and all my family members are accounted for. I pray for those who lost loved ones as well their worldly possessions. I never checked on the stuff in my brother's basement and I'm not sure it really matters anyway because the ones that I truly value are still here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Syracuse's Last Laugh

The best thing about being an event planner is this acute perception of the larger world. The reason is because one has to plan for anything and everything. If something goes wrong, there must be a Plan B. So, needless to say that when it came time to move from Syracuse to New York City, I had to make sure that I had a plan in place to make sure that I can survive until pay day…even if that pay day is on Halloween.

If you recall, I made my announcement on August 8th and I left Syracuse on September 16th. I had about 4-5 weeks to plan my return. I needed to make sure my move was carefully planned with the packing of all my stuff and the throwing away of the things I didn't want. I also had ensure where I was going to stay and make sure, as well as have enough money to survive. All these things were done and I thought of everything, at least, that is what I thought.

I knew a while ago that once I leave SU that I was going to have to take money out of my 403b. I needed to be able to replace an lost income so I can do things like eat. I would hate to have to borrow the money or have to rely on anyone. Besides, the plan was full proof. I would not have to miss a payment on any of bills and I would be straight. 

The Plan was simple. Fill out some paperwork right before my last day and just wait for the check. Now, I understood that there were going to be some small hang ups. First, I could not do direct deposit because I changed my bank along time ago and when I opened a new checking account a few years back, I never ordered checks. So, instead of ordering a new check book with a Syracuse address, I just decided to have them send the money to my old house and then have my buddy mail it to me. Of course, the question is…why do I not simply change my address? (I am glad you asked). 

The process of changing your address and it getting verified takes three weeks, which was more than I was willing to wait, yet hindsight being 20/20, I suppose I should have. But, I still went with my gut because this was very good plan to me. I had already planned the move so getting paycheck after I get to NYC was going to just complete my master plan and make me feel comfortable until I starting getting my regular checks.

Well a funny thing happened in Syracuse. You see, I never got my check from TIAA Cref. I found it hard to believe that this could be there fault. I followed their process to the letter. But, every time I called my buddy, the check was never in the mail. So what was I to do but call the company that wrote the check in the first place? As expected, they tell me that the they sent out the check, but what I didn't expect was for them to tell me that it was returned by… THE SYRACUSE POST OFFICE. 

The lady had the envelope in front of her when she read it to me. It stated that my former address was an "undeliverable address." I was flabbergasted. The lady was almost beginning to wonder if my address was real and I had to assure that it was. I told her a funny joke about this whole thing was that I did get mail from TIAA Cref that same week because I had my buddy send me some of mail down and what I got was some retirement benefits information. That alone tells me that if I can get those damn booklets, then I should be getting this check.

Her suggestion was to call the Syracuse Post Office that handles my mail. Of course, I called the main branch in the area which is located on Teal Ave. I have been there several times when it had to do with buying the house and making sure they knew I was the owner of the property. I spoke to (what I believe is) the Post Master and I explained the situation. He tells me that the US Postal Service would never just send any piece of mail back (really? tell me more). The person who is ultimately responsible for doing this is the individual mail carrier. 

So he puts me on hold after I give him my address so he can check what is going on. After some time, he comes back and informs me that my address is valid (I was shocked). I told him that I need this check and that I am getting another one mailed out. I was reassured that there should be no problem. I call TIAA Cref back to say that the address is all good. So I have to do the one thing that I really did not want to do and that was wait and survive. But, of course, the best laid plans never take idiots into account.

That was 2 weeks ago. They sent the check back... again. While I want to be so angry at this whole situation, I can't help but think that the city of Syracuse wanted to make sure that they got their last laugh on me. Do not get me wrong, I love my alma mater, but the city itself has just wore out its welcome with me. Just the idea that it can take them more than 15 years to try to expand that mall was enough for me.

So Syracuse can have that laugh, I have already made arrangements with direct deposit and the money that I am waiting for will be put to better use. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Political Jokes are on US.

Maybe this is what we need...

You know, I laugh because we are indeed at a pinnacle point in our history. Well, at least in the time I have been alive. I can say that because this election is that important. I laugh because it seems like politics have become so extreme. You are either on one side or the other and those sides are so far apart that it makes it hard to really have a critical debate on things. I laugh because people can be married to the lies that are told and are not willing to hear the truth…not matter what that is.

