This is not a Think Piece

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This is not a think piece.

I’m not going to hit you with stats about this election nor the implications of a GOP controlled government and how that will effect Black and Latinx lives. I’m not going to talk about how insane 2016 has been. This is more of an emotional thing for me because so much has happened that I haven’t really written anything substantial.

First – My aunt Theresa died last week.

I’m still coming to grips with that loss. There’s a missing piece in my life and in my family that has really caused a shift that I’m trying to deal with. Here was a woman in my life that I’ve gotten close to over the last 8 years. I spent time with her and if she need anything I was there. I dedicated my last book to her because I knew that it was only a matter of time before she succumbed to cancer.

Stage three advanced pancreatic cancer. I have seen her wither away for the last three years and feel a certain way about it. I feel a certain way about how this effects my family. I will leave that there because anything else skirts the line of privacy that I’m not ready to breach. What I will say is that as much as I loved her, she was a Trump supporter. I laugh because I know she would’ve been happy with what the hell happened yesterday.

Second – Donald Trump is the President-Elect.

Wow. I never thought things could change so quickly. I feel like we were duped. All the polls were wrong. We were all wrong in thinking this was all a joke and this would never happen. We were all wrong to think that we could elect a woman president. Now, there is a feeling of sadness that is compounded with the loss of my aunt.

I am so tired of feeling sad and 2016 has been that year where too many people had died for little to no reason. 2016 has been a the year that Prince died for Christ sake.

There will be plenty of blame to go around but I will not partake in this because this is not a think piece.

I will not get into blaming the subtlety of white supremacy that allowed people to lie to pollsters about who they were voting for because this is not a think piece.

I will not go into the blatant misogyny that has allowed Trump to become president even when he has a rape trial coming up. This is not a think piece. This is an emotional piece. It is okay to cry. It is ok to kick something.

The only thing I want to do right now is get though the next few weeks. I want to get through my aunt’s memorial and I want to finally start writing again because the world is changing and I do not want to lose myself.

 

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Vegetarian? What?

vegetarian-dishes-328917_640Here’s the thing, I know too many people that are battling cancer in their lives. I’ve seen, first hand, the affect on family and friends. In every case, the doctors have said one universal thing, “you need to change your diet.” Its has been scientifically proven that there are certain foods have cancer fighting agents. So my thought in all this is, why wait for something bad to happen in order for a doctor to tell me to change my diet? I should just change it now.

This also happens to coincide with a fitness challenge that I fell into (You know, the kind where family is like…come on, you know you wanna). I started a 21 day challenge on June 1st where I do some form of exercise for 45 minutes everyday.  If I miss a day, I have to double my work out the next day. If you are into things like math then you realize that I’m currently on Day 5 and my body is sore as hell. My workouts consist of running and ab work…so my body basically hates me.

So that is 5 days without meat so far. What can I eat? Well for starters I can eat fish. I know, that would make me a pescatarian but It doesn’t sound sexy to me. I have virtually take sugar out of my diet too so the foods I’ve been eating have been salads, brown rice, broccoli, Quinoa, fruits, yams, pasta, potatoes, eggs, non white bread, and nuts. I started this with the idea that meat is no good for me with the chemicals that are added so the deletion of sugar from my diet was just an added bonus.

I’ve done some research and watched some documentaries (yay Netflix), like Forks over Knives and Fed Up, that have given me a clear understanding on what is happening to us when it comes to food. I wont get into major details but the reality is that we should only be consuming the max of 25g of sugar per day. If you look that up, we max that out just by having cereal and milk. Its the excess sugar intake that can lead to type 2 diabetes. I turn 41 in a week, I’m not trying to deal with that too.

Some of you may know that I’m a coffee drinker so what does that mean? At the moment, I drink black iced coffee unsweetened. It’s not as bad as I thought. In fact, nothing about this is as bad as I thought it would be. I thought I would be hungrier. I thought that I would crave a hamburger or at least a pork chop. I crave none of those things. In fact when I snack, its on almonds and peanuts. This is not to say that I don’t have small amounts of chocolate here and there but craving things like cookies, so far, hasn’t happened.

For the most part this is about not having any meat to see how it feels. I started off being very curious to see how my workouts would be effected by the change in my diet. Not to be cliche but I do have more energy. You see these commercials about that 2:30 feeling during the middle of the day? I used to have that. Now, I don’t and I think that is a direct result of lack of meat.

For the record, I was at the point already where I limited my red meat intake, so the meats I was killing all the time were chicken and pork (turkey too). Those are the meats essential to any Latino diet. Which brings me to the next question, will I ever eat meat again? I’m not sure. Its quite possible that meat maybe become a delicacy, something to have on special occasions. If I were to go eat it on a semi regular basis again, then it might just chicken breast.

But hey, the only thing for sure is that nothing is for sure. I will continue down this path and see where it leads me.

Derailed

ID-10089151There is something about death that makes us think about our mortality. When a family member dies this feeling is compounded. The death of my Aunt Clara has put me in a situation where I had to really think about life, death, and the all this importance that we place on menial things. I have been a tad bit derailed by this.

We all knew that she wasn’t feeling well. We all know that the cancer in her body was taking it’s toll on her. I remember when I told her I was writing a book and how I wanted it to come out in the fall of this year but I wasn’t sure of when, she had a genuine look of joy because I was going to be the first author in the family. Clara was the aunt that would tell you exactly how she felt. So, not only did I know she wanted to read this book but she would also ask on several occasions when I’m going to marry my girlfriend and add new children to the family.

Not to say that these were requests of a dying woman because I knew she felt, as we all did, that she would beat this thing but I felt compelled to make sure that this book came out before she left us. I was indeed successful. It was around my book signing in October that she started getting worse. Titi Clara had all intentions on going to La Casa Azul but her body just would not let her. That fact was not lost on me and I said a silent prayer hoping she would be ok.

She made a turn for the worse a week before Halloween and I knew that we were going to lose her. I knew that this horrible thing called cancer was going to win but it did not take her spirit. When I saw in the hospital she recognized me and gave this smile. She asked me how the book signing went. I told her that is went well and she gave me a thumbs up. “You did good,” was something she would always tell me and I know that’s what she meant.

I was there for her last rites. A week later she let go. She is now pain free and with God.

It was a beautiful day when they buried her. I think it’s because this little feisty Puerto Rican woman with a big personality fought the heavens to give us one last day of warmth in November.

I am derailed because as much as I can write about the things in the book and this blog, death is something that is hard to articulate and deal with. The finality of it is such a smack in the face. The days are the same but yet different. Who am I to complain about such small things like television shows or NYC speed limits?

I almost stopped some of my book marketing. I felt posting another quote on my Facebook page was too much but something told me to keep going. I thought about where I am in the second novel and what direction I should take and something told me to keep writing.

Being derailed does not mean I should stop. It means I need to get back on track. I’m sure Titi Clara would agree.

Mixed Emotions

mixed-emotions

There are so many things going in the world and in my life right now that I have SO many mixed emotions that its getting to the point that I just don’t know how to feel on any given day. I know that I’m a versatile person that allows me to adapt to any situation in my life but lately things have been overwhelming. There is a multitude of feelings I can have a given day: anger, fear, joy, sorrow, excitement, and sentimentality. It is an interesting and frustrating mix because how do I deal with it all.

Anger. I’ve been angry everyday since the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson. I’m angry because police killings/brutality has become the norm. Watching the protests turn into riots with tear gas and bullets flying is ridiculous. We are watching history and seeing the way people react to all this is beyond interesting. I suppose I’m tired of showing people that we are not delusional. We don’t make up racial issues. The anger is there because I know all of this will not end well.

signingExcitement. I announced yesterday on social media that I have book signings in Syracuse on 9/20 and NYC on 10/8. I am traveling down a road that I have never experienced and it is exciting. When I started the novel last year events like these were not on my mind. I just wanted to contribute the literary world. The support that people have given me is tremendous and I’m not used to this. It is truly humbling.

Cover ImageFear. I HAVE A BOOK SIGNING. This scares the shit out of me. I’m a chronic over-thinker so I think about too many things that are close to irrational. What if no one shows up? What if too many people show up? Do I have to read an excerpt from the book? What chapter? What if I’m late? <— This right here is my life. I’m so used to being behind the scenes at events that being the main event is abnormal. Yes, I have been a key note speaker before but it never gets easy for me. lol

Sorrow. There are many things that I just don’t share with people so I will keep this to a minimum. I have two family members with cancer and it weighs on me. It weighs on me more than I admit to people. I stay strong because as one of the youngest members of my families (paternal and maternal) I feel the need to be responsible so I can to make sure that family stays together.

Joy. I love my job. I cannot say it any clearer. I have found a place that values me as a person and values students. Granted I am about to make 2 years at Barnard College and maybe I’m still on a high but having the ability to be creative and to be myself is something that allows me to thrive.

Sentimentality. A few weeks ago the woman in my life has left to pursue her MBA at the Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon. It is incredibly awesome to be with a woman who is smarter than me. Our relationship is strong and we will continue to be together while sharing our success separately until she returns. Yet, I miss her and it becomes hard to focus because of it.

All this makes it hard for just to do what I need to everyday but, thankfully, I know how to take my emotions and transfer them into words.

Cancer: The Bigger Picture

cancerThis is a subject that is just hard to approach. I will begin with some truths in my life right now. I have 3 family members who have or had cancer. I have 2 close friends who have or had cancer. I know there comes a time when we start thinking about our mortality but when you feel that the people who are close to you are dying, it puts a whole new perspective on life.

Last week I laid in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about death. I haven’t done this since I was a kid in the mid 80’s thinking about who was going to push the button and start World War 3. I thought about how I have very little control in my life. At any point a meteor can come down from the heavens and lay waste. Maybe some nut in North Korea is going to do something dumb and start a war that the human race cannot afford. While those are scary options, they pale in comparison to Cancer.

Thinking about all the people who just recently passed from some sort of cancer makes me rethink everything. It makes me wonder what I’m really doing in this life. This is not to sound morbid at all its just that I am forced to look at the bigger picture. What do I really control in my life? I complained about the absurdity of getting a Flu Shot. These are one of those things that I just do not trust. Who really knows what they put in shots to people and yet, I had to get one so that I could visit a relative who has a weakened immune system. I gladly took that shot because I needed to make that visit.

I realize that there is an inner part of me that is angry. This is not one of those things where I’m angry at God or at anyone in particular, it’s this thing where I realize that I control nothing. In the grand scheme of it all we are just particles of dust in the universe and we are squabbling over labels and identities. In a blink of an eye we could be taking a very long sleep in which we hope to wake up on the other side.

I came back to NYC to be with family and I feel that I am beginning to lose them just as quickly. This whole pageantry of returning to New York City seems to be so self serving. I need to evolve again to a person that sees more of the bigger picture. This is not to say that I still don’t see the world in the same way, but I also need to understand that maybe we are all just too damn sensitive. Maybe, I am too sensitive.

I wrote a public apology the other day to a person that I slighted because I was so angry with someone else. I was angry because something was done to me that I thought I could not forgive. Why? Because my writing is something that I feel I control. But, with anger comes stupidity. So now, I have to live with what I have done. Perhaps I should not have been so angry and pig headed not see that I am not angry with the person who copied my work. I am angry at the fact that I feel that I don’t do enough in the time that I have.

People will argue with me and say that I have effected the lives of many people. Perhaps I have, but I feel that I’ve not been there enough for my own family and friends. It is not easy getting older knowing that there will be a time when the receptions I will be attending will be funerals. I’m not ready for that. That is why I need to refocus and try to be with the people who matter the most.

Of course, I cannot help but wonder about what Cancer has in store for me. Truth be told I give myself testicular exams 3 times a week. I know I have a colonoscopy somewhere in my future. I have been doing my best to exercise because it is Diabetes that has effected my family the most.

I’m not worried about dying so much anymore. I’m worried about whether I can make enough of an impression on this world before I go. I’m worried if I can make an impression on my family before they go.

This Cancer thing has a really funny way of changing perspectives.