Visibility & the Black Superhero at #NYCC

After all the lights have been powered down, the boxes packed and shipped, the curtains folded, the pipe and drapes put away, and the carpets have been rolled up, I thought it was a good time for me to reflect on my day at The New York City Comic Con.

In the beginning, I debated about going. I was only able to get a ticket for one day and after the debacle with the ticket fiasco, I was convinced that no one at the NYCC really cared about us and our need to share our love of comic books and nerdom in general. Perhaps it’s the New Yorker in me that sees that the real motivation behind everything is the all mighty dollar. The commercialization of childhoods gets played out on a grand scale at these events.

I almost didn’t go.

But something funny happened along the way to the NY Comic Con. I began to feel the pull of representation. Last year, I made it my business to visit comic book creators and artists of color because I know how hard it is to create something that you want people to see or read. I know how hard the hustle is to push a book that no one knows about onto the masses. So I met people from Vexed Comics and I met the creator of A Reason To Smile and I realized that this comic con may not be just solely about the big companies trying to get rich off of our imaginations. All this to say, I knew that I should give this year’s NYCC a shot.

That is when I heard about Afrofuturefest.

Let’s pause here for some context. There has been a growing number of Facebook groups, hashtags, podcasts, and twitter accounts that have been exploring the growing visibility of “blerds.” You can call it either black nerds or nerds of color but one thing that’s for sure, this is a movement. The thing about this movement is that its goes far beyond Miles Morales, Black Panther, and Cyborg. This movement is about characters we’ve never hear of like The Mantamaji, Luca, or T.A.S.K. (to name a few) because these are the stories created for us by us. Podcasts like Black Comics Chat and Facebook groups like CNOC (Comic Nerds of Color) always seem to remind me that the “Big 2” are simply pandering to us.

So if you follow twitter accounts like @BlackGirlNerds and @theblerdgurl you would know that this movement isn’t a new thing. However, there’s a feeling that all of this is just starting to explode. Just knowing that these ladies who (dedicate their time to promote everything black superhero and beyond) would be at NYCC made me realize that I had to show support. I knew that I had to visit the Women in Comics table, I knew I had to visit every table @theblerdgurl posted on Tumblr, and I knew I had to meet Jamie Broadnax (Black Girl Nerds).

Which brings me to Afrofuturefest.

I’ve already went on record saying that the best part of NYCC this past weekend was the Afrofuturefest booth. It was a very large set up of tables solely comprised of creators of color with a huge banner and feeling of welcomed arrival. To explain what this is all about is simply pulling their description from the website:

A group of African-American Artists, Gamers, Filmmakers, Animators and Writers will be coming together on the MAIN FLOOR of the Jacob Javitz Center to showcase their work, meet fans, conduct interviews and celebrate all of those who love fantasy, sci-fi, horror, superheroes and pop culture.

As a writer I felt at home chatting it up. I met people. I bought books. I got signatures. I became a fan of the con again and all because I saw myself. I finally saw what it’s like to actually be visible in a industry that panders to us.

The beautiful thing about this is that this is just the beginning.

By the way, I should get a press pass huh?

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One Year Later

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It’s amazing a difference a year can make. A year ago today, I started working for Barnard College. This was a life event for me that has had an effect on everything I currently do. It’s really too early to start a year in review post but I’ve never lost an opportunity to be reflective about the journey.

Everyone knew that I wanted to come back to New York. There was never a secret in that. I made it well known to my readers as well as the people I worked with. We all knew that it was time for me to move on. It was also widely known, and still is, that I have a love for Syracuse that will not go away anytime soon but I just needed to love myself more. So the break up was painless and my main goal was finally achieved.

Being in the bright lights of this big city has taken a little getting used to again. I’m a native of the Bronx so living in Manhattan was a change because I didn’t know the streets and neighborhoods as well. So I ended paying for that (literally) until I figured out how I was going to park my car without getting anymore tickets. Yet, the best thing about returning home is that I can see the city from a different lens. I think that I can now appreciate the NYC life and the views because I’m more mature and centered in my thinking.