No politician is perfect. No US President has been perfect. Each one of them had chinks in their armor. You can look at Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan, FDR, Bush(s), Clinton, and Nixon as just a few examples of what can be good or bad depending on history or party affiliation. For every good thing they do, the opposing party will give you a list of things they did horribly. In many cases, each party will talk about some of these eras being dark ones and there was a need for America "to get back on track." Yet, for the most part, the rich remain the rich, the poor are still poor, and the middle class just remains in the middle.

I laugh because there is a joke somewhere in there. A joke that not many of us get and one I may not fully understand myself. Maybe the joke is that nothing really ever gets better perhaps everything is an ebbs and flows. Maybe the joke is that no matter how much we fight, one class of people with get taxed; the middle class or the rich and yet the poor will remain largely ignored. What is almost funny is how the liberals want to help the unfortunate and the conservatives find it unfortunate that people can't help themselves.

The fact is most people are like sheep because no one really thinks critically anymore. They just assume that if something is said by someone in government then it must be true. If things are in History books than it must be true. There was a time when a politician lied and was proven wrong by a fact checker that this individual would lose points in the polls but we live in a bizaro world where the President is Black and his stature is always questioned. Sure, we all called George W dumb and Bill Clinton a womanizer, but there was a level of respect you gave to the position. Yet, Obama seems to get less respect than either and he is smart and a happily married man!

Sure, one can say that Bush had shoes thrown at him and we giggled, but that was not in America. I can guarantee that all us had at least seen one picture of Barak Obama as a monkey or in a noose. I dare anyone to try to defend that. Yet, that is another joke that conservatives do not get. No matter how hard you work, the color of your skin will always be a factor. I mean, I am sure you can point to Oprah Winfrey and say that she is a success, however she is just one "nigger" slur away from the rest of us.

We are indeed at an interesting time. Am I the only one who has noticed that being poor has been deemed as a burden to the rest of society? Apparently, coming across hard times quickly turns to an unwillingness to work so the they can get free healthcare and food stamps. The best part of this joke is that socialism is constantly being shouted out by people because taxing the rich (plus giving a break to the middle class) and using that money to help others is wrong. But if you use the conservative model of taxing the middle class while giving breaks to the rich to use that money to help others is the correct model!

I am quite sure there conservatives will say that the wealthy getting breaks helps big business create jobs, but the thing is I do not buy that idea because people who have money love to keep money. Yet, governmental programs have to be paid for…who is gonna pay for it? (Hint: You) Either that, or the deficit increases. Notice one really says who we owe money to (besides China).

Finally, I laugh because the joke is really on us. Most of us go through life not paying attention to the things that are happening around us. Most of us are distracted by the house/basketball wise, the jersey shores, the dancing stars, the iphone/ipads, facebook, and fantasy sports to realize that our society is getting dumber, fatter, and sicker. And while all that is happening, you have a political party that trying its hardest to restrict the elderly and the minorities the right to vote in battle ground states. Democrat and Republicans must agree that is wrong.

Maybe…just maybe, the real joke is that we are no longer a society in which race matter maybe it is all about class; about the haves and the have nots.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

LBC 2012 Day 6 - Immigration: For or Against?

American Progress by John Gast
is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west.
(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

This entire immigration debate makes me laugh. Throughout the course of American History, the US has had no problem declaring how much of a melting pot this nation is. You can go to Ellis Island and see the list of names of all the people who crossed our boarders looking for a better life. One can also go back into history and realize that our entire country is basically built on the fact that people from other nations have to come to this land to claim a place to call home.

From the moment European settlers came to this land and decimated the original people who lived here, there has been this debate about people who are crossing boarders. Yet, it has been Americans who have crossed boarders and called it the Western Expansion or the Manifest Destiny. This was our country's view of expanding or realm of freedom by driving out the Native Americans and pushing Mexicans south.

Our views of immigration become very convoluted with modern rhetoric about people who come to this country and take American Jobs. Most of time, the media puts a face behind these "immigrants" and those just happen to belong to Latinos (Mexicans to be more specific). Yet, there is very little attention paid to other types of immigrants that may be lighter in skin tone as if most immigrants who are European know exactly what they are doing.

The problem with the belief of jobs being taken is the simple fact that most of the jobs that these undocumented immigrants are mostly working are jobs that many Americans do not want anyway. Fruit Picking? House Keeping? Sure, the argument is that undocumented workers are willing to work for less thus pushing down the wages and making that job unattractive to the US Worker, but isn't that the fault of the people who are signing the checks? They are the ones who want to make more profit. And let's just say that these places do stop hiring these immigrants and just hire Americans for higher wages, the price of that product or service increases and then we will really complain.

