Friday, March 20, 2009
Anyhow. I’m sitting there and I wonder what this kid thinks when he sees all these “corporate” kids getting on the bus. All business-like and promoting a successful life of work, education, and burning the candle too brightly at both ends. I wonder, does he understand the freedom his life now includes and the freedom that he may not have in 5 to 10 years? I guess when I saw him I saw more freedom than what I see when I watch all of us go to work every day.
What he didn’t know is that I wanted to lean over and say, keep that style man. Just keep it. Don’t change and oh yeah….do whatever you love in life. Youth is such strength to me. It can change the course of your day in one instant. Maybe seeing your children, some kids playing, kids going to school, the kid on the bus, or a baby in a stroller. I sometimes throw myself into that ageless melee of playing on the playground between classes. Or standing on the deck at the local swimming pool. Going there so early that I’d wait outside for it to open and stay so long that my eyes gave way to the chlorine and had this psychedelic rainbow glaze on them. If you’ve ever swam for hours on end in a pool you know what I’m talking about. For all of those that haven’t, think about something you took between the ages of 16-30. Ha.
I always want to take that youth with me. Most of my cousins are grown, but I love seeing children of close friends and often time think of the day when I may have my own. I guess anyone who doesn’t will do that. My friend S often times sends me pictures of her newest. I nicknamed her Chubbsy cause her extra folds are just the cutest. I often times look at the pictures if I’m having a tough day, tough time, or going through some down times.
Back to this kid on the bus. Freedom of youth to be who you want to be should really be supported. I think to often kids today feel they have to conform in a retreat to not be picked on or criticized, but lets think. Does this ever change? I respect the people that can say, do wear, be, act the person they really are inside. I mean, maybe not everyone will love the person you truly are at heart. But at least you know who does like you for who you are and that lends itself to really creating an environment of calm freedom.
Don’t be afraid to show people who you are. Say what you need to say. It may feel better to get something out of your mind. It’s amazing how words can be just as liberating as visiting places in your mind or in the world that free you from prior constraints.
I know we can’t be the same people we were when we were young, but I’m thinking that while your body will change your mind can keep the spirit burning. Someone will appreciate that desire for individuality as we are separated by more than just DNA and color. I am excited about the next few days. I’m going to get the chance to learn more about people I care about and I hope they just want to tell me something that they’ve been wanting to say or just express. I will just listen.
I want to hear you again friends. It’s that time when you’re able to share without worrying what we’ll think. You are just as special as you think you are.
Boys are beyond the range of anybody's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years. -James Thurber
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It was good to see everyone around me taking in the weather. Going out, doing things, walking the city streets, enjoying the incoming green of spring, and enjoying a few pints in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. Always good to drink some green beer. Unfortunately, I think the top of my local pub (across the street from my apartment is local), must of popped off from too much testosterone and too much alcohol. I guess that’s par for the course. I don’t really miss that even thought I can’t always blame someone for getting all fired up. I don’t know why they may have done what they did. In any case the ruckus woke me up around 3:00am.
Every year around this time this weather seems to wipe away the past few months. For some maybe it’s a new start on the year. I know we all might say “oh, this is my year, right now, January first.” For me, I just “get through” January, February, and the Ides of March. When that weather breaks and that warmth of sun hits your face you enjoy that extra spring in your step or the slight cold you wake up with in the morning with the ray of sun coming through the top of your uncovered window. The sun, the sign that spring is on its way in. It’s also one of those moments that makes me look down at the ground and grin and shake my head.
I think of a few things around this time. For me, it was baseball practice inside the gym in high school. Weather finally would break and we’d go outside for practice. A little cold still, but no better time to smack the leather and throw the pill around a bit. Across the path we’d get to watch the girls practice softball. A little added bonus from going to a cramped public school I guess.
Being outside is so pure. Nothing can really impede what you have planned on a day where the elements are perfect. It’s a great experience to enjoy with someone or some family. I think too often we don’t enjoy what all nature has to offer. I guess I could say living in the city that I don’t, but I do take advantage of it. A run here. A bike ride there. A walk down to the water to watch some ducks do backflips. It’s all good.