While I am excited to go to Comic Con in a few weeks, I’ve taken the time to enjoy places like MoMa. I find myself taking pictures of just about everything. I don’t post all the pictures on Instagram like I should because I would inundate everyone’s feed with my glorious pictures, lol. My picture taking has given me a chance to stop what I’m doing and really enjoy the things that are around me. Because of this, I have been able to fall in love with this city all over again.

The funny thing is that it isn’t just the love affair with NYC (which reminds me of a poem I wrote a few years back) that has given me a new perspective, it is my relationship with my girlfriend that has allowed me to think inwardly about my past, present, and future. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past while I focus on the here and now AND have a watchful eye of possibilities coming down the road. She has always been a part of journey and I think that I have become a better person because of her.

Which leads me to the book that I’m currently editing. This is just another piece of this journey, in which, I have no idea where it will lead me. If you told me last year that I would have had a first draft of a book done within a year of me moving back home, I would have told you to fly a kite. I realize this literary journey is filled with imagination, excitement, fear, and doubt. In many ways, the story hits home for me and like any other form of literary work, exposes pieces of me to the world. While this is a fictional book, I will just say that all writing is biographical so there is the fear that this book is shit.

With that being said, there was point in which I took a break from my writing this novel. The woman asked me why I stopped because she had notice that it was a long time since she saw me feverishly typing on laptop. I told her that the book was crap. That I hated it and everything that I wrote was nonsense. It was then that she looked at me and told me that I could not let fear and doubt creep into my mind. After all, she has read about 90% of the book so I do believe she would tell me if I was wasting my time.

So a year later,  I have reached a point where I never thought I would be. I can say that my decision to leave Central NY was the correct one.

Tainted Victory?

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Yesterday people (in my circles) were talking about victory. DOMA has been deemed unconstitutional in the states that allow gay marriages and California may be the next state to allow such a law. It is a clear win for those of us who support equal marriages and I am truly happy about that. The problem is that feeling is somehow tainted with the Voting Rights Act being cut down the day prior.

Many people have stated that the Voting Rights Act signed by Lyndon B. Johnson is the corner stone of the Civil Rights Movement. This act made it difficult for southern states within the U.S. to suppress the black vote that has now ultimately turn into the “minority” vote. If anyone has been paying attention over the last four elections, then it should be easy to point out that each year since Gore/Bush the stories of voter suppression has increased.

It was no secret that Republicans were tight when Obama won the first term. This was due to the fact that his grassroots campaign netted a plethora of new voters, young voters, and of course, people of color. We all came out in droves to vote for this man because we were tired of the same old story in Washington. Now, we also know that McCain/Palin also help us by shooting themselves in the foot on multiple occasions.

Since then it was fairly obvious that Republicans wanted to keep Obama as a one term president and those began the open criticisms, the stories of false birth certificates, the rumors of him being Islamic, and just overall fighting of any thing he wanted to do. While I cannot be sure, I am willing to guess that there was some brainiac in the GOP that came up with a bright idea of taking away votes from POTUS during the 2012 election, not to mention they felt they had a winner in Romney/Ryan. Thus, more reports across the country about people not being able to vote.

It was Justice John Roberts that said, “Our country has changed” and my response was and always will be, has it really? At what point do these judges (which includes Clarence Thomas -which doesn’t say much actually) believe that things have gotten better from a racial perspective? Yes, the country has changed decades after the Civil Rights Movement but that does not mean that people will not still use their power to oppress others. In fact, it has become a part of the political game that being played. 

I know that I had deemed last year a banner year for racism and I stick to that. This year makes me wonder how close it will come or if it will even surpass it. Or maybe I should just go ahead and prematurely call it a banner decade. This feeling is way past the political climate but just an overall feeling when I look at what is going on.

