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Archive for June, 2010

Weddings always make me teary-eyed

“Congratulations, my friend. You’re gonna have a beautiful life,” I told him as I embraced the newly wedded man. I fought to hold back tears. On one hand, I felt indescribably happy for this man I considered a close friend. I knew he felt strongly for his wife Lisa. I knew just in the way I saw him carry himself that he felt an immense conviction to love this woman. The strength of the feelings in him emanated; I could feel them, and I was envious. Envious of something, though I’m not sure of what exactly. It could have been that he was done searching. David found a mate that he would hope to spend the rest of his life with. It could have been that I was envious of him feeling that strongly for someone because perhaps I want to do the same again one day. I hope to do the same again one day. Tears weld up in my eyes. I tried to hold them back, but they were affecting my speech. As I put my hands on his shoulders, I drew him in again to squeeze my affection into this dear friend of mine. I almost wanted to remind him how excited he should be at the amazing life ahead of him, but I was sure he was well aware. Perhaps not to the full extent of how amazing his life will be, which probably for him, is unfathomable.

On this day, I re-recognized the value of appreciation. Finding something beautiful, in many respects, is being able to appreciate. Often, the things that we find beautiful are objects, people, ideas and elements of our life that we can value. For instance, if you are a basketball fan and you appreciate the game, you can see and appreciate how beautifully Kobe Bryant plays the game. As a basketball fan, I admire the way he’s made the game into a form of art. The way he approaches the game mentally, his technical form, his presence on the court in the form of leadership and his shear tenacity and his killer instinct to win is what makes the way he plays so remarkable. To many, basketball is just a sport. Even to a lot of basketball players, it is still a two-dimensional game that many see as a combination of athletic ability and technical skill. But for those who can really appreciate the game of basketball, you know that it is so much more. Another example I think of is wine. To me, wine is wine. They’re fermented grapes. I don’t whether a wine is dry, has a lot of tannins, half-body or full body. And to me, they all taste the same. Bad. But, it’s because I can appreciate how diverse wines can be. I can’t appreciate the intention behind each flavor and taste of a wine. For the wine connoisseur, however, he or she knows it all. Therefore, when they taste a wine they really like, they embrace it and really really like it. Getting back to my point, when you find a woman, man or partner that you like and perhaps want to spend the rest of your life with, you must find that individual beautiful. And in order to find a person beautiful, you also have to appreciate facets of people: the way the corners of her mouth curl when she smiles, the pitch of her laugh, the types of laughs she possesses, her smell that consists of the collection of distinct fragrances saturated in her hair, on her skin and in her clothes. In a way, finding someone beautiful is a celebration of life, its smells, its sounds, the sighs and everything in between and indescribable. Bottom line:  it’s a beautiful thing to find someone beautiful.

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you feel me?

June 21, 2010 1 comment

The Wire is one hell of a good show. I started getting into it after a few friends of mine kept bringing it up. They were all like, “You gotsta watch it.” After I downloaded the first season, I couldn’t ever get through the first 15 minutes of episode 1. It was so dry, like the boring, drawn-out parts of a novel. But my buddy Edwin told me that I just had to get through the first 3 or 4 episodes, then I’d be hooked. I got through the first few episodes, now I’m sold.

What is The Wire? I have a hard time answering this question. It’s kind of like a television version of the movie Crash for its social insights. It’s also a cross between CSI and Law & Order. I’ve seen CSI, but never Law & Order, but there are courtroom scenes in The Wire as I’m sure there are in Law & Order. The show takes place in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. I never really thought that much about Baltimore. Oh, it’s some city in Maryland that has a football team (Ravens) and a baseball team (Orioles). Since I started watching this show, I’ve driven through Baltimore on my way home and to New York on two occasions, and I can’t help but look at the city differently. I almost look for what I see on the show. This show put Baltimore on the map for me. The Wire isn’t just a crime show. It’s a show that has taught me that this world is a lot more messed up than we think it is. Everything that is part of a system is swayed by selfish human agenda and ambition. The creator of the show David Simon puts it best when he says the show is “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how whether you’re a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you’ve committed to.”