My real issue with this whole idea of just pushing everyone out comes down to the issue of judgement. Many people assume that all undocumented immigrants are in this country for a negative reason. Not everyone has the same story. This need to lump everyone into one thing becomes very discriminatory and of course, in America, that is not surprising.

I am for immigration because this country was founded by immigrants. But, when history is written in a certain way that celebrates people like Columbus for "discovering" a country that was already populated then it is no surprise that the fight for immigration becomes a bloody one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

That Crazy Life!

This NYC life is crazy. Many people ask me if things have changed since the last time I lived here and at the moment, all I can say is no. Perhaps the fact that I have visited the city enough to understand its evolution over the last 11 years. The main thing that has changed has been the names of stores but that is the type of evolution that comes with cities. People come and go in the big city and so do businesses.

Transit seems the same to me. No matter how fancy it gets with it's metrocards and computerized announcements, mass transit will always remain the same. There will always be someone asking for money in between stops. There will always be some delay that will hold up your trip. However, buses seems to have changed. They are bigger and come a little bit more frequently than I recall. I will admit that even though I am stating this, I am not in the Bronx waiting for the ill timed Bx 39.

Yet this life is crazy because there is now so much to do and not enough time at the moment to do them. If I thought I was busy in Syracuse with work, being at Barnard is only busier due to all the stuff that I am learning and doing. Days are flying by and I just realizing that this is the end of my second week work AND I left SU 3 weeks ago. That is crazy to me.

If there is one thing that I am struggling with, it is this thing that I have deemed "Parking Wars". Every few days (expect on weekends), I have to move my car because of alternate side of the street rules. For those not familiar, the city cleans the streets on certain days at certain times. If you do not move, then that is a ticket for you. If you park in place you are not supposed to (like in front of a school on school days), then you will be towed.

This is should sound all very simple if not for the fact that I live in a city where parking is like gold. Not to mention that they are multiple ways to lose this war. There are days when alternate side parking rules are suspended. Those days are normally holidays but more frequently is it Jewish holidays that last two days. Most Jewish holidays mean that public schools are off. I emphasize most because if you make that mistake (like I did) thinking that Sukkot (a Jewish Holiday) meant that all schools were closed, then your car WILL be towed (like mine did).

I wont event talk about how people squat parking spaces for others. There is one lady that thinks she is slick by holding her spot for this guy (again, I am NOT getting into it) Despite this crazy life, I am doing well. I will figure out the car situation. For better or worse, it is a reason to get up early in the morning sometimes. It also gives me a reason to drive since I do not do that as much.

The craziest thing so far has been a surprise welcome back party thrown by former students of mine 2 weeks ago. That took me for such a loop. I never saw it coming. It was nice to see these young adults now having to deal with life outside of school. We all left at a decent time because they had to work the next which I cannot help but smile about. It is crazy to know that I have an established network here.

I wont consider myself full settle until November. That is when this NYC life will finally settle in for me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

LBC 2012 Day 5 - Romney or Obama?

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

This is a scary time for the United States of America. There is such a political divide that things are getting messier as we get closer to November. It is very apparent that we are in a pivotal point, like 4 years ago, as to what direction we will be going in. We have our current President that has put policies in place that his current opponent has vowed to repeal when he gets into office.

This has alway been an easy choice for me. There is no way I will ever vote for Mitt Romney. I am pretty much against anything he proposes or talks about. Here is a man who allowed universal healthcare to happen in Massachusetts (he was governor at the time) and now opposes it. Romney made himself look foolish at the Olympics with his idiotic comments and he selected a running-mate that has no foreign policy experience.

Let me also just state that Mitt believes that 47% of the country do not pay taxes. According to him, "these" people are always looking for a government handout (i.e. welfare, unemployment). But, when you examine that statement, take into consideration that as the CEO of Bane Capital, thousands of people were laid off. Wouldn't that mean that some of that 47% were given those handouts because of him?

When I think about Barak Obama, I think about a man who has been the calming influence after the Bush years. I also see a president that has tried to do as best he could while a Republican Congress has tried to hand cuff him at every turn. I do love the fact that he was the first US President to get Universal Healthcare passed. While he has done other things like expanding Medicare, supporting gay marriage, and expanding Pell Grants, his biggest accomplishment is Universal Health Care. I am not a person who needs government assisted Health Care, but I know that there were millions of people who were uncovered before this bill was signed.

Yet, there are many Black and Latino people who felt that Obama could do more and to those people I will say that this political system is not designed for all of us to everything we want. I believe that 8 years will be better that 4.

For those that wonder what Obama had done over this term should chick this.