The Travon Martin trial is just a shit show being played on stage. The Paula Deen hysteria is drama that is not surprising me at all. The defense of the show Devious Maids is laughable.The NYPD reprimanded one of their officer for speaking Spanish to another  officer (this is a personal gripe of mine but their Stop and Frisk program does violate the rights of thousands of young men and women of color).

This is just huge distraction to keep the dim witted from actually realizing that their righst are slowing being taken away from them (see the Patriot Act and then look at the NSA).

All I’m saying is that I cannot get too happy at a victory because things can change very quickly. I just hope all the people that were celebrating yesterday will also be in the same corner of those fighting hard to stop the disenfranchisement of “minority” voters.

The Next Chapter

writingAs I literally write my the next chapter of my novel, I am thinking about the next chapters in my life. My first school year is coming to a close here at Barnard and I have set certain goals for myself that will be set in motion before school starts back up in the fall.

I have the prefect opportunity to start school again and I would like to take full advantage of taking course at Columbia University. The process may be slow since classes are not free and I do work full time but I owe it to myself to get my Master’s Degree. I frequently tell people that I ultimately didn’t want to get my Master ‘s at Syracuse because I was tired of the SU point of view of the world. The other reason is that I would still be there right now if I went all in on that program.

Now that I have an idea of what my work schedule is like, I can plan to take classes accordingly. This will effectively change my life to be able to attend an Ivy League Institution. I had already investigated the possibility of this happening last summer when I was getting ready to be interviewed for my current position so I know what CU has to offer. I think going down this road will allow me to turn the page to the next level of my career.

Speaking of turning the page, I feel the need to say that I have resigned from the Latinegr@’s Project. I know this will come to shock to some because everyone knows how passionate I am about Afro Latinos. I am not going to get into the how’s and the why’s. They are a great group of people that are doing some amazing things. As proof from when I left SU last year, there are times when you just need to move on. I did wish them luck with pushing their agenda and ideas forward into the future. When I think about it, they really don’t need luck, they will be successful with anything they do, I can feel it.

I have also been thinking about the Syracuse University Commencement that just happened last weekend. I truly had mixed emotions about this day. I felt bad that I could not see the students that I’ve been in the trenches with for years. They made it very hard for me to leave and I wanted to show my appreciation. However, this Mother’s Day was the first time I have been with family in a very long time. Graduation weekend has pretty much always fallen on Mother’s Day so I spent 11 years in Syracuse on that weekend.

So it was VERY hard for me to look at all the ceremonious pictures on Instagram and Twitter because there was a part of me that wanted to be a part of that celebration. It reminds me of the discussion and arguments with the knuckleheads. I do miss them. Of course, since most of them live in NYC, I am sure it is only a matter of time until I see them.

I wont even mention that I am turning 39 in less than a month. The big Four-Oh is right around the corner which means all types of cancer tests that I am so not ready for.

The reality of it all is that writing this novel had been a another journey for me. The funny thing about turning the page on an old chapter is that is hard to go back. The story that I am creating draws from so much experience from me as well as the vivid imagination that I was born with. It has opened up some old wounds but also spawned some great ideas for future text. Writing this has been a mixed bag of feelings that has allowed me to think about everything in my life.

One thing is for certain, all this writing has given be a new appreciation for people who do this for a living. I am not even sure what I am going to do about it when I am done, but I suppose I will figure all that out in the next chapter.

Goals for 2013

I will have to admit that 2012 was really good to me. I dare say it was one of the best years that I’ve had in a very long time. While it had it’s up and downs, I attribute my changes in life to the fact that I set goals for this year. While that might be a bit cliche-ish in the realms of Higher Education, it does indeed work when a plan is laid out.

If you read last year’s post, then you will know that I no longer set resolutions for the New Year. That whole business is done. I will set 10 goals as I did a year ago and try to accomplish as much as I can. I completed 60% of my goals for 2012 and I will try to do better in 2013.