What makes this time of year even better is that every day seems to be new. Even though your work may be constant, your mate may be the same (in a good way), your travels may be identical, and your routine may well be, routine. Every day you get another start. Another beginning to feeling great. Another face to smile at or for you to be smiled at. I’m excited to see some real smiles this Saturday as some good friends are coming up. The police officer, the principal, some randoms, LC, L, C, T, J, T. I don’t even know what to expect, but I’ve always had more of an interesting time with life that way…..
The unexpected has taught me so much more than what I knew was going to happen. I don’t regret not being prepared for the unexpected. I also don’t apologize for actions to the unexpected. When you are hit face on, you see it coming. When you are hit from the side, well, you never see it coming, but I digress……
I think we should be thankful for those people in our lives that deal with us at our highest as well as our lowest points. It speaks volumes of the people they are inside. They are there through thick and thin. I came back to help someone recently. I did it indirectly because I wanted them to know that while I’m not “there”, I’m always going to be “there”. It’s just the way it would be.
I know that we can sit here and pick apart these little peaks and valleys we have throughout our lives. Some people come and go throughout, but the sun always rises again. And a better day is left to live.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. – Helen Keller
Thursday, March 12, 2009
My thoughts on today kind of revolve around failure. So often it seems that failure is viewed as such a bad thing. Whether it’s a job, a task, a good attempt, or a relationship; we tend to view failing at something as us being less than capable. I learned a few things the last few weeks. Failure is a part of our path toward success.
I can only say this for myself. I have learned so much more about myself through failing or stepping in the wrong spot than I’ve ever learned from doing well or succeeding. I think when you fail at something you tend to look closer at yourself. You look at the variables that caused said failure. Too often people blame themselves, but there are so many other factors that are involved. I can’t really go into all of them because they are different for everyone. Just don’t let anyone make you feel like you failed at something. It is okay to be a bit introspective and reminiscent about the occurrence just as long someone isn’t standing over you or face-up putting it in your face. Failure in private can sometimes be just as hurtful as public failure; but at least in privacy one has the chance to put closure to it.
For me people, man, I have failed publicly on numerous occasions. I’ve failed under huge, glaring stage lights. I’ve failed on the street. I’ve failed on the diamond and I’ve failed inside an 8x10 cell. I’ve failed myself when I said what I wanted and I’ve failed myself when I should of kept my mouth shut. In either case, what I pulled from the experience was more valuable than not going through it. I guess as human beings we have that pushover factor. Things can push in any direction, but pushed too far and one is apt to get closer to their breaking point and then…..fail.
These days it seems as though people are all over the internet, others may think they know so much more about you than there really is. I find it funny that people think so much of a profile, words on a screen, or the fact that you actually may believe something I type, post, link, share, or comment on. Is that me? Maybe. Maybe it was just me that day though. Maybe it was you in that moment. Maybe it was someone from that other side.
Failing is good for the soul. Our country has failed on occasions. I say occasions because one failure may be another’s success. I don’t want to go into the examples. But the lesson still holds true. We learn as we go. We’re always going to make mistakes. I just never want to live off mistakes. Do you? Myself and some of my closest friends made mistakes to cause us loss and deprivation of freedom. I would have to say that there is no worse loss than death than deprivation of freedom. I see the reason so many people come here. I know that’s pretty deep, but some know where I’m coming from.
I told my sister K last night that if she wants to get where she wants to be, she has to build on the failures and go up.
When I think about how this applies to relationships and marriage; well you just have to laugh, right? I mean, think about your batting average as it may correlate to marriage. I don’t want to write the equation, but you get my drift. You are going to fail at relationships. We all have. And we all will. What you may have liked at 21 may not be what you fancy at 31; and rightfully so. My only advice on that topic. Don’t fail yourself and don’t let someone change the idea of what “success” means to you. I think sometimes I lost what it meant. I think I lost what it was built off of. It’s not very hard. It’s actually kind of simple when broken down. Of course we’ve all failed some people in life. They can’t hold on to that and nor can you. It’s just the way it works.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
Friday, March 6, 2009
want a race?