I’ve learned a variety of things from this show. I learned that a lieutenant outranks a sergeant, a major outranks a lieutenant, a colonel outranks and major, the deputy ops outranks any major and the commissioner is the head honcho. At least, this is the case in the police force. I learned that it’s not just about busting bad guys, but about being smart enough to find evidence, devise a strategy to build a case that will hold up in a court of law. I’ve learned that much of the United States isn’t what I’ve seen. Even living in New York City for the past 4 years, I really haven’t seen anything. Even watching this show, I don’t really know, but what I see on the show is so astounding that it must be true. I’m astonished by the way the show portrays kids from the slums and the projects. When I hear stories about how bad it is in public schools in big cities, I really do not have any idea. I watch this show, and I’m a little saddened and discouraged by how fucked up this world seems. If it’s not money that drives people, it is pride and the thirst for power. Everywhere from the streets where drug deals are made to downtown offices where politicians make big time decisions. Nothing is as it seems. We are constantly at odds with our own agenda and a system that only works if everyone can cooperate and strive for the same good. However, we live in a world where we are not willing to believe that people can look out for one another. Therefore, people become selfish because they don’t think that others can be selfless, and it’s this vicious and ugly cycle where the next man gets ripped off or left to fend for himself. I know the show is fiction, but I see middle school kids beating other kids up with bats. I see youngin’s part of the drug scheme on street corners. I see people who are fiends for drugs. I see public school systems where kids don’t learn shit and can’t even read. I see dead bodies, victims of unnecessary conflict. Yes, people get paid to write this stuff, and HBO produces it into a show. But, it’s not beyond reason to believe that this shit actually happens.

Lately, I’ve been pressing this show upon everyone. I love the way the people from the ghetto talk; they’re slang be tight as shi’ yo. You feel me? But, if you watch this show and you don’t realize that the world is like this, then you may need to peel your eyelids back a little further. The show is best described as very real. It’s a portrayal of an American city that from the bottom up or the top down suffers from corruption, greed, green (money) and a system that fails to serve its people. Also, it illustrates people in a very real way. The show hits at our internal struggle to do what we feel is right over what we are asked to do or what we feel is “better” for us in the long-run. There is no saint in the show, no real good guy or bad guy. Everyone is just a player in the game. You can choose to cooperate with it or you can choose to turn away from it. One way or another, you will be interacting with people who play the game or in some cases, are played by the game. By interacting or associating yourself with people (because we are a social species), you are inherently placing yourself a player in the game as well. It cannot be escaped. I think the best solution is to either create a new game if you can’t escape the one you’re in or completely change it.

Suggestions for watching the show: remember who people are and their relation to other people. Otherwise, everyone individual is someone random, and the show doesn’t seem nearly as intelligent. Read the quotes at the beginning of the show and look out for them during the show to see in what context they are said. Lastly, things from the past seasons cross over so don’t neglect to remember things from prior seasons. Each season focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In order, they are:  the illegal drug trade, the city port system, the city government and bureaucracy, the public school system and the print news media.

My favorite quote from season 1 is:  “You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers, but you start to follow the money and you don’t know where the fuck it’s going to take you.” – Lester Freamon

Lastly, my favorite character is this guy Omar Little. Watch out for him. He’s a smart cat. Love the dude. Watch the show and let me know what you think. It’s great, trust me.

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poems

Poems

Best two-player combo

I’d pick Chris Paul and Lebron James

Win no less than 85 games

Postseason ain’t be no thang

Hittin’ Js, slingin’ the slang,

Shootin’ threes, smokin’ trees,

They’d be the original gang,

Any good look be bang bang

Hail the King, we will witness

Master glory, see what I see

In Mr. CP3. No look, dash and spin,

He stings worse than the kin,

Of any killer bee cuz he’s got

360 vision, courtside, front parking lot.

‘nuff money for the valet,

That green don’t matter,

Cuz one day these ballas be badder,

Choosin’ glory over gold,

Past the point of being sold,

It’s bold, it’s true.

We love ‘em cuz they played for the red, white and blue.

Dad

My dad’s name is slim

Temper he’s got on him, me too

Love him, course I do.

Mom

She went the distance

Ma’ poured more blood, sweat and tears

Than I will ever know

Steve

My blood is your blood

My home is your home, too bad

Only bro that I got

Haiku #4

Late night, watch The Wire

Witness shit in the real world

Is this how it is?

Haiku #5

I know words aren’t ‘nuff

If words can stand by themselves

Please grant me pardon.