One of the things I am most proud of this year is joining the ranks of the Huffington Post. However, I haven’t written anything for them since May and it has been very noticeable to me. I need to refocus and write more Huffington Post Articles. While I personally feel that I have no excuse for the drought, I know that May was the beginning of all the major events in my life.

In general I need to write more. I have been very passive about writing for many different reasons and yet I also feel limited in the venue in which I present my blog in. I have decided that is it time for a change in websites. I plan on doing a site switch early in 2013. In the effort to gain more exposure for myself I created an additional site on wordpress that has remained unused. I will follow up on details when it become ready. I will still keep this site however.

Writing remains important to me and when my Macbook crashed, I felt very fortunate that I backed up all my writing before the hard drive had to be replaced. One of my goals that I failed to deliver in was to self publish my poetry. To be quite honest, I never had the money to do this. While I was investing in myself, I had to sacrifice a few goals. Now I need to put this back on the table and get this done.

Speaking of money, I believe I am in a great position to finally get my financial life in order. I’m making debt reduction the highest priority in 2013. All those years of owing people are done for me. I am not saying that I am making crazy amounts of money because I’m not, but I am finally comfortable with my income. Now, I can get rid of bills that have been plaguing me for awhile. One thing that a divorce does is really kill your finances and now after 3 years, I am ready to put myself in a better position.

With putting myself in a better position financially, I also have to find an apartment. My situation has always been temporary and now that the holidays are almost over, I can concentrate on this very important goal. I love Washington Heights and remaining here would be ideal, but who knows where this search will lead me. I do not want to be too far from Barnard College so being on the west side of Manhattan is critical. At the end of the day, I can live someplace that is quaint and affordable. I would like the neighborhood to be decent. I think I can manage that.

My health remains very important to me. I need to find a PCP and a dentist.  I already replaced my glasses so I can check that off the list. However, the most important thing to me is to lose 20 pounds this year, preferably by the summer. This is not as vain as it sounds, while I want to plan to go somewhere warm, the idea is just to be as healthy as possible. I will admit that clothes seem to fit better on me when I do not have a gut blocking the way. I have several things planned to main my health including a 5k run.

I also need to go to some games in 2013. I am not just talking about Met games or Knick games. I am not adverse to going to Yankee games. I have not been to the new Yankee Stadium. I have not been to the Barclay Center either. I think going to sporting events is a crucial part to being a New Yorker. There are tons of things to do in this city and going to games is one of them. I am also looking forward to the All Star Game in Citifield in July and the last Big East Tournament that Syracuse will play in March.

Some how, with all this going on, I would like to start the Master’s Program at Columbia University in the fall of 2013. I am waiting for the fall because I am not sure how busy this upcoming spring semester will be. This also gives me more time to research what I need to do. I am still aiming for sociology at this point but, with all the programs that CU offers, I need to look closely at my options. I am not going to forget my ultimate long term goal of getting a Master’s Degree.

Finally, the one thing that Christmas as reenforced with me is that I need to spend more time with friends and family.  I have always been that person to get caught up in what I am doing. Sure, I can multitask all day, but sometimes I seem to forget what is important. In many cases, I have a bad friend to many people or a bad cousin to others. Overall, I think I need to recalibrate the way I spend my time and with whom. I am grateful that I am with a woman who understands my need to sort of be everywhere with my family and I think there is going to more times when it seems I am spread thin, but it is family so it ends up worth in the long run. In terms of friends, my mission is to reconnect. That will mean lunches, dinners, drinks, and possibly parties…clearly this is not a bad thing.

My goal is to do 90% of the list above. That may sounds ambitious since I really want to do a 100%. However, I know from experience that life changes and shifts from month to month. I am ready for 2013 and everything that comes with.

