Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Problem with the #Truth

The problem with the truth is that no one wants to hear it. Especially if it is that smack-you-in-the-face truth that hits so hard it makes you numb. Ever been punched in the face so hard that it shocks you? You can't decide to cry or to hit back but your lip has no feeling what-so-ever. That is the type of truth people do not want to hear. Not about themselves and not about what they believe.

I have heard many women talk about how men lie all the time and they just want men to be honest. My question back is are you ready for a truth you may not want to hear? See, generally, men lie because they are afraid to tell the truth because of what might happen. This is not defending the typical liar that plays women on the regular but honesty is a scary thing. So do not be surprised when a man tells you that you do not look fat in that outfit because chances are if you do look fat, you are not gonna wanna hear it.

These are the same types of truths that we face everyday as a society. Is there no wonder why politicians, corporations, and news networks lie? The answer is very simple actually…because we would believe it. It is the same thing that education does by omitting certain parts of history in books or banning books in general. The truth has a very profound effect on those who really wish to seek it. That is why most Black and Latino people get really angry in college for about 1-2 years. All those omissions in history books in high school begin to catch up and the realization is nothing less than infuriating.

The problem with the truth is that most people right now are living a lie. They lie to themselves about their state of happiness. In fact, there are people who have built their entire life on the expectations of others without a thought that perhaps conforming to what other people want may not be the best idea in the world. I would not even say this if I had not done it to myself. I had convinced myself that the life I once led was something I wanted until I saw a truth that shattered all of it.

The truth is humbling. It makes you look harshly into a mirror.

However, the truth can be inspiring. It can change lives and strengthen people's faith in God and in themselves. It can make people change the world around them, which is something that I know first hand.

Yet the problem with the truth is that there are more liars than honest people. Lies make money because disinformation is good for business.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In God's Hands...

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.” - Paulo Coehlo
Here is one of those vague posts that I get to write where, you the reader, gets to decipher what I am really trying to say because for reasons I cannot express, I just cant be more than vague. All I can say is that things are in God's hands right now. I have worked hard to redo the person and the persona you see in front of you.

This week was a great week of intense highs. I got to imagine myself where I truly want to be. I have been afforded opportunities that I have taken full advantage of…twice. Now I have to wait for the fruits of my efforts. This process of waiting can be a very agonizing one. Yet, I am used to it, even though there are small shards of pain that run through me thinking about all the possibilities.

I now place my fate in the hands of the uncontrollable. The universe will determine whether things are meant to be or not. I just hope that my time has finally come to complete this part of my journey. Funny, that when I think about a "journey," I think about a road or a series of roads not unlike the ones I drive my car on when I go to NYC. I think about how some roads are smooth and some are choppy. Then, there are the new roads that being constructed that take forever and cause traffic jams.

I would like to think that my road is being constructed and there is a reduction in the speed limit so that no one gets hurt during the process. I would like to think that this road will become a bridge over water and when you drive across it you can see the beautiful green trees as they reflect on the water below. However, the reality might be that my road is bumpy and possibly filled with pot holes that I cannot adequately fill in the amount of time I have. Yet, both roads get me to where I want to be…eventually.

The only thing I can control is the faith that I have in myself and in God. Again, I am not a bible thumping man but I do believe that God and the Universe are one and the same. I do not pray for the unattainable. I just pray for the strength to get through this journey of mine.  I also pray that fear does not overcome me. We all have fears that can freeze us in our tracks, we just need to recognize it and move forward.

I am glad that there are people out there who have faith in me and despite the dark times, have never wavered when I doubted everything. Tonight I will rest on my laurels and pray that the Universe conspires in my favor…one more time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Vague Truth

The truth of the matter is that many of us spend to much time talking and not enough time doing. It is very easy to list out goals and things we would like to do. In fact, there are movies, blogs, and books just dedicated to the pursuit of dreams and what to do in case of the "what if" becomes reality. The question is when do we start to walk the walk that we happen to be talking about?

I have grown tired of the talk, so tired that I have been really slacking in the amount of blogs that I have been writing. I cannot get into, yet another blog, about my dreams and goals because it is not getting me anywhere except for one way ticket to Inception. At least in there you can live out your dreams in an actual dream, but this real life where many people do not seem to dream anymore.

My reality is based on haves and have nots. I know what I have and I know what I do not have. I know what I can live with and what I can live without. There is a measure of sacrifice that we all must have. With sacrifice comes humility. I can be truly humbled by what opportunities come my way because despite wanting to be recognized and revered on some levels, I never come to expect that. With humility comes the ability to connect with others. Sure, people can respect your gangsta. They can respect how you get things done and how you go about climbing the ladder of life, but if you cannot be humble then people will always try to bring you down a peg.