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another reason why I am the full fool

It’s primarily because I am often foolish enough for eating to the point that I am way beyond full. For those of you who don’t know, I am a fatty.

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Dream Truck

June 15, 2010 1 comment

I’m not a man of the South. I am not a Southerner by nature. However, I do live on what I consider to be the cusp of the South. Just south of Richmond, Virginia is where, in my opinion, you begin to find widespread Dixie or Confederacy pride. In my small town, you see cars donning Confederate flags as bumper stickers. You see tattoos on the chests of 50-year-old women. You witness racism here and there, but because it’s the 21st century, people are finally getting their act together. So even if aren’t outwardly discriminating, they still hold onto their inward prejudices. Sometimes, I’m no different.
One thing that many individuals of Southern heritage do enjoy and take pride in is a man’s truck. People bump them up, putting big tires on these automobiles. They drive them off-road through the mud, an activity known to many as “routin’.” If there’s one thing that I appreciate about the South, other than sweet ice tea, it is having a truck. Though I don’t own a truck, I hope to one day own such a vehicle. If I owned a truck, I would put a small bed in the truck bed. I would buy a really comfy mattress and cover it securely to insure that no water seeps into my baby. And I would keep it in my truck at all times. Last night, my friends and I got together to have some beer and play a board game called Balderdash—I highly recommend it. After the game, we made a run out to Wendy’s down the street. My buddy Matt and I sat in the back of my friend Jordan’s truck and we leaned back and witnessed stars zoom on by; the view was kind of like watching some sort star show in a planetarium, where the ceiling is a screen that flashes images across it. Wondering about what could possibly exist in the vast celestial bodies of the universe, I made a promise to myself that I would get this truck, just so I could drive out to the middle of nowhere, somewhere with a clearing, and I would hop in the back of the truck and lay down to soak in the magnificence of the vastness of the universe. I would keep bug spray in the back of the truck, where my comfiest hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants and turn on some good jams.
Over winter break this year, my suitemates from sophomore year in college and I went on a brief road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas. On our way there, we made a brief stop in the middle of the desert to take a leak. We pulled over on the side of a road just off an exit, got out, and none of us could believe how clear the sky was. I saw stars that I could never see in New York; they lit up the sky.
When I think about this dream truck, I imagine driving across the country with my kids during the summer. We would obviously check into hotels for proper sleep, but we would take our time getting there. We would lay out on the mattress in the back and simply gaze. There’s something serene about looking at stars. And also something paradoxical about the stars we see everyday. These stars are places that we can see on a daily basis; however, they are millions and millions of light years away, and we’ll never get to them. On the other hand, there are places that we can get to in this world that we will never see. Even in places in our own town or state that are wonders and beautiful sights, we often never venture to seek out.
I thank the South for instilling in me a fondness for trucks. I thank the clear skies of suburban Virginia for allowing me to see and fall for the stars.

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no me gusta estrés

June 14, 2010 1 comment

I’m not typically one to like driving. I much prefer to relax in the passenger seat, or if I’m in a cab or limo, I’ll take back window seat. But as I was driving back home across my small town tonight from a friend’s house after the ugly game (I want LA to win), I realized that I enjoy driving more these days; and it’s been to my change in driving style. I no longer feel a need to race past cars or get home quickly or drive at a certain speed. Rather, I just want to mosey home with the windows down and jammin’ to some tunes. In retrospect, I thought I was doing myself a favor by weaving in and out of cars on the highway, speeding to pass cars and gunnin’ the gas just to make yellow traffic lights (trust me, I’m still a safe driver. Just wear the seatbelt, and you’re fine). I thought I was doing myself a favor because I was stressed out whenever I found myself approaching too closely to a car; but now that I just ease along, I don’t find myself getting too close to the rear end of cars. If anything, cars just pass by me, exactly what I was doing in years past. And now, I can enjoy being on the road. Driving in my car gives me time to think, to let my mind wander a little and to even breathe more freely.

