Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Year in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Last Year on Earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas List 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

If I had $250 Million...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Goals for 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Simple Cooking Lesson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poem: Starlight

and time
miles away
all things
in between
physical gaps
are obstacles
that are overcome
one challenge at a time
at the end
of it all
is her

A star
the light of my life
A star
the shines bright
from long distances
that warms
the very skin
that contracts
making follicles
stand to attention
when she is in my presence

My star
that I follow
that lights my way
when I am in the dark
My star
that shines 4 times
brighter than any other
i bask in it
and travel toward it
wanting her starlight
as much as she wants me
because we share
the space
the time
the miles

I am the Moon
to her stars
and she is the stars
to my Moon
together we are
a part of something bigger
and yet apart
by miles
and time
which is just an obstacle
but the path through it
that is shown
through her starlight

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, Syracuse...

No. I don't know him. Stop asking me. I do not work for the Basketball program and I am fan of the Syracuse Orange just like the rest of the alumni and staff. I have never met Bernie Fine and the only time we have ever been in the same room is when I have tickets to a basketball game. I find what he did deplorable and horribly evil. Right now he is tumor that needs to be cut out from this campus.

I will also say that abuse of any kind is not to be tolerated. It is a violation of basic human rights. I am past the stage of saying that I cannot believe that something like this can happen at an institution such as Syracuse because it seems like it does. I am also not going to be one of these people that will say that we should not fire other people because if anyone who is employed here knew what Bernie Fine was doing then they need to join him in disgrace.

I feel that I need to say this because people do ask me. My parents, my friends, and people in general who know that I work for Syracuse University. Quite frankly, I do not keep it a secret that I work here. I still feel that SU is one of the better schools in the country. I love what this school represents and the number of doors that this education has opened for students and alumni. Unfortunately, situations such as these happen and we are left to wonder what kind of person does this? Are people like Bernie Fine a representation of what Syracuse University is? No, this is not the person that I want to be a reflection of this institution.

Syracuse as a whole has had a bad year. I feel like we have been getting our collective asses kicked in so many ways in the media. The football team started the year with a great win at that Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium , but it had to be a controversial win (can we jut win a game out right?). Getting the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament only to lose in the second round to Marquette was not that big of deal in the grand scheme but it still upset me. Then the move to the ACC from the Big East looks even more horrible now as the days go along.

That was just in sports, but did you know that Syracuse University was under fire for being too inclusive? People with big academic credentials are suggesting that SU's admission policy of allowing too many students of color is giving us less prestige. It has been suggested that we are now a second tiered school because we have focused more on the common good by following what is has been coined by our chancellor as "Scholarship in Action". We embrace the community and help build the world around us while learning Global Citizenship. I suppose great Universities would rather embrace selectivity of the students over the common good.

Now there is this. We are now defined as the school that Bernie Fine was fired from. We are lumped into the same context with Sandusky and Penn State. Are people expecting our students to riot if Jim Boeheim gets fired? I think the country is watching to see what happens as the microscope is focused on a town that is only used to the glamour and glitz of NCAA basketball. People have already weighed their opinion as we all wait for the other shoe to drop. I just think about the future of this school because one man's evil deeds should not undo the education of so many.

I think about Bobby Davis and become so sad and sickened when I think about the suffering he must have gone through as a kid. Innocence lost is something that no justice system can ever truly pay for. But, I do hope that there can be a small measure of justice down the line. We are all stunned because I think we all lost something over last few days. We lost the faith in our system. We lost faith in administrators. We lost faith in our public figures who are after all human beings we chose put on a pedestal. Perhaps we feel betrayed that things like this can happen on our campus to children that could be a brother or a sister or perhaps even a child.

My point is that Syracuse will continue to take a beating on each showing of Sportscenter. We will be in the spotlight well into next year on every news program as more light begins to be shed on this situation. I am confident that my alma mater will make the tough decisions it needs to make so that abuse and child molestation does not go unpunished. I just hope that students maintain a clear understanding of what is truly going on around them because right now a tumor is being cut out of campus and it will take years to recover from the therapy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Reminder

Today is a day where we (in the United States) are supposed to give thanks for everything we have. If we compare what we have with what other people in the world have then we should be giving thanks for many things, including being born in this country. There should be a certain humility to this day. Most of us have the privilege to be in the presence of vast meal and have many days of left overs to feast on. We are indeed lucky and should give thanks.