Tony FAQ

I wanted to compile a small list of questions that people have been asking me since I moved back to NYC:

The number one question that I have been hearing lately is “how is the new job?” It can often times be more specific like “How is Barnard?” This is a fair question and I feel as if I need to come up with a universal answer since I have often been repeating myself. That is not to say that I do not like answering the question because anyone who switches jobs will tell you that the question of how your new job is will happen well past the first two months from the start date.

Barnard College is great. I cannot be happier right now. The job I have right now is very similar to what I had at Syracuse University with some differences. The campus is smaller but the fact that it is so neatly tucked into Morningside Heights makes it really special. There is hardly any sense of apathy which is a real change from Syracuse. These young women are very attuned to what is happening in the world and it really impresses me. I suppose being at an Ivy League institution will do that. (Which freaks me out — Ivy League??)

Here is another question I get, “How’s the transition?” The funny thing is, I never considered moving to NYC to be a transition. It was very easy to go back to the public transportation mode. My work hours are relatively the same and I am treating my living situation similarly to what I had before I left Central New York. The only things that took a while to get used to was not having Rocky in my life and the constant Parking Wars that go on in the streets of NYC everyday.

There is not a day that goes by in which I see a dog that reminds me of Rocky. There is always someone walking their small dog that bears that resemblance. There is a dog park over by Riverside Drive that is called Rocky Run. I took him there once and I am the mayor of that place on Foursquare. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I think about him every time I check in. Of course, I am over that way because I have to park the car, which is also about 15 blocks from where I reside. These are the parking wars that I am getting used to and can probably dedicate an entire blog post on this subject.

“Where are you living now?” I am still in Washington Heights. It is interesting to not live in the Bronx or in Mount Vernon. The parking wars are serious in this section of Manhattan this for sure. I do feel very comfortable living here, more than I thought I would. Perhaps because I was so used to everything being slower and quieter. When I was in Syracuse, I felt like I was moving faster than everyone else or that perhaps I was just a little bit louder. I feel like I fit right into a busy neighborhood that plays so much Musica Latina.

I think there is a lot to be said with me coming back to a place that has had the culture that I have missed so much. Before you assume that I am making this all about Spanish food and Latin Music, there is a definite culture in being a New Yorker. It is the feel of the city, the thrill of the sports, and oddly enough the subway train rides. It is these things that have made my return easier for me on all fronts.

Finally, “How is your mother doing?” She is doing remarkably well. I often say that you would never know that she had a quintuple bypass surgery. I believe there is a part of her that feels she now has a second chance at life. I have often wondered what it is like to get older and face death, but I think that because she was a nurse in The Bronx, she has seen her fair share of death.

She is walking around more than she did in the past. While she may not be as strong as before she will get to where she needs to be with PT. Her body is not just recovering from the surgery, as I mentioned before that she does have Diabetes. Taking that into account will all the other ailment, like Arthritis, and you get a picture of how she should look and feel. But, she doesn’t look like one of those old ladies. As long as she continues to pay attention to diet and maintain her exercise, I think she will be fine for years to come.

If you have any more questions feel free to send me a message on here or through Facebook!

An Electoral Bad Feeling

There is something not right going on that I cannot put my finger on, but I have a bad feeling about the outcome of this election. There are too many variables as always but this just all seems too familiar to me. I almost feels like Gore vs Bush again and we learned how a person or a party can really steal an election. I feel that we are in for something oddly familiar with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

I just can’t escape this feeling that one of two things will occur (and to be honest I hope they don’t), either Romney steals this election via some kind of recount situation or Obama loses narrowly loses the popular vote but still wins the electoral college. Unfortunately, ever since Tim Russert died, I cannot trust real news coverage on the election. The real problem for me is that I see things ending badly because as a whole, people do not want a black man for president (cue the eye rolling conservatives – do they even read this blog?).

