Tick Tock

Tick Tock

Seconds have passed

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Only minutes now

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An hour or two

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days

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weeks

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Months

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The wound still as fresh as those first seconds

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The pain deeper

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

 

Scan drawing Clock

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A challenging time

I have been slow in sharing and talking about it. Just makes it less real. Also, if I stop to think or discuss it, I get stuck and feel more powerless than I already do.
 
But the reality is here and ever present. The odyssey that began in the fall of 2015 continues. We thought we had gotten passed it in the summer of 2016, but here we go again.
 
At the beginning of this summer, we got the news: my wife’s breast cancer had returned. She has Triple Negative, a stubborn and aggressive form of breast cancer that affects about 15% of all breast cancer patients. Larissa has already begun treatment.
 
We are dealing with all of this with optimism, and with as much grace as possible. Among one of the strongest pillars where I get my inspiration from is my wife.
 
She is a true warrior in her attitude, resolute and mental and physical strength. Physically, she has her days where she is in pain, but she marches on with a smile and without whining or letting any of this get to her down in any way. If you know her, you will probably see her at a Zumba class and never realize she is battling cancer and dealing with pain that sometimes does not let her sleep.
 
Knowing we are not alone in this journey also gives us spiritual, mental and emotional strength. All the support, love and kindness of friends, family, neighbors, strangers and our community fills us with hope and determination. Each gesture, hug, kind word, text, call, and random acts of kindness towards us means the world to us.
 
So grateful to have friends like: Becky P. for being there from the very beginning; Salas family (Rafael & Isabel) for being there for all of us this whole time; Sandra F. for recently setting up a Meal Sign up ; Maria G. for been a force within a force to help in some many ways from the very start including most recently setting up a fundraising to help us deal with medical expenses
 
The list of people who have and continue to help us goes on and on. Other names that come to mind include Domi, Shirley, Johana, Will F, Christ A., Heidy…it would take a few pages to list all of you, but know that you are all in our hearts. We could not do this without you.
 
Lari, my son and I know that we have a long road ahead of us. We are taking things one day at a time, enjoying each moment and taking care of what’s in front of us. We have always been about enjoying the now. This experience is just another reminder how important it is to live life appreciating every moment, experience and person.
 
Lari, Gaby and me D.C 2009
I thank you for being part of our shared path. I will try to give you periodic updates, but the best way to keep in the loop would probably be to follow my wife’s FB fan page.
 
I give you my love and gratitude.

Reflecting…

For a post

In 15 days or so I will turn 494 years-old. In my time walking this earth, I have…

from an early age, become uncomfortably acquainted with loss – loss of my parents, family members, and dear friends to this world. I cherish the memories and times shared as well as lament the unsaid and for the times we will never have again…

… Broken and mended hearts. In my youth, I was reckless and callous towards love and affection, breaking a few hearts in the process. My young self-apologizes for the angst and pain I might have caused. For the hearts I have mended I hope to continue to provide solace, love, compassion and understanding….

…taken advantage of great opportunities but squandered more out of fear and self-doubt; I am learning to overcome and conquer my obstacles…

…done more good than bad. Shakespeare wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interrèd with their bones.” I hope for the oppositive. Whatever good I have done on this earth I hope outlives any wrong I might have ever done.

…come to realize that I have trust issues. I tend to be open and cordial, but I am realizing I am guarded. I tend to be question people’s agenda when perhaps I shouldn’t. Is that normal?

not been at times the ideal friend, sibling, husband, father but I have tried and will continue each day to try to be the best to each… 

…many more miles to walk in this winding road of life, and many more lessons to learn along the way….

Hate is not Welcome Here

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups and speech are increasingly on the rise.

You read about this troubling trend and it shocks you but it is harder to digest when confronted with it in your own backyard.

Today, around my neighborhood, I found a vandalized For Sale sign with the words, “No Arabs” on it.Not cool.jpg

Perhaps the act is a childish, idiotic prank committed by misguided kids. Or perhaps is just someone seeking attention for whatever reasons. Or perhaps this is just pure xenophobia on display for all of us to see.

Whatever the reason(s), I hope we can all rise above such acts. We must rise above our own prejudices, cultural misunderstandings, hate, and fears.

We must stand together and take a stand not to tolerate such messages. We cannot let fear and hate defeat us – fear of the other, fear of not taking a stand, fear of feeling powerless. Fear will defeat us and divide us, more than we are already.

What do we stand for and what do we want for our kids?

