Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Projects

I know that the summer has been upon us for a week or so now and I still have a lot of work to do. Selling the house has been pretty flawless in the logistical process but the physical move has been stressful. I have now taken the time to do a personal inventory of things and it just confirms to me that I have a lot of personal work to do. Of course, not all summer projects should be work related or stressful but perhaps a time to get the things done that I couldn't when school was in session.

It terms of writing, I am hoping to get more posts done. I have been scaling it back based on life issues and the whole notion of doing less talking and more doing. I think that I have made great strides this year with just getting stuff done however, I need to focus on things that I love. That means I have to do more reading outside the classroom. My list of books have been centered around my class and I should read recreationally.

With that said, I started reading 50 Shades of Grey. I chose this book for two reasons. The first was because I was curious to know what the hype is about. I always want to know what people consider to be a "good read." The second reason is because while I may have not been posting on this blog but I have been keeping up with my short story writing. Most of my stories are adult themed in nature and sometimes it is best to get a feel for how others write. On the other side, I have been reading a lot of comic books. I have made it my business to catch up on the comics I have missed out on for months.

Speaking of comic books, The Amazing Spider-Man comes out next week and I am mildly excited about it. I know people who have already seen it and I am told that it is not bad at all but the story line leaves something to be desired. I can tell just by watching the trailer that there will be multiple sequels Perhaps they are trying to tell a larger story and I will have to make that judgment. But, I will tell this… The Dark Knight Rises is going to be the one movie I have been waiting all year for. Yes, The Avengers was spectacular and, at the moment, still remains #2 on my all time Comic Book Movie list. However, Chris Nolan has knocked it out of the park with so many movies…is it wrong for me to expect anything less with this last Batman film?  Oh we will see…

I have also decided that I am going to put a number on the amount of jobs I should be applying for. It just a number but it would make me feel better if I reached this number. By the end of the summer I would have liked to apply for 20 available job postings. This does not mean that once I go over this number that I will stop, I just think that this is a nice round number to prove to myself that I am indeed doing my best to get back home. As of today, I have applied to three with one of them landing me a phone interview.

The other project or goal is to figure out how I can save money and still function at the level that I want. I was strategic enough to figure out how to get out of the house, but now I have to figure out how to get out of debt. I have thought of a few ways but they may make things harder rather than easier. This is why it is essential for me to get a job that pays more. Truth be told, consolidation is probably the key. There is no way I can sit here and think that there is going to be some law or bill that will be passed that will magically make my student loans disappear.

Finally, I would really like to get my health back in order. This is not to say I am sick, but it is time to see the doctor. I think all the physicality that took place with the move and the attempt to run again, I may have strained or pulled something. It is getting better as the days pass but I will make sure that I can handle that with knowledge.

Indeed the summer looks promising. I can just hope I continue to be on the roll I have been all year…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Word Ninja

People will read and hear what they want to. I have come to the conclusion that many people take the things that I do either too personally or too literal. In either case, that is fine. Last Year, I talked about the slow death of critical thought because I believe that people take everything at face value without thinking about anything deeper. Two Years ago, I wrote about how Everything is about Race and how there is this assumption that I point things out because I want to divide people.Why do these 2 things matter? Let me take you back about 20+ years.

I was walking with a friend of mine from school to the Bx 39 bus stop on White Plains Road in the Bronx. On the way there we were stopped but 4 guys who pretty much ignore me and focus on him. I had always been very good at being aware of my surroundings, but for some reason these particular guys came out of no where. He told me to run but I stood frozen in fear. They jumped him in front of me and amazingly, he took punches and never dropped. The entire incident was less than a minute and I believe they ran way after taking his Walkman (at least I think they did). I cant recall what happened after that but I do remember never being able to apologize enough for not helping or taking some of the beating.

This is something that I have often thought about. Would I let that happen again? How would I feel if I saw other people getting beat up. Fear has away of stopping you in your tracks (yet another topic I have written about). As I've gotten older and have come to discover myself through education and other life events, I have come to realize the type of person I am.

