Monday, December 31, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/31/07

One Moment In Time; Whitney Houston

The Year I Lived
For several years before 2007 I stopped living a full life. I was hysterically funny and entertaining to everyone; strong, well-spoken and the go-to guy to so many people and deeply unhappy. Basically I was in a self-torture trap that was draining me of everything I believed could be mine. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I picked-up and read The Secret. It’s a small, straight-forward book that held so many obvious assertions that it took me two days to read, but months to understand. Ultimately, I needed to accept that I was in full control of my life and what I could achieve. I strongly believe that everyone who reads The Secret comes away with their own tool for edification. Here’s what made my 2007 so special…

Health: There’s no greater sin than the deep-seated self-hatred and sadistic behavior that results from the dissatisfaction in your appearance. In 2007 I recognized that I was missing the best years of my body. I was so entranced looking at the alleged love handles and perceived beer belly that I wasn’t seeing the results of my gym regimen. I was depriving myself from partaking in the delicious foods I love most and all for what? Nothing but the vicious perception that I would never attain the body I wanted. Today, I workout four-to-five days per week and eat what I want in moderation. I love my body – all 163 lbs of it. At 38 years old and 5’7”, I’m still holding down a 36”, 29”, 34 frame, I recognize that as I speed toward 40 years old, I’m going to enjoy every bit of my strength and vitality. I even make it a point to blow myself a kiss in the full length mirror every now and again.

Love: “No one will hurt me again!” That’s what I told myself. I was being honest too. The problem is that by safely fencing my heart away, I was cheating myself out of the opportunity for love and hurting my chances at a shared happiness. The moment I stopped worrying about being hurt and concentrated on being happy, it happened. BD and I went from over a year of hittin’ the booty call hot button, to committing to each other and sharing an amazing year together. It isn’t all rose and vanilla candles either; I learned that I actually had to challenge all of my previous notions of what being committed really meant. Most of all, I made a promise to myself to be honest, open and communicate with my partner, so that there are no surprises. It may sound corny, but we really have the potential to be each other’s best friend. After years of telling myself that I wanted “the maximum amount of pleasure with a minimum amount of bullshit,” I found that the maximum amount of pleasure requires that I put my best foot forward and be vulnerable. It is in that vulnerability that I experience true love.

Friends / Family: This was a year of clarity with regard to my friends and family. To steal a line from an advertisement, I chose the ‘free and clear’ plan with regard to my relationship with those I love. This year I accepted that I cannot change the hearts and minds of those around me – even by bullying or force. I want so much to be understood and sometimes I alienate those I love by trying to force them to do what’s best for them. To take a step back and allow folks to live their lives as they see fit and respect their wishes was one of the hardest lessons this year taught me. How my family and close friends live their lives is not for me to judge. Today I understand that to love someone sometimes means to mine my own business. I hope the best for each of them in their journey and I’m here for each of them if they need me.

Being Sorry, Forgiving and Amputations: An important part of my growth this year was learning how to let go. The only way to truly let go is to know when you need to apologize for doing wrong. No, I’m not on some 12-step program, but it became very apparent that you can’t progress when you’re holding on to past wrongs – especially your own. I felt much lighter when I finally apologized for things I knew I did that hurt folks around me. Whether it was my cheating, my inability to say, “I love you…” to the people I really love, etc. In the end, I’m not holding the guilt of knowing that I wronged people and didn’t do something about it. I also found that forgiving is extremely difficult – especially when some people never apologized. I’ve forgiven those who wronged me and in doing so am not chained to their pain. Pain, resentment and anger were draining my energy. Those feelings were coupled with the false hope that one day many of the folks that wronged me would see the error of their ways and apologize for the turmoil they had inflicted on my life. Ultimately, that apology never came and I was resentful for each day that passed without it. This year I forgave. I wasn’t giving the people who hurt me another day of my life. I wasn’t allowing them to steal my energy, my thunder or to steal my light one more day. In 2007, I forgave…I forgave it all for me. The moment I forgave I was free. I didn’t have one of those religious experiences. I simply was released from all the draining old hurt I was harboring for so many years. Unfortunately, I also had to make some hard decisions with regard to people who have no place in my life. If someone is not FOR you than they are AGAINST you. Anyone who attempts to belittle you; never sees the good in you; consistently hurts you; has no place in your life. I gave that advice to many a friend, but it wasn’t until this year that I truly practiced the art of self-preservation-by-amputation. Amputating someone you’ve held dear and sincerely love is hard, but not being true to yourself is harder. This year I performed very necessary amputations and was all the better for them. I now live with Tamia as my friend/love soundtrack...I choose me.