I look at this year so far and I recognize that I have placed all my pawns on the board in front of my real intentions. I have been calculating to a point of being ruthless because I have leaned to be 5 steps ahead and anticipating all the things that may happen. I have been strategic with my decisions with no apology. I have gotten to an age where I cannot care what someone thinks about me, however, I have not given anyone the opportunity to think anything but the best of me. Yet, if they do think about me in a negative way, I am willing to bet money (that I don't have) that they have either misunderstood me or failed to comprehend the situation.

There are actually four sides to every story, your side, their side, the media distortion, and the truth. When I say media distortion that can be the actual media or a person's distortion of a Facebook post or Tweet. The truth is always a vague one. I feel sorry for those who see the world as Black and White because in reality we are all various shades of gray (no pun intended).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Man Survival Guide: Arroz con Pollo Recipe

Believe it or not, it really isn't that hard to cook you just have to be motivated to do so. Most men have this stigma that they cannot cook and rightfully so. In the traditional Latino family I grew up in, the men are generally catered to by the women. Of course, I grew up with mostly women in my life so I have been privy to a lot of good food. But I never learned to cook from any one of them.

It was my dad who got me interested in cooking. It was no secret in my family that my dad cooked better than my mother. I would even venture a guess that outside mi abuelas, he was one of the best cooks on both sides of the family. I remember telling my friends in grammar school that my dad was a chef in the Navy, which was a lie but at the time I thought it was the truth. The truth is, he learned from his mother and has been been cooking ever since.

When I started to live with him at sixteen, he would instill in me one basic principle: you do not need a woman to survive. He was hell bent on teaching me how to clean, do laundry, and cook. I think he was secretly grooming me for college because it was a hilarious sight to be in a residence hall laundry room and watch guys mess up their clothes one load at a time. Ironically enough, I didn't really care to learn about cooking but I ended up grasping all the things he showed me anyway.

My father also believed that if I can cook for a woman that my single days would be heaven. I cannot confirm or deny this, but I will say that women can be generally impressed by a man that can throw down in the kitchen. So in college, I decided to take a cooking class because there was some basic stuff that I just could not seem to get. This is where I was able to really understand the science of cooking. Granted, it was only one class but it made me respect it so that I wouldn't randomly burn any thing down.

Since then I have mainly cooked mainly for survival purposes. Every now and then I would cook for someone but it was never for the art of it. When I got married, I felt I didn't need to cook because she did it well enough and often enough that I just disregarded it. I know it got to the point where she questioned if I could even cook and I would just laugh and make some pasta. However, it was after the divorce that I truly began to see the benefits of having some culinary skills.

Every so often I have talked about my survivor mentality and my desire to make more money. Much of this is due to the fact that finances are not what they were and I have had to come up with ways to save money. One of those ways to stop getting take out. I have also talked about how fast food just doesn't do it anymore but how I can truly stretch my dollar and eat somewhat well on a daily basis. I have come to find out is that if you shop smart and on somewhat consistently, the savings can be felt almost instantly. I wont get into the frequent trips to the dollar store because that would be a whole separate blog, but needless to say you can get just about anything if you go to the right place. The smart consumer should just rely on the basics.

The best thing for me is just to make enough food to last for 3-4 days. I have gotten really good at it and    it is some thing that I can eat it over and over without having to worry about dinner or spending money.  This week's treat for me is Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice). The reason this works is because this is a basic meal that you can have come out of one pot. For a man that relies on himself that is ideal.

Arroz con Pollo y Maduros

This is my basic recipe:


A small pack of Chicken Breast (3 pieces is ideal)
2-3 cups White Rice (Medium or Long Grain)
A small can of Corn
Vegetable Oil
Sofrito (A Spanish cooking base that contains peppers, onions, cilantro, garlic, etc)
1 tsp of Salt
2 packs of Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote (Coriander & Annatto)
Goya Adobo

I start with cutting the chicken in to small bite size chunks and trimming out the fat.  I usually season the chicken after I cut it with Adobo. Lightly coat a medium skillet with vegatable oil. Add 3 tbsp spoons of Sofrito and let it simmer for a few minutes until the pan is hot. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until the chicken chunks are a light brown. Lower heat.

Standard Caldero
I usually cook my rice in a medium caldero, so coat the bottom of that pan with Vegetable oil. I don't measure this but if I had to I would say 1/4 cup. Turn the fire on medium then add the can of corn. It is very important to save the water from the can so make sure you drain that into a separate cup. Add 3 tbsp of Sofrito, 1 tsp of salt, and the 2 packs of Sazon Goya. Give that a stir and let the corn cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix 2-3 cups of white rice (wash it first). Now I know that may sound weird to put dry rice but the purpose is to mix everything first before you add the water so that your spices do not end up on the bottom. Once you hear it sizzle, then add 3-4 cups of water and turn the heat up to high.

