Thursday, February 26, 2009

Which Chapter are You On???



In a relationship, it's imperative to be on the same page with your lover. I've read books that say never are two people on the precise same level at the same time, but surely, they must be close. In order for the relationship to be successful that is.

And that playing field can be anywhere on the scale. If two people care so much for one another that they need to spend everyday together and need constant assurance and attention. That is ok.

So long as those feelings are mutual and reciprocated.

Likewise, if you're in a relationship with someone you hardly care for and you wouldn't mind seeing them once a week or once a month, that can workout too.

So long as those feelings are mutual and reciprocated.

Meeting up with old friends in San Diego, I've listened to quite a few stories on their current romantic endeavors. Some couples are moving in together. Some are close to getting married. Some are still playing the field.

One common thread I find when talking to my friends is that the more content they seem, the more they tell me their significant other is on the same page. And, like I said, that page can be anywhere in the book.

Along with this train of thought, men and women have a different outlook on how a relationship should progress. Women crave exclusivity and greater affection. Men desire more time with her and comfort.

Women, being more intrinsically inclined to be with only one person and nurture and care for that man, are perturbed when men don't follow their (what seems to them) natural pattern of progression in a relationship.

Men, rarely seeking to settle down with one woman, are increasingly flustered by the looming relationship status talk. Also known as 'the talk.' Are they being selfish? Is avoidance insulting?

Women respond that if you like her enough, you'll commit. Not recognizing that for men, sacrificing their freedom is a giant step.

Of course I'm speaking generally, and there are surely men and women who do not fit these molds. But moreover, the desires of progress in a relationship are not always the same.

Which gets me back to being on the same page...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Death and Dying



My parents both spent most of their lives without Mothers. Both their biological Mom's passed away before both were 10 years old. It was difficult not to have that maternal influence. That loving touch and kind spirit.

They grew up with tough Father's that didn't treat them that great. Which is truly fascinating, seeing as I grew up with an abundance of love and support from both my Mom and Pops. I've come to recognize that intelligent people try to fill the vacancies that were left from their parents and implement that which was missing.

For my parents it was love and affection. It was coming to my games and being my biggest fan. It was staying up late talking politics with Pops and shopping with my Mom. It was going to Church with Mom on the holidays and working out with my Dad in the gym.

The uncountable hours they spent with me is something I cherish because I realize that many people aren't so lucky. In fact, they weren't.

Hence, I grew up without a Grandma on my Mom's side. And a very strained relationship with my Father's stepmother. My grandfathers sadly passed away when I was fairly young.

And so I had two surrogate Grandfather's. Great Uncle's to be precise. One on my Father's side and one on Mom's.

And they couldn't be more different.

The one on my Pop's side is vitriolic and stubborn. He's obnoxious and mean. He's also incredibly bright and handsome. In his mid 90's he has a full head of hair and and a mouthful of vitriol. He reads the NY Times and writes letters to the editor to The Arizona Republic. Rarely if ever published, he's never discouraged. He votes. He cares about the world even when his window of it is increasingly shrinking. He was a great tennis player well into his 60's. He picks oranges from his trees. He plays cards with the neighbors...until they kick him out for being an as@#$%^.

Uncle Eddie, on my Mom's side, is a very kind man. With a wry sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye, he's always smiling. When he was younger he served in the Navy and he was an avid bowler and golfer. He even hit a few hole-in-ones and bowled a perfect game. He grew up in a house in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And never moved.

Well, until he collapsed a couple years ago in his home and my Mother flew him to Colorado to live with my family. He's been confined ever sense to the TV room and his bedroom. My Mom, to encourage his blood movement, places M&M's throughout the house in glass bowls. If he makes it to the bowl, he can eat them, if not, then no chocolate goodness.

An excellent system.

Lately Uncle Eddie has been on the decline. Rapidly. He has half the hemoglobin he should (he smoked most of his life). He has tremendous pain and no energy. He can't stand up. He has bedsores because for the past week, he's unable to get out of bed.
In short, he's dying. And it could come any day.

My Mother asked him if he would like a blood transfusion and be relegated to a hospital. He declined. She asked him again. And he has no interest. Our family respects his choice.

I believe he understands it's his time to go, and he'd prefer to be surrounded with family.

Uncle Eddie never accomplished much in his life. He never bothered anyone and never married. But he is still a lovely man. He helped take care of my Mother when she was young. And when I traveled to visit him, he was always teaching us how to swing the old clubs around. In his house, actually.

Death is certain. And we never know when we'll enjoy our last day.

I want to send out my love to my Uncle Eddie today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Of Where We Come From...



In a typical week when I'm on the road (currently in Los Angeles), I encounter different schools with different levels of treatment. Let me break it down how it went this week.

Tuesday I went to Loyola Marymount University in LA. Beautiful campus. Fountains everywhere, the interior built like an airport concourse with escalators in tow. The student body is predominantly white and dresses in designer, expensive clothes.

My classroom presentations are a good time for me to gauge the level of interest in my internship program that I sell. Sometimes I resonate. Sometimes I bomb.

It's obviously predicated on my energy and my ability to relate to my audience. However, since the information is fairly straightforward and consistent from class to class, by the end of the day I get an accurate judgement of where the student body stands.

At LMU, the professors sat with the students during my presentations and literally made jokes. They blended in with their sophomoric students and no one took what I had to say to heart.

And why should they?

Their lives are great as they are. Why leave a place when you drive a Hummer, live in a frat-house and are 10 minutes from good sushi in Beverly Hills?

No one showed up for my hour long information session. Not a single student. The smug liaison shrugged it off and wished me luck on my way out.

I left with a dried taste in my mouth.

