Stay Happy

Spinning-Top-Inception

Sometimes family can give us advice that we just have to reflect on as well as follow. I had family over on Sunday for a housewarming brunch. It consisted of a lot of food, presents, and salsa music. Not to mention that the woman and I spent much of the past two weeks painting, so it was definitely a day we were looking forward to. It is also a reminder of how a big family can make any apartment seem small.

So after everything was said and done, one of my aunts told me something that I feel I need to reflect on. Most people, when they are saying their parting words to another person, would say something like stay safe or have fun. What my aunt chose to say was “Stay Happy.” I was sort of taken back by this because this is something that has never been said to me. I think she took the hint that I was a little perplexed by this and clarified by telling me that I truly look happy and I need to make sure that I stay that way. 

I have to admit that this is not an appalling thing to be told, but I just found it to be oddly enlightening. We live in a world where people tend to blame others for their problems or give credit to God because he/she is the reason why all things are possible. There’s rarely  a time when people think about the fact they it takes work and effort to maintain happiness. I think this is the main reason why many of us get into trouble because we are trying to find happiness as if it is a place where we can go to.

Happiness is a state of being. That is why no one person can make us happy if we do not know how to be in that state alone. This is where the list of tragic stories comes into play of people marrying the wrong people or people being stuck in dead-end jobs. There is this notion that we will eventually be happy if we follow this American dream of finding that right person, having that great job, getting a house, having 2.5 kids, and then credits roll. That rah rah shit is for the movies.

I believe that finding true happiness is a rebellious act. Think about that for a moment. How many people hate other people for being happy? This rebellious state of being often acts like a mirror to others. You can see your own unhappiness reflected back to you in someone’s bliss. Can we truly be happy for another person? Of course, but that would have to be based either love for that person or the fact there you have reached that state of being before.

I cannot describe what being happy is like but I can say that I feel free to do the things that I have a passion for and giving less of my attention to things that ultimately do not matter in the grand scheme. I believe that there is power in letting things go. There is no way that anyone of us can be truly happy if we are holding grudges or animosity toward anyone. It is unhealthy to hold that pent up negative energy toward anyone or anything. I choose to have a short memory and it has worked out for me. (Note: I can already see one of my friend’s saying he is happy all the while still holding grudges. Which does work for him but my ultimate point is the the closer to zero of amount of fucks you give will increase the likely hood that you can reach a happy state)

I also believe this state of being gives us an aura that people notice. The term “you are glowing” does mean something. With that aura comes the confidence to do the things we are meant to be doing. I thought about the fact that I simply could not really write the way I wanted to when I was in Syracuse. There were too many things that were distracting me which lead me to do just the bare minimum of what I am passionate about.

Stay Happy is an acknowledgement that I’m doing things right, but it is also a warning. People who are not used to being happy have a way of sabotaging themselves.  I can tell you that I have to be careful not to fall into any traps or get too comfortable with my life. There is always work to do to make things better. While it is true that we cannot make every one happy, we can at least make ourselves happy.

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Gratitude

I suppose it is a bit cliche to list the things to be thankful for but I just find myself reflecting on what seems to be a very good year for me. This year was the tipping point for me and I knew that coming into it. I felt it was a make or break year for both my career and my personal life. I am so very grateful for those people in my life that helped me achieve the goals that I set.

Much thanks goes the my buddy for buying the house. I think that everything after that was just a domino effect. I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to be able to pull it off but I did. I am certainly glad that I took the risks that I did, but it was the encouragement and the willingness to understand how hard things were that made selling the house to a good friend worth it all.

I am thankful for Syracuse University. Even though my employment has ended there, I can still feel the people that I used to work with and their words to me. If it wasn’t for SU I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I am good at my job because I was good there first and I was given the room to fail while still learning.

I am also so very thankful to Barnard College for the recent employment opportunity. They clearly saw things in me that other institutions decided to pass on. In the few short months there, I have learned so much about how small schools work. I am thankful for the lack of red tape that I have grown so accustomed to. More importantly, I’m glad that I am able to be back in New York because of them.

Being back home has made me realize how much I have missed family. I know that being home means I get to see them more often depending on work schedule. Now that the holidays are here, there will probably be a plethora of visits being made and a number of times that my presence is being requested. I am very grateful for that because not many people can have a big family.

I am also grateful for my dad who was like my own personal council. He may not have agreed with all the decisions that I have made this year but we can both agree that the outcome has been a long time coming. I am thankful for his presence in my life.

Right now, my life would not be anywhere near as complete if it wasn’t for my girlfriend. I am thankful that despite everything that we have been through, fate chose this particular time for us to be together. I am very doubtful that I would have been able to deal with the move and the lack of any finances if it wasn’t for her. Everyday I am thankful for her in my life.

Finally, I want to thank those of you faithfully read this blog. I am glad I am able share my experiences with you. I hope, in some way, you have been able to come with me on this journey of mine. I wish all you all a great Thanksgiving.

I left my Glasses in El Segundo (Fire Island)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Risks: The Uncomforted Zone

I have been living a stagnant life. Even before the new year, I was saying this to myself. Some where within the last 3 years I have just stopped and became complacent with my life. I started doing things because they are what you are supposed to do as an adult. Maybe, it started before this blog. Maybe even before I got married. The point is, I cannot recall a real time in which I took a real risk other than moving to Syracuse more than 10 years ago.

I have been in my comfort zone for such a long time that I let fear get in the way of leaving that zone. Is this what happens when you get older? We just go to work everyday and do the same things day in and day out without any thought of what else is there? I cannot deal with this possibility and, quite frankly, I have no one to blame but myself. This blog has been a chronicle of things that I need to think about while I continue this “path.” But where the hell is this journey taking me?

