Saturday, December 20, 2008

You just can't please people...

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You really can't. And I get upset when I see other's wanting our public officials to be perfect. They can't. And no matter what they do, someone will be pissed. Today, a few of my friends were upset about Obama's decision to have Rick Warren preside over his invocation. I'm so over it. Really, there are bigger fish to fry. Obama's the president elect, he can do what he wants. Bill Clinton got his dick sucked. Nixon spied on the other party. Get over it. He can't impress us all and I expect him to screw up. In fact, it makes me like him more if he pisses a few people off. Let me put it this way, if Obama had picked any other Christian pastor or minister or reverend or priest, wouldn't someone have been pissed? I think this is a situation in which I'm apathetic towards because I'm a member of both sides and I know that somewhere along the line, someone will get their balls tied in  knot.

My point is, you can't please everyone. We need to stop with the crybaby bullshit every time someone we like does something we don't agree with...I have too many things that I find more pertinent than who swears in who. Obama is an elected official. He can do what he wants, but his ass is dependent on us for with that said, I'm more concerned with what he does in the next 4 years, not who swears him in.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

You are what you read! Part 2

So in light of last my post, I'm reading 4 books. Well, not 4 books at once, my attention span couldn't deal with that, but I've read at least a few pages of each to know that I'll finish each one. Then, I'll read the one that catches my attention the most from cover to cover and move on to the next. I typically don't try to read more than 2 books at the same time....I'll get plots , setting and other content mixed up. So for the sake of preserving the author's original presentation, I read books one at a time. Therefore, I will not be posting as frequently as I started doing, and I will not write as long as I started doing. When I'm done with my books, I will continue (or at least I will try) to write more content....I should have generated a lot of content after four books.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

You are what you read!

I heard that somewhere and don't know if it is true...and it is highly unlikey that a person's being is solidified by reading someone else's work. Nevertheless, I am trying to read three books, which is difficult after college. Being forced to read things you don't want to or have very little interest in conditions you to hate reading in general...but now that grad school looms over my head, I need to read more for pleasure. Not only will reading interesting material increase my tolerance for black and white print , but I can get different writing styles to incorporate into my own voice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gentrification in my hometown...

So I was born in Hollywood, FL, but spend most of my life in Miami and received almost all my schooling within Miami-Dade Public School System. I went to school in Miami before and after the FCAT, before you had the "3-year vocational" high school diploma's, high school majors and God know what else. I went to school when we had art, music, P.E. and recess. I am lucky. Very lucky indeed. I had the privilege of going to a Magnet school from my last year of elementary to my last day of senior high. Prior to my last year of elementary, I had been in and out of school's and was the constant "new kid", whether it had been Broward County, Lee County, Private Schools, or the Jamaican School system. Nonetheless, I spent the majority of my schooling in Miami, and it didn't matter where I lived, Miami-Dade School's were clueless as to whether or not I lived in the county or the right school district for that matter.

With all this in mind, I spend the largest portion of my life in the area in Miami now called "Edgewater", and it's located in the neighborhood of Midtown. This area is located north of downtown Miami, north of I-395, east of US1(Biscayne Blvd.), south of 36th St (Julia Tuttle Causeway) and bounded by Biscayne Bay on the west . Those are the boundaries set by Neighborhood Enhancement Team(NET) of Miami, but Edgewater could include the area east of NE 2nd south of 36th St, with the boundaries being the train tracks or the old rail car yard( now called Shops at Midtown and Midtown Miami). If you're in Miami and your still clueless: Edgewater can be north of where the Omni mall used to be( now the Arts Institute of Miami), North of the Adrienne Arsht Center for Perfroming Arts, the area south of Morningside or Bay Point estates or the area east of Wynwood (now the Wynwood Art District).

Now, growing up in this area was fun. I lived a 1 minute walk from the bay, 2 blocks from the buses that took us to Miami Beach, 5 mins from Morningside Park, a 10 min bus ride to downtown Miami(Bayside, Main Library, Miami Art Museum, Metrorail, etc). I always had something to do, and friends to play with. Everyone looked out for one another, and we would have block parties for Christmas, New Year's , Fourth of July, and other holidays. Everyone was from different countries, states, and ethnic backgrounds, but we all lived in a thriving community and anyone who dared threaten our community would have to answer to that whole community. I remember one 4th of July, we all put together our own fireworks display at the end of the street (all the streets were cul-de-sacs because they terminated at the bay). We were having a great time, when some guy who was new to the block came out and started to rant ethnic slurs, and told us we had no right to celebrate Independence day because we were all not Americans and that we needed to go back to our countries. I won't get into details, but the following month he had to move from the community...

It breaks my heart to see what's  going on in my precious neighborhood now. Developers with no attachment to the community or history with the land(Some are not even based in the U.S.)  are buying huge vacant plots of land and building architecturally irrelevant condos and apartment buildings. Most of the homes and apartment buildings in the Edgewater  community are old and have a charm that is distinctly "Miami". It is reminiscent of the pioneers of the costal ridge, before the dredging of the Miami River and the numerous canals  that gave way to the news cities that surround Miami city limits. The neighborhood has the look of a community that was built by stubborn, resilient and pioneering people, that stayed and fought through hurricanes, floods, humidity and heat that could kill, and mosquitos the size of Campbell's soup cans. As such, the people that have lived and inherited the land through the decades have been those struggling to survive, those fighting to start a family, those trying to obtain the American dream and those that are living it. Why should this land now be threatened by the privileged, rich and careless? Why should the character and charm of this neighborhood change to that of the apathetic and ambivalent?