Hold that story in your mind and think about the majority of things I write on this blog. Most of which have chronicled my journey from a failed marriage to where I am right now. If you follow me on any of the Social Media outlets then you have a pretty good idea that I do have opinions about the world we live in. I do not consider them radical by any means. I feel that I generally have the same feelings as many people of color in this country when it comes to racism and oppression. I do not talk about how the "man" has me down. In fact, I talk about being able to succeed despite numerous issues that I have created for myself.

I do talk about race a lot. Ask any person of color how they think of themselves. The vast majority will say Black, Asian, Latino, etc. I am also guaranteeing that they are looking at the world and this country through the lens of their color/culture. Why wouldn't we be? Racial incidences happen all the time but it becomes our fault for pointing it out. We are considered to be complainers when we point out that even though President Obama is getting slammed on the issues...we all know many people in the government and in this country cannot stand him because he is Black. Shit, people still wonder if he is even American! So when I say that everything has to do with race it is because it DOES.

This would also include Black people beating up on white people for no reason. See, the friend of mine that was walking with me was White and the kids who jumped him were Black. I'm not sure why they chose him over me and it could have very well been because he was a white boy. Does this make this correct, not at all. I have often criticized on THIS blog as well as other outlets how dumb Latinos and African Americans can be. We all have our issues because this country is not perfect despite what many people believe.

Which brings me to a video I posted about a show written by fellow SU alum Aaron Sorkin called The Newsroom (see video below). Jeff Daniels goes on this rant about how America is not the greatest country in the world and thus states specific reasons why. I agreed with this assessment because of all the issues that were stated about education, infant mortality rate, and incarceration. I have a right to my opinion, right? I mean, lets look at the Tea Party all the way on the right and how they say incredulous things all time but, they have a right to their opinion no matter how shitty it is.

But apparently, opinions are like assholes everyone has one and thus that old friend of mine insists that I am a bitter person that has been held down by the man. While I am not going to recount the argument that we had on my Facebook wall, I will pull out some things that have made me think about myself and what I do. I am not sure where some people think that my opinions on based on fiction or out of thin air when I read more than most people on my Facebook timeline. I will gladly post a bibliography of everything I have written to prove this. The notion that I speak about race too much is pure absurdity. White people generally do not talk about being white because they do not generally need to, unless they feel they are either being attacked or perhaps feel guilty because of their whiteness.

I love this country plain and simple. I am as American as my dad can raise me. I once had argument with my ex-wife because I would not let her raise a Puerto Rican flag on our lawn without an American Flag next to it. I understand that this friend of mine defended this country and I thank him for it...yet I wonder if he had to go through the racism my father did when he was in the Navy...oh that is right...everything is not about race. However, being called a coward because of something that happened 20 years is probably what hit me the hardest. Sure, I do not go to protests in Arizona or Florida. I have protested here in Syracuse in unison with my students...but I guess that doesn't count. I guess the fact that I have given money to organizations who need it to fight policies does not count either.

I had to take a hard look at myself and see if I was this "coward." No, I am not. Not mentally and not physically. Listing instances where I have jumped into situations that could have gotten me killed or seriously hurt is self absorbing because I have nothing to prove to anyone. I will however take one thing to heart and make it my own. I was called a word ninja. I have never heard of this and after talking to someone he came up with a definition. "He meant word-ninja to mean someone who hides in the shadows and fights only with words, I suspect. But I see it as a skilled wordsmith so smooth you can't even see how he did it" (Thank you, Chris)

I am a Word Ninja.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Keeping the Faith

This is the phrase I keep hearing from people, "Keep the Faith." I am so very fortunate that I do not really view my life in terms of wins and losses because I would be below the .500 mark. The struggle of finding a new job is just that...a struggle. Yet, there are people out there who have faith in me. I appreciate that so very much. I just wish at times, I had the same optimism that they do.

Personally, I think my resume is on point. I've had people look at it and critique it, but the opportunities are hard to come by. But I do Keep the Faith by checking for new job postings everyday. I try to adjust my resume and cover letter to meet the needs of whatever job I apply for.

