Genre? What Genre?

20140512-142202.jpgAs I enter the last stages of the edits times infinity, I look at what needs to do be done next and something seems to be escaping me. I keep hearing the same things come up. The questions of “who is my audience” and “what is your genre?” My first reaction to this is that my audience are readers and my genre is fiction. I’ve simplified it in my mind because I would like to think that any adult can pick this up and read it.

But then I had to take time to critically analyze the self publishing and traditional publishing industries and came to the conclusion that there are a lot more questions that I need to ask and answer. Right now, the question is when the fuck and I going to be done with this? But I have to force myself to be patient otherwise any sense of rush will show on the pages. My second question is how do I categorize this book? Those who have read the unedited version have told me that women would be the intended audience. I would also like to think a certain portion of men would read it too…divorced men.

The premise of the novel is not only centered around men and the bad decisions they make but how they deal with it. Divorce, sex, friendships, racism, and family are all there in the novel. I would just assume that that divorced men would have a bit more of an interest in this because of the content. However, I know that the way the book is written, my audience will probably veer toward women. There is a certain “novela” feel that the book has that should be attractive to those who read such things.

However, there are plenty of references to Hip Hop and other music genres that not only define me but define my generation. While, I don’t bombard the reader with musical references too much, they are there. There is much to be said about how music is a part of someone’s life. There is no way I can write a first person narrative and not include some elements of that. Those elements were not there as much during the first two drafts but  considering how draft three has just been completed, the musical elements have been added to provide yet another layer to the reader’s experience.

That is why it is so hard for me to come up with a genre. There are so many layers. Is there a sub genre of divorce? I suppose there is if I can type it into Goodreads and it gives me a list. The problem is that I don’t want to stick to those types of stories in the future. I suppose the novel could be a romantic story in some real way. However, I do slap people in the face with the realities of how men can be. Can there be a reality genre in fiction? In any case, I think I should look toward my beta readers to determine what a genre should look like.

But let me also take this a step further, this whole genre thing has been another way research “the competition.” I say that in quotes because it has been suggested that I see what is out there in terms of similar titles and book covers. I consider a book cover to be very important. Some people will at least read the opening chapter just because of the cover.

The one thing that is working in my favor is the title has not been used and fiction books about divorce from the man’s side are not common. Add the fact that the protagonist is Latino makes it just about rare. So hopefully I can carve a little nitch for myself in this area.

I’m so ready for this book to come out.

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Is Monogamy Dead?

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It has been a long time since I have written anything about relationships. Most of my entries have been when I was single and newly divorced. So when my woman and I were talking about how monogamy seems to be something in the past, I knew that was my opportunity to really write about something about men and woman as I once used to.

I have been in a book club for about 2 years now, maybe a little longer, and we have read many things. Last month the choice was This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. I’m not quite done with it yet (I know…it was LAST month’s book), but there are some major themes here about relationships. Clearly the title gives a hint about what this book will be about and I will try not to talk too much about the contents of the book so that you can read it for yourself.

One question that may pop into your mind when reading this book may be, “Is Monogamy dead?” The book is a series of short stories that are about the different ways a man can fuck up his relationships. One can go deeper and say these are different ways a Dominican man has fucked up this relationships. Which ever case it may be, it leads to serious thoughts about the thought process of a man and how he perceives the women he loves and the women he cheats with.

As I read the book, I do not view myself in any of these scenarios. Another words, I personally do not believe that this is a representation of every man. I do, however, think that it describes many guys and how they think about love and life. What we see here is that the man in the stories often loves the woman he is in a relationship with but still chooses to go and cheat anyway (knowing that it is wrong). Some reasons for this are stated and others are ambiguous to suggest that some times men do not even understand the things they do.

Thinking about real life outside the context of this book, we are subjected to constant stories about divorce. Normally, it is on the Hollywood scene where marriages seem to last less than 2 years, but realistically, divorce has always been on the rise. What is the reason for this? Is it that monogamy is slowly become a thing of the past? Clearly I cannot answer these questions because I truly do not know. However, I do feel that the world is a lot less smaller than it once was. I also think that women are more empowered to make critical decisions about their life and their mates.