I feel the need to remind everyone about the historical significance of this day and days like this. I was very clear in my views about Columbus and the celebration of his massacre of thousands of Native people. So I think about the Wampanoag people who gave seed to the Puritans and taught them how to fish as a gesture of good faith an in honor of the end of the harvest. Back in those days, many cultures had a feast to celebrate the ending of what was hopefully a good harvest and to thank God for all they had.

Of course the Wampanoag were ravaged by disease and imperial encroachment soon after which makes me wonder why we even celebrate this day in the way we do. Historical images show how kind Native Americans were to the Pilgrims with the sharing of food and the breaking of bread and yet we have politicians who want to build an electric fence to keep "foreigners" from gaining access to this land. Imagine if the Wampanoag slaughtered those Puritans as a way to protect the harvest and their borders.

I am sure many people take this day for granted by eating and watch football while paying little attention to the poverty around us. However, I do take solace in knowing that their are people who do share their food and work in soup kitchens to feed the poor today. The question is, why do we only pick this day to volunteer when we know that poverty does not stop when Thanksgiving ends? Are we afraid that we will be like the Wampanoag and give only so much only to have the people we help take everything we have in return?

With that being said, just take time to think about how we got here. How grateful we should all be to have a table to sit at. Take time to think about the hungry children around the world. The sick people dying from diseases we cannot cure. Pray for those who have hatred in their heart because those people never find true happiness. Ponder about all the things you have before you think about all the things you want for Christmas. Be thankful for the beauty of this day when you look outside your window.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dear God

Dear God…

I dedicate this blog post to one of my many prayers to you. I know that I am not the most religious being on this planet and I am certainly not Christ-like but I write this as a way to throw my literal words out into the universe as a testament of my faith that there is indeed a higher power. I pray to you because there are things in this world that I cannot control. I am just one person in a world filled with wicked people that murder, rape, and take advantage of the less fortunate all in the name of God. I pray to you because everything happens for a reason and every person in my life serves a purpose even if its for a little while. One of those people told me that if I truly want something than I need to ask the universe.

Asking the universe is like asking God because the two things are synonymous. I know that when I tell the universe my wants that it will conspire in my favor to help me get it. In saying that, I know that my prayers are pleas for help because I cannot do things without faith in myself and world around me. The problem is that I fear so many things. The decisions I have made in the past has not made my present as great as I would like it to be which only puts my future in question. I do think about my future because I still consider it bright.

I want to do so many things it is hard to comprehend where I can begin to start. This is a part of the problem because I don't know what I don't know. I ask for the strength to help me pass my own weaknesses. I know that I have not been one to totally go for financial success because money isn't everything and let's be honest, I cannot take it with me in death. However, I can pass it down to the children that I hope to have. What I want is to be able to live without fear. I don't want to worry anymore about how I am going to get from paycheck to paycheck.

I pray for strength to get me through the hard times. I pray for strength to get me through the sparse amount of interviews. I pray for strength to let me deal with the unforeseen things that life throws my way. I am just a man in this world trying to do good. I help the students that I work with. I stay in touch with those former student who still feel they need my guidance. I want to be there in ways that people were never there for me when I was a student. I let my work speak for itself.

I thank you for things that you have given me. Those tearful nights when I thought I would never get to where I am now have seemed to have paid off. I am a survivor of bad decisions and financial consequences. More importantly, I thank you for putting her into my life. I thank you for giving me the strength to survive the past four years. I thank you for the family and the friends that I have because I am truly fortunate to have people support me when I needed them.

The strength I ask for is because I know my successes are not handed to me. I need the strength to act on motivations because fear is the only thing that is stopping me. I am tired of being afraid. Fear takes my will to succeed in every facet of my life. I pray to for help so I can get to my goals with dignity and honor. I ask the universe to conspire in my favor to help me achieve my personal legend.

I am not a perfect man. I am sinner in many respects, but I am a good person willing to help others in the only way I know how. All I ask is for strength, courage, and wisdom to guide me on this quest. I want to be the legend that I know I can be.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Love and Balance.

Yes. I know… It has been a long time. Work has been incredibly busy over last few weeks and it has been difficult to get a moment to write. Now that I am currently in New York City for Thanksgiving, I think that I now have the gumption to write whatever comes to mind. This is a bit of a free write because I need to get back to it. I need to get back on the writing tip because it can be so easy to get off that ride.