Okay. So it’s Friday night. Go ahead say it, ‘what the hell, Bob? Why aren’t you at xyz club/bar/vfw/ymca raging? Ok. Fridays are laundry night if you must know. And that’s where it kind of started. Well, the end of laundry night.
People in this country bring up race so many times in conversation and what not. My brain exploded in a spectrum of thought when the black, heavy-set said to me as I boarded the bus home from the Laundromat. “What’s going on brother?”
Anyone that needs a lesson in diversity and race relations look no further than their closest metropolitan city. I got on the bus and once he said that to me, my mind kind spiraled on the word brother. I have come to use this word in so many situations with so many different people. My friend J. A great person and someone that shines in every aspect I’ve seen him. Basically working his ass off so everyone else can have a great time. A Filipino guy that I met a few years back and we just hit it off. He always refers to me as “bro”. I never really thought about it, but it just goes further then a word these days. My other friend M does the same thing. Also ironically Filipino. Always gracious and appreciative of the friends around him. It almost amazes me how much they both appreciate the good people around them. My friend R and J in Chicago. Two black guys who radiate the word cool and impressed me so much in the short time I got to spend with them. R radiates light from the inside. J, the Pretty Boy Floyd of the weekend just can impress with words and attitude. I clicked with both of these guys in a very short time while I was out in ChiTown visiting E.
I mean, this is what I’m talking about. You have to be the weakest and most unintelligent person on the planet to hate someone because of the color of their skin. Shit, I might hate what you have to say, but I can’t hate the color of your skin. I always was amused when I would talk with other white people about the area I was from. And they would say, that’s a pretty shitty area. I’m sitting here thinking, well, you’re hanging with me. So how shitty can it be? I never shied away from telling people exactly where I was from. I loved when people would refer to my high school in a derogatory way for the number of black kids that went there. Yes, I don’t call myself Irish-American, so I tend to not say African-American. Not one of my black friends will be offended because I probably know them just as well as their families do and some are closer to me than some of my family. Well, my next sentence would be so typical of the “white” kid at State University; “a lot of my best friends are black people”. I mean, it is that simple.
I guess this is where regret comes in. I regret not going over to their houses for holidays and having fun around their loved ones. People I grew up with from Kindergarten to senior year in high school played such a part in who I am that I am saddened that I didn’t get to be more involved in their lives. That’s the way it was though. My town and the town over were both 100% white and 100% black. You didn’t cross the line. It was that type of situation. I remember my friend R and a few others came to my neighborhood and they brought sticks with their bikes. When they rode down my street all my neighbors started looking out the windows. I mean, I was just that kind of guy. R is still one of my best friends to this day even though we seldom see each other.
I saw a really close friend and teammate from high school at a reunion. He had a real rough time after high school. Going through addiction and ending up in places that we cant hardly imagine much less speak of. I had heard stories. Writing this gives me chills. But when I saw my backfield buddy D, I saw his eyes nearly well up and produce a tear. A brief embrace so none of the ladies would see the football guys getting all soft and a whisper in my ear and words that were a surprise to me.
“B, I missed ya man. I got real lost and when I was at my worst I used to think about how much fun we used to have at practice and remembered how fcuking cool you were man. I missed you…”
D now lives up near the Bronx. That night he said that made me feel like the moments were worth it. Those horrible days we had at practice didn’t make us all-stars, but taught us what we needed to be resilient against life’s worst demons. What he doesn’t know is that I needed that just as bad he did. Do you know what it means when a man can be totally honest with another man about how he feels? It’s called growing up and becoming the man you want to become.