This is not say that Feminism has killed marriage. Nor is it to say that it is always the man that is fucking up the relationship (although we do not do ourselves any favors). I think we have more choices than people did 100 years ago. Strictly speaking, I am referring to life within the United States and I can tell you that this country is all about about choices. Women are career oriented with goals that include being as successful as possible. Their grandmothers never had that ability. Many times we look at the elderly who have been married for like 50-70 years and we are all wonder how in the world did they do that. Many people say it is true love. I think it might be true tolerance.

The older generations didn’t believe in divorce as much. I am quite sure there were a number of indiscretions that men have had in which his wife just dealt with it. That is not the case any more. Women can choose not to deal with it and find another mate. The reality is that monogamy is billed in the country as something we need to attain and retain because family values are part of the American Dream. Think about that for a minute. Most people are looking to get married, get a house (or condo), have 1.5 kids, and a pet. Nothing at all prepares us for divorce.

With that being said, my own divorce was something that I take much responsibility for. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in monogamy, it was that I was too immature to really embrace it. This is what really lies within the center of man. There was never a point where I told myself that I would have to deal with being with the same women all my life. I never freaked out about that. However, for some reason, I always knew that I would eventually get a divorce. I was just lying to myself about it. I always had a feeling there would be a wife number 2. Perhaps that was my experience with the rampant divorce in my family, or maybe it was something deeper.

Does this mean that monogamy is dead. I don’t think so. I can go on Facebook right now and point out at least 15 -20 couples who seem genuinely happy. Those people who have been either married longer than I was or perhaps seem more together than I ever was. I think that monogamy is still there, we just tend to focus on the divorces and the break ups. Yes, men are assholes but that has to do with our own issues that women can’t really fix until men are ready to be fixed.

Things You Own, End Up Owning You…

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. – Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Tyler Duren had it right. We are people trained to consume with no purpose. We do things so we can be like the Joneses or more importantly, we do things so we can be better than Joneses. Let me come back to my argument that we the people are indeed sheep. We follow trends for no reason, we listen to horrible songs for no reason, we make people famous for no reason. Why? Because we inherently are unhappy with ourselves and our stagnant lives.

I believe the vast majority of people would rather live someone else’s life which is why we tend watch crappy reality shows about gold diggers, the faux famous, and the non talented. We the people would rather root and text in a vote on someone else’s success without a clue on how to achieve our own. We are a society build on the backs of other people.

The majority holds beliefs that America was discovered by a mass murder. These are the same folks who will tell you that there is no Climate Change. These are the same people that hold the belief that we are the only life in the universe so that you do not think that there other possibilities out there. I would even take an educated guess that these are the people who want to control us but passing the SOPA and PIPA bills so that we just consume goods and not share them.

I get tired of being obligated to pay bills for things I purchased that I once thought I could not live without. This society tells us that in order to make money you need money, which basically tells people who do not have any to suck it up and play the lottery (thus spending money). I get tired of paying loans for a degree that is not enough which means I have to go back to school and be in more debt in order to get a job I may end up hating so I can pay bills I do not want.

We are all fooled to believe that we should lead simple lives. We should get married and buy a house with a white picket fence then have children and maybe a dog. What society neatly puts on the fine print of what is now the American Dream is that you will spend most of your life paying for a house and all the things that come with it. Every piece of furniture that “speaks to you”, the appliances that you need to make life easy, cable tv which has effectively replaced real tv that decades ago no one paid for, and the utilities that you need in order to just be alive like water. Let’s not even talk about how you will be being paying for your spoiled kid (assuming you have just one) for about 18 − 20 years of your life in hopes they just put you in a home before you die. Then there is that person you married, well let’s just say that the divorce is just as expensive as the wedding.

The things you own, end up owning you. There is no way to escape it. We get attached to material things. We get attached to the idea of the things that we think we need until the realization hits that our lives would have been better if we did not own half the shit we did.

There is no manual for life and if there was, you would have to finance it.

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. 

A New Chapter

If I had to tell a tale of my 30’s , it would be a tale of struggle, new experiences, opportunities gained, opportunities lost, and a road to a new chapter. My dear friends, my divorce is now final. My ex wife made the phone call to me this evening as I was dozing off. She told me that she received the letter today in the mail. I was in that sleepy shock.

