Monday, December 05, 2011

I Was Here

I came across a story today of a woman diagnosed with stage four cancer. What drew my attention is that there appears to be a direct correlation between being told you’re dying and when folks believe they need to start

living – fully. It’s like they find their strength, their passion and their drive from the realization that they had a short time left. Another common denominator between folks that are told they will soon die is that they want to be sure to leave a legacy of some sort…some way to have folks realize they were here. So what it made me think about was why don’t we start living before we’re told we’re dying? I mean, aren’t we all dying at some point anyway? The reality is that some of us have longer than others and it seems a bit pointless to decide to really enjoy your life when they tell you that it has suddenly been shortened.

Live…love...participate in your life.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It seems that it really does take time to learn what life is really about. When you do, you're as grateful for the lesson as you are for arriving at the realization. My life hasn't been easy, but I've been blessed by God's grace to be where I am today. Yesterday had its lessons and its heartaches and all of it led me to today. Its a beautiful day - literally and figuratively - and for all of it, I'm thankful.

Happy thanksgiving day!

- Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Your Way

I was telling a friend

that one of the greatest gifts of aging - well for me at least - is the sense I'm not affected by anyone's opinion. Now, I'll be honest and say that I was never big on living to please others, but I now have the benefit of feeling like I can hear opinions objectively without ever personalizing what's being said. The way I see it, you only live once so it would be tragic to have attempted to live as others would have you live only to realize we can't ever make everyone happy. So make #1 a priority - YOU - and at the very least you'll come away knowing that you did your very best to do right by the person you HAVE to live with every single second of the day.

- Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a Ghost Town in Bloggerville

I remember how important blogging was just a few years ago. Since

then many of my fellow bloggers are long gone from the scene, reading from the periphery or using more current social medium. All said, I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel with the best of them, but I hold a real nostalgia for the days when I used to pour out my heart for all to read and the short wait for words of wisdom veiled as comments.

So much has changed in my life from the start of the blog days. It all started with emails to twenty or so friends that included a question of the day before moving the ‘operation’ online to a blog. I believed I had the chops to write and knew that the cathartic exorcism of negativity was a great plus for the trouble of another post.

Today, I’m older, wiser and dare I say busier – not wanting to invest too much time sharing with anyone who may or may not still read blogs to begin with. I’ve purchased a journal on my Mac that keeps all my secrets, my dreams and my thoughts – albeit without the benefit of reader commentary.

More than eight years since my first blogpost, I’m still excited to share the good, the bad and the ugly with my blog family – now also my Facebook family. There will soon be many more great things to share with you guys.

For now, suffice to say, I’m here, I’m happy and I’m pleased that I can still share a piece of my reality with some of you….if you’re still out there.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary Baby!

Celebrate each day and you might just end up with forever.

Keep passin' the open windows...

- Mobile post from my iPhone

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Skinny On [Same Sex] Marriage – U.S. and Abroad

In my humble opinion, marriage is an institution created to contractually bind two individuals providing specified rights, privileges and expectations by both parties. Although marriage may take on varying forms – agreed terms, mode of celebration and announcement (religious ceremony) or even gender specifications – marriage is really a legal arrangement not a religious arrangement.

Same sex marriage is a hot button issue for many who have relegated marriage to a small segment of the population that meet their qualifications to attain it. The truth is that even opposite-sex couples that cannot or will not bear children enter into marriage every day rendering the argument of marriage-as-a-means-for-reproduction moot.

All said, preventing two consenting human beings from entering into the contract of marriage is discriminatory and small-minded and flies in the face of a country founded by individuals seeking freedom of expression.

Although the Netherlands was the first country to grant same sex marriages in 2001, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina all recognize same sex marriage at the country/national level. Mexico only performs same sex marriages in Mexico City, but recognizes those marriages at the country/national level. The U.S. – ironically – performs same sex marriages in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, but those marriages are not recognized at the federal level and 31 states have gone as far as setting constitutional restrictions that mention marriage is between one man and one woman. The reality is that the U.S. vehemently opposes inequality and injustice in other regions of the world – even engaging in wars to help provide it - yet we sow the seeds of injustice and inequality on our home turf.