I find it ironic that for years this community had been considered an eyesore, due to it's contrasting racial and financial capabilties to that of Bay Point Estates (some of the most coveted real estate in the City of Miami),Morningside (a now declared historic neighborhood), and Miami's Upper East side( which contains Magnolia Park, Bay Point Estates, Morningside, Bayside, Belle Meade, Shorecrest, and Palm Grove). For years, this community was plagued with prostitution and drugs,which threatened the families that were living in the Edgewater community. I remember some nights if I went to the mall with my mom can came back after 10pm, my mom would have to deal with men trying to pick her up. In fact, many women who were going out to Miami Beach after hours, would have to deal with either John's trying to get them or Police questioning their whereabouts. There were half-way houses in our neighborhood, for those trying to get back on their feet after battling addiction, and I can imagine that dealing with drug dealers in your community wasn't a factor for recovery. By the time I moved, things had dramatically changed. More business had been introduced, and more families and college aged adults were moving in.

You can see why now that I have a hard time believing that rent in this neighborhood is upwards of $1000/per month. Most of the charming homes and apartments were old and had serious square footage, with rents of about $450-700 a month in the 1990's. There were a few gated, guard-watched buildings, but not more that 10 in the entire community. The rents  for those were still lower than what you pay on the beach (and still are).  Everyone had access to a beautiful bay view and everyone took full advantage of it. It's astonishing that for years this community was considered  crime and drug ridden (even though I had only been offered drugs once my entire time living there, compared to numerous times in the 'burbs) and was colloquially referred to as "The Strip", referencing the string of seedy, old hotels and prostitution that came to a head at 79th street and Biscayne. Now, with the previous real estate market boom, developers were hoping to grab all the ocean and bay front properties to bring in Europeans, South Americans and those from the northeast U.S winter home investments. Thankfully, these people are fighting developers for their deposits and are no longer buying these overpriced, pieces of the sky and bay. Most buildings that were speculated to be built, we never started.

Now, I don't know what the future holds for this and many other neighborhoods in Miami. Some neighborhood need to be preserved, while some need to be improved and investments such as new developments can bring in more property taxes to help slacking schools and local businesses. Some of the developments are great, Midtown mall brought in jobs, I even worked there my sophomore year in college. But when these development push out the lower and lower middle-class families and individuals, it's not right. Many of these people have stayed and maintained these neighborhoods for years...and now they are being uprooted or forced to pay higher property taxes because 1 development brought up the property value. I think that the City of Miami needs to pay attention to their residents and not to how much money they're collecting in property taxes from a 50-story condo. We have a huge housing crisis in Miami and it is exasperated by the economy we're currently in. I would hate to know that Miami is becoming inhabited by even MORE egotistically, social irresponsible, apathetic individuals that care only about their image. The city needs to stop focusing on their image, and property values and consider that an investment in the people is a LIFETIME of revenue. Stop thinking of native Miamian's as charity cases, underprivileged,  unAmerican and uneducated, and stop trying to replace us with lofty, uncaring, apathetic,S.O.B.'s that make Miami seem like a war ground between the upper and lower classes, the Americans and immigrants, and the educated and uneducated. Until we focus on people and not appearances, will get a unified community that stretches beyond cultural, racial, ethnic, and lingual differences. That is a lesson that is not just specific to Miami, but to the world in general.

P.S.- I think if you read this, listen to Adele's "Hometown Glory". I think it's an appropriate song for the topic.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Okay so my post yesterday was from a dark place and I divulged that tale for the purpose of consciousness raising. I'm not physically homeless, I have a roof over my head and I have a lease in my name. So in physical terms, you can come visit me, sit on my couch, and I can make you margaritas or mojitos and chill out. But as I mentioned, this time of year is rough for me and I tend to get emotional and boo-hooey and yada yada...but I'm not wanting pity or sympathy or anything like that. I'm a ridiculously strong and resilient person and that is not the only thing I've gone through in my life, and it's not the worst. In addition, I am not the only one that has experienced shit, and by far my shit is no comparison to other people's shit. So with that said, I want to make a point that I feel takes some balls.

I have been told, since 2005 (and a few times before), that my experience in Hurricane Andrew is rendered obsolete because of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought on New Orleans. Now, I know people that were in Katrina and I know people that live in LA that were affected by Katrina(plus I saw the horrific pictures on CNN) and it was hell. No doubt about that. And the government exasperated the already devastating conditions. I think comparing natural disasters to somehow render one "worse" than the other, is unthinkable. Trauma is trauma. Death is death. Devastation is devastation, no matter how it arises. It's like comparing the attacks of 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, or Slavery to the Holocaust, or the genocide in Sudan to the genocide in Rwanda. It somehow can't really be done without rendering someone's experience as somehow invalid and that they should just "get over it".

To those individuals that are thinking that I'm exaggerating an old experience, let me clarify some facts. Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina both were devastating Cat. 5 storms. But there are some key differences in how scientifically, financially and experientially these storms are looked at. Scientifically, Hurricane Katrina takes the cake. It is the costliest storm in U.S. history in 2008 dollars, twice that of Hurricane Andrew. To date, it is the deadliest storm since 1928, with a death count of 1,836 lives lost. It also has the sixth lowest pressure(902 mbars) of any measured Hurricane to form in the Atlantic and based on pressure, it also makes it the sixth "strongest" Hurricane recorded.

Now, Hurricane Katrina was a Cat.5 storm and strong as hell, but didn't make landfall as a Cat. 5. This measurement was taken after it passed over FL as a Cat. 1 and reemerged in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina rapidly intensified in the Gulf, but almost dropped by 2 Categories before it made  landfall. Katrina was a Cat. 3 storm at landfall. I should also note that most building codes for the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have requirements that all homes built must be up to code and withstand up to a Cat 3 storm. That's why you rarely see homes made of wood in Miami, and if they are, they're reinforced with concrete. As such, the devastation that resulted in Katrina was due to breaches of the levees that caused extensive flooding and water damage. Most that lost their lives and property can blame the extensive surge of water that resulted due to old infrastructure. That was the biggest human error I think we have had in the 2000's, that almost 2,000 people died because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers F-ed up big time. Then to add insult to injury, they took forever to figure out how to get in aid, due to the massive flooding that they knew could have resulted by a hurricane, years in advance.