There was a moment in which we were both silent over the phone. I think that was the moment in which we reflected on the last 8 years of marriage and 10 years of knowing each other. I am always amazed about how overwhelming finality can be. We all seem to underestimate how it feels to actually end anything. Is it no wonder that when athletes end their career it often times, ends in tears. While there were no tears for this I think there was mutual feeling that we finally ended something in our own terms and not in the way most people wanted.

Thus it is a start of a new chapter for me. I was 26 the last time I was truly single. I feel that with all this experience I have, I can write this new chapter of my life with very few issues. Which, in terms of writing, comes at a very good time considering that I do have to write an autobiography in about 1500 words for Sarah Lawrence College. I am more confident in the things that I want to do. I feel like I take care of myself better. The best part is that I don’t feel like I need a girlfriend. The possibility of me being alone is no longer a fear for me.

I feel that I have recognized all the things that I have done wrong and have done everything in my power to correct… me. What is funny to me is that the finalizing of this divorce comes at a time in which I normally reflect on the past year. Instead, I reflect on the past decade as I venture into the next one.

People have taken the time to congratulate me on this and while I am on my fifth glass of wine I can say, I am not sure that this is inappropriate.  I do not think that people are celebrating a failure of a marriage but a creation a new journey for me. It is like have a celebration for a phoenix, a life cycle that is turbulent and ends in flames but then is reborn from the ashes…

Regret vs. Remorse



Don’t you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone! – Saito (Inception)

In my last post, I mentioned that I do not have any regret in my life. That is because everything that has happened has happened for a reason. I do not live in the past in order to find solace or answers because my life is what it is. I know that my experience have shaped me into who I am right now. The question that I got yesterday was…do I feel remorseful for all that has gone wrong? Well, yes I do. But, there is a difference between remorse and regret.

If I regretted anything then that would make it very hard to live for the moment and plan goals for the future the way I do. Remorse is more of feeling bad due to a sense of loss. Trust me, I lost a lot. I have lost a marriage and a certain way of life. That itself was so hard to deal with for such a long time but, all things get better with time. It is my opinion that regretting the end of my marriage would mean regretting getting being married.

I am a culmination of my experiences. A total of my decisions made and not made. I cannot think about “what ifs” because there is no point. Of course, there is the fantasizing of what could have been, but many times that may hinder life in the moment. Perhaps it is better to just believe there are millions of parallel earths where anything that could have happened does happen. Which means that the reality that we live in right now is the one we need to deal with.

I do not want to live a life of regret. That would just not be the way to go. We all have peaks and valleys in our experiences. A life without issues would frankly be boring. There is nothing to learn if we did not have stress to overcome. It is ok to remorseful for a loss of a love, a loss of a job, or a loss of a dog (I still think about Rusty and I still, to this day, cry just a little bit…). But regret? Where does that get me?

I love the fact that I have had the experience I have had. I have been in love so many times and have had my heart broken many times. I have lived through the horror of 9/11 first hand. I have survived rolling my car and totaling it. I have seen the beauty of a glorious sunset in places that are not in this country. I have pulled people from a car wreck. I have let people cry in my arms and I have cried in others. How can I regret living a life that allows me to express my emotion through writing?

I am not saying I do not have a heavy heart. I love hard. I just could never love right. I am trying to use every last bit of experience to do things the right way. So, I can love my family the right way, so I can love Rocky the right way, so I can love the next woman the right way, and maybe…just maybe..if I get lucky enough, I can love a child the right way.

See, I cannot regret my past. Everything and everyone has played a critical role in my life to get me where I am today. So that I can love myself and have the courage to go out and get what I want from life. So I do feel remorse for what was, but I cannot let that feeling own me because then that would lead to regret for what could have been.

I am not saying that I need to forget the past but I refuse to let it own me.

“I miss you more than I can bear, but we had our time together. I have to let you go.” – Cobb (Inception)

My Free Agency

NBA Free Agency is upon us and everything named Lebron seems to be dominated all kinds of news. But, there is one free agent in waiting that I am concerned with and that is me. Sure I am not in the NBA and I will not be signed to a million dollar contract but hey…This is me we are talking about.