Marriage - whether you get married in front of a justice of the peace or you have an elaborate religious show for the masses, marriage is about a contract – parameters – ratifying the arrangement that bind two individuals that may be in love.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, July 04, 2011

Stop With the Fireworks; Get A Clue

Maybe I wasn’t paying attention to my neighbors in the last decade, but this year seemed fast, loud and crazy with the fireworks. Truth be told, I find it quite amusing that the majority of the folks going crazy with the virtual bombs outside my window are clueless what Independence Day celebrates anyway. I’m not going to go into a history lesson, but suffice to say that I just don’t get the reasoning behind spending good money on dangerous fireworks to make a lot of noise about a holiday you’re not really clear about.

Happy Independence Day to all. Next year, skip out on the Cherry bombs and opt for a juicy steak and a some thank-you cards to the men and women who keep our country free.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, June 24, 2011

Death Is a Part Of Life; It Still Doesn’t Make the Loss Less Painful (Taylor Siluwé)

Taylor Siluwé, a long-time friend – for more than two decades to be exact – is dead. Just months after being diagnosed with cancer, the disease ravaged his body, leaving all those who knew him stunned at his hasty departure. As is the case with many friends, Taylor and I had years where we busied ourselves with our own lives, and we were often reconnected by an encouraging remark about a blog post, a Facebook comment or by sharing a brief word to catch up on where we were in life. I still remember our early years – the years when we didn’t have a care in the world and NYC (sometimes Jersey) was our Playground. Even then, his intense creativity, passion and flare for life served as a gravitational pull to all those around him – including me. The ten years I spent in Washington, DC still held brief contacts with Taylor – even a few laughs at the new “Taylor”. All said, I’ve grown into the man I am alongside Taylor. I’ve supported his work, admired his spirit and drive and watched in awe at his ability to be relevant from our late teens to today. I know that it’s noble to mention that he will be watching over me, but today I’m going to honor my friend and simply say that I will miss his presence in my life. I’m sure one day I’ll smile at the mention of his name, but today, I’m reverently saddened at the enormous space left vacant by his departure.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reality and Life...

As I look back over my life I remember conversations I had with my mom that highlighted my worth and how perception – unfortunately – is reality. Fight as we may, the concept of each person having their own perception of the world be their reality will never change. I really fought this issue early on in life. I often said, “Reality is reality…” but sadly, it isn’t so. This isn’t to say that we should live according to what others want for us, but we should recognize that we are not alone in the world and more often than not we will need the help, support and kindness of others. If you’re ever curious as to what happens to folks who thumb their nose at the world, they are the folks that we persistently see and hear at odds with everyone – their family, their friends and folks who should be in their corner. All to say that you should live your life recognizing:

• Your worth: If you don’t know what you’re worth you allow others to disrespect, undermine and devalue you. No one – absolutely no one – should occupy a higher position in your life than you. Once you honor yourself you do a better job at conveying what is acceptable to you and caring for those you love. Romantic, platonic and professional relationships must ALL accept that you are valuable and worthy.
• Honesty trumps bullsh*t: Trust and believe that if you’re 20, there is a 40 year old that has already traversed the road you’re on and so on… You are fooling no one when you attempt to lie, deceive and omit your way through life. Be real, be honest and stand in your truth. If your truth is that you are a flawed human being, then you can join the hordes of us that stand as flawed human beings. The truth always comes to light and most times we don’t believe you, we just see you as a bullsh*t artist (not a good one either).
• You are the author of your novel: Many of us have lives that appear ripped from the headlines – good and bad. That said, you are the author of your novel. You have the free will to do good with your life or be a complete waste of a human being. Whatever you decide, understand that you should ONLY compliment or blame yourself for the outcome of your life. Even when there are horrible and unpredictable events in our life, there are glimmers of hope where we have the opportunity to right our path and make a difference.

It may all seem rehashed…you’ve heard it all before… but what I’d like to leave you with is that if you remember that you are all important; that you should live openly – letting the true you shine; and you accept responsibility for where you are and where you’re going, then you will never regret any part of your decisions or ultimately, your life.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, May 16, 2011

Death As A Motivator

Two years ago I lost one of my closest and dearest friends. Bobby Sims died leaving an enormous gaping hole in my heart. There are still days when something happens that triggers a memory of him and I will either smile, laugh or simply tear-up. So much of who I am is a product of our friendship. Bobby’s death motivated me to live fully…never to take a second for granted and that no matter how dark any one day can be, I am here to live it. On days when I feel overwhelmed I hear Bobby say, “Don’t even go there…you’re here to fight another day.” His telephone number is still in my mobile phone’s address book and there are moments when I’m tempted to dial it with the insane hope that he’ll pick up and say, “Yeah, I fooled all of you.” …but he won’t…it’s only a wish…a dream… Yet Bobby lives on in my hopes, in my dreams and in my ability to do what he would have done – to live like I appreciate how precious life really is.