Now Hurricane Andrew was a Cat. 5 storm as well. In terms of intensity, Andrew beats Katrina, scientifically speaking. In measures of strength which is based on pressure, Andrew was 922 mbars compared to Katrina's 902mbars (lower pressure=stronger storm). But landfall intensity is based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and only 13 known storms have been recorded in U.S. to make landfall as a Cat. 5 storm. Katrina is not one of them. Hurricane Andrew from my recollection and reports, made landfall around Homestead, FL as a Cat. 5 storm( windspeed= 156 or higher). Windspeed to Andrew was what was water was to Katrina. The highest reported surface gusts were 212mph, reported from a home in Perrine, before it was destroyed. In fact, almost all facilities reporting windspeed either had their instruments destroyed in the process of measurement, which led to the windspeeds being underreported, or had to stop measuring windspeeds to preserve equipment.

Also, let me provide a timeline that is mindbaffling. Hurricane Andrew was declared a Hurricane on the morning of August 22. Six  hours later is was tracked to make landfall in Jupiter, FL with winds of 105mph. By August 23( the following day), it was a Cat. 5 monster storm. It weaken over the Bahamas slightly, but strengthened and continued to do so before and slightly after landfall. It made landfall around Homestead on the morning of August 24th, with measured winds of about 150mphs(who really knows?). The eyewall continued to strengthen after surfacing and passed over the southern tip of FL in 4 hours! It emerged in the Gulf at 135mph (what Katrina was at by landfall). From August 22-August 24 is two days (Andrew hit overnight on the 24th, so we woke up to desvation the same morning of the 24th). That means people had little or no time to leave, pack or prepare unless you had done so in anticipation of a Cat.5 storm. In general, in S. Fl, we don't run from a Cat.1 storm and Andrew literally moved from 1-5 in ONE day. So now, if you live here currently, you get the sensationalized news reports to prepare for anything. Now you know why...

My point is, as I made a few days ago, you cannot invalidate someone else's experience because you don't acknowledge it or the facts surrounding long I experienced it, it exists for me.


Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm Homeless...

Webster's Dictionary defines "Broke" as the past tense form of the word "Break". Break is defined many ways, some that describe  the way I'm feeling  right now:

  • 1 a: to separate into parts with suddenness or violence b: fracture <break an arm> c: rupture <break the skin> d: to cut into and turn over the surface of <break the soil> e: to render inoperable <broke his watch>
  • 4: to disrupt the order or compactness of <break formation>5: to make ineffective as a binding force <break the spell>
  • 6 a: to defeat utterly and end as an effective force : destroy <used starvation to break the enemy> b: to crush the spirit of <brutal methods broke the prisoner> c: to make tractable or submissive: as (1)past participle often broke : to train (an animal) to adjust to the service or convenience of humans <a halter-broke horse> (2): inure , accustom d: to exhaust in health, strength, or capacity <broken by his struggle for power>
  • 9 a: to ruin financially <break the bank> b: to reduce in rank <broken from sergeant to private>
  • 17: to ruin the prospects of <could make or break her career>

I haven't always been broke, but not having money makes me feel all the above overwhelming at the same time. Both of my parents are educated, came from good families, but sadly are from abroad and in the U.S., most people don't care about what you accumulate in other countries. Somehow, people think that unless you have been bred and raised in the U.S., you somehow have a degraded status (i.e.- your Canadian doctorate doesn't allow you work across the border, your M.D. makes you a nurse in U.S., you were a business owner in your country, but you are a sales associate in the states, your law degree can't even make you a paralegal in states...should I continue?) .

My mother got her first degree in Hotel Management and Tourism. She worked as a manager for the Hyatt Regency and the Lowe's in Montreal while attending McGill University and received her degree in Nursing. She then worked as a pediatric Nurse, did private duty home health, as well as ran her own private nursing facility. She had a home in the states, as well as in Montreal, not to mention the vacation homes she had been entitled to for her work in the Hotel Business in Jamaica. My mother worked private cases in the states, received additional certifications in homeopathic medicine, physical therapy and massage therapy to increase her profits as a private duty nurse. She worked for nursing agencies for benefits (health, 401K, dental, etc), but was primarily self-employed. She had her own massage therapy practice, worked spa's on Miami Beach during the tourist season, built private clientele and then continued her business during the "off" season. This was part-time. She worked at almost all major hospitals in South Florida.

My mom's husband (bio dad) was the Principal land surveyor and engineer for the Commonwealth of Jamaica....nuff said. But they got separated and messy shortly after I was born.

My mom has a progressive condition from diabetes called peripheral neuropathy. It basically means damage to your peripheral nerves (legs and arms) that cause you to feel numbness or nothing at all, kind of like when a limb falls asleep. She contributed a lot to others as a nurse, but received almost no care because she when she suffered a fall in her home, she was in between agencies and private duty work and was not covered under her agency's health insurance. Sad part is, things got worse.

Homelessness is a real thing for's not something I see when I walk by a panhandler on the street. Homelessness is something I see everyday when I come home,  wherever my home happens to be. I appear to have it all together (for the most part), but most people don't know that I was living in a homeless assistance program for the latter part of high school and my first year of college. I actually moved into our first apartment we had had in years in 2006, my second year of college and the only reason we got that apartment was because I had established credit during the summer. In fact, I was almost on the streets the week after I graduated from college because I lost that apartment (the rent was increasing every 6 months) and BINGO...destroyed my credit. No Grad PLUS loans to pay for my first choice grad school....I am having to retreat to the bosom of Barry for my graduate education.