See, my parents will say we had it good growing up. I mean, it was okay. They did the best we could. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I saw kids with nothing in my classrooms. I had nice clothes, new sneakers, but when I think now, I was in their class because we lived close by each other. We were in the same county, town, zip code. We weren’t that different. I knew kids that were on welfare and got the free lunches. I mean, I always got a few bucks for lunch, but the mysterious orange cheese in my fridge didn’t click until years down the road. You can strive your whole adult life trying to keep up with the Joneses, but when you’re 8, 9, 10, 11, and realize that you and you friends are in the same situation, you almost feel like you’re a part of something…..even if it is a little bit of poverty.
I’m not saying I was starving. We ate Real Good Bread. No lie, it was called that. Occasionally a loaf of stroheman would pop in there.
Many people don’t really know much about what makes me the person I am now. I think that from some of those childhood experiences, I can adapt to a lot of different situations. One time, at school, I was really faced with a situation I wasn’t sure I could even handle. Maybe you can picture it. Basically all white party at a house. A lot of kids from Philly and State U-D County. Lots of friends. Lots of guys. Lots of girls. So a friend from my childhood showed up. My friend B was black. Friend that came back into my life after I had met him down the Southwest part of the city. A great kid and guy all around. Just the kind of guy you want to be friends with. I think where he might be right now. So B is at the party. Some of these kids. Somewhere from the Northeast part of the city. I didn’t know them. I didn’t know many Catholic school kids. No love. No hate. Reallly nothing big to me. I was a public school. We’re all college kids. Well, B is there having beer with all of us. One of the kids confronts B. Says something and then says something else. I heard the something else. The white guy with the Jeff cap said “why don’t you pick up my trash you ****** from southwest philly….” Well, B was my friend years before these clowns. What is scary about this is that we were outnumbered. I sided with B of course. My boy. So its black and white versus all white. Thinking about it now, kind of a tense movie scene. Well, we’re all standing there and somehow a knife comes up right into the mix. Like slow motion it happens. Usually I would never grab a weapon from anyone, but for some reason as it came into play, I reach my hands out and caught it on the flat sides and just pulled it down. For the life of me I cant remember if B or the other guy pulled it. B was a very friendly person. He was taught not to hate anyone regardless of their big Italian nose, Irish wit, Jewish nose, or black attitude. He fit in so well, all you ever noticed was the smile. We were all so young, but I had been through my class in race relations about 10 years earlier than the masses of WASPS at State University. I knew what to do. Tears welling up in B’s eyes. Frustration in his voice. Hurt in his face. A cracking in his attempt to get the words out. Bobby, I’m gonna…..And with that, I said to the crowd watching, we’re leaving. One tough guy still wanted to say something…..I said, “well, you want to beat up the black guy…you might as well beat my ass as well, but I’ll take my chances and bet on me.” Always good with a cocky comment because I had good people on my side, we walked out of there. I had my arm over his shoulder. I was proud that we walked out of there together.
I’m not saying I know all kinds of stuff about race and stuff. I guess if you’re not exposed to the great ways that people of different races and creeds can educate us, than I feel sorry for you. I loved for two years that I was called white boy by over 200 blacks, Puerto-ricans, and whites while I worked at UPS. To this day, it was the best job I ever had. At 8.50 an hour. I miss all those guys. I remember now walking into a Super Bowl Party. I was the only white guy invited. I walked in and smelled smoke and wing sauce and then my buddy Kwan goes, “white boy…..we didn’t lay bets on the game…we laid bets that you wouldn’t show up in G-Town at this house at night…..” I said, “dog, you know how I roll….!”