I miss you kid!

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Unsure of Whether It’s Me or Them

One thing is certain, when I’m tired, worn and in need of ME time the little things will make a HUGE difference. Of late, I’ve noticed that it’s the little things that have served to light my already short wick. So here are a few of my recent pet peeves…chime in on whether you believe it’s me or them.

• If you work in the service industry – whether it is retail or food service – polite and appropriate customer service is a job requirement. Notice I didn’t say you should be warm and friendly; simply polite and appropriate. This means that when you are standing behind a counter serving customers and I am the only customer standing in front of you AND I speak to you, you are required to respond – not stare blankly into space. Is it me or them?
• If your job description includes insuring that the morning coffee is brewed and available for purchase, you should NOT be texting at the cash register (with not a care in the world) while ALL coffee dispensers sit empty. Is it me or them?
• If you wish to drive at 20-30mph under the posted speed limit, you should avoid the left lane. Moreover, you should not appear panicked and disheveled when folks show their irritability with your traffic-causing ignorance. Is it me or them?
• I’m a primarily text person – I prefer to only speak to my mom and sister on the telephone – why will people dial my number, leave no message and repeat the call several times a day? It is my personal mobile phone; you can say or text anything and trust that I am the sole recipient of your message(s). Is it me or them?
• If you are using a mobile telephone at the gym during your workout you are NOT working out hard enough. Stop complaining that you aren’t showing results. HARD AND FAST RULE: If you can carry a conversation, you’re not working out hard enough to make a difference. Stay your FAT ass home and snack on Breyers while chatting. Is it me or them?
• Weekends are my sacred 48 hours. They are my time for rest and recreation. Doing anything that requires work or driving on long jaunts is not appealing to me and likely to be met with a resounding, “No thanks.” Is it me or them?

Hey folks…the list can go on and on. The truth is that we may sometimes draw the negative to ourselves. Maybe my feeling tired and worn is contributing to my seeing these little things magnified lately. Until I’m sure, I’ll keep asking myself if it’s me or them.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ignorance = Death; Will Your Kid Be the Next Assailant or the Victim?

Anthony Collao is dead. He allegedly fell victim to a brutal beating at the hands of four other teens – Nolis Ogando, Christopher Lozada, Luis Tabales and Alex Velez – who crashed a party that Collao attended hosted by two gay men in Queens, NY. It is unclear whether Collao himself is gay – quite honestly, I don’t think that this fact is relevant to the story. A young man is dead because four other young men acted on their ignorance and like a savage pack of wolves in the wild, they targeted, beat and left an innocent individual to lose a fight for his life.

We can sit by in pity that an innocent young man had his life stripped away because others believed him to be gay. Would we be more outraged if he was killed for being Black or Latino? The reality is that these are OUR children. Whether our children are the victim or the assailants, we have allowed and in some cases perpetuated, the ignorance that incited these types of attacks.

Yesterday the popular Fox television series Glee featured a kiss between Kurt and Blaine – two of the popular series’ protagonists. I felt a sense of pride that we had come far along enough to feature two teen males sharing a kiss on national television and that it would be accepted as normal as seeing any of the other opposite sex characters kissing. Then I’m met with the story of Anthony Collao and my heart breaks.

Our children are at risk – of having their lives ended by ignorant beliefs that result in a wanton disregard for life and for diversity. They are in danger of never reaching adulthood or spending their adult lives in prison.

We MUST teach our children that life is precious AND that the beauty of life is in the richness of its individuality. Black, White, Latino, Gay, Straight, Challenged, etc., we are priceless beings that must be respected, cherished and valued for our differences.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, March 14, 2011