One would ask the question, "How does someone get into this situation?  Isn't there help? Your parents weren't bums, what happened"? The simple answer is, things were fine before August 1992, but I suffered the greatest tropical cyclone after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew. In fact, it sounds corny, but you never really recover from natural disasters. You get displaced. You're uprooted. What ever stability you had is destroyed...and your sense of stability is gone. Forever. I lost my home in that storm, and since I have never lived somewhere longer than 5 years. People ask where I grew up, I say Miami, they ask "What part?", I say everywhere....I have stayed in people homes and have been subjected to shit, and abuse. I have dealt with watching my belongings that I cherish become trash. I have watched my belongings, my photos, my clothing, my stuffed animals, toys, and family heirlooms be throw in the street, aided by the handy dandy county sheriff. I have had judges order my mother in a wheelchair to vacate a premises in 72 hours and contact a shelter.

I have had shelters tell my mom that they accept women, but no men over the age of 8. I have had shelters that take only men say I would have to shower with  50+ men, at the age of 14, in a communal shower and then leave by 6:30am. I have had shelters tell me that I cannot be in shelter with adult men, because I'm a minor. I have heard shelters turn away my mom because she cannot walk and shelter's require self-sufficiency. I have heard that family shelters are full with 3 month waiting lists.

I have been told by social workers that my mother is unfit to raise a child because she should be in a nursing home. I have had social workers come to my home offering assistance, but instead want my mom to sign me over to foster care. I have had social agencies tell my mom that she had way too much education to receive any assistance. I have had my belongings stolen by people who say they want to help. I have had a church hierarchy throw me out of a property that they church owned for revenue. I have had deacons, pastors, and reverends come to my home on a Saturday morning with the police and threaten to arrest me and my mother for being 2 months behind on rent. I have had those same pastors lay hands on me for crippling depression that set in after I watched my mom loose her townhouse she bought after she worked with a psychiatric patient that wanted to give her a daughter for the entire length of the case.

I have been beaten at train stations coming home from rehearsals because I looked "gay". I have had "friends" spread vicious rumors about me in high school because I stayed in their home during a homeless period and they didn't like something I said to them in a conversation. I have had family members refuse to help my mom and I because I appear to be too "funny". I have had  relatives curse me the night I was baptized...."Faggots go to hell!". I have been told by relatives that my mom should have not had me and she would not be in her present situation...that she doesn't deserve help because she ruined her own life. I have had relatives gang up on me on Christmas and threaten to kill me if I ever came around them.

This time of year is rough for me. I don't give gifts because it's superficial and duplicitous. I don't have money and I won't acquire debt or pretend to have money to buy friends. This time of year, I think about the Christmas tree decorations I made in Kindergarten, and where they are now. I think about how the next year will turn out. I think about the millions of people this year that will experience what I've experienced for a large portion of my life. I think about whether or not my mom will be here next year, or even tomorrow, and if so, can I afford to bury her? Can I even afford to get her a life insurance policy to hide the shame? I wonder if I will be able to pay for school, or will I have to rescind a great offer because I broke a lease in college or defaulted on a credit card that I used to pay rent. I fret and worry that I will be somehow discovered and that my friends will laugh and betray me. I have one that does so every year. I wonder, "Who will it be next year?". I wonder, "Where will I be living next year?". I feel guilty because my mom's pregnancy influenced the onset of her diabetes and her ultimate condition. I worry about my career and if I will be able to deal with homeless clients or Katrina victims...I wonder what I will do if I have a client that has a hateful family that would say such terrible things, when social support is due.

I ultimately ask, "Will I ever own a home of my own, that is mine and exclusively so?"


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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Questioning the definition...

So  I never had the opportunity to take social psychology as an undergraduate student because it was never offered during a semester when I could take it, which led me to read some discarded social psych books I found during my internship. I love this stuff! The book I read basically mentioned a slew of social experiments, their results and the social implications that these studies held.  As I made my way through the book, I loved the authors theme (which he mentioned bluntly in the intro) that as social beings, we use self-censorship in order to function in a social environment . That is, we monitor or suppress our true feelings or thoughts in various situations in order to contribute to a collective collaboration. For example, how many times have you had to work in a group setting and have disagreed strongly with a decision, but have censored your disagreement out of fear of rejection? That is the point the author makes. In social situations, in which we all are subject to, we alter our individual beliefs, behavior, attitudes, etc. to conform  to communicated (or perceived) social standards.

Of all the sections and chapters, I absolutely found the research that the author presented on questioning other people's definition of a situation fascinating. In fact, he may have started out with that...which could be why I remember this so clearly to the exclusion of all the other material. Regardless, I found it intriguing! In fact, the author states that questioning another's definition of the situation is one of the hardest things a person can do. This requires rejecting another person's widely and publicly held view that their definition is valid (oh no, how tragic!). I found this confusing at first because it was novel to me, but when the experiments were described it made perfect sense. An example of questioning someone else's definition of a situation could be breaking a social norm, such as facing the crowd when you enter an elevator instead of facing the door. It could be objecting to your bosses view (when no one else does) on weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq, when in fact you have proof the contrary is true. It could be rejecting a well known professor's stance on an issue that is not solidified as a fact in your field. It is hard to question another's takes balls, cojones, lady berries, possibly a Xanax if you'd like...