All things being equal, 2007 I lived life fully. I worked hard, played hard and loved hard. I enjoyed my life because this year was the one that taught me that life is truly short and I’m not going to look back with regret. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but I can now assure myself that no matter what, I’m going to love life. There will be good and bad days, but I’m in the driver’s seat. I make it happen. I control where I’m going. ’07 proved to be filled with so much good that it helped restore my belief in all that could be mine.

So as I bid ’07 farewell and welcome in ’08 I feel like a kid on the day before visiting Disney…I know there’s magic waiting.

Happy new year…happy living.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Afternoon Edition - 12/29/07

I See You
BD and I are fast coming up on our one year anniversary – well, one year since we made it serious. We’ve calculated that we’ve actually been dating for two years now. This holiday season brought us even closer together and the realization of how much we mean to each other. There are times that I’m frightened by how easy he makes loving him. He’s everything I need in a man and for that I’m sincerely grateful. A few days ago as we were cuddling together; I looked in his eyes and it was like seeing him for the first time. I simply looked in his eyes and said, “I see you.” Simply translated: I see all that you are to me.

On Blast
We shout from the highest mountains that we want someone special in our lives, but do we know what it takes to make a relationship special? More important, can we let go of past hurt, perceptions and paranoia to live in the present and enjoy the partner that comes into our lives?

Will you recognize him when he comes into your life?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Afternoon Edition - 12/27/07

The Story of Christmas; Gift Giving
In years past, I vowed to not give adults Christmas gifts, reserving all gifts for the kids. They are least likely to understand how expensive and commercialized the holiday has become. That said, this year was different in that I was aware that folks were not going to respect my requests not to give me any gifts and I’d feel like a moron not reciprocating. First, there was my baby, BD, who professed early on how important Christmas is to him. He gushed that of all the holidays, Christmas is the season he holds most dear. His assertion cranked-up the anxiety to provide a gift that would match his opulent taste and wouldn’t leave me scrambling for January’s rent. After searching high and low, I was drawing a blank. I began having sleepless nights, coupled with nightmares of a disappointed BD staring blankly at a half-baked Cocoa cure. So, I opted for shopping for everyone else on my list first, hoping that by leaving BD for last I’d have more a clue what to give him. One week before Christmas, as BD and I went on a Saturday shopping spree together, we entered the Coach store where I began rifling through scarves, wallets and bags in an attempt to pick a cute gift for my older sister. It has become a yearly ritual for me to purchase my sis a Coach item. As I debated between two scarves, BD approached me carrying a very expensive work bag. As many of you may remember, BD will be joining me at my firm and he wants to make one of his fashion-forward impressions when he arrives. I looked at the bag, checked out the tag, gasped and returned it to him with a simple, “Boy, put that back. We’re supposed to be shopping for everyone else.” He looked like a little kid and said, “I really want this. I’m going to put it on my card and deal with the charges later.” He then squirmed at my parental look of disdain and said, “Don’t say it!” We reached the register and BD placed the bag and the other items in front of the cashier, quickly asking the cashier to ring the bag separately so that he could pay for it with a credit card. He sighed when the cashier announced the bag’s price and in that millisecond, the light-bulb moment occurred. I handed over my debit card and said, “Thank you.” I then turned to BD and said, “Merry Christmas baby!” The cashier asked, “Are you sure?” and I quickly responded, “…as a Hunt’s Point hooker.” BD was about to fight the purchase, but I shut him down with a simple, “It’s what you REALLY want and that’s what I wanted to be sure of all along; that I would give you what you really wanted for Christmas. Enjoy it baby…I love you.” He hugged me and kissed me on the lips right at the register and the cashier could only smile nervously and say, “That is so sweet. Boy, you better take your Christmas gift!” So here’s how this purchase breaks down:
1. At that moment I knew BD was willing to charge up credit cards to get that bag, so I was assured the gift was something he really wanted.
2. Although he was privy to the bag’s price, the very fact that the item is expensive allows him to see it. Do not attempt this with an item under $100 and do not frequent this method of gift-giving, as the recipient may use their wants to manipulate a purchase each time.
3. There was no wrapping, cards or extra flash needed. The affection shown during the purchase made the gift memorable.
Was the gift I received from BD as heart-warming? Your darn tootin’ it was! BD surprised me with a flat-screen, high-definition television that left me speechless! You’d think that I would’ve been perceptive enough to see it coming, but I was too blinded in one of my last-minute anxiety-attack shopping runs. When he asked, “Do you think this TV is good?” I looked and said, “Yeah, if you’re planning to give someone a lifetime gift.” He simply said, “Nah, I’m replacing my TV in the living room, so that me and the Minnie have something really nice to watch.” It sounded innocuous enough. After paying for the TV we both lugged it to my car and carefully loaded it in – don’t ask how I got this thing into my vehicle, but thank goodness for hatchbacks! When we arrived at my crib, he asked if we could leave the TV at my house so as to not cause a commotion at his place. I obliged and we dragged the thing into my living room. I said, “You’re going to need plenty of paper to wrap that thing and be here in time to do it pa, cuz I can’t wrap worth a shit.” He turned to me, smiled and said, “Merry Christmas baby.” I cry even telling the story today.