Before someone comments about how this issue is not about race, I will say that the amount of disrespect that people can have for one person (who is in the highest office in this country) is unreal. I think a large majority of people hated Bush, but there was never a call to assassinate this man. So to say that color is not an issue in “post racial” American only proves one’s ignorance and/or privilege. However, I do not believe it is all about race. I think this is also about class. This seems to be about the have and have nots.

Republicans in general do not want big government. They want people to take care of their own with no handouts because this country was founded on the idea of our founding fathers (and on the backs of their slaves). But, when a hurricane hits a coastal city or a tornado wipes out a few flat land states…then FEMA (big government backed) is the greatest thing in the world. Then it is not so bad to have something like this to give “hand outs” to people who have lost everything.

What I really have a bad feeling about is how a candidate like Mittens can have no plan and no real answer for anything can be leading in the polls. This is the same man that was called out as a liar (see below) by his own affiliated party (Newt Gingrich to be exact). I am not saying Barack Obama is perfect because he is most certainly not, but let’s give this man credit for being consistent considering that Mitt Romney is not. New York City Mayor Bloomberg (who I do not care for) can be considered the leader of the independent vote, wanted to endorse Romney (thus endorsing Obama) if not for the fact that Mittens has reversed every known position he has ever had. Why are people still willing to vote for this man? Then it makes me wonder how much of these polls I’m willing to believe.

The thing that really startled me is the rumor that Romney’s son owns voting machines in swing states through H.I.G. Capitol. Whether this is true or false, the fact is that this is possible. Before I start asking exactly how, I think about the haves and the have nots. There is no way someone like me or person who makes my pay grade can just buy voting machines or invest in a company who has them…and further more, why would I? Very simply, when you are rich, you can do just about anything you want! Don’t believe me? Ask Donald Trump. This the man now wants Obama to show every transcript and every fiber of evidence that he either went to school or is a US citizen. Now if I say that this is racist are the conservatives who do not read this blog gonna roll their eyes again?

Yet, it remains a close race because all of these people are unhappy. Never mind that a Republican Congress did its best to counter every move the President has made so this has nothing to do with actual politics. This has to do with what our country is going to look like in the years to come and who will represent us. The far right or the far left? There is no middle anymore.

No matter what happens, I have an ever growing bad feeling that come tuesday this country will be turned upside down.

The Valuable Stuff in the wake of Hurricane #Sandy.

We are lucky more didn’t get damaged in the Heights

I feel very fortunate to get past this storm without any major problems. I feel even luckier that everyone in my family is doing well. Its times like these that we begin to really see how frail we, human beings, are when up against a massive force like Hurricane Sandy. It gives me the time to search for clarity and understanding that life can be very short indeed.

A few days before Sandy hit, my sister in law called me concerned with the things I put in storage in her basement when I moved. In the past, water has gotten down there when it has rained hard. There was a serious expectation that water was going to be plentiful with all the rain. There are few things in there that would probably be damaged. The things of value that I do have there are most likely protected in there own right. For example, I have tons of comic books…and yes they are in cardboard boxes but, they are each individually wrapped in plastic. I wasn’t too worried about that. However, I am sure there are other things that are in there that probably would get damaged or destroyed.

The thing is…this is just stuff. It is hard to explain it as such, but material things are great but what value do they really have? If I’m meant to have it then I will have it. Sometimes terrible things happen as we were all witnesses to during this devastating storm. I put my car in a garage because I didn’t want the only tree in Washington Heights to land on it. Any items that are ultra personal or are just about priceless to me, I have with me. So anything in a storage box that I may not readily use, may not be of too much value.