This brings me to a conversation I was having with my beloved mom yesterday about marriage. And why I'm so apathetic towards getting married. It never really crossed my mind as a prospect. In fact, if I ever garnered the thought, it was imagining what a family photo would look like with kids...actually, I only think of marriage when I think about what my offspring would look like. I have no interest in having a wife otherwise...Now don't misinterpret me; I don't view women as only a womb and only interact with them for procreational ulterior motives. It's quite the contrary, I view women as  everything else but a wife. In fact, my mother wasn't a wife after I was the age of three, so my view of women as wife isn't as a counterpart to me, but more my equal, if not superior to me in some arenas. Therefore, when I think of marriage in the traditional sense, I think more of the relationship between parent-child than husband-wife. Note: I didn't say the relationship between mother-father. That's important. My dad relinquished his role as father when he dissolved his role as husband, which is cowardly. They are not synonymous. You have an obligation to your children. I always listen to newly married couples that are childless and they never say they are a family until they have children. Actually one of my friends recently got married and he introduced me to his wife, not his family...and I would imagine that when he has a kid, I will get introduced to his family.This is my opinion and I'm not mentioning that there are other couples that exist that don't want (or can't have) children and therefore their marriages are husband-wife. I am digressing, let me bring this back around...

Questioning the definition of the situation. right! So when you get married in the modern sense, you get married for love right?Let's get rid of the financial and other perks we don't acknowledge we get when we marry. Let focus on the love aspect. Most of us hope to marry for love. That makes sense to us. Arranged marriages, at least in the west are viewed as barbaric. And for the most part, we arrange our marriages unconsciously by picking and choosing who we want as a spouse years in advance (probably from childhood). So we marry for love and our love is validated by a marriage or some legal designation that allows  us to express our love in other ways outside of sex (financial, legal power of attorney, assets, rights to children,etc). We depend on the government and our elected officials to validate our existence and our experiences. We use marriage as the ultimate marker of our love towards another. As such, our government validates this experience of love and affinity and acknowledges our intentions towards this individual. Our government allots the rights that come along with being with that individual (such as staying in my home, eating my food, driving my car, making decision regarding my home my food my car, bank account,etc). If you didn't have these rights, I would not only kick your ass, but I would have legal authority to have you arrested for being in my home, trying to sell or appraise my home, taking food from my home, stealing or trying to sell my car, or trying to liquidate my assets (deposits are welcome!). As such, the definition of the situation is defined by what our government validates as being in existence.

Here's my two cents: some of the things I mentioned above don't need to be validated by marriage. I can give anyone all of the privileges of being loved without being married. I don't need marriage to validate my feelings or the existence of my relationship with someone. Legally, I don't feel the government should have that right; the right to validate the existence of love, affinity, connectedness and relationships. I never gave them that right, and they will never be granted it. My "bio" father is "legally" my parent/guardian and therefore is granted the rights legally to exercise whatever parental rights he receives. Now, that's what the law says. But in actuality, the man I consider my father and consider a parent is not authorized legally to be my father. In fact, he would be considered an invalid parent, with no biological or familial rights to be my guardian. With that said, the fact that this man is my father does not cease to exist and will never stop existing because of what is legally designated. In fact , my "bio" father never accepted the parental rights and never exercised them.

I mention marriage again on here because there is battle going on for marriage equality. At first, I was astounded by the fact that "one man, one women" wasn't good enough for some. I'll admit that, I was brainwashed. But, thinking about it for 5 minutes I began to see why it was wrong to deny it. Our definition of the situation is being challenged. What we considered a marriage is historically between men and women. That's a fact. But, the notion that a relationship is validated legally by our government is new. I'm sure 400 years ago you couldn't take away a child from their parent, the parent's rights were synonymous with the relationship. Now, marriage legally is the validation of a relationship that is synonymous with romance, eroticism, love, children, and family.  How do you look at a relationship that possess all these qualities and say it doesn't exist legally, so we cannot validate it? We can't. Legally we cannot say it does not exist because we don't acknowledge it. It exist regardless of legal status. It exists between the parties that experience it.

My point is, personally I don't need marriage to validate my relationship to someone I love to the exclusion of everyone else. It would be convenient to legally have my love validated, so that everyone's mother, aunt, uncle and grandmother  would be forced to do so by law, but it would not keep them from invalidating it otherwise. In terms of marriage equality, idealistically the government should acknowledge ALL relationships that we validate for ourselves. We should be able to exercise civically and civilly our love the same way we exercise our love sexually, emotionally and spiritually. No one can invalidate your experience or relationships... maybe a disease like Alzheimer's or a condition like Amnesia, but otherwise no one can invalidate your life. If that's what our government is becoming, a disease that can validate and invalidate our lives, we need to find a cure...and QUICK! I will fight for a cure and I suggest you do the same...I might never suffer from a invalidating disease, but if do, I should be able to get a vaccine. I personally might never get married, but it should be available to me, if choose so, and I should be able to exercise that right with whomever I choose.

I believe in God and many times I'm asked, "How can you believe in a being that you cannot see? You cannot validate or experience his/her existence with your senses"? I always look at the questioner and say, "It's valid for me because I've experienced God. The love that I feel from God is validated by my experience of everyday life, and God exists for me". Maybe for some, love comes in black and white , maybe perhaps some are color blind, but until you experience the full spectrum, how can you invalidate and deny the existence of red, yellow, blue, violet, pink, orange, puke green and baby poop brown? You simply cannot deny their existence....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Espresso Discovered

So today my neighbor was nice enough to give me some Cuban coffee and a little espresso stove pot. Ha! I am so wired, but it is so good! C'est si bon!

With my newly discovered source of adequate caffination, I have started to prepared myself for a new year, which requires me having properly synced email, a decent voicemail service, and an answering service. I have at least 4 or 5 email addresses that are all synced to outlook, so that way I don't have to wonder which messages came from where. The rationale behind having 5 emails is simple: 1. I can isolate school related  business from personal or work related business , 2. I can have appropriate signatures and information provided depending on who I'm responding to.  Also, for instance, my gmail account is linked to my Google phone so I get those messages almost instantaneously and deal with them faster.