I have to say that I have my groove back. I have finally got my love life in a place where I want it to be and it is fantastic! When I started this blog in 2009, I was not sure where I would be. I was looking at failed marriage and began to believe that being in a good relationship was something that I may never achieve, but when the world is looked upon negatively, the thought of anything good does not surface. 

I finally had the privilege to post my relationship status on Facebook and while that sounds kind of cheesy it is actually a big step. The start of a new relationship is always a big deal after the ending of an old one, especially if that end was a divorce. It makes the process of moving on and living a life of happiness complete. Not everyone moves on to another relationship after a marriage because it is not as easy as one would think. There is the battle to get over oneself. We all have issues and the thought of sharing those with someone else can be almost unbearable for some.

As for me. I feel like an adult. I know that sounds weird coming from a 37 year old man, but I have been surviving what I once considered a mess of a life. There are parts of my life that I still need to rectify but those take time based on financial issues. Yet, I survive because I watched my dad survive. I learned from him how to deal with life when it gives you lemons. I am very close to my goals and any forward movement toward them feels like a battle won.

What has really makes me feel good is the support that I get from friends and colleagues. They see the passion I have to move back to NYC and the love I have for the woman in my life. All the dues that I have paid to the universe in the form of both good and bad karma has seemed to make me very fortunate. I find myself developing my personal relationship with God. I pray from strength when I need it because I know that I need to achieve my hearts desire, I do not expect it handed to me. I pray for strength because I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of being afraid of failing. So I battle through it all because I am determined to make it.

Then there are the people that who do not support me. Those who look like the could be a friend but really criticize me when I am not around. I know they exist and I also have a general idea who they are. I want to thank them because their comments and negative provides the rest of the fuel that I need to motivate myself. I have not been one to subscribe to the notion that I have haters, but all adults who strive for the best have them. I still do not pretend to be a perfect man and I will continue to make mistakes but the negativity makes it easier to give less than a f*ck about what people think.

I will strive to finish what I start. I want to live in harmony with my various worlds in sync. I want my professional life to be as good as my love life and my family life to be just as good as my social life. I am looking for balance and I think I have completed that first step.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heavy D: He Had is own Thang

When I talk about my love for hip hop, I often say that the artist that really made me start buying albums was Rakim. The first CD that I ever bought with my own money was Redman's debut. But, the first cassette that I every owned was Heavy D and the Boyz: Big Tyme. Sure, I rocked Big Daddy Kane with my cousin who bout 12 inch vinyl records. I would also listen to my brother tapes as well so I was always into hip hop, but Heavy D represented something to me.

When I was a sophomore in High School I had very few friends. I felt like I was the smallest kid in all of Saint Raymond's High School for Boys. I lived in Riverdale at the time because years earlier, my mother decided to move me to yet another section in the Bronx. I did not care for this place, I was in the whitest neighborhood I have every seen up to that point. The commute was something I had to get used to. I had to find my way from Castle Hill Ave all the way to Riverdale. This meant taking three buses.

I ended up making friends with kids from my school who lived in Washington Heights that took the exact route I did. Some were even seniors that I ended up hanging out with. But, despite this, I was relatively unhappy. I couldn't speak to girls and I was just this short nerdy kid trying to find his way. Then one of my buddies asked me if I liked Heavy D. Of course I did, who wouldn't like The Overweight Lover? So he gave me his cassette. Maybe he lent it to me and I just never gave it back...but I still have it.

I listened to Big Tyme everyday on my walkman. As I look back at it now, this was the first album that I listened to from start to finish. Not one bad song. He set the bar for me when it came to buying future albums. I remember how listening to this album got me through the days where school was hard in a time where my parents fought over me and their failing marriage. More importantly, I found it hard to fit in and I remember a particular line from his song "We Got Our Thang": Don't be down with everyone, let 'em all be down with you. This one line made me rethink many things in my life. I realized that I shouldnt have to fit in. I should just be me and let people deal with it.

Heavy D became a huge part of my High School life through this album. First, Big Tyme itself is a classic. Every track stands alone, but I absolutely love the song, "Somebody for Me". This was another song that just spoke to me because he raps about how hard it was to find the one for him. It seemed to hold true to me for so many years. He was trying to find someone who loved him for who he is and I appreciated that. I remember some girl telling a friend of mine in high school that I would be cute if I had an earring and a mustache and got rid of the nerdy glasses. I was ready to get my ear pierced! But, my brother told me that I should not have to fix my appearance for anyone. A woman needs to like you for who you are now. It made me think of that song.

