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.

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I’m a slave to my ever-changing urges from whence my foundation of basics manifest.

I remember, maybe 10 years ago, when I started playing pool seriously.  A local pool hall became my second home.  I was addicted to the game.  I was at the pool hall four times a week.  I needed to master the game, or at least, reach my highest potential.  It’s an urge that strikes me whenever my interest grows in any craft or game.

I remember learning how to play chess in 3rd grade, but the game didn’t appeal to me until I had long graduated from high school.  A local cafe, where I spent every free moment from work, had a stable of regular players, and it was there that the urge struck again.  I played several games a day against various opponents with the hopes of reaching my highest potential.

I remember falling in love and studying Goju Ryu as a teenager.  A local police station had a sensei who taught us kids for the love of it, never charging a dime.  Three times a week, I broke sweats, shed blood, and strained the limits of my body and spirit.  Work and school got in the way eventually, and changing interests and urges further distanced me from my art.

I remember the spring and summer of 1994, when I spent a weekend rocking out with two friends at Woodstock’s 25th anniversary mega-concert, and surviving off of Miller Lite, Haagen Daas, hot dogs, and music, and mud.  Then later that summer, an algebra professor suggested all his students open up a free email account, and a fellow classmate introducing me to the IRC.  The new urge was writing scripts to crash “enemy” computers.

I remember so many other pivotal points in my life where urges took over to master different areas of what has so far comprised my life.  However, what I remember above all the hobbies, tasks and so forth, were the fundamentals.  I never became the second coming of Willie Mosconi, Bobby Fischer, Bruce Lee, Perry Farrell, nor have I ever mastered rogue programming.  Nevertheless, I can hold my own in the aforementioned, as well as many other areas not mentioned.  

I’m a slave to my ever-changing urges from whence my foundation of basics manifest.  Without the basics, the fundamentals, I would not exist.  Without the fundamentals of everything I take on, I’d have no foundation, no legs to stand on, no form.  

With each endeavor of which I partake, I’m reaching for the sun.  So, I’m bewildered by the myriad of people I come across, read about, see on the news, who claim expertise without a foundation, without having studied the basics, without a firm hold on the fundamentals.

If you’re life is a mess, and you fail to find excitement, success, happiness and/or love;  if you’re having trouble at work, if your relationships continuously fail, if you suck at your own hobbies (and it bothers you), take a step back, take a deep breath, then take a good look to see how you stand on the basics.

Without the fundamentals, you’re nothing.

No Resolution, Only Hope

Year of the Tiger

2010 is the Year of the Tiger.  In particular, 2010 is the year of the Metal Tiger.  According to one website:

THE METAL TIGER 195O AND 2010

The Metal element gives the Tiger its sharpness in action and speed of thought. Tigers born in the Metal year like to stand out in a crowd. With an inspiring assertiveness and competitive demeanor, they determine their goals and then do anything necessary to achieve them. This good-looking character sometimes suffers from mood swings and temper tantrums. The Tiger can be known to jump to conclusions or to act too quickly without weighing the options or understanding the consequences. This is a flaw Tigers must learn to curb.

Speaking of flaws, and bluntly getting to the point, we should all stop that old resolution thing we do every year around this time.  Promises are hard to keep, and Lawd knows I’ve broken plenty promises made to supposedly better myself.  Nothing is worse than starting out another year disappointing oneself.  Life will handle its disappointments regardless, so let us not add fuel to the fire.  Plain old life will also always provide us with the good times, and the means to using the inspiring assertiveness and competitive demeanor the Chinese believe this year will bring for us.

All I can hope for you all, for us all, is the ability — the ever-elusive ability — to determine what our goals may be, and by goal, I mean anything outside of any superficial meaning of the word.  Losing, or gaining, five pounds isn’t going to make or break you;  neither is landing that oh-so-lucrative job on Wall Street (hehe).

In this “new” year, I only hope to keep in contact with everyone who’s entered my life whom I’ve decided to keep.  I can only hope that we have all learned something, anything, to better ourselves.

I hope I continue to appreciate all the many and great, little things, which when considered and measured together, form great, big things.  I hope the same for everyone else too.


Honestly speaking…

Is honesty really the best policy? What if you were the bearer of bad news? What if when all emotions are said and done, someone can’t help but feel like you’re a total jerkoff/bitch for telling him/her your honest opinion? Is this bearer of bad news supposed to travel the globe alone like David Carradine’s “Caine”, forever perpetuating the “truth” as he sees it, regardless of interpersonal relationships?Kung Fu

Or is it the “right” thing to abstain from expressing an honest opinion for which you were asked? This is my present situation, but I already made the decision and expressed my opinion as of last night. Now I feel like the jerkoff. And I know all the obvious and rational conclusions to the questions posted above: “If they can’t handle the truth, that’s their problem, etc, etc…” However, very few of us live strictly within the confines of the obvious, the rational, the “truth”. When emotions are involved, where does one draw the line on honesty? Should one ever have to draw the line on honesty?

My greatest fault last night was my lack of tact, and even though I’m to blame for this lack, I do have a slight excuse to my credit; I was drunk as a skunk. There are plenty of ways of expressing the truth while still saving someone’s feelings, and last night, I couldn’t think of any when giving my take on the whole situation. It isn’t my place to state the situation, who or what was involved.  That’s besides the point.