As I watched on TV, what is left of Atlantic City, The Jersey Shore, and Lower Manhattan, I wondered to myself how did I get this way? People are crushed by the lost of their property and material assets. I’m not sure if I would be that upset. Yes, I know that if my house was destroyed while I was still in Syracuse I would be very upset, but I cannot help but wonder, in the back of my mind, if something like was a blessing in disguise. There is a scene in Fight Club where the narrator loses all his possessions and as he wonders what he is going to do with his life, Tyler Durden simply states, “Things that you own, end up owning you.” (Yes, I’ve said this before)

This year it just seemed to me that I have been relinquishing more and more stuff from my life. It started with the sale of the house, then the moving to the new apt in Syracuse, then the moving to NYC, and if I am lucky…the moving to a new apt. The moving process is always a long a tedious one because there is need to make those decisions on whether to keep something or throw it out. This type of consolidation is just easier if you think about possessions as just stuff that might fluctuate in value depending how old you are.

Yet, the last item of value that I really lost was my glasses off the shores of Fire Island this past summer. It took me a few days to just get over something that was just made out of plastic. Of course, I held them to a higher value because they made me see better, but in the long run, I could live without them. But, then I think about Rocky and he is just about as invaluable to me as any comic book I have. 

Human life is one of the most valuable things on this planet. We squander it in such obscene ways and we wonder where it all went when get older or even close to death. There are some people that don’t believe in the value of life and there are some people who “believe” in it so much they ignore science for religion. So when it come to the “stuff” that I have, none of it is all that important in the long run. I cannot take these things with me when I die and 9 times out of 10, material things are replaceable. People, however, are never replaceable.

I am just glad to be safe and all my family members are accounted for. I pray for those who lost loved ones as well their worldly possessions. I never checked on the stuff in my brother’s basement and I’m not sure it really matters anyway because the ones that I truly value are still here.

Syracuse’s Last Laugh

The best thing about being an event planner is this acute perception of the larger world. The reason is because one has to plan for anything and everything. If something goes wrong, there must be a Plan B. So, needless to say that when it came time to move from Syracuse to New York City, I had to make sure that I had a plan in place to make sure that I can survive until pay day…even if that pay day is on Halloween.

If you recall, I made my announcement on August 8th and I left Syracuse on September 16th. I had about 4-5 weeks to plan my return. I needed to make sure my move was carefully planned with the packing of all my stuff and the throwing away of the things I didn’t want. I also had ensure where I was going to stay and make sure, as well as have enough money to survive. All these things were done and I thought of everything, at least, that is what I thought.

I knew a while ago that once I leave SU that I was going to have to take money out of my 403b. I needed to be able to replace an lost income so I can do things like eat. I would hate to have to borrow the money or have to rely on anyone. Besides, the plan was full proof. I would not have to miss a payment on any of bills and I would be straight.

The Plan was simple. Fill out some paperwork right before my last day and just wait for the check. Now, I understood that there were going to be some small hang ups. First, I could not do direct deposit because I changed my bank along time ago and when I opened a new checking account a few years back, I never ordered checks. So, instead of ordering a new check book with a Syracuse address, I just decided to have them send the money to my old house and then have my buddy mail it to me. Of course, the question is…why do I not simply change my address? (I am glad you asked).

The process of changing your address and it getting verified takes three weeks, which was more than I was willing to wait, yet hindsight being 20/20, I suppose I should have. But, I still went with my gut because this was very good plan to me. I had already planned the move so getting paycheck after I get to NYC was going to just complete my master plan and make me feel comfortable until I starting getting my regular checks.

Well a funny thing happened in Syracuse. You see, I never got my check from TIAA Cref. I found it hard to believe that this could be there fault. I followed their process to the letter. But, every time I called my buddy, the check was never in the mail. So what was I to do but call the company that wrote the check in the first place? As expected, they tell me that the they sent out the check, but what I didn’t expect was for them to tell me that it was returned by… THE SYRACUSE POST OFFICE.

The lady had the envelope in front of her when she read it to me. It stated that my former address was an “undeliverable address.” I was flabbergasted. The lady was almost beginning to wonder if my address was real and I had to assure that it was. I told her a funny joke about this whole thing was that I did get mail from TIAA Cref that same week because I had my buddy send me some of mail down and what I got was some retirement benefits information. That alone tells me that if I can get those damn booklets, then I should be getting this check.

