Happy Birthday!

Sixty Nine years ago today a boy was born in New York City. His mother from Puerto Rico and his father from Ecuador. He grow up in the Bronx with 2 sisters. He had a a hard childhood which he had to endure a strict mother and an abusive alcoholic father. His survived the streets of the Bronx. His name was Arthur.

Because options were limited he had to join the Navy. Lucky enough it was not during a time of war. He served many years. After active duty he returned to New York with a trade. Got a job with Con Edison and the married for the second time. In 1974 he bore a son.

That man is my father. The one who taught me most of what I know now. During and after a very difficult divorce, we was able to guide me through High School and College. Always telling me that I owe him nothing because, after all he was doing his job as a father.

I felt the closest to him when I had a terrible break up with an ex girlfriend. I was the first time I really felt that him and I had a shared experience. He knew what I was going through. He empathized with me. It was the first time that I actually cried because he comforted me.

Since then, I stopped being the kid who rebelled against his parents. I wanted to be the kid that parents talk to their friends about. I think for the most part I was. I believe I was there for him when he was diagnosed with Cancer, due to the work he did for Con Edison.

He has survived that and continues to survive the brutal weather of Sunny Deltona, Florida. Happy Birthday Papi. I love you.
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Handball..I miss you!

On a hot summer day in New York City. The wall stands tall. In a park that is all fenced in. Concrete with yellow lines that connect to the wall. A blue rubber ball, the size of a baseball. The sound of it ricocheting of the wall and slap of a palm. The shuffling of feet on concrete. The sky so blue. I miss you handball.

On any given weekend, I would leave my house and walk down White Plains Road. I would get to Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club and make a right, which leads me to Stevenson Track. Normally you will see the New York Emperor’s Stickball League playing on Stickball Blvd. While entertaining, my focus was on the handball courts.

Often I would meet my cousin to play in single or in doubles. I was never a fan of paddle ball. I liked handball and how physical it was. No Paddle, No Gloves, just palm on ball. The ball would sting the hand, but I would always have the urge to hit that thing harder. I had to be accurate because I hate losing. By the end of the day, I had a very swollen hand. So swollen, that I could not put my ring on for the rest of the day

I miss it. The competition. The social activity of meeting other players who may be better or even worse. Not sure when I will play next. I may have to set a day for some time in the very never future.

Grammar School

A few weeks ago when I was in NYC, I met up with some of my old friends from grammar school. Thanks to Facebook, we were all able to reconnect and set a meeting in the Bronx. I had a great time and we all talked about the past and what happened to this person to that person. I made me think of so many things, both good and bad.

One could argue about how happy I was during my childhood, between watching my parents marriage crumble and the constant thought in my head that I was never good enough. I had always thought I was the ugliest one in class. I was mad short. My teeth were messed up. Getting braces was just another problem. I got picked by both boys and girls. So, grammar school wasn’t all that fun in my opinion. On the other hand, I learned to defend myself with words. I learn how to be sarcastic and cruel when I needed to be. But, in the end. I think we all just took it for what it was worth. I mean, we were kids after all.

My reflection, however is based on the fact that I feel that people (and I use the term people loosely because I am not sure it is based on anything more than a feeling) thought I would not amount to much. I generally got that sense. I remember thinking about one of the girls in my class that I had a crush on for many years. She was one of the popular was in class and all the good looking boys liked and for the most part she gave them their attention. Well to make a long story short, she belittled me more than one. She also belittled my friends too. I remember thinking that I will not let her do that to me again. I will never give another girl or woman the opportunity be make me feel that I was not good enough.

Even through High School, I would see her every so often and she would kindly wave as she walked by. I am always the nice person, I waved back (although I wanted to throw a rock at her). But, still the feeling was that I will make sure that I am better than she ever thought I would be. This is a feeling that I began to develop over time, not just for her, but for anyone that felt I could not do something. I am not blaming her for this drive I have to be better because again we were just kids. But, it is always a thought in my head.