My voicemail is forwarded to my email and texts, so if I get a hang up or missed call, I can see who called, their info and whether or not I need to waste time calling them back. I can see all my messages in unison, instead of listening to them in order, with prompts and "press one to repeat, press two to save", etc. Plus, I can have different greeting for my friends and professional ones for unknown callers....and disconnection notices for those I want to get rid off. Fun, huh?

The answering service allows me to give out a number, but not my personal cell or home...and links that person directly to a voicemail service so I can choose whether or not I want to deal with them.

It may seem excessive and way too "connected", but with this generation, you have make distinctions between how connected you are and how connected you appear to be. I have to admit in the last year, I have gotten more available electronically than I have ever been. Before my senior year of college, I had one phone, usually the cheapest model and with the service that was minimal and allowed me handle day to day calls without overages. Now, I have a smart phone, the new Tmobile G1 Google phone, which is the successor after my two previous blackberries. I have minimal text messages and unlimited email, web, etc. The line is shared with my mom for the minimal service plan, and the only addition I have is the required data plan for the phone, which is minimal. So if you split the two lines separately I would be paying about $60 a line, which is cheaper than what I was paying to Sprint, which was $75 a for single line. I enjoy my minimal features because either way, my phone bill would be about the same and after doing the math, I'm getting the most for my money. I feel guilty, but it's the truth, I would be paying more with other providers or having killer overages.

I had a point...??? Yes, so I'm more connected than before and I realize that everyone and anyone can reach me instantly, whether it be by phone, text, email, instant message, Facebook, Myspace and God know what else. And of course, most social networking sites connect to that vital email address, so even if I'm not logged on Facebook or Myspace...or my phone is turned off, it all gets forwarded to my hand dandy email inbox.  I then turn on the phone and am bombarded with messages, frivolous or not....sometimes I am awakened at night by notifications that careerbuilder has found me a match. I have learned that when you are this connected, you must remember one thing: YOU TURNED IT ON, AND YOU CAN TURN IT OFF. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO HAVE A PHONE, AN EMAIL OR EVEN A SCREENNAME. IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO SPEAK WITH ME AND I PAY THE BILL. I DON'T HAVE TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH ANYONE, IT BENEFITS BOTH PARTIES STAY CONNECTED.

My point is, you have to protect your time and your privacy, as well as your mental health. If you find that your connections are impeding your daily functions and intimate social connections , as well as causing marked interpersonal distress, TURN OFF THE DAMN DEVICE!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Old times...

So today was uneventful. I spend most of it taking  my mom to the dentist. Then we headed down to the farms in Homestead to get some produce. We stopped at Robert's is here to get some ginger honey, mangos and some really good (expensive) milkshakes. Our ride out today was provided by an old friend my mom recently got back in touch with...her son and I reunited recently before I graduated. I wasn't even aware that we went to the same university.

Anyways, as we were all in the car riding through half of Dade county, we drove past landmarks that reminded us of some badass stuff that we had done in our pasts...of course I was a child when all this happened, but I was  like DAMN...

Of course, I cannot mention any of the things that we reminisced about because A) this stuff occurred over 10 years ago, and B) I don't know the statue of limitations on charges that could possible result. Can they make you testify against your parents? Whatever, I'm sure it's too late for anything to go down....

But with all this reminiscing, I began to think, "I'm really a survivor and my mom is hardcore..." and people see me as this nice, sweet, almost harmless young man, when in fact that is persona that got me to pull half this shit off. Don't take looks as  a valid sign that all is "okay"...I may look very young and very harmless, but man-oh-man if I told some you some stories...maybe after some tequila shots?

In reference, today we began to talk about O.J.'s psycho pathetic butt and I we came up with this term "pseudopsychopath"...a fake psychopath. They just aren't smart enough to not get caught, or utilize their amoral behavior in the most idiotic way. The can't manipulate their way out of a paper bag. In fact, they think they're slick, but you can see it coming from a mile away. And when they do manage to get the thrill of getting away with murder, they just do something to foil their James Bond like escape.

My point is, looks are deceiving...not everyone that looks like an idiot is (in my case) and not everyone that seems slick is (in O.J.'s case).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let's get this party started!

So with the new year approaching, I for one cannot be anymore thrilled for this year to be over! I have had a lot of wonderful life changing experiences (such as graduating from college) and a multitude of shit (loosing my first apartment, learning my mom was diagnosed with kidney disease, loosing my credit and rescinding my offer of admission to my first choice graduate school). I have many things to look forward to during the upcoming year and I feel as with every new year, a sense of rebirth. Whatever crap you went  through the previous year, you can count on the new year to bring you something new, whether it be more tribulation or more gratification. I hope for the latter of the two.  With that being said, I have been thinking about what I want from the upcoming year. It's not a full list of resolutions or things that I don't currently do or haven't done in the past....they're just thoughts.

  • Ace my first year in graduate school. Make my mark. Let all know what I'm about.
  • Volunteer my time to do a job I wouldn't get hired to gain the experience. Give back to my community while helping myself move forward.
  • Strengthen my friendships, create new ones and develop a positive networking system.
  • GET A CAR! It is the most annoying thing to live in Miami without a vehicle. I am constantly dependent on others to provide me with transportation, and it's ruining my life. I am not fully self sufficient. I experienced a car accident at a very early age and have extreme anxiety when driving....but this year with the help of meds (and social support), I am going to do it.
  • Get involved in the arts again...I want to choreograph something. It might not be set on dancers, but I want to do it. Hopefully, I can find some audience to present it to...
  • Get in shape...make my body look the way it did when I was 16...of course with some improvements here and there.
  • Read more.
  • Drink more water.
  • Reconcile with God...maybe even going to church.
  • Drop the guilt factor...motivate more of my behavior towards goals that result in improving my situation.
  • Apply the philosophy, "You cum for me, I cum for you".
  • Find love.
  • Get involved in politics.
  • Get published...Get published....Get a publication(s).
  • Get a really fulfilling job...I've been unemployed since July '08. What recession? I've been poor, so this isn't a recession for me, it's been my life for a while.
  • Comedy? Acting?...Auditions? I'll do it for fun.
  • Stop cursing so fucking much.
  • Stop cutting my hair. I don't have to scalp my head to be an attractive black man.