The whole job searching process can just wear on a person's confidence. I know I have good experiences but breaking into some of the universities and colleges in NYC has proven to be very difficult. The lack of responses is not the hard part. I am quite sure that people get swamped by resumes on any job opening. In the search committees I've been in at SU, the process of reading and sorting resumes is brutal. The problem for me is when I do get a response, I can't seem to get the position or move further in the process.

Last year I was in a final interview and I haven't been that close since. I took a long hard look at myself and redid everything. This year was also a year of change with the me selling the house and taking a class. My time was severely limited, so I did not restart my job search until about 2 weeks ago. I promptly received a phone interview and today I found out that I will not be moving on to the campus interview phase. I am frustrated.

Keeping the Faith can be a very empowering statement, but the if I am not careful I may find those words to be very hollow. I do pray to God to give me the strength to get through this. I do not pray for a job per se because I am pretty sure that is not how this whole prayer thing works. I have managed to fight through all my major issues except this one. It does make me question myself and my abilities.

The elephant in the room is the Master's Degree or lack there of. I have the amount of time in the workplace, just not the paper...yet. I am not entirely sure when I will get it if I stay in Syracuse. Maybe 2015? I will be 41. I was hoping to catch on somewhere else and finish what I started here. But, it seems even the most simplest positions are now requiring a Master's Degree. I would like to beat the odds, but at this point they do not seem to be entirely in my favor.

I will hang in there. I have already sent out another resume last night. I just don't know how much faith I can keep.


When did I become a neat freak? If you know me then you know that I'm not the neatest person in the world, but I am not dirtiest either.  I think that people have this idea that because you have a lot of clutter on your desk or in your room that this makes you a pig. Well over the last year, I have learned so much about myself and dealing with other people's habits that I am amazing myself with how I react.

I know at some point my parents had to wonder if all the prodding and nagging about cleaning really sunk in. Cleaning is not my strong suit. In fact, like most men, the only time I really clean is when I am looking for something. I think that I have had the privilege to grow up in a fairly clean environment. While I would get yelled for not cleaning something or not picking up my room, I can safely say that I never truly knew what dirty was...until I went to college.

Staying in a residence hall was such an eye opening experience because this was the first time I've seen people's bad habits. I would be generally disgusted by how other men left the bathroom that I vowed never to live in a residence hall again. Living with friends can be a hardship too because you never realize how clean or dirty someone is until you live with them. I've had my share of roommates that can tip the scales in either way and it has always left me with the same reaction when I end up living with a dirty person: Its time to move.

My encounter with my last roommates left me jaded on the whole experience. There is only so much cleaning I'm willing to do if I'm not the one making the mess. However, when I was living in such a big house, like the one I had been living in for 9 years, I can find ways to ignore and hide. I can just stay in my room instead of in the common areas. My room was big enough for me to chill in for a few days if I needed to, but now things have changed as I'm in a new living situation.

Living in a apartment is not all that bad when you consider the drop in price and the drop in responsibility. There are certain worries that I just do not have any more. However, I've had to do a serious process of consolidation that had forced me to look at my life from such a different perspective. It is not easy to look at old things and decide to simply throw them away. This process also made me feel like I was a hoarder (my 10+ boxes of comic books do NOT count). The good thing is, I do not believe I'm a hoarder, I just have a lot of shit. I must have donated more than 10 bags of clothes.

Now that I am in my new residence, I am still finding ways to do more with less. My room is very small and I am not complaining, I just think that I can't be too comfortable anymore. But, something sort of surprised me. I know that woman think that most guys can be nasty, which is true to a certain extent, but I found myself needing to clean everything. The first night I stayed over I just had to clean the way. This meant me taking a trip to the 99 cent store to get cleaning supplies, a bucket, rubber gloves, and a shower liner. All I needed was a small bottle of Mistolin and I would have been set.

I scrubbed that bathroom until I felt better and comfortable. When I was finally done taking a shower, I just thought to myself...How did I become this way? It is like I just became every Latina in my life that needed to clean something. I guess I just needed to set the tone.

I'm not going to live in filth anymore. Maybe that is yet another reason why I am struggling to get out of here. Perhaps I have not cleansed all the things from my life.

