All Coming Together #VamosNaranja

LANSU LogoWhen I thought about writing this, I wasn’t sure what platform I should use. I haven’t mentioned my exploits as the president of LANSU (Latino Alumni Network of Syracuse University) as much on here because I try to keep work and volunteer stuff mutually exclusive. But nevertheless, some things tend to bleed over.

Once I came back to New York City, I had my heart set on being a more involved alum of SU that focused on Latin@ students. In my past, as an employee of Syracuse University, I tried my best to support any of the Latin@ students that came across my path. While that sounds like I only helped on portion of the population, I made sure that I supported all students as best I could no matter their pigment or lack there of. The point is that I know the issues and the struggles of the current student. It really isn’t so different from 20 years ago (Geez…has it been that long?).

LANSU-save the date-gold-nosaveI have been doing this for a year now and things are really coming together. I will admit I wasn’t sure how this would work out, but I have been able to find time to give back. The Latin@ Alumni are so important, not just at Syracuse, but to any school really. In many ways we are new to the game since many Latin@ students come from first generation parents. My job has been to try to get older alums in the same room as younger alums to create a connection that will help everyone involved. I think that for the most part it has been working but there is tons of work left to be done.

My main concern is the LANSU scholarship. This is a huge undertaking that will require time patience, and of course money. There are a number of alums that have told me that they did not have a particularly great experience in college. I think this is where many Alumni offices struggle with is being able to gain support while promoting this homogenous experience that portrays fun times and good spirits. I take all of that into account because in the era I was in school we were still doing sit ins at the Chancellor’s Office every time there was an announcement that tuition was going up another 3%

Now we live in a time where the tuition is about 54k and rising and student issues have not changed all the much so being able to help them in way that were not available for me or my fellow alumni is the goal.

In the mean time, I’m enjoying the many workshops we have been providing for alums to help them be successful because we all can’t do it alone. While I know that many of us had negative experiences in school we can transform those to positive experiences out of school.

Money Talks v3

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The Redefinition

tumblr_mhy4hhQo5j1rl14rno1_500Many lessons learned. I’ve been in New York City for 7 months now and I can honestly say that reaching one’s goals is not enough. Just like sports teams will say that is not simply enough to make the playoffs, achieving goals mean nothing if you do not follow through.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be back in my hometown. I’m not lying when I tell people that I love being back here. What I never expected was how hard life can be even after setting all the goals and meeting them one by one. Which then makes me think about how my life has changed and how I need to redefine my life and the things I do.

A move like this isn’t just a physical move. I had been used to a certain life and a certain way of being. I was in Syracuse of 11 years. I was married and divorced within that time. I started at the bottom of the latter and moved up. I started a blog and a help start a community. I built relationships. However, this move is also psychological. NYC is different with a way of life that is at a whole different speed. Adjustment to it may seem easy at first but that is only if you do not take into account the rest of your life.

That is why I need to redefine everything. The definition of friendship is the first thing to change, because this is sad to say, no one is ever really who we thought they are. I’m also pretty sure there are people who feel the same about me, perhaps they thought I was someone that I’m really not and that is ok. More and more I begin to realize that I need people in my life that are about something, even if that something is not in line with my own goals. Most of my friendships have been based on an affinity for one thing or another, but not always on success. Which is why, other people who I have been friends with who share an affinity to being successful seem to be more likely to check in on successes and provide more encouragement and thus I end up doing the same for them.

I also have to redefine my finances. This is something that is more of a life’s work. It is simply not that easy for me to put on my shit in line, however, I have been getting better at it with each passing month. The one lesson that I seem to learn over and over again is that money is the root of all evil. Money may make the world go round but, it can destroy relationships. Getting friends involved with money matter is a dangerous road to go down. It will make you redefine what friendship truly is.

There also come a time to redefine affiliations. I have take steps to make sure that all my affiliations are in order. I have left some and cleaned others up

I just need to focus on myself. This phase of redefining my life comes a time in which I’m being reflective on my past and my future. My journey is far from over and I need to figure out what is best for me and the projects I am dead set on.

I am writing a book and I have been tending to it like a plant. Watering it every day until it is fully formed. I will then clip when it is ready and see how it turns out when all the leaves turn green.

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!

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.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

As I write this, I look down and see an empty floor. For the last few years I have had Rocky by my side. He has been the one living thing that has witnessed just about everything that has happened to me in the 21st Century. Now, Rocky is the last real sacrifice I have made before I leave Syracuse. He will stay here with the ex-wife to live out the rest of his days.

I cannot help but feel sad about this even though I know that I am doing the right thing. He will be much happier in Syracuse where there is more grass and trees. The chances are extremely high that he will be more spoiled than ever and I am ok with that. It was just heart breaking to say good bye to him. It is going to be weird to wake up every morning and not have to walk him. I am grateful that my days here are numbered because him not greeting me everyday when I open the door to my bedroom will be difficult.