I also remember kids from college learning the area I was from. And my friend J aka Big Meat saying that he didn’t think my area was really that tough. Like, what was so tough about about 5-10 miles away from where he grew up. I mean, my nickname in college was GB aka Gangsta Bob. Someone actually referred to me as that last week. Anyhow, my friend J asked me about living where I grew up. While I never thought about this day, it did happen. My friend S picked me up one day in his Cavalier. When I got in, there was a Glock 9mm handgun in the passenger side. We drove around and he said to load the gun. The thought at that point in my life was like putting my pants on, it kind of came naturally. No questions. No rationalizations. Just did it. Loaded. In my hand. Drive past a few places and just held it. Now, nothing happened, but looking back, being that close to a potentially very bad situation is all but surreal to me. It’s one of life’s, I was there and it could have been worse days. S turned out to be a police officer. I turned out to be, well, me. I’m not one for guns or violence, but in my younger years, you would find me around every haggle and donnybrook there ever was. Hey, donnybrook is an actual word. Way to go. Mom and Dad would be totally perplexed at learning this, but again, my friends have suffered much worse and we’ve been collectively through it. If I wasn’t there when they did, I was there after and have gone through my own trials.
This is such a long blog. I guess these things are supposed to be short. I just find it funny that some people share interracial jokes in their families. I mean, I’ve heard them all. From my grandfather to the grandfathers of other races. Yeah we smell like wet dogs when it rains! Ha.
Back to my bus driver. I wish I got his name tonight. It was me, him and a woman who had to be at least 200 years old. She was sleeping on the bus and we woke her up. She had no idea where she was. She got off the bus. He said to me, “Man, I mean, I feel like our job as human beings is to stand up for people that can’t stand up for themselves. I mean, what can we say for ourselves if we can’t help people?” I had no answer. I said, “Man, you’re right.” All that from one night.
So yeah, that’s what I had to say tonight. I miss all my friends. All of them. We never get enough time to sit in that time that can teach us so much more than we think it can. For all the differences we have, we are so very similar to everyone else. I wish there was so much more time to know so much more about the people that came and went in my life/but maybe my life is too different for them to know.
If you ever get the chance you should watch a move called “They call me Mr. Tibbs” with Sidney Portier. An absolute lesson in race, the South, the right, the wrong, and how it all goes down.
My thought for tonight. I know we have our ideas. I know we have our pre-conceived notions. I know you’re not always gonna welcome whitey in your house. I know you don’t want to seem too nice. All I’m saying is please listen. Listen to what people have to say. They will really impress you. Everyone.
These words came to me tonight and I had to write. It took over the night. Of course I bought a 40 to keep it real, but I mean, I would of bought that anyhow. Ha. I guess I miss my friends. I miss the friends that I spent the most time with that were different than me, but more brothers and sisters than I was ever born with. GJ, ZR, JM, , J, DS, A, L, LJ, KB, TB, DT, N, JP, BS, JW, RB, LB, JT, RK, RM, LW, RB.
I am a big believer that the sum is greater than it parts. Man, that doesn’t speak more loudly than in a group of kids from a bunch a different backgrounds so confused about life that they only care about making it. And I think we made it….I think we made it from that playground.
You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin' is a pain in the ass. - Frank Sinatra
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I mean, I know we all say we’re fine and we’re great, but it is a good feeling when someone wants you around or wants you to experience a little piece of life with them. I’ve been doing a little bit of that the past few months. Different people. Different experiences. Different places. All so fun. All so interesting. Most taught me more about myself than I did them. I guess all our lifes’ experiences can’t always be positive, so maybe I try to use the not-so-positive experiences as lessons learned. Man, that sounds so damn corporate as I sit here in my 8x5, three sided, semi-professional cubicle with a scenic & panoramic view of the Greater Philadelphia area. Anyhow, I am so hard on myself for making the same mistake twice. Unfortunately, if you know me, I’ve made the same mistakes twice and sometimes more than twice.
What I find interesting about making mistakes is even when you know it’s a mistake you can still feel good about making it? You picking up what I’m putting down here people? Are we like animals? Well, we are mammals. Why do we make the same mistakes twice? Do we think that if the circumstances are exactly the same the result will ever be different? Will that trap never fall down over top of us as we go for the bait inside? Will the door behind us never slam shut when we’re lured into that dark room of the unknown? Will you be suckered once again to biggie size your fries when you know the value meal has enough to make you full?