Note: People usually make rice different than me and that is fine, but in these case you should at least know HOW to make rice.

This is the point where you add the chicken. Be careful not to dump it all in at once thus splashing everywhere. Add the sauce created as well. Mix in the water from the corn. You want to mix this well because you want the chicken to not only cook with the rice but you want the chicken on all levels of the rice not just the top. Cover the pot. Once the water is at full boil (and you will hear it because steam will cause the water seep from under the lid and hit the fire) turn the heat to low and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

If you did not add enough water you will be able to tell. I check it about 20 minutes in. If the rice is hard…just add small amounts of water. If you added too much…you better take a large spoon and start dumping…lol

The final result will be great! I hope you enjoy. I know I did. Let know what you think! (The check out my Huffington Post blog from this week)

P.S. I bought the Frozen Goya Maduros. Microwave 3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I left my Glasses in El Segundo (Fire Island)

I would like to refuse the urge to get into a crazy holiday/vacation story because it always ends up with some crazy outcome. This past week was not supposed to be that way. The original plan was to have a nice week with the girlfriend. However, by the end of it, I ended up leaving a part of myself in a small body of water off the coast of Long Island.

For years, I have fought the need to wear glasses. I had them in high school and it was not the favorite part of my wardrobe. I wore them because I needed to see but when I got contacts, I felt my Clark Kent days were over. However, I am sure any contact user will agree when I say that the eyes do get tired after awhile and over usage of contacts can make that luxury seem more like a burden.

I stopped wearing contacts on a daily basis about 2-3 years ago. I was tired of the fogging up of the lenses and I could never really tell if my headaches were because of the contacts or the stress of my life but needless to say I made the choice to wear glasses so much that even without them, I still find myself trying to push non existent frames on my nose.

Then about a little more than a year and a half ago, I found the perfect frames for me. They are very ones a rock in just about every current picture I have. Dark rimmed, squared with a hint a blue outlining them. I felt that this made me look very dignified since I was not really going down the contact road for while. I rock these so much that I have had to have the sides of the frames adjusted to they can stay tight around my years. Nevertheless, I knew I was beginning to overuse them and if I was not careful they could fly off my face if I had a sudden jolt in movement. I had also gotten to the point that I was wearing protective goggles when playing racquetball.

Even still, with the glasses seeming always sliding down the bridge of my nose, I was still contemplating getting another pair. My date with the eye doctor just an appointment away, I knew had just go and get it over with. In fact, I did set 2 appointments that I missed due to work. I figured that I can last the rest of the summer with this pair. Clearly, I thought wrong.

A funny thing happen when I was on Fire Island. This was a day that was a about a week or two in the planning. The girlfriend and I had our first anniversary this past week and we wanted to make it special in every sort of way. Each day was a different event that started here in Syracuse and then ended in New York City. The trip to Fire Island would end the week, which just so happened to be on the hottest day in the summer thus far. For those who don't know, this is a small island that is off the coast of Long Island and is meant to be semi-private. A ferry is required to get to Fire Island and you have to bring your own food and beverage as well as take your trash with you when you depart.

The place is quite beautiful and water was cold, but on a day that was set to be 100º, it was perfect. We went with some of her friends and there was food, games, and drinks. One has to understand that when you wear glasses that are comfortable, you almost forget they are there. So going into the water with glasses on is something I have done before. The first time going in was no problem. It was very refreshing, but neither of us were ready to really go in. However, I did tell myself that if I am to go in again, I need to leave my specs back on the beach towel.

By the time we decided to go in again, it was just hot. I had totally forgotten to take them off and we went in. Of course one would think that having been smacked around by the waves the first few times that I might decide to run back and put my glasses away…but of course not. Then the big wave came and smacked me in the back like wall of water…and thus my glasses few off! It was like seeing this in slow motion and me screaming…noooooo! I lunged for them but it was too late. They hit the water as the tide receded…

I did look for them but they were gone and so began the next thought…how I going to get home? How bad was my eyesight? Was I going to die (I always ask myself this…even when I get a headache)? Turns out that my eyesight is not as bad as one would think. I can drive in the day (havent tried at night) without the aid of eyewear. However, it is something I would never choose to do because reading signs is a challenge. I will say I am glad I had back up pair of contacts at my aunt's house because there was no way I was going to make it back to Syracuse.

Thus I dedicate this song to my favorite pair of glasses that are buried under the Great South Bay...


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