There’s More to Life Than Charlie Sheen and His Shenanigans

My sister Evelyn started mentoring a 10-year old girl through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and I was floored every time I heard of the touching stories she tells me about

her new little sister. There are so many young kids who can use our mentoring and positive guidance to becoming responsible, caring and socially conscious adults. For all the negative influences young folks encounter on a daily basis – through the mass media and even through first-hand contact in their neighborhoods – it is crucial that they have adults who MAKE the time to show them that there is an amazing life awaiting each of them….and we build that perception one child at a time…one dream at a time…one hour at a time. Many of us were transfixed for chunks of our day and evening by Charlie Sheen and his shenanigans, but few of us can tell you of investing a few moments to give back to our community and specifically to make a difference in the life of a child. This month I’ve agreed to participate in the Bowl For Kids’ Sake event for the Big Brother Big Sisters of Orange County. The event is fun-filled, but the cause is a serious one. Our children and our communities are made better for our input…for our dedication to MAKING them better. Understandably, we can’t participate in every event that presents itself, but we can chip in to the cause and help those that can make time. Let’s use Facebook, Twitter and email for more than just forwarding trash and negativity that doesn’t benefit anyone. Make a difference in your community. Today I’m bringing attention to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County in New York. Tomorrow you may have an event that makes a difference. As for Charlie Sheen…well, he’s banking millions of dollars; none of which are going toward our children and our communities.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bowling Times Lanes


To Donate Toward This Event, Click Here

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Reviews: Nuela / Platanos Y Collard Greens

It’s important to keep the embers of romance burning in long-term relationships and BD and I do this by creating a date night…our latest venture had us visit one of my new-found favorite eateries – Nuela and taking in Platanos y Collard Greens - an off-Broadway production.

NUELA: Located in New York City’s Flatiron district, Nuela (43 W 24th Street) is a Peruvian Fusion restaurant that opened last July or so. We first visited Nuela in August 2010 and although it was brand new it captured my attention with its creative and mouth-watering fare. They’ve basically fused Latino flavors with a palate pleasing mixture of odd delicacies to create flavors you’ve never experienced before. Hot on their menu – the Ceviche – specifically the Corvina (ceviche tipico), the Chifa Empanadas – with rock shrimp and pork and my main course this go-round, their Lobster “Chupe” – a butter poached lobster – were are out of this world. BD had their lamb and we also shared their Chinese Broccoli, Papa a la Huancaina and their arroz. The portions are modest, but the flavors are so interesting and the food so well prepared, that you will be completely satisfied. I’m BIG on good service and the service at Nuela is top notch. Our server was completely versed on the dishes, the perfect pairings for side dishes and the wine service and he was attentive to have the courses arrive at their right time. You get what you pay for and Nuela is proof positive of this…expect to shell out upward of $80 per person for your average dinner.

PLATANOS y COLLARD GREENS: Although BD insists that I am bourgeois and incapable of enjoying any production off Broadway, the truth is that I’ve given a thumbs-up to plenty a basement-budget, off-Broadway show. Heck, I’ve even found myself giving a rousing standing ovation to off-off-Broadway experiences that were small, but smart and inventive. For starters, let me say that I genuinely WANTED to love this production. Platanos Y Collard Greens is the brainchild of David and Jamillah Lamb. The couple believe that P&C is thought-provoking and hilarious and advertise the production as a romantic comedy…a budget challenged West Side Story, if you will. The play should have all the ethnic charm that lends itself to a funny and nostalgia-inducing show. I mean, it revolves around the relationship between the New York Latino and African American communities. If there’s anyone who could have been recruited as a consultant for relationships between Blacks and Latinos, it’s me. Lord knows I’ve dated my share of Black men. Problem is, the point of reference used for P & C appears dated…like maybe you’re telling the story from the viewpoint of my parents when they arrived to NYC 40 years ago. Today’s NYC Latino and Black communities are a lot more interwoven….with admittedly similar challenges. P & C appears to prey on the belief that the NYC Latino community is NOT aware of their African roots or that the Latino community in NYC generally believes that they are somehow better than the African American community. These are beliefs that may have existed decades ago, but clearly are NOT the case today. Leon Joseph as the lead in the play and the African American love interest to Hjordy Matos’, the Dominican female lead appear mismatched. Joseph was gangly (although his later shirtless physique proved he was quite the hard body) to the waifish Matos. If Joseph wasn’t so silly and immature, he would almost appear more threatening that romantic toward Matos. He seems a bit unrefined and awkward when scenes called for him to be tender. Preston Taylor – a character actor who played the role of “Nah-Mean” was actually brilliant. His ability to draw the attention of the audience away from the leads each time he hit the stage was uncanny. In the end, the actors seem greener than Platanos and the storyline hits the pit of your stomach like dirty collard greens. It doesn’t help that the play takes over two-and-a-half hours to get its point across. Some light moments are sprinkled throughout and they may keep you giggling but save Preston Taylor as “Nah-Mean” this script and cast are due for an overhaul.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, February 04, 2011

My Protector, My Inspiration, My Sis...Happy Birthday!