Friday, June 8, 2012


It is crazy. In a few days I turn 38 and thus the slow crawl to the big FOUR OH begins. I look back at past year and see all the things that have happened over the year and I either smile or shake my head. Even more interesting is to realize that a few days ago marked my 20th anniversary of my High School graduation. Nothing makes you feel older than finding relics when you are moving.

However, I still maintain that you are only as old as you feel. As I write this, I do feel older than last year, of course it could be that I just finished moving out of my house and I am very sore.  I will say that my mindset is an ever evolving thing. If you would have told me last year that in one year I would have a girlfriend, sold my house, achieved my first A grade, became a writer for the Huffington Post, and go to Boston, I would have called you a liar.

Even one of those things would have been a shock. Yet, several things seem to remain in my way that I have not even solved yet. I am still in Syracuse. That is something that I will just leave on the table. I have been talking about leaving for years now. It just hasn't happened. I have taken steps to ensure that I can go at any time, but a job eludes me. I am hoping that I am not forced to take the ultimate risk. The other thing is the book. It costs money for me to self publish. Every time I have the money, it goes to a bill or to some life event that needs to be paid for. This is another thing I would like to get done and I hope that it can be done before 39.

I am grateful for another year. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. I really wanted to take the time to enjoy my life and appreciate those who are always there for me. I have taken a notable and noticeable shift in my life when I decided that I simply cannot make anymore excuses. People have been cut from my life over the last year both willingly and unwillingly because as an adult, hard choices have to be made. I have spent less time on this blog and writing in general because I need to take care of the non creative things in my life. I also had to throw myself into school and work.

I expect my birthday to be epic. 2 years ago I spent it alone and I told myself I will never do that again. I plan on seeing some friends and family. I look forward to talking about where we have been and perhaps where we will be in the future. Where I once thought it was better to be a loner as a kid, I realize that good friends can generate happiness in so many other ways.

I am wiser because of my interactions, both good and bad. If someone asks me how old I am, I will take advice from Indiana Jones and say, It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't Think about Elephants. (N*ggas in Paris Mix)


Let me get this straight. They name the song N*ggas in Paris and you get mad at a white person for saying N*ggas in Paris? Really? I suppose I could say that I blame Gwen Paltrow for saying the word..or typing the EXACT  title of the song, but why should I? Jay Z and Kanye named the song!

You all know that white people are the largest group of people who buy rap music? So when artists are saying those words they are repeated over and over again. There are mixed messages being sent. We say don't use the word but we are going to use it all the time? I say "we" because unless "we" stop the community from using the word it will never leave the consciousness of this society.

What pisses me off is that I love this song, I just hate the title. But, let me guess what some people will say. It is the artist discretion to name the song. Really? So the label and the production company have no say at all in any of this? Ha, I bet they didn't it either. Some executive (who very well could have been Jay Z) thought naming this song N*ggas in Paris would be a great idea! The title is inappropriate and everyone knows it, but you know what? It is provocative, it gets the people going!

However, we are going to get mad when some white person names the song. We are going to say to everyone that the word should never be used by white people ever. HA! If I told you to stop thinking about Elephants, what are you thinking about? This is exactly my point. There is no way that you can get people to stop saying the N word when you have people making money off the word. That is what hip hop has been doing for decades and people are buying it up. More importantly, white people are buying it.

This is not me saying that white people shouldn't be buying this because I don't believe that. I am one to believe that music tends to bring together rather than divide. Many rappers can sell out shows in Japan and do quite well in the foreign market. The problem is...they are spreading the word. So what is going to happen? Everyone will be thinking about the one word we don't want them to say. No one really talks about it or brings that word into context. I would be surprised if the young black youth really knows the true meaning of the word.

The word should not be used period, but you cannot seriously be upset when the title of a popular song has the N word. Want to blame someone? First look into the mirror and ask yourself if you ever say it. If you do, then you are part of the problem. If you don't then it is your job to tell others, no matter who it is, not to say the word and why. But, with pop culture glorifying this will always be the elephant in the room.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I was Bullied too...