Jazzman

Jazzman3

Destined to become a great jazz musician like his father until his dreams came crashing down, snuffed by his own insecurities and the key holders of institutions that failed to see his untapped talent.

The nickname stuck, however. Jazzman is how he was forever known. His father had given him the name originally. “My little jazzman,” he used to call him whenever he found the boy with his brown piercing eyes following and mimicking with his tiny hands the old man’s trumpet playing. The imitating became real as soon as the boy could grab and hold the instrument. He played as much out of his own desire as well as a desperate need to get the attention of his father. Miles Davis’s “So What” become a song he played over and over, dedicating endless hours to learning the tempo, the rhythm, the right touch. But those days were long gone after his 16th birthday; the instrument forgotten, collecting dust as time passed.

Occasionally, until not too long ago, he delighted himself in entertaining anyone willing to listen by dusting off the old instrument and playing whatever notes he still managed to recall. To the untrained ear, the sound emitting from the cylindrical brass tube had the power to enthrall and enchant. The reality is that the magic, passion and true talent Jazzman had once possessed had long ago disappeared.

That exact moment had come when he auditioned to enroll in a prestigious music conservatory. Who knows why they didn’t accept him? Perhaps the so-called experts didn’t see his musical talent or maybe they refused to see beyond their own prejudices. Or maybe, just maybe, his nerves got the best of him, rendering his genius. But the reasons do not matter. What matters is that he took them personally. That day after months of playing and anticipation, he rode the bus back from across town crying. His white short leave button-down shirt, which he had so carefully pressed the evening before, ruined by tears and sweat of despair.

What was supposed to be a great day of triumph became a day that marked him more than anything else in his life. Not his father or sister knew about the audition. He had dreamed about that day for a long time. More than anything he had imagined coming home with great news of his glorious achievement, hoping to impress them all, particularly his father. Instead, just like every other day, he came home unnoticed and headed to his small, stuffy room upstairs. By the time he had reached his front steps of the apartment building, he had become resolute. He had already put his disheveled self together, ran straight to his room, and placed his trumpet in its case and shoveled it underneath his bed. That day, the usual trumpet notes coming for his room were forever muted.

The only one that had noticed the sudden change on him days after that faithful day was this sister. She adored him and was probably the only one in his life that had ever understood his sensibility, a feature of his personality that had exulted ever since the passing away of the matriarch of the family. His father saw no difference between the new sulky, morose Jazzman and the otherwise reserved, quite kid of always. The father dismissed his daughter’s concerns and her desperate plead with a brusk, “He just needs to become a man.”

Jazzman too brushed off his sister’s apprehensions and continued to fall deeper into his new self. From that point forward, he rarely found the time to play, becoming enamoured by his life of sorrow — one shared by a crowd of new friends equally lost. They say that they are those that swim against all odds, and those that are carried away by the tide. Jazzman and his new inner circle fell into the latter category, swept by temptations of the street, quick money, and the romanticized notion and lure of drugs.

They became fallen angels to the streets. Their talents wasted along the cracks of sidewalks along their strolls of havoc breaking and vandalizing property for no reason; their potential left behind in the corner store where they used to gather to smoke cigarettes and play arcade games; and their dreams, forgotten alongside the many empty bottles of cheap beer they ended up leaving behind on their little excursions either deep inside the local park, or to their to go place by the train tracks.

His sister never wavered in her perception of “the one to be saved and rescued.” Her love and desire to help Jazzman never crumbled despite the trials and tribulations she endured in her attempts. Through the years, she became adept at getting a hold of him through a combination of lucky guesses, Jazzman’s street associates, and a network of a friend of a friend spreading the word of mouth, “Jazzman, your sister is looking for your bum ass.”

She tried and managed to help him whenever and in any way possible, even if it meant giving him a $20 with the knowledge that he was probably going to spend it to support his many vices. Her support never vacillated. She always reached out to him to give a lending hand, no matter what was transpiring in her own life – juggling personal relationships, dealing with the vicissitudes of life, or struggling to keep up with three jobs while putting herself through nursing school.

How many times did she take him to her place to give him a chance for a warm meal, bath, and bed? Each of the countless times she did, he always ended up leaving without a notice of thank you but always with a valuable to pawn or trade in the streets. The list of items forever lost included their mother’s old fashion Leica M3 camera, an old fashion silver compass the size of a dime, the watch the sister had to inherit from the father, and a rare mint coin that no one in the family knew exactly how it had come into their possession. After initial bursts of anger and promises to never be so foolish to believe him, her heart always gave way. In the process, not only did she lose family heirlooms that had more of an emotional that a monetary value to her, but also lovers and friends who had enough of the drama and shenanigans her brother brought to her life and that of theirs.

