Late For Work – A Short Story

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I hate being late for work, but once again this damn train is delayed.

It’s bad enough that I have to take a bus just to get to a train that is always jammed packed, but how many sick passengers occur in an a given week? Not even hearing Jay Z in my headphones could hide the sheer frustration of this strap hanger.

It’s not that I don’t plan my time well. I always catch BX.39 early enough to catch the express 6 train in Parkchester that takes me to 125th street where I catch the downtown 4 train. As always, it’s packed with people going to work and school and I normally find myself in near prayer just make it to work on time.

However, today I could care less. While I hate being late for work, I cannot stand my job and I spent the majority of last night typing my resignation letter. I feel very fortunate to have found another job on the Upper East Side. I just cannot wait to finally hand this in to my boss but, of course, the train had to be delayed for 30 minutes.

What makes it worse is that I have get off at Wall St which makes this Bronx to Manhattan commute a nightmare. I race up the subway stairs once my train finally arrives. It is already 8:45 and I have a meeting at 9am that I now need to rush for.

Wait. What was that noise? I look up.

Oh. My. God.

Why is the World Trade Center on fire?

—-

This is a story I wrote a few years ago that I thought I lost. I found it while searching for something else a few months back. I edited it yesterday. I wanted to contribute something to this day that is still fresh in my memory. 

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12 Years Later, I’m still Fortunate.

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I’ve always been short with words on this day. I feel that my words never do justice to the events of 12 years ago. When I got up this morning, I was quickly reminded of what day it was. While I’m no longer somber about this day, I always make sure I have some time to reflect on my own life.

On this day, I try not to dwell on the many wars that have taken place since or the many Arab lives that have been taken so that we, as a country, can feel better about our losses. Instead I reflect on the fact the fact that I am very fortunate to have the life that I have. I’ve mentioned that had I been any later to work on that day, who knows what would have happened. My step mother worked in that area and it just so happened she was not there that day. Two of my friends worked there as well and they both got out. Very fortune.

Yet, I did know one person, a fire fighter, who died while trying to save people. Steve Mercado was a guy that I looked up to as a kid. Someone who always took the lead in situations that no one really wanted to. His memory will always be honored and immortalized by his family and by the stickball league in the Bronx he helped maintain.

So what does all this mean to me? What is my takeaway from all of this? The one thing that I’ve noticed, and it may sound funny, silly, or maybe just unexpected, is that I can say I love you to my friends and family so much easier now than I could before 9/11. Those words have more of an impact and more of a meaning to me. This was something I never really said, especially to my male friends and relatives. Perhaps it was some form of homophobic barrier that I was not aware of but I can also say it to woman friends too without being uncomfortable or giving the wrong impression.

The point is that I realized on that day how quickly anyone of us can be snuffed out. Sure, I can talk all day about our youth being killed on the streets of Chicago, or the victims of police brutality, or teenagers with hoodies who had someone “stand their ground” but our worlds were changed forever 12 years ago. Whatever naivety we had is gone because we know what its like to be on the other end of an attack and as much as I want call bullshit on every last war we had since (as well as the one in Syria we are about to have), on this day all I can think about is how fortunate I am to even be writing this.

I have few close friends, many acquaintances, tons of former students, twitter followers, and family. Twelve years ago, when I finally left work, and stepped out on to Wall Street, I knew my life had changed and it was then that I realized I haven’t done enough in my life. Now, I’m still working on doing something and I’m just glad that I know as many people as I do. I’m very fortunate to have the friends that I have and very lucky to share my thoughts with the rest of you.

10 Years (@SyracuseU)

Today marks ten years since I have been in Syracuse. I came here looking for a career and I certainly found one. I left right after 9/11 and it was such a blessing to have an escape from all the death and sadness that was in NYC at the time. What I do not mention is that before that fateful day, I didn’t have a career, I had a job that I did not like. So still being here after all this has been both a blessing and curse.

2004 Fiesta Latina

I learned early in my twenties that being laid off is not just something that happens to older people. I worked at Deutche Bank back in the late 90’s when they acquired Banker’s Trust. When the merger was complete, I watched my supervisor get laid off and then a few weeks later, so was I.  As an admin assistant,  I was getting paid pretty good right out of college. I had gotten my own apt in the Bronx and was living with my girlfriend at the time. So when I go laid off, it was a shock and I had finding a job was incredibly hard.

I landed in a place called MHN (Mental Health Network) and it was job that I liked at first, but it became repetitive. However, I loved the area in which I worked. It was right on Wall St. The World Trade Center was right there and so was the South Street Seaport. I could buy anything and eat anywhere. The job itself was boring to the point that I restarted one of my older blogs and I taught myself HTML. One day, in August 2001, I get a call from my buddy (@panthbro). He tells me that department I worked at when I was enrolled at Syracuse was hiring and I needed to jump on it.