On Blast
BE HONEST…What is more important to you when receiving a gift, the value (price) or the sentimental value?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, December 24, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/24/07

On Blast
T'was the day before Christmas...
If you had one wish for Christmas, what would you wish for?

Keep passin' the open windows...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/19/07

Long Time No See; Aggression
My mom tells me stories of how aggressive I was as a child. “I couldn’t take you anywhere without finding you balled up fighting with some other kid. It was embarrassing.” As I got older I found myself in a few school fights and some neighborhood battles, but nothing out of the ordinary. When I left home at 15, it was a bit different. I was on the hard NYC streets and didn’t have the luxury of being a pushover. Once I hit my mid twenties, my bone-chilling wit, ability to carve hearts with my words rather than a weapon and more polished exterior, replaced the once carefree – almost careless kid. Then an odd feeling started creeping back about two years ago. The old Cocoa began immerging. More ferocious, more fearless and certainly more challenging. This isn’t to say that I’m that guy you can’t hang with without the threat of impending physical violence, but I’m certainly not the guy who is likely to be caught on the receiving end of a gay bashing. Then I realized that regardless of who I was interacting with the mentality that where-you-do-it-to-me-is-where-you-get-it was a mantra I began living by. Case in point, a few weeks ago I was out with a couple of close friends and ran into a very old friend who was out with his crew. An hour into the night and I noticed that my old friend was sitting down with his new peeps crowding around him and fanning him. As I approached, I asked him, “Are you alright? What happened?!” He mentioned he fainted, probably from skipping lunch and dinner that day. I reached in my pocket, pulled out some candy and shoved it in his mouth. I said, “The sugar should hold you for a minute, but you need to go out and get something to eat.” It was then that I heard one of the guys in his crew say, “Dr. Rosie Perez in his wife beater needs to mind his business.” I felt my skin crawl, but I can play the dozens with the best of them, so I simply looked at the dude and said, “Maybe if you regurgitate some of that mess in your gut you can hold him until he gets something to eat.” I smiled and stood up waiting for his response. A few inches taller than me, I suspected he might want to turn this into something physical. He said, “I’m focused on him,” pointing to my old friend, “so don’t start no shit.” I looked at my crew and back at him before saying, “He’s going to be fine, but I’m focused on you bitch. You say one more word to me and I’m crackin’ you in your fronts.” I waited and waited and waited. He tried doing that side-talking to his own crew, but I was unrelenting. “Nah, bruh…I’m right here. Who the f*ck are you talking to?!” Finally, he said, “I wasn’t talkin’ to you, so why you trippin’?” Cowardly, side-steppin’ hoes have no business speakin’ to grown men and then backin’ down. I looked dead at the guy and said, “I don’t know you kid, but the next time we’re out and you look at me wrong, we’re getting ‘86’d from this joint cuz I’m puttin’ my foot in your natural ass!” I turned to my old friend and said, “You really need to get a new crew to chill with. Later.” As I walked off I stopped at the bar and got my drink before joining my friends on the dance floor. Ultimately, I would’ve had my hands full with ‘ole boy, but at that moment, my fight-flee mechanism was trapped on fight and the natural instinct of preservation never kicked in. I’m an upstanding, professional, classy guy, but don’t sleep...under it all, I’m still a Rican-Boogie-Down-Bronx dude that had to assert himself early on to get to where I am. Guess that Cocoa comes up for air every now and again.

On Blast
Whether it’s old-style ghetto aggression brought on by years of battling to survive on the streets or the powerlessness that was a product of being bullied, everyone has a character trait that is a result of their upbringing. When stressors or life-changes occur old traits may bubble to the surface.
Which of your old traits do you see resurface occasionally – like it or not?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, December 17, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/17/07

Last Time; Eric Benet

On Blast
Odd, but I’ve reached that point in my life where I can’t believe I’m in love – AGAIN – and though grateful for the ability to be able to let go of my defenses enough to experience these feelings, I want this to be the last time I fall in love. Simply put, for its intensity, verve and resounding effect, love can also be draining. I found that special gift for BD – or should I say, he found that special gift and I bought it. It’s a long story, but I’ll be sure to tell it before Christmas actually hits…it’s a hoot and a lesson in one. Just a few more gifts left to go!