Friday, September 21, 2012

LBC 2012 Day 4 - Latino Blog I recommend: @TheJadedNYer

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

I don't recommend blogs often and I know that I should probably get into the habit of that. I do have a long list of blogs on the left side of your screen that I already recommend, but I do feel that this blog is one of the few that really stand out.

There are very few people who keep it real in the blogging diaspora. There also very few who can write in such away that you can hear their voice (I 've never heard her actual voice so I just imagine what it would sound like). I will also say that written sarcasm is hard to master, but The Jaded NYer does it very well.

I am not just saying all this because she is a Mets fan (but it helped her cause), I think that Raquel has stepped up her game this year. She has a brand new website, which is awesome. Her web persona with her blog, twitter, and website is something that I admire because I want to do something similar. She has a book that I promised her I would buy (I am getting there) and knowing her writing style, I am quite sure it will be a very good read.

I would also encourage you to read her first published story: Grey Matter.

I consider her blog to be the consummate New York City journey as told through the lense of a Latina. I feel that she is on the cusp of something great and I cannot wait to read her adventures. As always, please take time to look through her writings and support her.

LBC 2012 Day 3 - Rice and Beans, Favorite Cuisine

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

It is no secret that I love rice and beans. I grew up with it and its something that I will eat until I am told by a doctor that I need to stop. I do know that this is a very starchy staple to my diet but, the thing is, I'm just not that meat and potatoes type of guy. I cannot imagine not eat rice and beans.

With that being said, my favorite cuisine has got to be Caribbean. To be even more specific, Puerto Rican and Dominican. The two cooking styles are very similar with few differences. I know that I can go to either type of restaurant and eat something that I am craving. Of course, much of that has to do with the aforementioned… Rice and Beans.

I suppose I never really tasted that many different cuisines. I have had Mexican, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Columbian which have different dishes that are awesome. I have also been fortunate enough to have each of these cuisines made from home (not my home…but people who I know).

That is not to say I am not going to crave ceviche from Ecuador or Peru. Most of the authentic foods have a taste and a flavor that are unforgettable. I just consider my favorite cuisine to be a piece of home. That is the one thing that I missed when I lived in Syracuse for the first few years. There was never a place that served my type of food until Las Delicias opened.

Now that I am back in NYC, I am looking forward to expand my palette a little but I have a good feeling I will always prefer the food I grew up with...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LBC 2012 Day 2 – Dominican Republic! (Latin American Island I been to)

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

It has been a while since I have traveled anywhere and my last trip was the Dominican Republic and I have to say, I miss it. The last time I was there was because of a wedding and it was one of the best trips I have taken as an adult.

The city I went to was La Romana and while it was resort that I stayed at, I will never forget how beautiful it's beaches were. I fondly remember how green the trees were and how the island just radiated with a sense of culture and passion that you just do not see this side of Washington Heights.

With all the beauty that I did see, I am also not absent to reality of the other things that I didn't see. Clearly, being in a resort makes my views a little biased because that means I did not get to see where the real people live. On the bus ride from the airport to the resort (45 minutes), I did see the real streets of DR and they reminded me of Puerto Rico.

Despite that numerous ads of tourism, we should never forget that the real people that live in these places are trying to survive, which makes me wonder about the numerous amounts of staff that I met. Were they truly happy to work there? While I am not entirely sure about that, what I am sure about is the people that I do meet from the Dominican Republic here in New York. There is a love of that place that is hard to match.

I am glad that I saw why it is they love that place. It is very beautiful and I cannot wait to return.

LBC 2012 Day 1 – What I love most about being Latino in America.

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

Being Latino in America is not easy these days. It is not just a social identity, it is also a political one. It seems that everyone wants to know how we are going to vote, but there will enough time for that in a later post. What I love the most about being Latino in this country is that we are all so different and yet we can all identify with the many of the same things regardless of country of origin.

There is a sense of community that is hard to describe. While not everything is perfect considering the treatment Afro Latinos, the sense of culture is all the same. I enjoy learning about history of Latin America because I find that each country is unique and yet there is a sense of connection when it comes to the indigenous populations and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

It is that history that connects all of us as citizens of the United States. There are so many of us now that we can effectively elect a president. However, there is still so much to do in terms of immigration reform, which seems to effect us more than any other group that comes to this country looking for citizenship.

Lastly, it is that sense of connection that has allowed me to have such a great connection with the students at Syracuse University. Despite our numbers, there are still not many Latinos in the field of Higher Education which made me stand out and allow for me to help many of them through their college careers.


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