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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails