A piece of advice from my mother that changed my life.

As many of you know, (and by “many” I mean the three of you who read this neglected blog), I’m a firefighter by profession.  About three months ago, right after the birth of my beloved daughter, I took on the role of an Uber driver to help pay for the Huggies I’ll be forced to buy for the next few years.  So far, with over 300 trips completed, I’ve enjoyed, and am enjoying the experience, not to mention the extra cash flow.

On my travels, I’ve met many interesting strangers with stories to tell, stories that border on the asinine to the inspirational, and everything in between.  Tonight, on my last trip, I had the pleasure of transporting Di Ana Pisarri on an hour long trip. Initially, we spoke of her first time using Uber after a tragedy in her family. I was only her second driver. Usually I open up a conversation on the pros and cons of Uber; it’s a conversation I initiate with many riders, as a way of breaking the ice, especially on long trips.

I didn’t know Ms Pisarri was an actor-turned-life coach, running a successful brand out of Manhattan, but by the end of the trip, she asked me to post the following, when the topic of our conversation turned to having a child:

As a child, born and raised in the inner-city, it was a common and sad occurrence to see a “baby” pushing a baby down the street in a stroller.  As a teen I attended the kind of high school, that not only had metal detectors and extra guards, but also an entire section that served as a day care, while all of the young moms struggled with the basics of algebra a floor or two above.  The dads were few and far in between.  At the time, at that age, the overall situation surrounding the ghetto wasn’t something I thought about as sad or deplorable.  It was just the norm.

For my mother, whom has always been socially ahead of her time, this wasn’t normal, or at least should not have been what is considered normal.  From a very young age she pointed out to my little brother and I the importance of an education, the importance and reward of hard work, and above all, the absolute importance of safe sex.  As embarrassed as I was at the time, it was my mother who bought me my first pack of condoms —  condoms that dried up and “died” from lack of use due to the lack of necessity.  Towards the end of our teen years, my mother was quite possibly the only mom in the projects whose sons were without children.  Her lesson worked, but only too well.

My younger brother had his first child only four years ago.  My wife and I had our first only three months ago.  I’m 39 years old, and my brother is three years younger than I.

My mother’s words worked out so well, she nearly didn’t make it to grandmother-hood.  Her words worked so well, she almost never had the granddaughter she’s been asking for since my mid-twenties, when I was already a part of the work force.

My wife and I reached a fork in the road within our marriage where she was adamant about having a child, and I was adamantly in the opposition.  No matter how well I was doing in my life as a professional, married to a professional, the thought of having children equated what I remembered from my childhood.  As fond as I was of children as a whole, and as much as I love and care and worry about my nephew, the thought of having a child myself was just an experience that was outside of my scope.  Naturally, this caused strain within my marriage.

At a loss for a solution, I called my mother and this is what she said:  “You have to give her a child.  There is nothing more in this world that a woman will love more than her children.  There is nothing more a woman deserves in this world.”

Her words were delivered with a softness, a kindness, and a wisdom that only a mother can have.  As “modern” and “liberal” and as “forward thinking” as I thought of myself to be, I totally understood from whence this so called antiquated advice stemmed.  It struck a chord within me, a chord I could only hear as the absolute truth.  With all of the stresses and the struggle of being a single mom, trying to raise honest boys in the projects of the ghetto, I thought she would see things my way, but with three, short, heartfelt sentences, I knew she wasn’t only talking about the well being of my wife, and our marriage, but of my own well being as well.

After much thought, I decided to join my wife on this journey, and our lives have changed forever.  It’s not only my wife who has discovered the greatest love this world has to offer;  it was me as well.  With all of the worry, and all of the sleepless nights, and the lessening, if not the total loss of superfluous hobbies and other selfish activities, I feel as if the advice I received saved my life by giving it a meaning that only a child can provide, and I will always be in debt to the lady who knew the right decision was to side with my wife.

I love you, mom.  And thanks.

This is a Fitness Post.

A few weeks ago, I turned 39 years old.  I work a physically demanding job.  In my youth, I was a fitness freak.  I worked out with friends for fun.  From my late teens to late 20s, I was the model picture of health (not to toot my horn too loudly or anything).  Turning the corner on 30, friendships, while not ending, did change, as in the amount of time we all had to hang together, and run in the park, or hit the weights.  Some of us got married and moved away.  Some of us had kids.  You know the story.  From my early 30s to present day, my attention to personal health has ebbed and flowed, but mostly ebbed.

I didn’t, (and still don’t, actually), care about having that beach-ready body of my earlier years.  I’m married, and lucky enough to have a wife who cares more about my health than what I look like in a banana hammock “mankini“.  My workouts during this ebb and flow, mainly consisted of weight work, with light cardio.  And when I was performing this kind of workout on a steady, routine basis, I felt better, but because of my atrocious diet, I was beginning to look worse.  Again, I don’t care about looking like I’m 23 at 39, but something had to give!

I remembered a childhood friend, whom was always overweight, yet athletic.  In his mid 30s, he dedicated his life to the new craze, involving plyometrics and healthy eating.  In his MID 30s, he totally transformed himself to the point where you wouldn’t recognize him without a double-take.  I remembered this friend, and reached out to him on tips for eating a better balanced diet.  (Ugh, that word!)  Instead of giving me the easy answer, which he knew by personal experience, as not being an answer at all, he recommended I take a two month challenge of high-intensity plyometrics by way of a popular program.

I researched the program, after his over-the-phone lecture, and studied up on YouTube, of all places, in order to see how it worked with “regular people”, as if my mind was trying to convince itself that my friend’s success was anything other than “normal”.  To my surprise, his success with the programs and others like it was the norm.  I watched countless before and after videos, where former “flabbies” were chiseled and promoting these programs, and promoting healthy eating, (which I’ve learned is nowhere near as difficult as my sugar-craving brain made it out to be).  As it turns out, I’m rarely hungry, and I’m starting to better survive the grueling, sweat drenching workouts.

And so, the point of this post is to serve as personal motivation to myself, (and maybe for YOU), to complete the program I’ve started, and to post my before and after shots once I’m done.

I don’t delete old blogs, especially not those that today embarrass me.  Therefore, if I flake, this blog will shame me, to me, forever.

Interviews and Auditions

I would imagine an interview or an audition to be like a slap across the face.  If I were to slap you across the face right now, there would be a 99.9% chance that you would not die.  That’s easy enough to follow.  There would also be an equal probability that you would feel humiliated, angered, shocked, and confused.  You’d might ask, “Why?”  You’d might even respond in kind, though I wouldn’t advise it.  Several seconds of pain and confusion would pass before you’d come to your senses and remembered why you sat for what was essentially a humiliation.  You need the job.  You need the part.  You need the promotion.

Perhaps you had a to-do list on the day I slapped you across the face.  In the nano-seconds following the slap, the list goes out of the window.  The list is important.  You should know, you made it.  Gym, Tan, Laundry;  groceries, pharmacy, clothes;  chiropractor, new shoes, and “must stand in line for the new iMicrowave by Pear” — the list is a must.  A few minutes after the slap, you “wake up”, and continue with your to-do list, wherever you left off.  Life must go on.

An interview or an audition won’t kill you.  It will most likely make you feel humiliated, inadequate, and confused.  Either one might even “hurt” in the proverbial sense, but you won’t die.

I have several interviews lined up for opportunities that feel more like necessities as of late.  I’ve been on the receiving end of a literal slap across the face in the past.  It’s a feeling for which I don’t lack any familiarity.  And while I’m not looking forward to the feelings associated following the assault, what choice do I have?  Life must go on, and my to-do list is long.

Rossz Csillag Alatt Született…

…represents a kind of Cosmic Watergate, for me personally.  That’s all I’m going to say about that, for now.  It’s time for a little bit of the ol’ introverted therapy, by way of free form thought, shared for all the world to see and judge.

Thirty-eight summers in, and I’m busier than the dickens with all kinds of non-monetary gains worth of shit.  Sing along with me:

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

I’ve finally made office (Sergeant at Arms) in my union by way of “special selection”, and I’m looking at a possible three year term, if not booted out after elections in May.  I’m also half way through my third term as Vice President of the Hispanic Firefighters Association of Newark, NJ.  Both probono publico positions fill my life with that extra helping of stress and internal anguish which serves as my fuel.  For a person who lives for solitude, games of solitaire, Jenga (alone), and Memory/Concentration, I sure do like to contradict myself with extreme, external involvement.

Division.  Division destroys empires.  I debated with people today about the perils of division, and after a lengthy (and loud) discussion, the general consensus was divided.  Do you see what I’m talking about?

Engagement for the better good.  Along the way, you’re made to be the enemy, the narcissist, the asshole.  I do it nonetheless as a mechanism to engage less when I don’t have to.  Does that make any sense?

In closing, all of 2014 was my own personal Öngyilkos Vasárnap.  No one sang it better than Billie Holiday.  Look it up.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality spelled (drawn) out for the layman with very important links in the about section for taking action against the monopoly. For those of you who complain about a “slow” internet now, just wait until the speed of your access, along with what you’re allowed to access, is no longer dictated by the power of your personal computing device of choice.

This is an online dictatorship in the works. It’s a ploy on the verge of success to break the internet and the power we have as people to share information with the world, all in the name of making more money off of us.

I have just filed two complaints with the FCC with hopes of saving #NetNeutrality and an #OpenInternet . It took all of three minutes.

Below is the link to proceedings. Proceeding numbers are #14-28 and #14-57. Help save our internet. Anything else is a step in the wrong direction, and promotes an anti-access, anti-information, anti-capitalist agenda.

FILE YOUR COMPLAINTS!

How many more billions of dollars do these oligarchs need?

Ignore it at the online peril of us all. #netneutrality2014

The Vape

The Vape

Dear Diary,

It has been a very long time since my last confession. Nostalgia prevents me from closing this account after deleting every post. This blog feels neglected and lonely, two feelings that fit like an old, favorite pair of jeans, even if the feelings are totally unwarranted presently.

I’ve quit smoking, but I won’t change my author page until I’ve succeeded from not smoking for the same amount of time that I smoked. That’s a little over 13 frikkin’ years. I’m on month number four, with only a few hiccups here and there. Currently, I vape. It’s an industry approximately 10 years old in the US.

Big tobacco is shitting bricks. There’s a lot of noise going on concerning how safe vaping might be, with very little mention of how safer vaping is compared to smoking. I find all current “research” dubious at best. Instead, I’ve decided to let my body do the talking.

I have a physically demanding job. And when I was smoking, my job was much more difficult. My relationship with the gym was near nonexistent, and when I did go, my performance was substandard at best. Every night before going to bed, I knew, and felt guilty, I was going to snore, disturbing my wife’s rest. I also knew I was going to have a stuffy nose, and I knew I’d wake up the next morning feeling like crap, dying to immediately feed my addiction at the first opportunity.

My stamina and endurance was at an all time low, and along with that, my self-esteem as well. Now, my body is working entirely differently. I can breathe again. I can taste food. I snore less, if at all. I wake up alert and ready to tackle the day. I’m much more focused. And over the last four months, my concentrated nicotine intake has been reduced from 18mg to a max of 4mg.

The vaping community is another plus. Most of us are former smokers, or smokers still in the struggle, working together to help each other quit tobacco for good. We’re a world wide support group. It’s damn cool. I only wish I could convince some coworkers of making the switch.