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Black Super Hero Profile: Mr. Terrific

At a young age, Michael Holt showed remarkable intelligence, reading and assimilating the works of Bohr, Einstein, Planck, and Feynman, the pantheon of theoretical physics, at the age of six. He studied advanced science, space, and time “while other children struggled through Sesame Street. Holt displayed “a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes”, as he called it, easily picking up and retaining complex skills and abilities that other men spent their entire lives perfecting. Before he began his career as a superhero, he already possessed 14 Ph.D’s (two in Engineering and Physics — including doctorates and masters degrees in Law, Psychology, Chemistry, Political science, and Mathematics) and was a self-made multi-millionaire with a high tech firm called Cyberwear (subsequently sold to Waynetech) and was a Gold medal winning Olympic decathlete. (taken from wikipedia)

I like personally like Mr. Terrific because he is by far the smartest Black Superhero. He has no powers other than his brain. He is the Chairman of a Super Hero group called the Justice Society of America. His trademarks are the T-Spheres that follow him everywhere. The are made of nanites the he created. To my knowledge he is one of the few Black Superheroes that have encountered open racism in his tenure with the JSA.

I give him a 4 of 5 because to me he is definitely on of the better superheroes that exist.

Friends. How many of us have them?

I think I have spent most of my life trying to figure out the definition of Friendship. As a kid, I always seem to call everyone (who didn’t pick on me), my friends. My father would tell me that true friends are there when you need them. I looked up to my dad so much as a kid because I thought he was one of those cool fathers who could slick back is hair and adjust his mustache and he would always look good. He had this aura about him that seem to attract so many people. At, times I thought her had literally a hundred friends. But, in his wisdom, he would tell me that all those people were not his friends. They were associates that only liked him because he had a good job and he was always willing to help someone.

This was always proven to me when my dad used to get into a jam, only few people would help him get out of it. He would look at me at tell me, “Now those are true friends”. Over there years we seems to have the same friends be there for him over and over to the point that when he retired, they all moved to same place in Deltona,Florida.

Now, if you have ever been to Deltona, you will know that it is a very fast growing community. Located about an hour from both Orlando and Tampa Bay. I call in “the little Bronx” because all the old school Puerto Ricans from the Bronx now seem to reside there. I am amazed about all the people he knows there. Every time I go down for a visit, I get introduced to another old “associate: that he used to run with. The conversations would go something like this…

Papi: Anthony, you remember Felix right? He used to live on Story Avenue by the firehouse
Me: uh….no…
Felix: Hey! Papa, remember me? I remember you when you this small!
Me: uh…no..
Papi: He used to take care you when you were little…Remember Carmen, his wife?
Me: uh…no…
Felix: Yeah man, I ran with your father back in the day on Eagle ave….

Repeat that about a hundred times and you will get my drift. Substitute Felix with Willie, or Oscar,or any Spanish name you can think of. Then substitute Carmen, with Lisa, Olga, or Jackie. When he moved, I thought I would be rid of these people. But I digress…

I am stuck in this notion of friendship because I am not sure I have a definition that suits me. Sure, I have friends. Some that disappoint me, some that I disappoint, some I actually love, and others that I hate to love. There also those that I have spoken to in a long time and when you finally have a conversation it is almost like a single day has not passed. But how does one judge a friend? There is no measure sometimes.

I cannot go by how I treat my friends, because I would drive myself nuts. Bad enough I am a Gemini who gets bored easily, which means that I may seclude myself until something excites me. But, I when I am your friend, then I am your friend for life. I may forget your birthday, but if you need something I am there. There will always be a point when I think about via a memory or a glance at your Facebook status (which, by the way, facebook is like crack sometimes).

So what do I ask in return? I am not that picky actually because I don’t expect much. I just expect my friends to be real. I have come to realize that this one thing is hard for some people to do! If you can’t hang out then that is cool, just say so. But the one thing that yanks my chain, is when people say they will do something and they don’t do it. I am not talking about offering to pay dinner or anything like that. I am just saying that I don’t like flakes in my cereal…lol

One Month Down…

The last day of January and I feel that I need to reflect on how well this New Year is going for me. I gave myself a pretty lofty and broad resolution which was simply, “make myself better”. So, I think about how I spent the beginning of this year in New York City with family and friends. It was the end of a very good trip. We got back on the first Sunday of 2009, the ride was perfect, there were no issues. Then my wife gets a phone call that her aunt died. The same aunt she spent time with when we were in NYC. So began our new journey into 2009.

Of course, we had to make arrangements to go back to NYC on a very unhappy note. Which is stressful as it is, but I am the type of person who tries to plan the trip so that I know what to expect from the weather. When first went down, I planned it in such a way that coming and going, the weather was ideal. I could do that with this situation. So a trip that has taken me 4 hours, now took me 6 because of all the snow. The trip going wasn’t so bad, but there were times that it got a little scary with white out conditions. I usually take Interstate 17, which is a path of turns that goes through the wilderness of upstate New York.

