R.I.P. Rocky

2011-01-22 14.05.29

I think all pet owners inherently know that when they get a puppy it will grow up and eventually grow old. This is something that is always in the deep recesses of our minds, something that should not be thought about until the time comes when your beloved puppy is now a old adult dog.

Many of you know that I have been on this journey to figure out my potential and in that process I’ve grown attached to Rocky. Thirteen years ago we became acquainted as my girlfriend, at the time, received this small little Lhaso Apso. The cutest brownish dog you could have ever laid your eyes on and she promptly called him Rocky (after The Rock). During that time I was in a rut after being laid off from Duetche Bank because I could not find a steady job so it became my job to take care of him when she wasn’t home.

2011-01-29 14.36.36
He slept any where! lol

We became attached so quickly. I house trained him as best I could and walked him 3 times a day. When she used to come home she would often find him sleeping on my chest (I was knocked out too). Rocky was a vibrant dog that had his own personality. He was feisty and yet very prissy. He hated the snow because his paws got wet (and yet he made it to Syracuse). The one thing I could never be around him was sad or depressed. It was like he sensed that in me. He would nudge me with his face to play and if I didn’t respond then he would use his paw.

Rocky was with me through just about every major change in my life. The layoff, 9/11, the move to Syracuse, the marriage, the divorce, and he was with me when I moved out of my house. It was hard to say goodbye to him when I left Syracuse but I knew that my ex-wife would take good care of him. I wanted him to be able to still walk in the grass and not the concrete of New York City.

2011-03-27 16.52.41
“Rub my belly”

He was getting old. Rocky contracted diabetes and became blind after a while. He morphed into a grumpy old man that just didn’t want to be bothered with the stresses of dog life. He just wanted his belly rubbed, a full bowl of water, and food. Although, he still loved to play. No matter how old he got he still loved to play with me or anyone that was going to give him the attention. Rocky was truly an attention whore that would bark at me if I slept too late. lol

He always adjusted to my schedule. We fell asleep roughly at the same time (but then again he slept all damn day lol). This dog would not really eat until I got home. I would make dinner or get dinner and once I started eating, I would hear him digging around his dish. Rocky would always make me laugh because eating was an event to him. He would play with his food before actually eating, unless it was a bacon strip…then there was no playing around with that.

Rocky was the people’s dog (yes, I said it) because he (and I shit you not) would not back down from any sized dog. The rottweiler next door would bark and Rocky would bark back. We take him to the dog park and if any ratchet dog sniffed his ass, this little dog would snap back (and then sniff other dogs afterward lol). He simply did not like other dogs until we got Rusty (another dog I just tear up about). Rocky loved people. There was no guard dog sense about him until he became an old man. If I had company over Rocky would lose his mind if I did not let him out the room so he could meet them.

I cried today. One of my best friends is gone. It was time for him to go. He had heart murmur that was giving him seizures. I cannot even imagine what that must have looked like. The vet told my ex wife that it was time for him. When I spoke to her on the phone I could hear him whimpering (I can barely deal with this).

My Dog. He was very much a part of me. I have had many dogs in my life time but he was the one that connected to my heart in the most profound way. I took care of him like he was child of mine. Our personalities flowed and I even wrote a poem about him. That dog taught me what unconditional love means and that is the greatest gift he has ever given to me. I am just very glad that his pain is finally gone. Goodbye Rocky, I will forever miss you.

2011-06-07 16.09.12

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!

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.

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.”

Saying Goodbye


“How do you find the words to say, To say goodbye When your heart don’t have the heart to say, To say goodbye…” – Alicia Keys “Goodbye”

Time to get a little personal here. Although I think I have done that already, I have always been very vague about many of the details that surround my personal life. However tomorrow I have to do something that will prove to be very tough indeed.

Most of you know how much I love my dog, Rocky. He has been in my life for such a long time. He will be 10 years old this summer and he has literally been a rock in my life. Ever since he was a puppy, he has brightened my day. Rocky is very bright and has some serious personality. I am not sure any other animal, human or not, has made me laugh as much as this dog.

I have to say goodbye to him. As part of an agreement that I have with my ex wife, she will take him. Rocky is very much her dog. He was given to her as a gift in 2000 and while I have been there for him, Rocky does belong to her. Tomorrow will be the last day I see him for sometime. While I am saddened by the fact I will not see him for awhile, Rocky will be ok.