Vaping isn’t without its controversy, as I briefly touched upon. Below, I’ll leave the latest link I came upon earlier this morning with concerns to e-cigarettes. Still, it’s not half as bad as smoking “analog cigarettes”, (forgive the pretentious terminology, but it’s my new favorite.)

Click here for the article.

Social Media Blitz (HUT! HUT!)

Earlier this evening I was listening to a discussion on satellite radio about the pros and cons of social media/networking.  Both the host and his guest were easily over the age of 40, I would safely assume.  The pros they mentioned concerning social media were few and far in between.  The easiest to remember is the most obvious — namely, we can keep in touch with friends across great distances, and/or reconnect with lost acquaintances.  This, we all know.

The cons were many, and they were subjects touched upon, not only on this radio station, but a few others this week.  Larry King even went so far as to say he thinks it’s a disease.  And he mentioned going out to dinner at various times with other people and feeling as if he were at the table alone.  Everyone was constantly glued to their little smartphone screens, chomping at the bit, it would seem, at the latest bit of information to consume.

There are now over 1 billion people on Facebook.  Twitter, Google+, and others, while far behind Facebook, are still growing in populace.  I follow Denis Leary on Twitter, Lauren Hill on Tumblr, immediate friends and acquaintances on Facebook, and interesting strangers on Google+.  Only 15 minutes ago, I created an account on Vine and uploaded my first six second video clip, (which in turn was auto-shared to my Twitter account, which is connected to my Facebook account, and now I’m blogging about it on my WordPress account.)  It doesn’t matter to me if no one ends up reading this entry.

What does matter to me is the ever-growing ability to share the thoughts of my scatter-brain, in hopes of reaching kindred spirits across the world.  That sounds contradictory.  I can live with it because I know exactly what I mean, and so will my kindred spirits!  Ha!

However, getting back to the pros and cons of the internet’s evolution to social networking, the pros will prove to outweigh any con any of you can come up with.  From LiveJournal to Bolt to Friendster to Myspace and beyond, I have formed friendships that transcend race, creed, color, religion, time and above all, location.  I have read books from authors, and listened to music from artists, and appreciated prints from photographers, and visited certain locales, and attended concerts I would have never ever heard of or come across while living in my little offline box.  And don’t pretend to fool yourselves — unless you’re banking like that douche Donald Trump, most of our offline lives are rather small.  We work, we study, we play, and hopefully we have a few hobbies to help us forget the routine.  Surely, there are exceptions, but I’m not talking about them.  I’m talking about us:  the rule.

At present, I can agree with some of the cons.  Larry King is absolutely right — it’s beyond rude to go out to dinner with people and constantly go to your non-ringing phone.  There are very few emergencies on Facebook or Twitter or the like, that need our immediate and perpetual attention.  Human interaction, face to face, is still our best bet.  Sarcasm has no font, and I’d rather smile with my face than type out the emote.  I’d rather genuinely guffaw at a ridiculous joke than type “LOL”.  I’d rather kiss your face than press the keys:  <3

Privacy falls under another con, but it’s mostly a joke in my eyes.  Because of you, I know what you eat, when you eat it, where you eat it.  If that statement comes off as creepy, imagine how creeped out I am about how easily you let the world know how important your crepes are, with a picture included!  Sometimes, I’m guilty of the same, and that’s why I’m talking about it here.  We’re talking.  If privacy is truly a concern of yours, unplug yourself for as long as you can.  I know one or two of you who unplug from time to time, yet you always return.  I always know where to find you;  and the latest picture of the crepes you ate that you took with a 12mp camera looked absolutely divine!

Now I’m hungry, so I’m going to cut this off like this:  if we don’t blow ourselves to smithereens in the name of Jesus, Allah, etc., there will come a time when I don’t have to set aside a few minutes to type this out with my hands.  Oh wait!  That time is already almost here!  You see, Robert Scoble might have been the very first man to take a selfie, hands-free, in the shower using Google Glass, but damn it, I will promise you this:  he will not be the last!