My point is, is it healthy to subject yourself to this type of thing? I mean, it can’t be, right? I think we tend to make so many things in life so much more confusing and convoluted. I think we look away from the most obvious of solutions. The Theory of Occam’s Razor comes to mind. Of two equivalent theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simplest one is to be preferred. If you smell a rat, it’s usually not a flower. What is a frog is a frog and not a prince. If she acts like an animal, she may just treat you like one. I have a lot of worthless analogous examples. Many may not be right, but I’m getting better at spotting a wolf in sheep’s clothing these days.
I don’t want you to go making another mistake. But more than that, I feel a lot better knowing that I don’t make any more mistakes. No one makes good mistakes these days.
“We've all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it's more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors.” -Norman Vincent Peale
Monday, March 2, 2009
I think we always like to be the first to make our mark in the snow. Sometimes the snow stops and what you did is left for everyone to see. Sometimes, like the tide to sand, the snow keeps falling and you are left to rewrite your creations.
"When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I'll know I'm growing old." - Lady Bird Johnson
Rattle & Hum
I figure that some people enjoy going through some drama every now and again. I don’t really think it’s all that healthy to be all pent up and anxious about negative things. That nervousness you get about seeing someone you’re not on good terms with. That job interview you have coming up. That review that you’re scheduled to go through with your boss. That tough conversation you may have to have with a significant other that things just aren’t going to work out you or they may want and seeing that look on their face that you just didn’t think would hurt you as much as it may have.
I don’t know. I know we all have those moments. Sometimes there’s usually some time in between peaks and valleys of life. As I’ve aged I’ve noticed that I mentally laugh at these situations. Well, not the break-up type situations. But seriously. When I think about some of the situations that I was so intense and emotional about actually make me laugh because I’m like. Wow B, you really took that to another level. You were really involved in that situation. It’s funny. If you speak about something with someone enough, they may think you are so much more involved than you yourself even are. You just want something to talk about at the time. I know this because when I’m going through anything, it all stops around Friday evening. It all stops when the sun goes down and night is once again upon us. And it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing. Man, I just know that life is so tough, even tougher with everything going on in the world right now. Put your problems in perspective. I know. I know. I can’t step into your shoes and really don’t know you and how you feel. But know this. I’ve stepped in a lot of shoes. Some you may not be aware of, but damned if those shoes don’t give me the platform (no pun intended) to speak on everything from a grandmother dying of cancer to how much I enjoyed taking care of my three youngest sisters every night between the ages of 13 to 16. L was too mature and learning about make-up and hair spray and boys by that time. While that was a very stressful time in my life; I also think it was one of the best. I think those childcare and parenting skills will some day come into play. Someday.
I guess what I’m saying is turn that stress into power. Say to yourself that I or we can beat this. We can win. We can overcome. I think way too many times we go with the beat of a drum that’s been beaten in life for the last two or ten centuries. I don’t have this or that, so let me just settle. I’ll never get this job or that job, so oh woe is me. I’ll never get a date with Jennifer Aniston because John Mayer has better hair than I do. Watch out John, I play a mean triangle!
Then there are those times when you need to look inside yourself to overcome something difficult in your life. I never have a measuring stick for the severity of a person’s own dilemmas, so I try to not minimize them and say something like, “oh, you think you have it bad?” I can’t say that I’ve had to have a little pep talk with myself in some time. Probably not since June and that was mentally incarcerating. I find that the sooner you deal with a problem the sooner it will dissolve into the fabric of your past.
I can’t tell if what I deal with are recurring problems, but a few do happen often these days. I take them with a grain of salt and try not to let too many people who are close to me know that I am sweating. Not that there’s anything wrong with acknowledging the stress of a situation, but I feel, like the media, the more people you tell the more stress you are asking for. Only a few people know my dilemmas. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the few that know there problems as well. I like to keep it that way. A few close buddies.
Anyhow, enough of that. It’s Friday and getting close to quitting time. Today was rough. I can handle rough Mondays, but rough Fridays just put a bad spin on the weekend. Especially when you have no control over it.
I wrote this Sunday and now there is about 5 inches of snow on the ground. I wish I was 12 again.