Thursday, February 08, 2007

Morning Edition - 2/8/07

Know When to Fold Them
The old Gambler song by Kenny Rogers says, “You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” I seem to have a problem with knowing when to fold em. Basically, my being a creature of habit and my refusal to quit, sometimes have me spinning my wheels unnecessarily. Case in point, since my return to NYC I have rented the basement apartment in my sister’s house. The apartment is far-too small and the proximity to my family, living just two floors above me, can sometimes make for uncomfortable scenes. We are simply privy to too much of each other’s private lives. Issues such as knocking on my door when her calls go unanswered are not foreign to my sister. To give a brief background, I have not lived with my family since I turned 15-years old – several centuries ago – so my privacy is something I hold very near and dear. I believe that your home MUST be a safe haven where you are able to unwind, relax and regroup. If your home becomes a place where you feel tension, discomfort, etc., it’s time to roll. Well, that time has come. Without giving too much personal information, my sister and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a personal issue involving her choices in life. In cases like these you must look at the BIG picture. First, it’s her house. Second, it’s her problem. Third, she’s not going to change. With these three factors in place, it is pointless to attempt to come to a reasonable solution that could allow us to coexist and cohabitate. Sadly, I actually believed that I would be able to be closer to my family now that we’ve all matured. Since I’m single and have no major responsibilities, I thought I could offer support when they needed it and help them when they were down. This is not the case. Some issues are not water under the bridge, but chasms that can’t be crossed. So, as much as I hate moving and as scared as I am for her certain tragic future, I fold em. After moving I will evaluate whether it is healthy to continue a relationship with my sister or if it would be best to recognize that sometimes you have to also “know when to run…”

Salsa 101
Last Monday a group of about 12 of us took the first of a month’s worth of 2-hour Salsa lessons at the Champion Dance Studio, in midtown Manhattan. Since the bulk of the students attending are Latino, you would think that we would have the Salsa thing down pat. As it turns out, we don’t. Luckily, Sonny, our extremely talented, graceful and black (!) instructor is teaching us that just because we come equipped with a naturally dislocate-able trick hip, doesn’t mean we are Salsa pros. Sonny has an amazing background that dates back to his working with Salsa legends – including Tito Puente. Our Salsa lessons take place each Monday, 6-8 p.m., and they have proven to be an instant hit with the group. I am so excited about donning my leg warmers, tights, dance shoes and head band next Monday. I was especially glad when Sonny mentioned that both the men and women in his class would learn how to lead AND follow. …it just spoke to my versatile side.

Bendito, Ma and Pa; A Cold Reception
My parents arrived from 85 degree Puerto Rico on Saturday and have been overwhelmed by the cold spell that has blanketed the rotten apple. Since their arrival, NYC has not even reached the 32 degree mark! Dad now has a cold and Mom is enraged that she hasn’t been able to really run the streets and shop until the credit bureaus holler in disgust. To keep themselves occupied my parents are resorting to dissecting the lives of everyone in the household and informing us what we’re doing wrong that prevents us from being happy. As of this morning, I’m bossy, abrasive, selfish and need to spend more time taking care of my inner self than my physique at the gym… uh, thanks mom. You always know how to make me feel like a bow-legged, nappy-headed, nervous 5-year old again.

On Blast
Some would argue that family MUST be your number one priority in life and that any sacrifices made for family are always worth the trouble. In my experience, my friends played an intricate role in my development and survival, so any gratitude afforded to my family is somewhat my attempt to be gracious. I have found a lack of acceptance, a lukewarm introduction to their friends and even the moronic reasoning that maybe my brother’s womanizing is his overcompensation for my being gay. All to say, my family have not always been kind to me.

Do you believe family is family and therefore an added amount of compromise and effort must be undertaken to maintain relationships alive OR can individuals who are family simply break connections and recognize that they are too different to continue a healthy relationship?

Keep passin’ the open windows…


caspar608 said...

India Arie said it best ....
No one - and I mean no one - can hurt you as deep as kinfolk.
You know the Hanley crew always loved and accepted you for the freak you are : )
We ALL have to stand before God for what we have done here on earth. Hector, you are a man with the a heart bigger than the earth. You go ABOVE and BEYOND for the same people who judge you. Enough is enough, its time to move on. I will do everything I can to help you find somewhere new to live.
My life has been so simple since I decided not to waste another minute on anyone who does not know how to reciprocate my concerns and kindness. Its futile, its a waste of time and energy. Its ok to love others from a distance. But the jig is UP. You ain't the whipping boy, you ain't the houseclown, you ain't a therapist. You can only be YOU.