Rocky is a reminder of where I have been. He was a puppy sleeping on my chest when I was going through my unemployment period in 2000. I remember the walks from Soundview to Castle Hill, in which, we crossed through the mall on White Plains Road in the Bronx. I also remember hugging him hard after I came home from 9/11.

He had such great resilience to survive that first drive to Syracuse. Rocky hates the snow but loved to dig his face in it. I remember how he loved the other dog, Rusty, and how sad he was when he died. Rocky has seen me at my worst during the divorce and he is seen me at my best when I sold the house. He could tell my moods and always found away to make me feel better. I repaid him by nursing him back to health when he was sick.

I have watched him grow old and lose his eye sight. Rocky is like an old man now with his old man ways. You have to carry him downstairs because he is afraid to fall. I almost do not remember life without having to cater to him. Yet, I would not have it any other way because I truly love that dog.

Saying goodbye was something I had to prepare for. He was originally supposed to come back home with me. But, things happen and situations change. Rocky will be in a better place and will still be loved. I will miss him more than than he will know. This is truly my last sacrifice. I feel know that I am coming back with nothing but the clothes on my back (and the comic books, dvds, PS3, and TV in the Car)…

10 Days

This is just crazy. I am excited to be starting a new chapter. I am sad to say the goodbyes that I know I have to say. I am scared to see what happens after all this done. I love the fact that everything is changing.

Mixed emotions is something that I am feeling at the moment. Everything that I have been fighting for is finally coming to fruition and I all I am thinking about is just closing the book on this place. I feel like I am living the last few episodes of a long running sitcom that has been on the air for 11 years. I get that familiar feeling when Cheers closed or when Theo graduated from college in the Cosby Show. You want to cry but that wouldn’t be right because (even though it is a show) you know that life goes on.

In 10 days I will be home and I’m not really sure that people really understand what that means. I have been like a prodigal son in may ways. I left NYC with the idea that I would never come back. Being in my mid 20’s trying to make it was difficult and I left because I couldn’t succeed in my hometown. I had this delusion that I would stay in Syracuse and live the American Dream. There was always that pull for me to return home even though the relationship with my mother became worse before it ever got better. For all my failures at love and life, I achieved greater successes at many of the same things

Now, I coming back home with things being so different. My life is not the same as when I left. I feel smarter and wiser because I learned from past mistakes. I’ve learned how to forgive and I’ve learned how to sacrifice. Most importantly, I have learned how to love. I’ve grown to love myself and appreciate the world around me. I do love Syracuse and I will truly miss everyone that I have had so much contact with.

Before I started taking the things off my walls in my office, I kept thinking about the many students who have seen my office for what I hope it was…a place to feel welcome. The Puerto Rican flag, being the first thing that many students see, represents my commitment to all students about being proud of what I am and never being afraid to show it. I had to take pictures of it for prosperity. If I am lucky, I will have a similar set up at Barnard College.

As joyous as I can be about leaving, sometimes moving means making hard decisions. In many ways I want to start a new life or “volume” when I get back home. I find myself getting rid of things here and there and selling other stuff. However, the most difficult decision is to leave my dog, Rocky, here with my ex-wife. He does belong to her too and I know this is the right decision for him. He is getting older and needs a person who will love him and care for him in ways that I may not be able to. Out of all the things I have had to do during this transition, I will tell you, this is the hardest. It almost breaks my heart to have to say goodbye to Rocky…

But, like everything else, I will deal with that moment when it happens. My students mean the world to me as well and I hope they know that. I am just glad that everyone has been understanding that this is not really a goodbye, not this small world of email and Facebook. I will treat this more as a “see ya later.”

What a Week!

I am tired. It has been a long week, I still have not gotten nearly enough sleep and I have a very long day tomorrow. But, I can sit back and reflect on the past week and realize that I had great vacation! As many times as I have been back to NYC, this was the best time I have had in years.

I was worried about how much money I was going to spend and who I would be able to see. I just came down to see some Big East Tournament games and then chill for the rest of weekend. Well, as you can tell, the games were great, even though Syracuse lost in the end. Then I decide to go this party at a club called Katra located in Lower Manhattan. Which was good, but they packed us all in like sardines.

I had no intention on stay out late, even though I left the Bronx at midnight. I wanted to just say hi and get a little dance on and then be home in enough time to get some good sleep. Well, based on past experience, that did not happen. I ran into my good friend, Rahman (Pop) and ti was over. He let me know I was not going home anytime soon. We painted Lower Manhattan, well whatever color that he decided, and after going to a Birthday Bash at Sutra, and we ended up at a place called Son Loco.

That place was awesome! I had the chicken burrito and it was great. So, I got back at 6am…passed out at 6:30am. Then I wake up to Justin playing WWE Monday Night Raw that he has on the DVR, which was about 11:15am. My brother knocks on the door to wake me up at 11:30am because we need to do a Fantasy Baseball Draft.

Want to know my fantasy? More sleep.