When we were kids you protected me from the school bullies
Even when those bullies were twice your size
You appeared to do everything right
The model child every parent hopes for
You had two amazing sons; both are the apple of your eye
And it’s clear by how you live that you want the best for your loved ones
Today as you celebrate your birthday it’s important that you know
We admire your strength in the face of all obstacles
We are in awe of your grace and calm in the roughest of storms
We are so proud of all you’ve accomplished
You’re not just our big sister
You’re our link to each other
The one who sees the best in all of us
The real glue that keeps us all together
We love you sis…HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Monday, January 10, 2011

Labels Are Labels, But Let’s Get Real

I’m aware that some labels are perceived to be negative and therefore, some wish to avoid them at all costs, but the reality is that some labels merely give the communicator a means to describe the person in question.

For example: The Latino man walked out of the bank.
For example: The Black man stole the bike.
For example: He is bisexual, but prefers to date women.

Now, we can argue until we turn blue in the face and chances are that the labels used to define us would still exist. Is it necessary to use these defining labels in all our communication? Probably not, but sometimes it is necessary to give our reader or listener the ability to get a picture of who we’re talking about or the perceived motivation(s) for someone’s actions.

Years ago, I was amazed to hear a story about men in the Dominican Republic that slept with men for cash – tourists specifically – but they identified as straight and usually returned to their wife and children at the end of their “work day”. It kind-of made me think of a woman who stands on the street corner, sells her body for cash, but doesn’t identify as a prostitute. Does how we identify change the true label of what we are? Does it matter that we may not care for the label associated with who we are or our behavior?

It’s 2011 and labels and check boxes are a bit outdated, but they still serve as a means to define people, situations, preferences, etc. What needs to change FIRST is our associating labels with anything negative and just seeing them as a means to have a clearer vision or picture of the world around us.

So now when you see a statement such as, “The gay man suddenly felt an attraction for his housekeeper,” you should simply get a picture of who we’re talking about, why the story is relevant and how the subjects of our sentence came to know each other. Although I suspect that until we learn to stop judging, we’ll have folks looking at the labels as a means to draw conclusions based on negative perceptions for certain labels.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, January 03, 2011

You’re Never Too Old for Mom’s Wisdom

One of the greatest blessings in my life is still having my mom around to chat-it-up with and get real and true tidbits of wisdom and advice on everything from preventing my rice from sticking to appreciating my relationship – long term. The truth is that for all the hell we may have given our parents growing up, we quickly realize that they may have been trying to make our lives a little better than their own. Every day, like clockwork, my mom and I get on the phone and talk about all things that are happening – including the folks in our circles. This morning I was talking to mom about her new Facebook friends – and yes, it’s quite GREAT to listen to how happy she is to connect with folks via Facebook! The conversation turned to folks who appeared so happy in love and marriage in the past and are now contemplating divorce. My mom simply said, “Some folks can’t just be happy. They have to have drama and constant activity to make them feel that their relationship is exciting and new.” I thought about those statements long after we hung up. The reality is that for those of us in long term relationships, it may sometimes feel like it can get old, routine or boring. We know our partners and what makes things work. We trudge along like hamsters on our little wheels. Then, for some God forsaken reason, some folks think that some new person is much more exciting, fun, daring….just an all-around better match for their lives. It’s like the analogy of the old shoe. You give up those comfy pair of Hush Puppies for those Balenciaga pumps only to find out that they aren’t as much fun when you have to walk in them all day, every day. That’s really how relationships are. New folks will always seem like such a fun, adrenaline-packed change to the routine that our lives have become, but as we say in Spanish, “Hasta la belleza cansa.” That new “piece” will be as hum-drum as you may have categorized your partner when you are forced to endure them day-in-and-day-out. Rather, my mom pointed out, we should take comfort in the routine we’ve established with our partners. Add in the spice at will, but appreciate that there is no drama in your home. Understand that a fire that burns slow and steady will warm you, but a flame that burns feverishly will most assuredly burn itself out and everything in its wake. Mom has the wisdom of her years and her years in a very long term relationship to speak some truth. The key is being able to take it in and live her triumphs while avoiding her heartaches. I guess that’s why I’m never too old for my mom’s wisdom.

Keep passin’ the open windows…