I have been very leery of women because, let’s be honest, most of the one’s I have encountered are either crazy or close to it. I use the word crazy is the best possible way. It seems that I have an affinity toward them. Whatever the case, I think that I have not taken anything seriously because of my current status and I do not expect to be taken seriously either.

I fully anticipate my single status to be official by summer’s end. I joked to some people that I will be taking resumes with pictures when that comes. But in reality, I think I am going to tread lightly in the dating game. I am not even sure how much I really want to date right now based on the fact that I simply do not have my stuff together. I guess I could date with no strings just for the idea of having fun, but one thing I am not doing is dating in Syracuse.

It is all about perspective and mind set. Just how I started packing up some of my stuff this weekend because I need to get into that state of mind that my stay in Syracuse is now temporary. I need to let the fates know that I am pretty serious about getting up out of here. While the job market is not the greatest, I still need to make those moves. I just thank God that I found at least one roommate that will move in next month.

I am really not sure what is supposed to happen once all the paperwork is done. I would only assume that life will be just as normal as it ever was except that I will no longer have that excuse of not doing anything because I am still married. A friend pointed out to me that I will be able to do anything I want and not have to worry about anyone else. That might be the scary part. For such a long time I have thought about other people and not myself.

I truly believe that loneliness is related to freedom. They are not the same thing of course but I think there is a delicate balance. The fact that I am free to do what I want without having to consult anyone does bring me back to my college days but that freedom has a price. However, being that I am determined to get what I want out of life, being alone is not all that bad.

So being a free agent is exactly that…free. Marriage is not a institution of captivity, but if people make the wrong choices then it can be. I am just glad to be able to put things behind me so I can be better in the present and future.

An Issue of Contentment.

As I go through this process of sorting out the messes in my life, I want people to understand a few things about me. I think that in someway I may come across as depressed or saddened or that I feel helpless. That is  not the case. I am just frustrated with obstacles in front of me. I consider my life to be this complex puzzle in which I cannot find the boarders to put the pieces all together.

I know I do not have a bad life. I have a job and a roof over my head. That is more than a lot of people can say these days. So my issues pale in comparison to someone else who may be dealing with a disease or have child that is suffering in any kind of way. I get that I have many things to be thankful for.

On that same token, I know that my actions have gotten me where I am. For better or worse, I am right where I am because of decisions that I have made. Everything happens for a reason and when I am meant to leave, then I will leave. I cannot force it as much as I want to. However, I can do everything in my power to give me a chance to do better things.

The issue for me is contentment. I was speaking to a friend and she made a remark about how her goal in life at this moment is to be content with herself and then suggested that it should be that way with me. This is an amazing point. I need to get to the point where I can be at the very least…content with my life and where it is. This is easier said that done when you set goals for yourself and those goals are not being met. However, I do know that many successful people have failed an enormous amount of times before they achieved greatness.

Failure is a part of life and I am not afraid of it…I am just frustrated about it because in the end, I hate to lose. I have decided that I am going to save every rejection letter I get from employers as fodder for my motivation. I am better than what I put on paper and I am certainly as good as anyone out in the field and I intent on proving that. It will be my journey to simply get better.

I am leaning toward finding roommates again. The simple truth is the the fiscal year for the schools up here starts in July. So do most of the leases. I can catch the rush of people looking for a room to live in between July and August. I realize that I cannot give up. My problems are something I can deal with I just need to not take them on all at once.

I am very fortunate that I am where I am. I just need to prove to myself that I can get  where I need to go.

Struggles

It is June and I no idea what I am doing. I thought by now, I would have everything figured out. My goal is to be in NYC by the end of the year and I am no where near that goal. I have sitting here trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.

I have applied for a numerous amount of jobs at several schools. If I am lucky I will get a letter back, otherwise I will hear absolutely nothing. While I know the job market is bad, I figured I would be in the running for a lot more positions. Clearly, this is not happening. So, I need to go back to the drawing board here. Maybe, my resume does not stand out. Maybe I need to change the wording. I don’t want to apply for just anything because I can get bored easily if I am not challenged by the level of work.