Let me not to forget that he indeed a pioneer of the industry. The collaboration on Somebody for Me was with Al B Sure and at the time Hip Hop/R&B songs were rare. When I was in college he has this song with called "Dem No Worry We" with Supercat that was crazy! Dancehall was just becoming a sensation when that came out and I am pretty sure he was the first or one of the first Hip Hop artist to be on a Dancehall track. He moved to television with appearances on Its A Different World. He maintained relevance within the industry by continuously dropping albums in the 90's. However, I think because he was not the gangsta/pimp type, he was not getting the airplay or the credit he was due.

When I think about the tapes that I made in college to listen to, I think about all the people who I put along side him. Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest,  EPMD, Jungle Brothers, Big Daddy Kane, and that is just to name a few. Heavy D died way too young. We joke about when we are all old and they will have the legends of hip hop performances like you see in those old Motown shows..who would actually look good performing? Well, Heavy D would have. He would have rocked it with songs that are timeless. He was never negative. He never used the N-word. He was always about being positive to women and the community. We not only lost a music legend, we lost a humanitarian.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Team @BeingAfroLatino

I always find it interesting when putting a team of individuals together. I feel like I am forming the Justice League which makes the little nerd in me smile. But, I do not think that I am too far off from this. Team @BeingAfroLatino is all about justice. We have banded together from our corners of the internet to promote Afro Latinos.

We are of the mind set that neither of us can educate alone. All of us on this team believe that alone we can only reach just a few people, but together we can be extraordinary. So when we formed, it was out of the belief that @beingafrolatino was bigger than all of us. Over that last few months we have been working together on twitter and over tumblr to educated awareness and show the injustices of discrimination. I think it is about time that I formally introduce us all:

Anthony Otero is Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian that was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and currently a staff member at Syracuse University. He is one of the co-founders of The LatiNegr@s Project. A constant writer, he is currently working on his first book of poetry called "My Twisted Life Through Lines of Poetry" set to come out in 2012 and created the blog Inside My Head.

As one of few Latino administrators at Syracuse University, he become an adviser to many Latino students and Latino student organizations. Anthony also helped create the Latino Heritage Month celebrations that still occur today. He took graduate courses in Cultural Foundations of Education and finally understood that what it means to be Afro-Latino after soul searching through research papers. This sparked the creation of all his blogs including the newly retitled Tumblr site: Black, Brown, and a little Mestizo. He also created the @beingafrolatino twitter account as a way to promote and unite Afro Latinos.

Bianca I. Laureano is a first generation Puerto Rican sexologist living in NYC. Raised in the Washington, DC area in an activist environment, Bianca is the daughter of an artist and educator and a product of the public school system. In the field of sexuality for over a decade, Bianca has worked with and taught youth of Color, working class communities, speaks at national and international organizations advocating sex-positive social justice agendas. She has presented both locally and internationally on various topics concerning activism, Latino sexual health, feminisms, youth and hip-hop culture, Latinos and race, Caribbean cultural practices and sexuality, dating and relationships, curriculum development, reproductive justice and teaching.

She's a board member at the Black Girl Project, doula with The Doula Project, co-founder of The LatiNegr@s Project, and Monster Girl. Bianca is an instructor and a freelance writer and was awarded the 2010 Mujeres Destacadas’ Award (distinguished woman) from El Diario/La Prensa for her work in sexual health. She hosts the website and identifies as a LatiNegra, media maker, radical woman of Color, activist, sex-positive, pro-choice femme. Find out more about Bianca by visiting her website

Violeta Donawa is a Detroit native, born to a Panamanian father and African American mother. As a doctoral student, she examines racial ideologies and paradigms, as well as the impact of social media on identification processes. She has two publications, entitled, “Exploring the Afro-Latino Presence: The Afro-Panamanian Experience in Michigan” in the journal, Negritud: Revista De Estudios Afro-Latinoamericanos and “Defining and Documenting Afro-Latin America" in the journal, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.