Toy said...


Wow! This really hits home with me.

It is so strange that you've been going through the very thing that I have in the past week.

In answer to your question, yes, I do believe that one can break the "familiar" ties with a blood relative in order to preserve one's sanity. I know that may sound harsh to some but as Caspar put it "No one - and I mean no one - can hurt you as deep as kinfolk." We come into the world innocent and believing that these relatives will always "have our backs" but in reality it doesn't always work that way. In my own situation, I have had to come to the conclusion (through quite a few therapy sessions) that I have to "let it go" because some people, especially if they are over 60, just are not going to change! The only thing that you can do is work on YOU. You can't fix anyone but yourself. Believe me I know and it took me a while to get here.

Just Me said...

I have to look at my family as my mother's other kids. I have a pending situation where I made a business loan to my older brother with a lapse of 6 months until repayment had to begin, that was last January. It's been 13 months and when I attempt to discuss the situation an argument always ensues. Needless to say, I have filed the papers with Judge Judy to hear my case. I aint taking No mo' shyt from family. My friends treat me much better and are the one's that are there for me and mine.

caspar608 said...

Go head be gone with it Just Me.

People who have the same blood running through their veins as you often take you for granted far more than they should.


I agree whole heartedly with caspar! Caspar you said it best! I am considered the black sheep of the family because I left at 16 and never looked back. The only family members I respected were my Mom and my Bro and they are both gone. So anyone else can really kiss my ASSets because they never looked for me when I was little they don't need to look for me now that I am grown. So Coco go for yours. If they can't return the love and respect that you deserve MOVE ON!

Tammy said...

Hector. do not under any circumstances lose complete contact with your sister. You can step away from the situation and her house. But you love her children and they love you. Continue to be Uncle Hector. If you are that concerned about your sister's choice then there may come a time in the not-so-far off future where she will need your shoulder and support. Be there for her.

Tammy said...

Also, after reading what you all have to say about your families I know that i am truly blessed to have the wonderful, supporting family that i have.

Cocoa Rican said...

I often wonder how folks can repeat the same mistakes over-and-over again. I would think that the first-time-shame-on-you, second-time-shame-on-me concept always applies, but I guess the shame means nothing. I don’t believe love or loneliness are reasons to allow you to be disrespected. Moreover, I’m a firm believer in the “When people show you (tell you) who they are, believe them.” The saddest part about this entire situation is that I have lost ALL respect for my sister. She is a weak woman, with a distorted sense of priorities. I cannot, in any good conscience justify any of her decisions. What is most heart wrenching is that her two children are the ones who will suffer her poor judgment and lack of good sense. As for her, she’s likely to end up dead, but at least she’s an adult making her own decisions. I’ll be more at peace when I’m away from the situation and able to distance myself from her imminent disaster.

Thanks Cas… I’m on it… I’m going to be doing a thorough search once mom and dad leave on Tuesday.

Cocoa Rican said...

I understand what you’re saying, but my sister has repeatedly shown me her ass. When faced with the choice of losing her family – me included – or losing the man who disrespected her, her home and her family, she chooses to lose her family and keep company with the man.

I understand how you feel and I do love my siblings, but I cannot associate with them. Once I have moved, I believe I will periodically take a call from them, but I don’t wish any close contact with this unnecessary and self-depreciating drama. More importantly, my sister is not likely to try to remain in contact with me, since she’s made clear that when choosing between her man and her brother, her man comes first. Good luck and God speed to her.



kennyking78 said...

Know When To Fold Them- I have a brother who is close to my age and he is on what I consider to be a path of destruction (literally), so I hear you... I think that knowing when to fold them does not necessarily mean shutting them off, but allowing them to do things without involving you and your energy.

Salsa 101- Leg warmers?!!! I LOVE it!!!

Bendito, Ma and Pa; A Cold Reception- I will pray for a heat storm so you will find some peace.

On Blast- I think that family is very important... regardless of how we are treated by them. I have hard feelings, just like the next, but that is because none of us are perfect... That being said, I don't think that they have to be number on the list of life. It sounds to me like their position may have changed earlier in your life than it does in others.

WiseYoungMan said...

Yea family comes first. Yes they hurt you the deepest. But they are blood you have to do whats best for them. You NEVER want to wake up one day and question if you didn't do your best by them when they are gone.

Tammy said...

I love you Hector.

That Dude Right There said...

Sometimes I want to say "fuck family". When I think of all of the times that I have been hurt, emotionally and physically, the hurt has been caused by family. Right now, the only family that I associate with are 2 of my brothers and my sister. I like my life this way and think that this is what keeps me sane.