Usually it is better to not have a long goodbye. I know that will see him again so I will promise myself not to make this harder than it needs to be. The funny thing is, he will just look at me with his eyes and want to play. He will probably bark and then I will have to bark back at him. You know that a dog has touched you when you have a pet name for him. I call him “papa”.

I am not sure if I will ever get another dog. I have had several in my life since I was a kid, but Rocky has had the most spirit. He is a dog that does not like to have his ass smelled by other dogs but will definitely smell theirs. He is a small dog with a big dog attitude in which case I have seen me stare down a Rottweiler. He loves human contact. If you walk in a room and you do not pet him…he will let you know. Let’s not forget that he is only dog I have ever written a poem about.

Saying Goodbye is always hard. I am not very good at it because I have had trouble letting go. However, in this particular instance I have no choice. I am ok with this because she loves him as much as I do, so it is not like he is going somewhere that is unsafe for him. The best thing, however, is that I have tons of good memories and pictures.

Rocky has touched my heart in so many ways. He has seen me and my best and my worst. This dog has proven to me that I can be a very gentle and loving man. When I was at my darkest points, he was there for me.

This is not a goodbye forever….just a goodbye now. Goodbye papa, I will miss you… 😦

Tid Bit Tuesday (Florida Edition)

DOG!

This past Saturday I went to a wedding for a co-worker. We left pretty early in the afternoon. Of course it rains pretty much every day up here so, there was a big thunderstorm in Syracuse. My dog, Rocky, does not like Thunderstorms. So, when he hears the noise he pretty much goes crazy. He will bark and scratch at the door (same thing happens with fireworks). Usually it passes when the thundering stops. He normally stays in the patio in the backyard, but sometimes he will just let himself get soaked.

We get back from the wedding at about 10 and when Josie calls out to Rocky, he does not answer. So I go out to the back with a flash light. Nothing, no sign of him anywhere. I am like stunned. How the hell does this dog get out??? Not to mention that I have to drive to Florida in the morning. So we wait until the morning to report him lost at the various animal shelters. Once we knew we could do nothing…we left for Florida (5 hours later than scheduled).

We were somewhere in southern New Jersey when I got a call from the SPCA that someone may have found Rocky. Turns out my neighbor, 2 doors down, found him and took him in! So all i had to do was arrange from someone to get him, which I did. My dear friend Maria, picked up Rocky yesterday and returned him to our home (where he is now CHAINED…kidding). Thank you all for the well wishes. We were concerned because he had not had his medicine in over a day, but Maria is making sure that he is fine. Thank You Maria!

Trip to Florida

So far my trip is going well. The drive down was good. I want to say it was rough, but driving all 17 hours was not bad. There were 3 of us on this trip so there was a lot of conversations and laughter. I am always amazed how beautiful the country can be on the road. I ended up driving late at night and earlier in the morning.

I know I mentioned this before but, I really do love to drive. During this time on my life, I feel that is one of things I can do that I need to concentrate on and not think to much about what seem to be happening to me.

My Sanctuary

I have decided to call my parents home “My Sanctuary.” This is become my place where I do not have to do anything. I can just be here with my thoughts and not worry about my job or any other outside influences. I did bring some books to read. I plan on being in the pool and just doing nothing.

I actually had some drinks. Gin and Tonic. I never had that before. Really not bad. I had ceviche too! This should be a good week because I deserve it. I need to have some time to be a monk and just live for me. I think I can do that.

Guess Who Got a Hair Cut?

I have to tell you, there are very few things better than a dog in a good mood. When Rocky is shaved, he is like a bat out of hell. He wants to run every where and do everything. When his fur is fully grown in, he is lazy and grumpy. He looks like a mop! So getting him groomed is like getting a brand new dog.

I have no problem with his energy or his guile, the problem I have is that he is blind! Rocky is about 8 years old and with all this dog has been through, I am surprised he is so energetic. He has diabetes and lost his vision. However, it is almost like when he has his buzz cut that he can see again. He has a problem with going down the stairs but with his new look, he is almost a bullet.

I was greeted at the dog today by this blur today and I am happy about that. Since my other dog passed 2 summers ago, I feel he has never been the same. But it is always great to see him like this. As I write this he is killing this bone that we gave him from a Pernil that my wife made.

Josie just said, “You know he is a Puerto Rican Dog”