Raising visibility of the AfroLatin@ community has always been a passion. She has found multiple ways to integrate this passion into her everyday life through academia and social media. As a freelance writer and emerging blogger, she has contributed to the Voices from Our America ™ project, volunteered with The AfroLatin@ Forum, written for, and runs her blog La Republica de Detroit

Kismet Nuñez is a black and Puerto Rican woman of color insurgent who deploys 21st century forms of art, autobiography, and performance against the discursive terrain of race, sex and personality. With the help of new media, Kismet breaks herself into pieces to become more than her parts in a revolutionary act of defiance, affirmation & self-care. Kismet is a blogger, writer, student, teacher, researcher, historian, fangirl, lover, sister, daughter and everything in between. In 2008, she founded iwannalive productions, a social media collective specializing in radical black gyrl media, political education, sex positive empowerment and complete and utter disruption of the archive, academy and hu-MAN-ity as we known and understand it. iwannalive productions manages #AntiJemimas, a social media performance project.

Begun in 2010 out of an earlier blog project exploring self love (and hate) titled Self Care: Revise, Revise, Revise, the #AntiJemimas project is about infinite literacies, multiple beings and the conundrum of trying to build a real black gyrl in a world of 21st century digital engagement. The project's goal is to circumvent the oppressive power of the iconic that traps woc bodies, sexualities and genders into roles labeled Only or Never. Today, #AntiJemimas has evolved into an online universe of blogs, Tumblrs and Twitters committed to the very hard work of building a real gyrl of color in a world of new media. You can find Kismet fomenting rebellion at Zora Walker, making gris-gris in the WOC Survival Kit, living on a distant star as the Sable Fan Gyrl, stroking her thighs as Pretty Magnolia, or twiddling her thumbs on Twitter. Kismet also blogs at Nuñez Daughter, the base blog for #AntiJemimas. Founded in May 2008, Nunez Daughter is an experiment in digital autobiography and archive. It expands on thoughts formulated in a research paper titled, “‘I’m On to You:’ Troubling Performances of Race, Gender and Class.” 

We are Team Being Afro-Latino. You can follow on Twitter or on Tumblr. Buckle your seat belts, it will an exciting ride.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve/Día de los Muertos

Interestingly enough as much of a nerd I am, I do not celebrate this "holiday" all that much. I would love to dress up but what bothers me is that when you buy a costume it never looks like the package. Sorta like when you buy a Big Mac, it never looks like the one you see on the commercial. More importantly, I have felt weird being someone other than myself. Most of the costumes you see out there are not particularly made for people who look like me.

I found myself looking at costumes a few weeks ago in case I may want to dress up for today. Most of the ones I was looking at were of black heroes like Morpheous from the Matrix, or Green Lantern. I thought about it, but then I decided not to. I am not sure that buying a costume is money well spent. I can thinking of many things I can do for $50.

I find it interesting that this day comes from Celtic traditional New Year holiday called Samhain. They would celebrate the end of summer and prepare for the coming of winter. It is also said that today, the barrier between the spirit world and the living is open allowing both intermingle. People would wear costumes to ward off any spirits that were to come near. This festival would begin October 31st and end on November 1st.

Coincidentally, Mexico and other Latin American countries celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day from October 31 through November 2. During these days they honor the dead, this celebration is called Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This where shops decorate their windows with skeletons to not only honor the dead but invite the souls of the deceased to visit their families and hear their prayers. This tradition can be traced back to an Aztec festival dedicated to Mictecacihuatl the god of the dead (or lady of the dead).

Growing up Catholic I knew what All Saints Day was. I remember my mother burning a seven day candle that you get from a Botanica in honor of this day. It never escaped me that Halloween was followed by All Saints day. I grew up believing in spirits and how they can influence the lives of others. I can tell many stories about how Latinos in general have a belief of the supernatural. While I am not so much into organized religion, I do very much believe that the spirits and souls of those who have passed on are still out there. I do not mean in the Ghostbusters sense either.

People in other cultures from Africa to Asia, all honor their dead in particular ways. While we accept the Celtic tradition of hollowing out pumpkins or the English tradition of "go a-souling" (where people would go door to door asking for food and exchange they would pray for their dead relatives), we tend to look at this day as a day where we dress up and act a fool. For some it is a day of making fun of other cultures. This day has real historical meaning in most cultures.

Take the time to remember those who have past today. Our ancestors have paved the way for us and we would not be where we are without them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This is something I have been thinking about. As my love life seems to be solidifying, I have had to do be more careful with how I deal with women in my life. I have learned many lessons over the last 3-4 years about myself and how to deal with situations in which I am not used to. After tallying the numerous amounts of mistakes, I think I have learned how I got where I am and how to move forward. Not to mention that I am taking serious consideration on changing my blogger profile.