For the 2.3 people who regularly read this here, my corner of the web, what would you do in my situation, if you had to be the bearer of bad news? What would you do if you knew telling the truth would make you the “bad guy”, when sparing someone’s feelings, and telling them a little white lie, would keep you in the “good guy” column?

If you are inclined to answer these questions, please try to give me some new insight into this predicament. Try to evenly measure out the rational with the emotional, as both are very much a part of many of our lives. Give me a balanced answer if you can, because as much a fan as I am of “Caine”, his life is not one I wish for myself.

Missed Connections: Online Dating.

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Posted by anonymous:

“I decided to take the plunge at the end of last year and join match.com. I don’t know what anyone else’s experience with this site has been, I thought it would be an interesting way to meet members of the opposite sex, since the bar scene just wasn’t doing it for me. I am an attractive, self aware, kind, successful individual, and I do meet men when I go out, but not ones that share interests or hobbies. It often proves difficult to start something with someone you have nothing in common with. This is where match came into the picture.

I posted my profile, the fact that I’d like to meet someone with similar interests, etc. And I did get great responses from people. One of those people, I went out on a date with, and I’ve been seeing him since the end of Jan. It has turned into a physical relationship and the physical chemistry is great, as is the mental chemistry. We speak a lot over the phone when we can’t see each other; he opens up to me about things in his life, and I tell him about things in my life. It seemed like everything was going great (and still are…I think), so I decided to ask him where he thought things were going.

His response was, “I don’t know, where do you think this is going?” And the only way I could respond was, “I don’t know either, I don’t want to rush into things because it could ruin it. I’m not the type of girl looking to get married next week, and I’m not the type of girl that sleeps around.” Which is completely true. I see people running around from relationship to relationship, just to have someone to call their bf or gf, or to find Mr/Ms Right Now, and that’s not me. But that left more questions for me.

So I mustered up the courage and asked if he was seeing other people or if he was pursuing others. (I think when you’re having a physical relationship with someone it’s great to be open and honest, make sure everyone’s on the same page.) He said no. Though, the next thing he said totally baffled me. “But if you met someone and wanted to see them, I would expect that you would tell me and be open with me, and I with you.” Is this normal if you’re seeing someone that you like to say something like that? I mean, sure, being open and honest is a must, but if you’re serious about someone, isn’t pursuing someone else not a part of the equation any longer? Or is it too soon in my interaction with Mr. X to assume such a thing since he isn’t my “bf”?

I have never had a physical relationship with someone I have met online before. Honestly, it has been a while since I have had a physical relationship with anyone. Maybe I am trying to sabotage this interaction by thinking about things too much, and I should just let things run their course?

I guess The thing that sticks out in my mind, and part of the reason I’m ranting/raving here in missed connections is that he still has his match account, where as mine has been inactive for quite some time. I tend to wonder what he uses it for, if he checks it because he paid for it, if he’s still looking, or if I’m just being insecure in myself etc?

I also tend to wonder if people are missing their connections with other’s because of sites like match.com? Is the fact that there is so much choice at our fingertips so alluring that you can’t be with one person and be happy? That there has to be constant search for more?

I am really confused about online dating, or maybe about dating in general. What the goals are, why people do it, and I would love to have a email convo with someone about this. Feel free to write me if you have any experience with this whole online genre of dating.

Thanks for taking the time to read my rant about missed connections.”

My reply:

I don’t know if this will help, but this is the way I see it:

I honestly believe that “online” people are not your average, every-day person. Not yet, anyway. Times are changing rather quickly, and one day, this email will be obsolete. Everyone will be like “us”.

No matter how emotional people like you and I might be, I still see us primarily as “thinkers”. Why? Because of the years we’ve spent online. It has changed us, molded us into who we are today, and who’ll we’ll be tomorrow.

We know More, therefore, we want More. For years we’ve been sharing what is perhaps the most important part of ourselves – our minds! We wouldn’t continue to do this if we didn’t mutually and exclusively find pleasure in this.

As for relationships, I doubt any of “us” will ever be content with what’s considered The Norm. We do what we know how to do to get what we want: we go online. Mutual interests and hobbies aren’t enough. And we all know how the dynamic of an online relationship changes once we meet, once the physical comes into play. For the most part, it’s still unchartered territory.

The problem we have with the “missed connection” is pulling both “worlds” in sync. And because times are changing at the pace it is, it’s not a problem we’ll have for too long. You can take that to the bank.

We’ll solve this long before you can imagine.

To the reader:
What are your thoughts?

Never Marry

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Never, never marry, my dear fellows;  that’s my advice to you;  don’t marry till you have faced the fact that you have done all you’re capable of doing, and till you cease to love the woman you have chosen, till you see her plainly, or else you will make a cruel mistake that can never be set right.  Marry when you’re old and good for nothing…

Or else everything good and lofty in you will be done for.  It will all be frittered away over trifles.  Yes, yes, yes!  Don’t look at me with such surprise.  If you expect anything of yourself in the future you will feel at every step that for you all is over, all is closed up except the drawing room, where you will stand on the same level with the court lackey and the idiot…And why!