Her suggestion was to call the Syracuse Post Office that handles my mail. Of course, I called the main branch in the area which is located on Teal Ave. I have been there several times when it had to do with buying the house and making sure they knew I was the owner of the property. I spoke to (what I believe is) the Post Master and I explained the situation. He tells me that the US Postal Service would never just send any piece of mail back (really? tell me more). The person who is ultimately responsible for doing this is the individual mail carrier.

So he puts me on hold after I give him my address so he can check what is going on. After some time, he comes back and informs me that my address is valid (I was shocked). I told him that I need this check and that I am getting another one mailed out. I was reassured that there should be no problem. I call TIAA Cref back to say that the address is all good. So I have to do the one thing that I really did not want to do and that was wait and survive. But, of course, the best laid plans never take idiots into account.

That was 2 weeks ago. They sent the check back… again. While I want to be so angry at this whole situation, I can’t help but think that the city of Syracuse wanted to make sure that they got their last laugh on me. Do not get me wrong, I love my alma mater, but the city itself has just wore out its welcome with me. Just the idea that it can take them more than 15 years to try to expand that mall was enough for me.

So Syracuse can have that laugh, I have already made arrangements with direct deposit and the money that I am waiting for will be put to better use.

That Crazy Life!

This NYC life is crazy. Many people ask me if things have changed since the last time I lived here and at the moment, all I can say is no. Perhaps the fact that I have visited the city enough to understand its evolution over the last 11 years. The main thing that has changed has been the names of stores but that is the type of evolution that comes with cities. People come and go in the big city and so do businesses.

Transit seems the same to me. No matter how fancy it gets with it’s metrocards and computerized announcements, mass transit will always remain the same. There will always be someone asking for money in between stops. There will always be some delay that will hold up your trip. However, buses seems to have changed. They are bigger and come a little bit more frequently than I recall. I will admit that even though I am stating this, I am not in the Bronx waiting for the ill timed Bx 39.

Yet this life is crazy because there is now so much to do and not enough time at the moment to do them. If I thought I was busy in Syracuse with work, being at Barnard is only busier due to all the stuff that I am learning and doing. Days are flying by and I just realizing that this is the end of my second week work AND I left SU 3 weeks ago. That is crazy to me.

If there is one thing that I am struggling with, it is this thing that I have deemed “Parking Wars”. Every few days (expect on weekends), I have to move my car because of alternate side of the street rules. For those not familiar, the city cleans the streets on certain days at certain times. If you do not move, then that is a ticket for you. If you park in place you are not supposed to (like in front of a school on school days), then you will be towed.

This is should sound all very simple if not for the fact that I live in a city where parking is like gold. Not to mention that they are multiple ways to lose this war. There are days when alternate side parking rules are suspended. Those days are normally holidays but more frequently is it Jewish holidays that last two days. Most Jewish holidays mean that public schools are off. I emphasize most because if you make that mistake (like I did) thinking that Sukkot (a Jewish Holiday) meant that all schools were closed, then your car WILL be towed (like mine did).

I wont event talk about how people squat parking spaces for others. There is one lady that thinks she is slick by holding her spot for this guy (again, I am NOT getting into it) Despite this crazy life, I am doing well. I will figure out the car situation. For better or worse, it is a reason to get up early in the morning sometimes. It also gives me a reason to drive since I do not do that as much.

The craziest thing so far has been a surprise welcome back party thrown by former students of mine 2 weeks ago. That took me for such a loop. I never saw it coming. It was nice to see these young adults now having to deal with life outside of school. We all left at a decent time because they had to work the next which I cannot help but smile about. It is crazy to know that I have an established network here.

I wont consider myself full settle until November. That is when this NYC life will finally settle in for me.