Without hesitation, I did just that. I get an interview, which included a presentation and meeting with several people, and I knocked it out the park. The following tuesday was 9/11 and I knew that this was going to be my last month in NYC.

Making sure my students work lol

I get to Syracuse in October and it was all trial by fire. I worked a concert on the very first day, which turned out to be a 14 hour day. The group was called Everclear. Never hard of them and barely hear about them now. That weekend was a dance party. A fight broke out that practically clears the room. I ran right into the middle of the brawl to grab students, who work for me, out of harms way. This was when I felt pepper spray for the first and only time.  At that time, our Public Safety Officers didn’t carry guns like they do now, they had cans of pepper spray. That was fun to say the least. No one who worked for me got hurt.

I worked hard to get to know the students. I specifically looked out for students in La LUCHA. This is when I met @theJLV. By the end of the 2002, I was their advisor, thanks to him. I had also noticed that Black History Month was being celebrated the way it should be, but nothing was really being done about Latino Heritage Month, outside of La LUCHA.  So, I tried my hardest to bridge the gap between Latino students and faculty/staff because there weren’t many of us then (and there still aren’t many of us now). I created the Latino Listerv to start building those bridges. I worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to generate a calendar for Latino Heritage Month. I also started Fiesta Latina in a conference room when it was just a mixer in 2003.

I even met Rakim!

Over the years, I have seen many things. I have seen students come and go. I have seen staff who have been hired, fired, retired, and just plain lose their minds. I have witnessed change from inside and out. There were times in which I wasn’t sure I was going to have a job anymore, but I endured. I have seen Syracuse University at it best and at its worst. I have seen blatant racism that has but tears in the eyes of my students and I have seen the election of the first Black President.

I have made sacrifices. I got married and divorced in those 10 years and I have endured. I have seen how successful I can be when I can out aside my issues and just be me. I have worked hard on my image and continue to peruse a path that is better for me. I have gained weight and lost weight. I have taken classes and started this blog that has allowed me to rediscover myself. I have created and presented workshops that benefit the student body. I have cultivated student leaders and have been a psychologist to others (some of them call me dad…I swear I am not that old…right?). I try to be the best supervisor I can be. I teach them to be the best they can be in a thankless environment.

I support my students! 

The most important thing is that I do love my students. I want to be the person that should have been there for me when I was in their shoes. They have taught me so much and it is because of them that I have truly learned how to be humble. I do my best to follow those who have graduated. I know that I have made it public knowledge that I want to return to my hometown of NYC because I feel it is time. Yet, something keeps me here. Whether it is the economy or just fate, I will continue to strive for something better for myself and the student who are in my lives.

In the end, I am just glad that I have maintained my sense of self and…my sense of humor.

The Day I Learned How to Cry

The world changed ten years ago. It was a shift in the American paradigm that we are all still getting adjusted to. I can barely remember life prior to September 11, 2001. I do know that nothing has ever been the same. Everything that was our way of life changed when those towers came down. I learned the value of life at the same time as I learned what the value of a symbol is. The World Trade Center was that symbol of New York City that has forever been altered and because of that, I learned how to cry.

In many ways, I have considered the New York City skyline ruined. I feel that the World Trade Center was a vital organ like an arm that was severed. NYC is an amputee of such cruel intentions. I cannot tell you how it felt to know people who worked in that building and the relief to learn they got out. The company that I worked for lost entire floors of clientele. In the end so many people died and I can say that I knew one of them.

I wont talk about being on Wall Street that day because I have told that story. I feel that I can recite that story because I have said it so many times. What I have not written about is how from that day on the ability to cry has become all too easy for me. I spent most of the day being strong and trying to survive while not trying to really take in the enormity of the day. Seeing the shock on everyone’s faces as I walked from the financial district to Grand Central station. Taking the 6 train back to the Bronx in the quietest subway car I have every been on. Then getting to my small basement apartment in the Soundview section of the Bronx where I can still see the huge pillar of smoke to remind me of what happened.

Finally getting home to watch the television to see what happened. Watching it over and over and over again because seeing images from small screens in Manhattan did not help me realize. Something was building up inside of me that finally broke when I spoke to family and friends who told they loved me and thought they would never see me again because of all the chaos. I cried. I cried like I have never cried before. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it.