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/13/07

Together Again; Janet Jackson

On Blast
To my friends Michael P. and Tony who will not be joining me in 2008…The memory of you will stay with me forever and I know that you’re laughing, loving and living through me; so I’ll do my best to do us proud.

Don't waste time...throw away the rules...screw the threat of failure...say what you what you believe

How will you celebrate life in 2008 to make those who did not make it feel you are living fully?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Afternoon Edition - 12/6/07

Guess You Can’t Hear Me Now
I’m often amazed at how folks act like the thought of being separated from their PDA or cell phone is a fate worse that death. Well, for an unidentified man glued to his cell phone yesterday, it was a fate equal to death. Amtrak officials say the man was oblivious to danger and apparently walked around the lowered crossing gate before being struck by the northbound Capitol Corridor train, just eight miles south of the Oakland station in California. He was pronounced dead on the scene. As I’ve said to friends and family, I will not tolerate non-emergency conversations when I’m hanging out. It is rude and disrespectful to carry a non-emergency conversation with anyone when you’re spending quality time with friends and family. That said, I don’t argue the point anymore. If anyone holds a non-emergency conversation that goes beyond a simple, “I’m out and need to call you back…” while spending time with me, I simply walk away – no questions asked; no explanations given. Be conscious of your PDA/cell phone behavior (including text messaging) or you may find that your putting your life and your relationships in danger.

I Just Can’t Wait To Be King
A robbery suspect in Miami led police on a substantial chase before jumping from his getaway car and attempting his escape on foot. A camera crew was following the entire event unfold and captured several police officers pouncing on the suspect, punching and kicking him. Now, Miami-Dade’s Cmdr. Linda O’Brien says that the video is being watched frame-by-frame, but that, “The initial assessment is that the officer acted inappropriately." All said both parties can take a lesson from Los Angeles’ suspect/victim Rodney King.

Death Penalty for DWI?
NYC Police Officer Raphael Lora was off duty in his neighborhood in the Bronx when he witnessed a minivan hitting a parked car. He gave chase on foot and witnesses say that he reached Fermin Arzu and opened the driver door before the minivan lurched forward. That’s when Lora allegedly pulled his 9mm pistol and fired five shots. The one shot that hit Arzu killed him. Lora’s attorney says that the officer is only guilty of protecting the neighborhood he lives in. Arzu is said to have been intoxicated. Assistant District Attorney Larry Hartstein says that it’s obvious no one believes Lora’s story or he would not have been indicted. The attorney representing the Arzu family says, "The penalty for drunk driving is not death.” Lora faces 25 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter.

On Blast
Less than 10 years ago it was NOT commonplace for everyone to carry and use cell phones – and those who did, rarely used them in non-emergency situations. Do you believe you are so attached to your cell phone / PDA that you could not get through a day without it?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Morning Edition - 12/6/07

On Blast
Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed is a beautiful song. If you had to be honest, does any specific person come to mind - past, present or wishful future - when you listen to the lyrics?

Keep passin' the open windows...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/4/07

State Sanctioned Suicide or Religious Freedom?
Dennis Lindberg, 14, died just hours after superior court judge John Meyers ruled that the eighth grader was competent to make life-and-death decisions regarding his own health and that the youngster was “basically giving himself a death sentence.” Meyers also said, “I don't believe Dennis' decision is the result of any coercion. He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision.” The state of Washington petitioned the court to force the teenager to undergo a life-saving blood transfusion to treat his leukemia. Doctors say Lindberg had a 70% chance of survival with the transfusions and other treatments. Rachel Wherry and Dennis Lindberg, Sr., the boy’s birth parents, argued that he was being influenced by his aunt and guardian, Dianna Mincin, who is a Jehovah’s Witness. The Jehovah Witness believe that Leviticus 17:14, “You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh,” includes life-saving transfusions. Although I believe in religious freedom, I’m perplexed by Washington State court’s decision to allow a minor to make such a fatal decision.