Am I really still on this road to self redemption? I am not sure so I am anymore. I think the focus of my life and of this blog have changed. I think that I am still on a journey, but it is definitely not the same thing. My path has shifted and I have come to see a brighter future and it because of this that have had to make a few changes in my personal life.

A few months ago I started setting boundaries with certain people in my life. What I have found out that some people do not know what boundaries are.This may sound weird coming from me because I was an habitual line stepper but, I understand that there are certain lines that one does not cross without understanding the consequences behind them. Let's talk about what these boundaries may be. I know that flirting is something that people do and I have enjoyed doing that. I know what it and I can see it when it happens. I can tell when someone is flirting with me in person, over text, via email, on twitter, and on my Facebook wall. I can see when other people do and I can tell you that it is an art that very few people can master.

Flirting is either meant to be innocent to boost an ego or to prove you still got it or it can be a guilty pleasure that can get the juices flowing and thus getting yourself into all kinds of situations (not all of which are good). Since my situation has changed I have been very careful to not give off wrong impressions. The problem becomes that in dealing with some women that I have come to know, they may not understand how to read a stop sign from men.

Believe it or not, men do have stop signs. Some may not tell you this because they secretly hope that you ignore it. Others will straight out tell a woman that there is a line that should not be crossed from one reason or another. A real gentleman will tell a woman what the deal is and if he doesn't he may not have simply had the chance to or figured she would get the hint through non verbals.

There is also the issue of clarity. We all know of people that we have issues being clear with even if you spell it out in bold letters on a dry erase board. Perhaps I have that issue. I know that I can write and draw attention to certain phrases if I need to. This becomes difficult for some people to understand in a conversation. I think we can ask people to be polite and not act a certain way but then something happens and they cannot help themselves. This could be a case in which some women do not think that any man could possibly say know "No" to them.

I have also come to find out that there a women that I can be friends with and some that I cannot be. I personally feel that I do not need to have sex with a woman to be their friend. I have many female friends in which that is not an issue. I chose to have more friends who are women because I can talk to them in ways that I cannot with dudes. Why in the world would I talk to a guy about females? I mean there are 3 men in my life I can talk to (My dad, my cousin, and my boy @panthbro). Only my dad has been 100% correct about women, but then again he has lived this life.

I am setting boundaries because I am taking my love life seriously. Any man who does this is someone who does not wish for those lines to be crossed or that boundary to be broken. If it is then the line between friends and defriend becomes very clearly on places like Facebook and Twitter. While, I do not define my love life in any social medium does not mean I cannot define a boundary. I think many people can learn from that lesson

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Should I Do?

I guess this becomes a question that I need to answer when it comes to my income and any side hustles. It does seem like I am going to have to write my way out of Syracuse, I need to find an outlet that will let me publish. One thing that I have come to realize is that I have a wide range when it comes to writing. I can tell a story about anything. The things that I tend to lack in general are time and focus. But, if I focus my time, I know that I can do the work that needs to be done.

I am not even talking about my poetry. That is one thing that I can get published when I finally get the ability to set that money aside. But the money is not in the poetry, it is in the performance of the poems. Once I start doing that I think I will be in a better place. I was told that I have to perform next week (Nov. 3) in at the Underground Poetry spot in Syracuse. We will see how that goes.

What I am wondering about more is my short story submissions. With the feeling that I can write anything in mind, I know that the easiest thing is erotica and I am quite good at it. I just haven't posted on this site because this is a family show. However, these stories seem to come very easy to me. I can just write something from the top of my head and be down with it. Yet, I am intimidated about what that does to my credibility as a serious writer. I do not want to be just known for my poetry, or my erotic stories, or even my blog. I would like a well rounded experience in which I can write what makes me feel good…and get paid for it.

A few days ago I posted the story, The House. This was a fictional short all based on the picture posted. I was given a pictures as a challenge. All I had to do was write a short story about that picture. It took me about a week and I came with it. I enjoyed that so very much because it made me think about so many possibilities. It was a different way for me to tell a story without having to think to much about an outcome. I know that I have the talent when I can do that in a week.

So what do I do? I am not entirely sure of that. I think ,back in the day, people just submitted to a magazine and hoped they get published. But, this is the internet age. I should be able to get published but it does seem that the monetary aspect is low. I totally get that beggars should not be picky and also understand that when you are at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole, you need to pay your dues. There is also the fact that I could very easily write under a ghost name. I feel that there are things about this whole thing that I simply do not know. I know I need to ask more questions, but the funny thing is, I do not know what questions to ask.