I'm not sure that I have mentioned it in the past, but perhaps I alluded to the fact that my childhood was not always the best of times. Sure, I can get into the issues that I had with my family in the past, but at the end of the day, they are family. I also do not want to give anyone the impression that I didn't have great times either. However, there seems to be this issue that has caught the nation's attention, even though it has always existed to me, and that is Bullying.

What makes this such a hot button topic now is that kids are now killing themselves rather than facing the social implications that comes with being bullied. Its not a secret that kids can be cruel and in my case they found any reason to pick on me. I was the shortest kid in the class, my teeth needed to be straightened, then I got braces, and then I got glasses. I was always under the impression that I was just ugly and the worst part of that is that I came to accept this.

Of course with hindsight being 20/20, I do know that the reason that kids ended up teasing me was because I was different. Maybe, there was some little girls who liked me but the hardest part of all of that was as a kid, I just never know. Being picked on in grade school was a normal occurrence so I could never be too sure if any little girl would like a little boy who was the object of bullies. While, I was not the only one who was picked on, I took no joy in seeing it happen to others.

I remember a few things specifically. I remember feeling so helpless at school that telling my parents only made it worse. My dad was the type of person to come to the school to look for the dudes who were beating me up. He would tell the nuns at my school to make it stop or he will. While, that is noble of my dad, the physically bullying stopped but the mental bullying did not. The feeling of helplessness was also apparent when I started being mean to a dear friend of mine in the neighborhood. He was smaller than me because he was younger and I remember making him cry because it was me who ended up being the bully. I felt horrible after that.

The one thing that sticks with me is being bullied by an older girl. Apparently, when I was in the fourth grade I offend this girl (my sarcasm was in its infancy) who then told her 6th grade friend to beat me up. Now, this was no ordinary girl. She was like a tower and ugly too (she still is). She picked on me for weeks. What really confused me was that I was always told never to hit a girl. So I took it and I cried. However one day, I grew tired and hit back. I was horrified I even did that. She pounded me. I am not sure when it stopped, but I remember a boyfriend of one of my older cousins, who was in the 8th grade, broke it up.

As I grew older in grammar school, I wasn't so much picked on anymore. I was, however, lethal with my words to the point where I still feel bad for "snapping" on certain kids. It was a way for survival. You talk about me, I will talk about your mother. I will talk about how dirty you look and how you smell. The more people I can get to laugh the better it was. It wasn't a good thing. Of course, when I began High School it restarted all over again. The funny thing is, I chose an all boys school because I couldn't deal with the humiliation with girls anymore.

I was called Urkel. You have no idea how much I hated that. I stopped watching Family Matters because of it. None of these kids knew what I was dealing with at home. The fighting of my parents, the fact that I couldn't deal with the constant bullying really put me on edge. I remember tearing in class with anger and frustration when it seemed that every boy aimed their spitball at me...and that was just my freshman year. By Sophomore year, I wrote a note one of the teachers who I had a crush on (Ms. Smith) that I wanted to kill myself...

If it wasn't for her seeking me out in my next class...who knows what could have happened. I went to counseling because I wasn't trying to a rat. I also had genuine issues with my parents divorce that were unresolved. From that point I took a stand and I drew the line on what I would tolerate. I learned that most bullies were pussies. Each one of them I confronted did nothing. Sure, I was in a Catholic High School, but no one was going to risk expulsion by fighting. I remember one kid in my senior year who ruined my shirt because he flicked ink on it. At that point, my dad made his parents pay for it. They gladly did and he was pissed at me (of course). He kept talking shit until one day I stared at him and said..."you know what, let's go...let's do this RIGHT NOW. I got nothing to lose! And if you beat me...know that it will not be easy". He back front of his friends.

No, I do not have fond memories of school. It was a constant battle and I feel my education suffered in college. My college experience is a whole new story in itself. I just feel that I need the world to know that the confident person that is writing this blog was not like that as a kid. I was at a breaking point and I got through it. Bullying is not something to take lightly, it stays with you for the rest of your life.

If you are reading this and you are being bullied. Things get always does. Be yourself because no one can take that from you.


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