There is also the fact that when looking for a job, it is not what you know but who you know. I will tell you that I am lacking in this department. I do not know many people in my field who reside in New York City. So that is a big problem because I will have to rely on other people’s contacts and knowledge and clearly that is not working either. I am really pimping myself out on Linkedin so who knows how far that will get me.

Which has led me to my ultimate decision which leads me to go back to school full time. I think the fact that I lack that Master Degree is what is hurting me. I can have a shit load of experience in my field, but clearly it means little with out this paper. So, I am making plans to shoot for January admissions in NYC. I am planning to meet with some people to get my shit together in order to do this. Of course, I could take classes up here, but I am really done with  Syracuse and I need a scenery change.

Then there is this house. I was so very positive that I could keep this, but now that is not going to happen. Even now, I flip back and forth between selling and finding a roommate. Since, I need the money now, I tend to go with the roommate option but, I have no one. Why is that? Well my friend decided that he can now live with his wife again and now I am back being alone. So now I am stuck with this house alone.

So, I will put the house on the market. The problem is…I have no idea what I am doing. I do not want to use a Realtor because I do not have the money for that. However, I may not have a choice because it costs money to actually put it on the market from what I see. I realize that my life will be a whole lot better if I just got rid of it. There are tons of things that need to be fixed and things that have been fixed. This will be my struggle for the summer.

Then there is women. I say very little about this subject as it pertains to me because what is there to say? All I can say is that I observe. I watch what women do and I either smh (shake my head) or I just straight up laugh.  I feel like everyday I refine my list of things that I want or expect in a woman. I know men are assholes and I will preach that all day but, most women make no sense to me. This does effect me because despite all the goodness around me, I am really starting to feel that I will be alone for very long time.

Men Have Insecurities Too…

“People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams.” – Norman Cousins

You know, I think sometimes we as men like to perpetuate the concept of masculinity as something that does not include weakness. We have this notion that we must be strong at all costs. We are brought up to really adhere to the social construction of gender roles that states a man must be all mighty and never falter. Women are also indoctrinated to believe this as well, that they must be attracted to a man that is aggressive and somewhat bullish.

However, as a man it is hard to admit insecurities. Contrary to popular belief, not all men are alike. While, we tend to make too many of the same mistakes, we are all very different. One thing that all men share are insecurities that we choose not do deal with. This is sorta like the guy we all know that refuses to go to the doctor for whatever reason because he feels that whatever issues will just “go away”. Men deal with their insecurities in the same way.

Of course, not all of use share the same issues. My insecurities will differ from the next man. However, I think I can pretty much pin point what my issues are and try to address them in my own way. Not all men are willing to do this. I am not going to sit here and say that I am better person because clearly I am not. However, after the year I have had, I think that my road to self redemption is paved with insecurities.

Oh, do not think that I am not still on my journey because I am. This personal journey is not something that will take a month or a year. This is something that will take as long as it has to, which could be a lifetime.

Today has a specific significance because this marks the true beginning of my road to the single life. The papers have all been signed and submitted today and we are officially separated. My feeling on this is that, yes it is a new beginning but, I do find myself looking back at what was. I have made so many mistakes and I have done so many things that I continue to pay for in small ways.

I am not saying this because I feel sad. This is not a post about being depressed or feeling pity on myself. This just a friendly reminder that I need to not make those same mistakes again. This is where the heart of my own insecurities lay. I am so confident in my other areas of life. I think I am great at my job. I would like to think I am getting better at poetry. I love writing on this blog as well. It is my personal life that I feel needs some improvement, although I think it gets better everyday.

What I will not say is that I am not confident in my personal life. I gain confidence about my future everyday but, it is a cautious confidence. Kind of like when we first dip our toes into the ocean at a beach, we are not really sure how cold the water will be. Of course, once our feet are wet, we tend to just dive in. I want to be able to sail in all of my en devours. I would be foolish not to admit that I am a little intimidated to face life alone.

Yet, I am also excited as well. This is the first time in my life that I have been alone without being lonely. I will take today to look back at what was my life and my marriage. Imagine a man who is on a journey and looks back for a moment at all he has witnessed. I will take a moment to mourn something that was once special to me, then I will move on to my next destination.