For the past weeks, I have been constantly around people. At the end of college, all I was doing was partying and hanging out with the people I did not want to leave. After graduation, I went up to Cape Cod with a few friends from my intramural soccer team. I came back to New York for a day and proceeded to make my way down to Annapolis, Maryland to celebrate a friend’s graduation from the Naval Academy. More partying. I finally made it home, where I spent no more than 2 days before my roommate from college came down. Memorial Day weekend, I road tripped with him down to New Orleans via Atlanta. We got to visit the Georgia Aquarium and the Coca Cola factory. Can you tell I’m recapping my summer for you? Haha. After being in New Orleans for 2 nights, I flew back up to Richmond and then hopped on a bus the next day to New York. Spent the weekend in the City celebrating a friend’s birthday, and he came home with me for a few days. He just left yesterday and now I’m home on my own. I haven’t been on my own for a while now. Besides these car rides home, I haven’t quite been left to just sit and think, though the mental list of thought topics has been stagnant for a while now, merely consisting of my future and what the hell am I doing with my life. The second may sound synonymous with the first, but there’s a little distinction. The distinction being, I haven’t been really proud of the way I have been leading my life lately. I am not proud of the things that come from my lips or the actions that I submit to this world. But am I doing anything about it? I don’t know. I guess I’m trying. Oh, the journey.

There’s an important value in learning to be alone without being lonely. It’s important to not feel lonely when you’re alone or to rely so heavily on the company of others to validate you feeling whole. However, it’s been such a long time that I’ve been alone that I may be challenged to question whether or not I am a person who finds completion in the company of others. And it’s not even a matter of filling up time or finding things to do. Although, I would ideally be able to fill my time with exercise, watching “The Wire,” reading books, seeking opportunities for my future and writing. Learning to be alone without feeling lonely is analogous to being single without feeling a need to date or hook up, which I think is also an important quest I need to undertake. I contend that we are all looking for a source of validation. We are all seeking to find a sense of self-worth, hoping to feel we mean something to someone or something. Though I think there is nothing wrong with this, it’s hazardous and at times, devastating, to look to the wrong things for validation. I know I don’t want to look to people or to a significant other. However, there are also few greater feelings in the world than feeling loved by your friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend. Cuidado (Be careful). I need to learn and grow not just content, but also find fulfillment in who I see myself to be, the way I am growing and how I am living my life. I want to live a life of integrity, and right now, I think in order to do that I have to value and really cherish this time I am spending alone.

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Who is the full fool?

June 13, 2010 1 comment

When typing up words, I most often confuse the words “full” and “fool.” Though I know the difference in meaning of these two words and have no problem with their meanings, I seem to confuse them because they sound alike. Also, once I had eaten so much that I kept exclaiming, “I am so full.” My friend Tennessee proceeded to respond with:  “Yeah, you are a fool.” By the way, I messed it up again.

I am indeed a fool. There is absolutely no doubt to this claim. I have made many, many mistakes and continue to do so against my better judgment. And though I know what’s best, I can’t quite place my finger on whether I lack the discipline, the motivation or something else to make better decisions. Therefore, I sometimes consider myself full of it. I am also a fool of it. “It” being all of the above. I am just trying to figure out how to promote the values and ideals that I want humanity to live by. I firmly believe that it has to start with me. As you read this, I guess I’m just asking you to be a little gracious and understand that I am human. Perhaps though, as you read this and as I write these entries, we can share in the experience of becoming wiser fools. Sharing is caring, people. Let’s make it happen.

I love movie quotes, but I’m not sure if Clementine from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” gets it right when she says:  “Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”

Maybe I don’t completely get the quote, but striving for peace of mind makes life (from here forth, I’d like to refer to “life” as “the journey) sound a little unpleasant. It is as if we’re constantly in a state of chaos, and we’re looking for a band-aid to this chaos or frantic state that will give us peace. The journey is a war-torn battlefield that finds periods of peace without it being everlasting.

I often ask people if they believe in such a thing as “world peace.” Most people say “no,” but what then are we striving for? Perhaps on a macro level, we’re striving. However, on the individual/personal level, I think we want to find a cure to end this condition of chaos. Though the journey should be difficult, it also must be hopeful.

Essentially, what I’m trying to say is that we need to seek ways of life that are sustainable to live. The way we wake up and go about our day, the way we treat people, the way we respond to how people treat us–these are all elements of the journey that require a careful approach. The journey changes dramatically when you want to greet the day with the excitement of what it has to offer. As I currently think about my future and wonder what it is that I want to do with my life, one qualification I made for that job and that future is that it needs to be something that I look forward to when I wake up. It needs to be something that has me jumping out of bed to be a part of. And the same goes with my family and everything else that is a part of my life.

Thank you for putting up with my word vomit.

-the full fool

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