I will admit that I have been very foolish. I thought it was the smart thing to wait until I moved to NYC to start this career as a writer. People would ask me why in the world was I waiting. I guess I thought that being in the city, I was going to have more time to commit and be just generally happy in my environment. I realize now that I have to build my talent up. Sure, people may think that I can write or that I am great in some way, but the majority of people have no idea that either I exist or if they do know me, they do not know that I even have a blog. So, I have work to do in the sense that I will just have to put my head down and just write the stories in my head and publish the ones that I have already committed to paper.

I just need to know where to start.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vote for Me! #Latism

A few weeks ago I was informed over Twitter that I was nominated for a LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) award. The award is for the Best Latin@ Micro-Blogger. To be honest, I am very honored to even be nominated. When I look at the stiff competition I am up against, I realize that I was put in a very honorable class of people.

What is a Micro-Blogger? Well, it is my Twitter account. When you write in 140 character increments it is considered a micro-blogging. I have managed to get my thoughts out in that tiny amount of space. Some people use website to "tweet longer" because I suppose they need to have more space, but I do not. My twitter account is my personal soap box that I use to talk about everything from sports to racism. I tend to have conversations with students and meet new people. It is also a great way to market my blog and to read others. My Twitter account is my brand. This how I represent myself and that includes this blog as well.

LATISM is a force (I mentioned this a few years ago). When you take a group of people together to form something larger, you hope that it lasts. I have seen LATISM from it's infancy stages and now it has grown to something that is bigger than any of us. While I have never been to conferences, I have heard great things about them. I met @AnaRC a few years ago when she was in Syracuse and we talked about how LATISM can help our people. I have wanted to be more involved and perhaps I will in the future.

The funny thing for me is that my twitter name is listed as Tony Snark. I want to explain this for those who are wondering why my real name is not up there. It has nothing to do with lack of ownership of what it is I say but more of the persona I portray. Plus, consider that I tend to make my account private at times since I am still currently searching for a new job in New York City. I never thought of the possibility I would be nominated for any awards which is why I am so honored in the first place.

I am personally encouraging all those who know me and who read this blog to not just vote for me, but to look at the other nominees and the other categories. There are some very powerful personalities who have a lot to say and tons to contribute to our community. These nominations are not entirely about those winning, but more about those getting the exposure we crave.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Short Story: The House

This whole day has been a blur. I’m not entirely sure how I got here. I have spent my entire life doing the right things like supporting my family, working long hard hours on the job, and going to church every Sunday. Even with all this, I managed to lose it all. Now I am in the one place that I never thought I would be, a jail cell.

A small town jail cell that looks nothing like what we see on television. They never talk about the smell on Barney Miller. This stale moist smell as if someone barely cleaned the urine from the floor. I just stare at this stone floor because I don’t want to look up. I don’t want to see the other people who may be here. These are the people I thought I would never be in the room with, much less sharing a prison.

I cannot help the tears from my eyes. I lost everything that defines me and all I was trying to do was stay one step ahead of this marriage.  Marcia! I can’t event think about what has happen between us. As much as I try to bury my head in between my hands, I will never be able to hide from myself.

All I wanted to do was to get rid of this house! This god-forsaken house that we bought 5 years ago thinking that it could be our summer cottage, when in reality, it became the bane of my existence. A virtual money pit that seemed to turn my marriage upside down, I only blame myself for all of this. It was my idea to buy it. I wanted to have a place that Marcia and I can spend time away from everything and everyone.

It was no secret that our marriage was in trouble even then.  I thought that the incredible amounts of money I brought home every paycheck would have kept her happy. I was a true company guy. When there was a conference to go to, I was there. When clients needed to be entertained, I was the one to make sure they were taken care of. I was good at my job and I loved every minute of it. But, I knew that I was barely home and she missed me (or so I thought).

This house was my solution to our marriage. I figured we could spend quality time together and reinvigorate the passion we once had. I thought she would be surprised when I told her I bought it, but something didn’t sit well with me about her reaction. I thought she would be happy but she complained about the money and not including her in the decision. Hide sight being 20/20, she was right. Had I knew then what I know now, I would have realized that my marriage was already over.