All my life, I have fought the notion that a man should not cry. But how can a man hold in emotions so strong when thousands of people have perished so close by? I learned to cry that day because I recognized the value in every thing around me. Life is so precious. I could have lost so many that day. I know of others that have lost brothers, sisters, husbands, sons, daughters, wives, and friends. I sat staring at that television for hours because I did not want to forget. I wanted to take that lesson that I learned on that day that the I could no longer live my life the same way.

I came to Syracuse 10 years ago to escape the pain that was 9/11. I could not live with the ruined skyline in the background. I had to try to start a new life with a new career. While, I feel I have been successful, I think about how the world has changed. How I have changed. I have have become sensitive to everything around me. I cannot look at fire fighters and the police the same way. I am sensitive to loud noises. I just about cry when I think about losing a loved one. It just doesn’t take much anymore.

My students sometimes call me mean when they have no idea that how sensitive I truly am. I am mean because I see potential they are not achieving because they don’t understand that we have a chance to live in a better world. 10 years later and I know I want to go back home because even though that symbol is gone, the people who survived have become the symbols of hope needed to fill the void left by the World Trade Center and the people who once occupied that building.

Free-Write: Broke Edition.

I am doing a little experiement. It is 11:20pm as I write this and I am going to write for about 20 minutes because I need to just write about whatever. I need to just tap on the keyboard to see what I actually come up with. I think when I am done I will just edit for typos and find a picture that would most likely go with this post. This is something I normally do when I write is find a picture on Google and post it on the top of the post or if I am feeling really creative, I will post several pictures throughout the blog to give it a certain feel.

My stomach is not feeling so great right now because my dumb ass decided to drink just a little bit of soda with my meal. The person who took my take out order just had an extra drink and offered it too me. I barely took 3 sips before my tummy disagreed with it. So the moral of this tiny story is that I need to stick to water. That is the only thing I should be drinking anyway. Although, I am so very much into coffee. I only have one serving of coffee per day, but otherwise it is all about the water.

I know my eating habits haven’t been the greatest, but what I have noticed is that when I work so much, I tend to not cook as much as I should. I am also still not used to cooking for just me. I find that I enjoy cooking for me and someone else. Maybe it has to do with portions or maybe it has to do with the fact that I rather not be alone when I cook a meal. However, as the school year continues (because today was the first day of classes) I should be able to have enough time for me.

I am enjoying this free-write because I am just going with whatever comes to mind which is pretty funny because of the name of this blog. I have also thought about changing my description on the top left. I am no longer struggling with a divorce that is long gone. I am sure that I have moved on to the next level of my life and I am better person for it. I think my life gotten better and more enjoyable, I just need to get past the small things that hold me back everyday.

October marks my 10 years here in Syracuse. I was hoping to be somewhere else by now, but fate and the universe deems that I am here for a purpose that perhaps I have yet to fill. This also means that 9/11 is turning 10 years old too. If you have been keeping up with me over the years then you will know that 9/11 was a major reason I left New York City. While I may have taken this job at SU anyway, 9/11 sealed the deal for me. I still think about that day and I long to return to the city that never sleeps. I just need to be patient and wait for me opportunity.

I am also thinking about Latino Heritage Month that is coming up very quickly. I know that I did the 30 day blog challenge last year and I am wondering if I am going to do that again. I am not sure that is a good idea to do the same things over and over. However, I see the value of highlighting different things. I will have to really think about this before I commit to something. These types of challenges do take a lot out of me because I do not want to write crappy blogs.

Which brings me to my other struggles. I am tired of being broke. I need money to make money and trying to get this book of the ground will require money that I do not have at the moment. So there will be many things that I need to think of in order to get this done. In the meantime, I highlighted and wrote up a basis for another project I want to do in regards to @beingafrolatino. It turns out that I am always full of ideas but I just need to execute them.

This was an awesome free-write.

9/11 Reflections on Xenophobia

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Today is has been all about reflection. I debated about writing about this day. I have already done it several times and, of course, I will never forget. But, the one thing I do not want to do is talk about this day over and over every year.  I think we need to focus on lessons learned so that hopefully this will not happen again. However, on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, I feel that we are increasingly surrounded by ignorance.

There is so much animosity over this Mosque at ground zero. The people who are crying foul about this whole thing believe that it is disrespectful to what has happened and that quite possibly there is some ulterior motive in the long run. Of all of this just fans the flames of the man, Reverend Terry Jones, who originally wanted to burn the Qur’an because “Islam is a evil”.