I have a headache so I'm done.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

West Indian Culture

So in light of a recent article I found online here, those of us that hail from the island nation of Jamaica have something to be happy about: a version of the Bible will be written our dialect, Jamaican Patois, for the first time. To my knowledge, this is the first time that our language has ever been taken seriously enough to have a huge piece of literature transposed into our common tongue. Personally , I think that this an awesome event! I have been emerged in Patois since I was a child and speak it at home to convey a sense of familiarity and cultural  belonging with my mom and other Jamaicans I feel comfortable around.  Most of my life, when I am confronted about my ethnic background and mention that I am a first generation American from the West Indies, people automatically ask me if I speak "Jamaican" or holler "Bomboclat" or Battibwoi" or some phrase that shows they recognize my cultural distinction. Usually, if the person is unfamiliar with West Indies or has limited knowledge of the region, the next question is "what language to do you speak there?" which my response is "English, but there is a dialect, Patois that exists as well". I always get  "uh uh, I don't understand you guys" or "that's English?"...Which I then begin to explain that English is the formal language, but we tend to rattle off in Patois, if we speak. This formal recognition of a tongue that has developed from West African dialects, Portuguese , Spanish and English (and God knows what else) has demonstrated to me that our history is rich and our culture is growing after 46 years of independence. But of course, there are critics of the new attempt to systematically develop a system of writing our language and defining punctuation and about some of it here.

Here's what I agree on:

  1. The money being spent to distinguish our culture and set up a formal way of writing is priceless.  Just because our culture was formed out of  the remnants of West African customs and forced European dominance, does NOT mean we cannot use it to further define our identities. In order for us to leave a drastic mark on the world , we have to start to unite and having a uniform tongue would be a common variable for all individuals of the Jamaican Diaspora.
  2. It might be comical to see a dialect that's mainly spoken being transposed into word,but it doesn't make the use of it any less potent to cultural development. I don't think it's degrading to utilize Patois in a social or written context. Most people outside the island are fascinated by the dialect, they want to learn it...we are the ones that are living in shame of it, reverting to English because it sounds more "proper" or "polished". We are no longer English subjects...and Queen Victoria is dead. No more Victorian era rules to control our behavior or speech.
  3. I find it highly offensive to think that an aspect of our culture is going to degrade the Bible.  I have heard some horrible sounding languages spoken in Miami and I'm sure those people (those who know me, know what group I'm referring too) are very proud of their language-written & spoken. In fact, almost all English speaking Caribbean islands have a Bible published in their local dialects. The notion that our form of communication is a degradation of the word of God is ridiculous and you have deep seeded hate for yourself and your country if you belief so. There are far uglier languages with countries that have notorious pasts and yet, they have a Bible written in their language. Consider that if UWI and The Bible Society of the West Indies didn't think this was worthwhile, it wouldn't have even gotten this far. Most linguist are even noting that Patois is as at least a Creole.

I would like to say, let's leave this to the academics . Unless you have a degree in Linguistics, which I do not, we cannot place a value on whether this is just a "joke language". From what it appears, there is a consensus in that community that we have broken through and have a valid claim to a native tongue. Let's embrace it. Don't let the hegemonic European brainwashing let you think you have to strip your new found identities to have some other "valid"one. English is great, but we only speak it because the English colonized and dominated us for hundreds of years( and probably still have significant influence). My point is, don't let the dominance continue any longer...emancipate yourselves and cut the chains in your mouth...and besides we can have 2 official languages like our commonwealth sister, Canada.

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds."

-Bob Marley, Redemption Song


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm bummed out

So today I learned that T-mobile's new phone,the  G1, has tethering capabilities(in other words, accessing the web through your phone via USB). The only problem is that you have to have general knowledge of the Android platform and somehow enter some commands in windows...this is all stuff that I have no clue about. I did everything that was stated online, installed a nice app on my phone and set up firefox to work through a proxy....none of which did me any good. I even watched a Youtube video. I'm pretty sure if I call T-mobile, they will play dumb....and I don't think they're cool with 3rd party apps. I spend the whole day trying to do this. I somehow can't run or install the adb application. I have no clue...but, when I do figure this out, it will be worth it! Most likely I will wait a while, just to see if any new apps are released and if any dummy instructions are posted.

This is the thing with me and electronics, they consume me...and much valuable time. Today I told myself I would read, and read I did, but that was after I spent hours trying to successfully tether my phone. It absolutely bothers me to not know how to do things, especially when they seem so simple. I end up telling myself, "this will only take a few minutes...a hour tops" ...and then three roll by. I do not play video games for this reason...I cannot stand not knowing how to beat levels, or failing at something repeatedly....I get consumed at becoming a pro, or getting past a novice level  in as short a time as possible. Today was a prime example. I'm not a programmer or anything, but I was determined to tweak out this phone...even though most of the blogs and forums stated that this wasn't working perfectly for everyone....and that the process was complicated. But I just had to figure it out....and even now as I write this, I'm mildly annoyed that I didn't do it.