Daddy Dearest
If you’re one of the throngs of gay men who want to have your gene pool progress or are simply doing your fag-hag a favor, you may want to think again; well, unless you’re ready to shell out some serious dough. A Nassau County (NYC) man is reeling after he was told to pay-up for his, now 18-year old, son. The young man will be entering college soon. “No good deed goes unpunished,” said Deborah Kelly, the lawyer representing the man. The sperm-donor, a doctor, says he worked with the child’s mother and agreed to donate the sperm for his colleague and her partner. Over the years he sent gifts and cards to the child and even signed those gift notes with a short, “Dad” or “Daddy.” Now that the request for child support has been served, good ‘ole spunk-dad would like a paternity test done. Unfortunately, the courts have ruled that no paternity tests will be allowed, since the results may prove ‘traumatic’ for the “child.” Court documents show that the young man’s birth certificate bears the sperm donor’s name.

Christmas Gifts and Anxiety Attacks
As my faithful friend J’Moo will remember, after my shopping spree pass-out incident many moons ago, I tend to get a bit stressed with choosing Christmas gifts. For years now, I have resorted to buying Christmas gifts for my nephews only and saving all other gifts for folk’s birthdays. This system worked well until now. BD is a BIG Christmas fan. He loves everything about the gift-giving season and says it’s his favorite holiday. With that announcement, my brain has gone into overdrive trying to figure out an appropriate gift for my baby. He appears to be a huge technology buff, but also seems to have every new gadget in existence. He’s not much for the pampering that would signal a spa gift certificate and outside of outerwear or underwear, I don’t particularly like buying clothing or shoes for my man. I’m down to the wire now and am considering anything that has substance, has some redeeming sentimental quality and doesn’t send me into financial ruin. I’ll keep you posted what I narrow it down to. At this point, I’ll be happy if I don’t end-up on my back at Nordstrom…and not in a good way.

On Blast
Our criminal justice system has been charging youth offenders as adults. Last year, following sending over 200,000 minors to adult prisons, many states are changing their minds on what really works with regard to minors. Similarly, should we consider if minors should be granted the authority to make life-altering (or in Dennis Lindberg’s case, life-ending) decisions with regard to their health and welfare? Should an adult or state-appointed guardian be assigned to make serious decisions affecting minors?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, December 03, 2007

Morning Edition - 12/3/07

You Are Fools and I Thank You
There are few times in life when discrimination offers a valid – though sad – excuse for why American gay men cannot contribute more to the country they live in. Though many folks will argue that these injustices must be corrected, I have resorted to accept them as my legitimate excuse for not doing the “right” thing. Case in point, my job held a blood drive. Most of the folks in my department signed-on and made a big hoopla about their contribution to such a noble cause. When I was asked if I would be participating, I simply said, “No, the Red Cross discriminates against gay men and specifically has guidelines rejecting any donations by ‘my kind’.” The young lady asking me stood in front of me mouth agape before I giggled and said, “Wake up. This may be 2007, but discrimination is still alive and well.” She was about to argue how it’s wrong of such a large institution to reject donations based on donor’s sexual orientation – especially since there are ways to test all donations – but before she got a good flow going I shut it down with a simple, “Hey, it’s there loss and I’m fine with it as long as I can receive the benefits of their donations without needing to ever participate in keeping their supplies up.” She blushed and stormed off. The same argument can be made with the U.S. military. Don’t ask, don’t tell my ass. If the U.S. military wants to expressly reject my fighting and risking my life for my country, then far be it from me to beg to endanger myself. So long as the homophobic, ignorant and small-minded asses continue to protect me and my country’s borders, I am pleased as punch. In life there are times when you have to choose your battles and recognize when your oppressors are actually offering you a free pass.

Crapping Where I Eat?
I work for a very large organization – over 175,000 employees – with locations worldwide. My company offers amazing opportunities and the possibility to shift internally when you grow tired of your gig. Recently some pretty interesting positions opened up and I made BD aware of them. I have some pretty heavy-hitting contacts and forwarded BD’s resume to them. He’s already met with one of the departments at my firm. All to say, that he may be coming to work at my place of business – maybe even in my building. As this possibility becomes more probable, I thought back to close to five years ago when I worked with someone I was involved with. It was a great experience until the relationship soured and the very thought of running into my ex made my stomach hurt – real bad. That said, I went over a few ground rules with BD to insure neither of us is caught in an uncomfortable situation. First, we would never work in the same department or in positions that have the possibility of reporting to one another. Second, work is work and play is play – we would always carry a professional demeanor while at the office to avoid any confusion. Third, regardless of our relationship’s future, we would respect each other at all times. All said, I know I can uphold these rules, since I did in the past. Am I apprehensive? No. Can I resist the temptation to have him meet me somewhere in our building for an afternoon freak-by? We’ll hopefully see.

On Blast
Given the volatility of relationships and the concept that folks are different in death and divorce, would you agree to work for the same firm as someone you are involved with?

Keep passin’ the open windows….