This becomes a case where people do not know their history. So let’s set the record straight on a lot of things. I am, by definition, a Catholic and I have been recovering for some time now. But, I do know a few things about Christianity when it comes to violence and killing under the name of Jesus. I could use several examples on this. We can talk about how settlers of the United States felt that the indigenous people were too savage and either need Jesus or needed to die. Perhaps we can talk about slavery and how many of the slave owners used religion to oppress slaves in order to get rid of their heathen beliefs brought from Africa. However, I think the best example is the Jewish Holocaust under the hands of Nazi Germany. After all, Hitler was a devout Christian who was simply was killing Jews under the name of God (He used to also sanction the burning of books…hello Reverend).

Do the action of many people in the history of the world who used Jesus to kill others mean the Christianity and all its forms are evil? Clearly not so much. What people also do not seem to understand that Qur’an is like the next installment of the Torah and the Gospel. Muslims believe that everything in the first two testaments with the exception that Mohammed is their messiah. So if you think about it, we all believe in the same God.

Now, I will not lie and say that seeing a Arab on a plane does not scare me a little because it has. I was on a flight to California a few years ago and an guy whom I thought could have been Arab (he could have been Indian too) was sitting next to me. I remembered feeling shamed that I was hoping that he was not going to do anything that may result in my death. It sounds so messed up but we all see the images on TV and they do have an effect on the psyche.

It is those types of images that scared people after the attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. The xenophobia was at an all time high that many Japanese Americans were detained in internment camps. This type of fear and hatred is still possible in this country and the fact that Islamic Americans cannot even build a mosque near ground zero is a bad sign.

It is my hope that 9/11 does not stand for a day when we become more divided on issues of Religion because there were Islamic Americans who died in those buildings that day as well. Our movement to a global society gets hindered when people simply do not understand each other.

8 Years Ago

Today I am reminded of how far I have come since that day. I can remember a life before 9/11. The world seemed safe and we all seemed secure in our lives. But moment that changed my life was when I finally walked out of the Trump Tower and saw nothing but ash every where, covering the cars and all over the streets. I felt like I was in one of those post WW 3 movies.

8 years ago I wrote a blog entry. I never read it. The reason I wrote it was because I didn’t want to forget the details that were fresh in my mind. I can tell you that none of the details of that day have left my mind. I read it this morning and it was difficult for me because it is quite choppy. I wrote in a different mind state and I left out many things. My entry was pretty short so here it is:

I work on the 6th floor of 40 Wall St. so i could see the World Trade Center….but I could feel the explosions and I could certainly here them too. The radio was letting us all know what was happening. I had friends working in that area ( 4 World Trade to be exact). I tried my best to get in touch with them. When i couldn’t…I really tried not to lose my composure…I informed my girl of the plane crash and she in turn called her family as well did I….Then the second plane it the North Tower. We all start to panic…What are we going to do?

Well if u don’t know…we work across the street from the stock exchange..so I was not too keen on staying in the building. But we had a meeting and management felt it was best to stay in side the building because there was “Pandemonium” outside….Fine whatever….As soon as the meeting is over….Tower 2 comes down….I hear them say it on the radio as I hear and feel it…..then this THICK BLACK CLOUD covers the windows….We all freak out and head for the stairs….When we get to the lobby and it is like a nuclear winter outside, I will never forget it!

There is this restaurant that is connected to the lobby of the building that was giving out water and towels to cover our faces. I knew we could not go outside, there was too much soot flying around…So we wait and Tower 1 comes down and once again….day becomes night! They takes us to the basement and just sit there for about a half hour…then they evacuate the building. (By the way, when I say “we” I am talking about me and my woman) We head toward the South Street Seaport and saw the empty space that was the World Trade Center. When we at the seaport we saw the footage of the terrible events.

From then until now all I am thinking…”All those People…”

Of the many things that I left out, one was that a family friend died that day. Steve Mercardo, who I looked up to, was a firefighter whose company was one of the first to arrive at the scene. He never made it out the building. While I am not sure which building he was in, I am quite sure he saved countless amount of lives. Years later, I went on a cruise with his brother and parents and every time I looked at them, I could see him in their eyes.

Another thing that stands out to me is that Josie was with me when all this happened. Clearly we were just dating at the time, but I will never forget the fear in her eyes when we saw the black smoke cover the windows after Tower 2 went down. I remember telling myself that I am not dying today…not in this building and not like this. When we got to the lobby, they would not let anyone out so, as I mention, above, we were shuffled to the basement. Probably the only thing that was even remotely amusing was the fact that in the basement was the safe, yes…where Trump keeps the money. I often wondered if the building we were to fall would they be digging for us or the money.

I also did not chronicle what happened after we made it to the South Street Seaport. At that point we had no clue how we would get back to the Bronx. There were boats taking mass amounts of people to Ellis Island and New Jersey, but no one was going north. So that meant we had to walk all the way to Grand Central Station. If I am correct, that is over 50 blocks in order to catch the 6 train back home. Between seeing the F16s flying up and down Manhattan or the armed members of the military doing patrols around the United Nations, it made for a very emotional day.