Bound to have had happened, the time came when days and weeks passed without a word of his whereabouts. She tapped all of her known resources, talking and visiting every street corner and hellhole to no avail. The winter had come sooner than anyone expected, and already the first snowstorm had been predicted for that first November weekend. With each passing day getting closer to the end of the week, her panic reached new levels. Her heart filled with despair, and a sense of hopeless as she exhausted all her usual tactics without any luck of rescuing him from himself.

With her hopes lingering as that Friday came, she found herself wandering the deserted streets aimlessly as the snow begun making its way down. Her inner compass took her to the East River Park, a place that held memories of childhood games: Jazzman pushing her on the swings, playing tag with the local kids with her brother at her side, and running along the waterfront railings hitting them with a stick as she and her brother laughed with joy and without a worry or care in the world.

That week, Jazzman had begun hearing music in his head again after years of the muses not visiting. By a miracle, he had managed to hold on to his old trumpet. The instrument somehow always founds its way to his hands at some of his darkness and most vulnerable of times. He had not played it for a long time but it had called out to him without reproaches; he found himself playing the most beautiful, soothing melody. He felt the warmth emitting from every molecule of his body with each note. The sounds filled him with joy and ecstasy, transporting him to moments and a dream long gone…

Darkness all around the theatre, the only light focusing on Jazzman at centre stage. All eyeballs on his every move as he poured his soul with each stroke of his fingers. Just as he, the audience, lost in the rhapsody of his notes. The adoration of the audience engulfs him. As he plays the last note of his tune, he hears the immediate, thunderous clapping coming from every corner of the sold-out theatre. He hears his name being shouted with adulation. At first, the calling comes far in the distance, but gradually it becomes louder and closer, “Jazzman, Jazzman…Jazzman!”

He had not been this happy in a long time.

An inch of snow had already fallen and she felt the powder cake crunching underneath her steps. With each stride and tear running down her cold face, the hope of finding Jazzman faded in her heart. Out in the distance, in the furthest bench facing the river front, she spotted a figure sitting motionlessly. She knew immediately that fate had once again taken her back to her brother. She began to rush to the hunched man starting out into the cold, dark frozen river. Her voice grew in strengthen with each quicken step, “Jazzman, Jazzman, Jazzman!”

The figure remained static; her calling, which grew more frantic at each end, unanswered. The distance seemed like miles to her, no matter how fast she ran. Right before reaching him, only four steps from his back, she suddenly stopped and became quiet as if wanting not to interrupt something. Seconds, minutes passed before her arm reached out to his left shoulder to anchor and give her the courage to face him. As she came to face him, she found her brother with his frozen fingers clutching a glass pipe. His lifeless face smiling into the nothingness.

Our Nation Without Arts

No art

Do you like art? Have you ever been empowered/transformed by a play, a dance, a movie, a book, a musical piece, a picture, a painting? Do you believe people should have access to great art? I believe so.

To quote the first president of our nation, ““The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind.”

That prosperity to foster a nation of arts is in jeopardy as #45 has proposed to eliminate theNational Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I don’t care what your politics are but we must protect this essential and innate part of our society.

Just look around your house and imagine no books, no music, no painting, no ornaments, no sculptures….Chuck them all because that’s what we saying if we allow for the elimination of those institutions- institutions that support the writers, musicians, actors, sculptors, painters and all the artists making art today for new generations of Americans

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/with-elimination-of-nea-and-neh-trumps-budget-is-worst-case-scenario-for-arts-groups/2017/03/15/5291645a-09bb-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?utm_term=.3d9d553850be

Dead dead….

“Dead dead…your battery is dead dead,” she said with confidence. “I teach electronics here at the school…so there is that,” she proceeded to tell me after a brief second attempt to help me start the car to no avail. And I mean brief. She seemed to be in a rush and I hated to hold her any longer.

So stranded we were in the parking lot of a school where my kid had been taking a test all morning. Luckily, it was not for too long as another good seminarian came along and offered to help, giving it another go at jumping the car. We were joined by another helper to give us assistance.

With their help, the car started without any issues in less than five minutes. That was Saturday.

I took the car to have the battery tested today, and guess what? The battery is still good.

Dead, dead it is not. Hopefully, it was just a fluke and not something else.

But the point of the story is: give the dynamite to the science/electronics teacher:

This and That