On another note, we are officially in a recession. I love how after all this time, it has been confirmed and had been so for a year....let me rephrase that: I  find it comical that after all this time, it has been confirmed and has been so for a year. I love when social scientists discover something obvious to the common person, e.g. "A recently study conducted at ABC University has uncovered that visible minorities are more likely to be discriminated against than non-visible minorities". I find it very odd, that after all this mess, it really needed to be "officially"  analyzed and whether or not we are in a recession should have any bearing on whether we should take action or that bailouts are being handed out every few weeks. I think that regardless of what's official, we need to deal with problems as they arise. You don't get sick and wait 1 year to analyze all your health behaviors and what patterns of symptoms and yada, yada. You figure that, " hey I'm sick, let's take some action"...."hey, you know, my neighbor, coworkers are getting sick...this is a epidemic" . Your doctor wouldn't tell you to go home, stop complaining and by the way, here's some free Motrin (stimulus package)...then a year later after a million cases, say," Hey it official, you have a new strain of the Flu"! The government is here for whatever purpose we discern...and the majority of people want to have action taken to protect banks, investments, the flow of money and credit,etc. Although I do not agree that we should be taking our tax money to fix big businesses problems, I live in a democracy and our elected officials do the bidding of the majority (in theory, not necessarily in practice).I take a very Darwinian philosophy to this problem: Survival of the fittest. If you go down, go down honorably. When things hit rock bottom, those that survive can maintain their dominance and the failure of the weak leave open opportunities for the up and coming. A sort of restructuring as I see it. The government is here to serve the people and as such, should be making sure people have housing, food, health care, education and work. Not making sure big business can keep its dominance. Everyone has their day...and when it comes you either fight, or you go down. Don't be a punkass.Specifically for the auto makers seeking bailouts, you should all stop being punkasses and file for bankruptcy when the time comes. You kept up with the oil companies to rely on gasoline and now when people don't want your ridiculous products, you cry to Congress? Had these companies invested in alternative fuels, and had done so with as much urgency as their asses flew to congress, people would be fueling up with their green vehicles, searching for work, relocating for work, and generating profit for your companies. Had you guys collaborated to find  new fuel sources, we wouldn't all be stagnant to use any resources that consume gasoline...not that auto companies are the only ones to blame.

My point is, when you you go down, as I learned after hours of trying to tether my phone, you just accept it and GO DOWN, Bitches, GO DOWN!

Monday, December 1, 2008 point exactly!

So on Friday, I went to the park with my mom. It a really nice park, but every time  we go there, it's always some drama or commotion. So on this particular day, I figured what could possible happen? It's the day after Thanksgiving and most people are mellowed out by all the food....WRONG! This chick is singing at the top of her lungs as soon as I get situated with my book.  "Okay", I tell myself, "If I just ignore her I will be able to pull this off"...WRONG! Of course, my aura of "I'm a great listener and I want to here everyone's problems" attracts her to me. My mom of course is thrilled! She ( The singer) comes over with her little gray poodle and serenades me (and my mother) with 2 songs. She sings alright and could have been a lot better had she not been drinking( or drunk...who knows?). She tells me that she is from originally from Mexico and that she is recording an album.  She lets me hear a little bit of some demos she's been putting down in the studio. Not bad, she sounds a little bit  like Amy Lee from Evanescence and Kelly Clarkson (if they both release Spanish language albums). She starts to open up to me. I tell her I like her music and that I used to be an artist as well....She confides that her music is her release from the world...and  her singing (that day at the top of her lungs) was her dealing with her new marriage. She apparently married a guy she had known for 7 months. She lived with him for six, then got married within the last 30 days. She started to tell her story....which I don't want to repeat word for word, but what I do want to say is that she said she had lost herself...that being married had changed something about her and as an artist, she could feel the change in her core.

I have friends that are getting married and that are starting families...this is a normal part of life in our most societies. But what they can't get about me is my regard for marriage. I will clearly say that I am selfish. We all are. I'm not driven by it, but I know myself. I think marriage is okay, but it's not something that I am actively pursuing or particularly want to do. For all my friends who are married or are in "serious" relationships, I respect your decision and recognize that all relationships are different. But when you become "coupled",  I feel you loose yourself, you have to give up some of yourself  to be with someone. I don't agree with that. This isn't always the case, but I've seen this with most relationships since I was a child. I've done this myself. I don't like it.

You begin to censor yourself. You begin to compromise. I've often heard that marriage is 50/ do you loose 50% of yourself?  Some people think they are not "whole" and that they have to find their "better half". I find this undesirable. I think that I am, for the most part, whole, but not essentially whole by just being Mike. I think of it as a salad. It can be finished at any stage, but you can always improve. You can add other vegetables, meat, dressing, croutons,etc until you get the perfect mix you're satisfied with. I don't feel that I am a chicken caesar salad and I have to spend my life searching for my chicken, or the perfect caesar dressing. I strongly believe that as we live our lives we pickup all the right components, and that as life progresses, we eliminate the ingredients that don't perfect us, and add those that gets us closer to it. Mind you, this components can be friendships, enemies, careers,experiences,etc...not just romantic relationships.  I see marriage as being stuck as the chicken caesar salad you liked for lunch that particular day. The next day it's still yummy...but by the fifth year it becomes harder re-create. Some days it almost all chicken with little romaine lettuce...some days you can barely find the chicken. Some days the caesar dressing is thick, some days it's runny...some days you can't tell if it's the same salad you ate that fateful day 5 years ago. You've lost something and you can taste it,  but you just can't put your finger on what's missing.

Now maybe one day I will have paradigm shift, but right now that's how I see it. I think life can change people...I've seen joyful children grow up to be some of the most disturbed people...and vice versa. People can loose themselves in the struggle of daily life. But my point is, you loose enough of yourself in the daily struggle, why  give someone the opportunity to change the recipe?


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