While I could go on and on, the one thing I that just does it for me was at the end of the night, calling people to see if they were ok and alive. I got an IM from my cousin (now brother) Rick. He was in California at the time and he said, “man, I thought I would never see you again”. I just cried so much.

To this day, I still have trouble going down there. I still have issues with looking at the NYC skyline, it is just ruined to me.

Prepping for New York

I am ready to just get out of here. I was in NYC in March for the Big East Tournament and I had a very good time. Since then, it has been a bumpy ride. Stresses of work and personal life had lead me to this point.

As usual, I have so much to do in such little time. I am spending 9 days in the city. While that sounds like a lot, it really isn’t. With all the friends who want to hang out and all the family I need to see, those 9 days will probably fly by. So, I have some highlights of things I would like to do. I would like to get all things done, but we will see.

  • I would love to go to Citifield to catch a Met game. They are playing 6 times within the time I am there. I would like to go to one game. I am not sure how much it will cost me yet and I am afraid to look right now.
  • I wanted so see a movie in IMAX, but I just found out that Star Trek will not be playing when I get down there. I guess I could try Terminator: Salvation.
  • I have not been to the South Street Seaport since 9/11. I would like to see how it looks. I have always liked the view from there.
  • I was invited to lunch at Chinatown! Here is another place I have not been too since that long walk on 9/11. I have never eaten there either. So I think I will have fun doing that.
  • Every Year around Memorial day there is Stickball Tournament in the Bronx. This year they are recognizing my father for being one of the founders of the league. I cannot wait to see how it is they will recognize him.
  • I will actually go see my mother. She kind of convinced me to see her in our last conversation, so we will see how that goes.

I am pretty excited about coming down. I know that list is a short one and I plan on expanding it the more I think about it.

Phone Blog

I think I am addicted to writing. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to write a new post on my phone. So u know there love there. I am currently on my may to New York City and all I can think about is how in the world am I going to do this? I will say that as a follow up to my last post, I did not get enough sleep.

It is great to have a few days to rest and think. This will the first time I will me going to the Big East tournament and I am quite excited about it. I should be able to get there in enough time to see the Syracuse game tonight. I plan to see some friends, but I am very excited to see me nephew, Justin. I am sure he will keep me up one of these nights trying to beat me at some game on the Wii.

This is really my last breather before the semester really gets busy. April is my killer month with so many shows and concerts that a day off will be hard to come by. Not that I am complaining. I love my job and all it entails. The students keep me very young.

As I look out the window, I begin to see the NYC skyline. Every time I see this it just makes me sad. I truly believe that the skyline has been ruined forever. I still remember that day when I was on Wall Street on 9/11. It was because of that day that I made the final decisions to leave. Funny thing is, I come myself coming back more often lately to visit. Who knows, maybe I may move back.

9/11

{Originally Posted on Blogger}

9-11-2001…That day has haunted me. I was on Wall St when it happened. It has taken me this long to write anything. I was going to put in a story that day about a cow lady that I saw on the train when the first plane hit the south tower. I can tell you that I did not see anything.

I work on the 6 floor of 40 Wall St. so i could see the World Trade Center….but I could feel the explosions and I could certainly here them too. The radio was letting us all know what was happening. I had friends working in that area ( 4 World Trade to be exact). I tried my best to get in touch with them. When i couldn’t…I really tried not to lose my composure…I informed my girl of the plane crash and she in turn called her family as well did I….Then the second plane it the North Tower. We all start to panic…What are we going to do?

Well if you don’t know…we work across the street from the stock exchange..so I was not too keen on staying in the building. But we had a meeting and management felt it was best to stay in side the building because there was “Pandemonium” outside….Fine whatever….As soon as the meeting is over….Tower 2 comes down….I hear them say it on the radio as I hear and feel it…..then this THICK BLACK CLOUD covers the windows….We all freak out and head for the stairs….When we get to the lobby and it is like a nuclear winter outside, I will never forget it!

There is this restaurant that is connected to the lobby of the building that was giving out water and towels to cover our faces. I knew we could not go outside, there was too much soot flying around…So we wait and Tower 1 comes down and once again….day becomes night! They takes us to the basement and just sit there for about a half hour…then they evacuate the building. (By the way, when I say “we” I am talking about me and my woman) We head toward the South Street Seaport and saw the empty space that was the World Trade Center. When we at the seaport we saw the footage of the terrible events.

From then until now all I am thinking…”All those People…”