I knew the house was going to be something that needed to be fixed. I thought we could do that as a family. Andrew, my dear son (I can only imagine what he thinks of me now), would have helped us.  But, things just fell apart just about a year after I bought that house. I lost my job. The company I worked for was one of those places that people love to talk about. When ‘we’ received a bailout, it didn’t mean ‘me’ or ‘us’. I was laid off like thousands of people.

I could not find a job and had two mortgages. Marcia, who was a stay at home mother, could not stand my presence. Always agitated that I didn’t have a job and the money we saved was evaporating quickly. The house would always be brought up and became a wedge between us. I didn’t tell her that I knew the real reason she was angry with me being home all the time. I found out a week after I got laid off that she was fucking my co-worker, Jeff.  I woke up late one morning while she was out on her run. She left her phone on the kitchen table. I had no intention on looking through her phone but when she got a text message, out of habit I just looked at the screen. He texted her about possibly meeting that weekend, I was stunned.

I looked through rest of her messages hoping and praying I was wrong. There were hundreds of messages, dirty messages. I felt numb. Maybe it was the depression of losing my job but I simply left to work on that house. I had this idea that I would spend the rest of what we had to fix it up. I worked on the house everyday and she hated me for it. I did look for a job when she wasn’t around, I would send resumes out as often as I could. I had a few interviews here and there, but it turns out they were not hiring a man in his mid 40’s with tons of experience.

I spent four years fixing that house to what I wanted it to be. I replaced the roof. I rebuilt the chimney and replaced all the windows. I installed a brand new furnace and redid that entire kitchen myself. All the while, my beautiful wife of fourteen years was committing adultery. This was going to be the house I lived in. I was going to leave her when I was ready, when I finally got a job. Of course she had no problem finding a job.  

Sure, we had many fights during these past few years but we decided to stay together for Andrew’s sake. He is a freshman at Syracuse University and we didn’t want him to worry about us. Thank god he is such a smart kid. He was awarded a full academic scholarship. He is majoring in Forensic Science.

Yesterday I found out I got a job. Nothing spectacular, but it is a second chance. I would be able to finally handle things and eventually start the divorce process. I went to that house to install some light fixtures in the living room when I saw it, a small earring on the futon. She had been there! I left a spare set of keys with Andrew but he is away at college. She must have gotten them from his room. Why would she be here?

I was so angry. I will not let her take this way from me! I cannot have her screwing this man in my house. I worked too hard for this. So, I plotted to do the only thing I could do.

I walked out onto the deck and grabbed the bottle of lighter fluid that I used for the brand new charcoal grill I bought. I sprayed lighter fluid everywhere. I was not going to let this woman do this to me. I am not going to live in another place where she has fucked her lover. I just had this house appraised and I will just collect the insurance on it.  I empty the bottle and jump into my car. I have every intention on lighting this house in the morning while she on her morning run.

The drive is a good 40 minutes coming and going. I wipe the bottle clean and put in the trunk of her car. She will get blamed for arson and I will be free of her. Divorce will be an easy thing after that.

I woke up early this morning from my peaceful slumber on the couch and I noticed that her car is gone. Today is Saturday and it is way too early for Marcia to go for her run. There is a knock on the door. I open it and there is the County Sheriff. “Mr. Stephens?” he asks. I nod my head and ask him what is going on. “There has been a fire and I am afraid we found your wife…and another gentlemen, dead”

The rest of today was a blur. I was arrested for suspicion of Arson. They take me in for preliminary questioning. Where were you last night? I was home. Did you know your wife was committing Adultery? I had no idea, officer! The fire department found traces of lighter fluid all over the house, how do you suppose that got there? My wife was jealous that I spent all my time and our money fixing up the house. I have no idea how it got there. I just finished renovating it.

My day was spent answering question after question. It was pretty much over for me. I begin to sob and say how I cannot believe my wife is dead much less that she had a lover! The tears were real, but my words weren’t. This was the first time I admitted to myself that Marcia really did not love me. But, now what? I’m not even sure how the fire started!

So, now I sit here waiting for my fate. I never asked for a lawyer because, technically, I really didn’t set that fire. I hear the jail cell open. “Mr. Stephens, you are free to go. The evidence shows that your wife died trying to set the fire. We found that a cigarette was the initial cause of the blaze. Did your wife smoke?”

Marcia was never a smoker and neither was Jeff. “Yes, my wife smoked. It was a nasty habit.” I walk out of that jailhouse knowing that I have lied for the final time.

The only person I know who smoked, was Andrew. 


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