The problem is that I have been talking about how most people are sheep and I am not one of them, but how much of this is really true? I have been leading a great portion of my life in fear thinking that I will not be successful with what I do, yet when it comes to doing those things that are necessary, I find an excuse. I am not willing to think about the risk or not willing to make a sacrifice because I have to keep in mind that I am lucky to still have things like a job, a house, and a car. There is this mentality that it is too risky to rock the boat, but when you see those people out there who are ultra successful, it is because they took risks. Isn’t that what life is about, taking risks and stepping out of the comfort zone?

Monday, I did something that I have never done before. I went ice skating. My girlfriend had been asking me to go with her for a few weeks and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, I just never been. That is correct, I have never ice skated, roller skated, nor roller bladed at all. This was, in many ways, a big deal for me. Plus, she wanted to go to Central Park and do this which means I will most likely be busting my ass in front of lots of people. Which brings me to another point, I have never been to Central Park. How can a native New Yorker, such as myself, never been to this place? I convinced myself that I have never needed to go (one who lives in the matrix does such things).

So at this point when we are walking up to the ice rink and I am already saying to myself that I have been leading a stagnant life filled with risk-less paths so this will be a great way to start the new year. We get our skates and all I am thinking about is how do people walk on these things? Once I put mine on, I could barely stand up straight and walking was next to impossible. I had to sit down before I looked like a fool. I tied the shoes tighter and I look up to see all these little kids walking around in their ice skates with no issues. I knew then that I could do this. The girlfriend did mention that once on the ice, walking on the floor would become much easier (and it was).

Somehow I made it to the ice. I am proud to say that I did not fall once. I hugged the wall much on my first go round. With every significant lap I seemed to improve and I only used the wall when I needed to. It made me reflect on how nervous I was in the beginning and how I gradually improved. Everything in life starts with baby steps. Was I so afraid to fall in front of people? Normally I do not care what people think or am I just saying that? Perhaps I do care about the image that I portray. However, doing something new like this was very exciting and proved my ultimate point, I have been stagnant.

I begin to realize why sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins. Wasting away and not taking chances is not what life is supposed to be about. Maybe I have been taking gradual risks everyday that I not be aware. Some may say writing and putting myself out there is a risk but I have become so comfortable with that that there is very little risk left. So now what? I am asking all these questions with very little answers, so I guess it is time to start taking the risk and find those answers I need.

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. 

Poem: Starlight

Space
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
space
and time
which is just an obstacle
but the path through it
that is shown
through her starlight

Why Don’t You Have a Girlfriend?

I wasnt sure that I wanted to write about this but it is something that has just been on my mind. The other day, a student asked me, “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” I did laugh when I heard this question. I havent really thought about it all that much. I know that I am single, but I never thought about posing that question to myself.

The funny thing is that I never answered the question. She just looked at me as I was just laughing. I told her that I did not have an answer and she said…”because you think women are crazy.” More hilarity in my opinion because that is something that I had said before. In most cases, the women I tell this to, all agree with me. However, this question did make me think about my solidarity.

I do not toot my own horn because I have made it very clear on this blog that I am not perfect. I have made mistakes that I am still paying for (perhaps this plays into why I do not have a woman). It was pointed out to me that I am a funny guy who is caring and can be sweet, so I guess there is a lack of understanding as to how I remain single. Of course, I can be an asshole too, but so can any guy I suppose. I just know that I am sarcastic when I have to be and yet things I point out can make anyone laugh…plus, I am not bad looking either! 🙂

Again, thinking about how humorous this conversation was, not because of the question itself – which was a small snippet of a larger conversation, I decided just to tweet this question. Well, it turns out that there are other people wondering the same thing. “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” I can almost hear it coming out of a random person as if it was another way of saying, “What is wrong with you?” haha

Well, only a few people know me well enough to figure out the answer to this question. I can say that right now, I am not sure I am where I want to be in my life. I get some of the best advice in life from my father, who tells me to just sit and observe. So that is what I am doing, watching women and how they react to me and to certain situations. I should not have to feel that I am in a rush to find someone but, I will say that after the havoc I have caused in my own life, I do not need more drama in my existing life.

I love women and I respect them. But, if do go out there and start looking, it has to be on my own terms and I gotta tell you, I have plenty of terms. To be quite honest, I have to really know what I want. Do not get me wrong, I am not looking for wife number 2 either, but I am gun shy and very cautious about things. I wont say it is due to lack of trust, just that uneasiness of not knowing.

However, there are negative things that also pop into my mind when it come to my future. I find myself being very happy for those who find love, especially those who I hold in high regard. I think everyone needs a shot at it. I just cringe when I see those, all too happy, pictures on Facebook with all smiles because it makes me wonder if I will ever get there. Sometimes I am not so sure. Life has a way of throwing curve balls that look really good, but then just drop out of sight without warning.

I think I have also graduated from the point of getting a jumpoff or having a random fling. While I will admit that this has occurred in the past, it is not who I am. My father comments on the amazing amount of restrain and patience that I have, but I think much of it is that I know that meaningless flings are a way of covering up a fear that resides in all single men. The fear of being alone is something that is very real amongst men that only gets worse as we get older. Some of us have it worse than others. Some of us have it bad enough that it will force us to settle.

Bottom line is that I choose to not have a girlfriend. Quite honestly, getting one is not as easy as people make it seem anyway, but that choice is all mine. I wont say that I do not have people in my life that I am not willing to date because I do, but right now fate seems to be against me.