We stayed in the Bronx, of course, with her grandmother who lives in the projects. This was something that was new for me because I didn’t grow up in the projects and always did my best to avoid them. While, I indeed grew up in the Bronx, I was fortunate enough to live in a house until my parents split. So the whole concept of taking a elevator that barely works while holding your breath because the urine smell can choke you is new to me. However, I am not saying my stay was bad. I believe that when you force people to live in cages, the conditions will not be favorable. I will say though, I was able to steal someone’s Internet and I was good…lol

There is something to be said about reflecting on death when the new year starts. I feel that life is put in perspective when you go to a funeral, particularly of someone that is truly loved by their family. I reflected on my grandparents and my uncle. I also thought about what I would do if someone I truly love were to pass away. It also made me realize that I am not done here on this planet. There are times when I am not sure where I am supposed to go, I do look for those paths to walk on and those bridges to cross.

A somber experience eventually changed to a excited one. We have a Black President. It will take me a while to really get used to saying that. I am still getting used to seeing Barack Obama in the White House. I have arguments with people who think that his agenda is too broad or too unrealistic and if he fails what does that mean. My point is that none of that matters to me. Why? Well because look what just his presence alone has done to us and to the rest of America. Now, when little black boys will be able to say that they can do anything and to me that is worth more than gold.

My work is my life. I love what i do. I love the students. What had been challenging is the thought of leaving where I am so that I can possibly make myself better. The job market isn’t the greatest so the possibility grows smaller by the hour. However, I have realized that when opportunity arises, one must take it. Which what makes me writing again so great. I cannot thank the people who have shown me love about this blog. I write from the heart because I am not sure of another way.

I am hoping that good things will come in the next month…

Old School is the Only School

{Originally Posted on Myspace}

I have such a love for music. I realize that more and more everyday. There are several things that I love outside family and friends (and pets); Music, baseball (lets go Mets!), comic books, movies, and to a lesser degree video games. Yet, music bridges the gaps in my life. I hear a song and my mind will flood with memories of either good or bad times in my life. Certain songs will even make me think of a sunny day of when perhaps I first heard the song. I can say that Alicia Keyes first album Song in A Minor reminds me of brisk Syracuse mornings because I played her CD non stop each time I walked to work from Fellows Ave. So there is no wonder that, as I write this, I have 2138 (and growing everyday) on my I-pod.

The music I collect ranges from just about all genres, except country. But, I like to believe that I specialize in the old stuff or what I consider to be old. Sure, you will hear me jam to T.I. in my office but, I love music from the 70s and the 80s. I am talking about Old School Music. I mean I am really talking about when Disco was hot, when rap music was brand new, when R&B was really Rhythm and Blues, and when Michael Jackson was black. I am also talking about when Salsa music was classic!

I really believe I have the best music collection of anyone my age. I can make a play list for any occasion. You need background music? I got jazz for you. You need entrance music? I got music from soundtracks you wont believe. Lets not forget House music and all it forms. Lets not forget old school reggae either. I cant get enough of this stuff and just when I think that I cannot think of any more music to get, I see a commercial that has a song I dont have. Better yet, my father will have CDs of salsa classics I did not even think about before. The world of music, you gotta love it.

Funny story before I sign off. I was in the Bronx the other week (and happy to say that it is rockin) and when I visit my old hometown I make sure I bring new music back up with me because Syracuse isnt on top of all this shit. So I am on Castle Hill. Just got out of eating from a place called Sabrosura. I figured I would stop by a place called S.O.S, which is a DJ Specialty shop. I get all the music I need from this place. So we walk there and I see this small woman cop, who was built like a fucking rock, come out of the store. She doesnt have on a uniform, but you can tell she is a cop because of her gun and her handcuffs. I am thinking, ok she got some music and as I am about to walk in her partner was like, nah man, they are closed. So I am looking around like why the hell are they closed??? This guy, who is sitting on a mailbox next to two of his friends explains that they got shut down due to bootlegging and other illegal shit. Damn! I was so madbut I wont tell the cops how I bought a phat CD in a SHOE STORE near Pelham Parkway! As, I said…cant live without the music (and yes, it was and old school cd).