Wednesday I traveled south 20 minutes to California State Dominguez Hills in Carson. This school is 80% or more minority. The students have baggier clothes and the parking lot is overflowed with old Geos and Honda Civics.

And the students eat me up. To begin with, a man in a suit greeted me and told me how grateful they were to have someone visit them from Washington D.C.
He referred to me as Mr. Shapiro. He was a dark-skin black man with slick black hair circa Pat Riley 1990's. He was about 5'6" and had a charming and wonderful personality.

His name was Henry and he would be my personal escort from class to class. He introduced me to each class and prefaced with how valuable my time was and how privileged the campus was to host me.

The students seem to hinge on every word that came out of my mouth. When I spoke of opportunity, their eyes lit. I received a round of applause after each speech.
Henry, throughout the day, offered to buy me coffee and I was treated to lunch at a 4-star restaurant in the Student Union Building by him and two faculty members.

When I walked to my car that afternoon I paused and took a deep breath. I almost teared up to at the level of appreciation and interest I had garnered during the day. It was a long day (9-5 at the school), but time flew by.

The students grew up with so much less. But their lives will be so much more enriched and full at the end of their lives I assumed.

Today, I'm at California State Long Beach. A wonderful campus which is truly a hybrid between Tuesday and Wednesday experiences.

The weather is ripe and the sun ricochets off the concrete. I'm reminded of my days as an undergrad. Strolling through the halls of Scottsdale Community College. Hustling my way to the gym after class at SDSU.

Never did I really stop to absorb all the energy and resources around me. I didn't visit the scholarship office. I never asked to visit with the President. Or join a protest in a hike of tuition fees.

I never attended the Student Government Meetings. I certainly made it a point to stay involved with the school. But it always seems like I could've done more.

Part of my job is to ensure these students do just that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jewish Tennis Player Denied Visa



Israeli tennis phenom Shahar Peer was denied a Visa from the United Arab Emirates in a last-minutes fashion which has many in the tennis community seeing red.

Why?

Peer, Jewish, and a citizen of Israel was denied for political reasons of which she plays little to no part. Peer is a professional tennis player who qualified for the tournament in Dubai, which is one of the most revered of the year for the WTA.

She had to forfeit her first round match.

The CEO of the WTA, Larry Scott was quick to defend Peer. He criticized the decision, but eventually decided the show must go and didn't cancel the event.

In fact, Peer issued a statement urging the tournament to progress without her as well. Women like Serena Williams also issues statements in support of Peer.

Scott, for his sake, threatened to discontinue the prestigious ties with the UAE if this event were to transpire again.

And justifiably!

Strictly for being a citizen of a scarlet letter country, Peer was denied access into a wonderful week of tennis. This is what life is like for Jews. It's nearly impossible even for tourists to obtain Visas to many Muslim countries if they have previously been to Israel.

Peer had previously played on the same doubles team as a Muslim woman from India. She is hardly a vocal proponent of Israel.

Did the UAE feel threatened (like straight marriages in the US from homosexual ones) that they feared Peer would convert Muslim patrons? Did they fear riots or violence?

We don't know.

Moreover, should there be a distinction between politics and sports? Or do they go hand in hand?

Surely it is prejudicial to withhold access into a sporting event for those who qualify for it. Peer is a casualty of an audacious government regime which will eventually only hurt itself.

One frustrating piece gnawing at me, is that the UAE is not a barbaric nation. Quite from it. In fact, the UAE is one of the leaders in the world in green and sustainable energy. They are currently building an entire city with 100% sustainability and without any oil or cars. (Pick up the current issue of TIME if interested).

These people are innovators. Leaders of the future.

Yet they maintain blanket rigidity in regards to religion and politics. Their compassion is small.

Peer is just a tennis player. An exceptional one.

And Dubai will likely be the biggest loser in years to come.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What's in a Valentine?



What's your most memorable Valentine's Day? What made it so special?
Was it the person you spent it with? The experience you had? The gifts you gave/received?

Every year men and women sweat bullets thinking of clever ways to surprise their sweetheart with unique romanticism. A dinner cruise with champagne. A hike near a waterfall at sunset. A candlelit dinner at a 5 star restaurant.

Why do we do all this? And moreover, is it healthy?

Yes and no.

If you lead a life in which everyday is a gift and you are always challenging yourself/sweetheart to make things interesting and more enjoyable, Valentine's Day shouldn't be all too unique. In fact, you may even find it annoyingly difficult that everyone else's day on, crowds your typical weekend rendezvous.

But surely for many, without the money, time, or energy to put into a relationship on a typical day, Valentine's Day is a day to prove just how much he/she means to you. It's a special day that comes once a year and because of its scarcity, should be treated as such.

After all, in an 80 year lifetime, how many Valentine's Day's will you have?
(That was actually supposed to be rhetorical, but the answer is 80).

My advice - don't spend a ton of money on diamonds/cruise/5 star dinner. Sure, those are all great things, but surprise him/her with that another time.

Why not buy some groceries and cook something together? Something experimental, that can go horribly wrong, or turn out incredibly delicious.

I remember a time where I cooked a girl a chicken dish (without using any directions of course) which took over an hour and a half. When I took it out of the oven, it resembled a frayed coconut and tasted like moldy mayonnaise.

To humor me, she ate part of it and then said flatly she really wasn't that hungry.
I laughed and we drove to Taco Bell.

Although the meal turned out to be a disaster, the memory of the evening and us laughing that night is something I'll cherish forever. The effort and experience outweighed superb service and food at any classy restaurant.

I also recommend for those with some dinero to spend - spend it on a vacation or a trip, not jewelry or something tangible. For one, if you buy something expensive, who knows how much longer you'll be together? And two, the memory of an experienced shared together transcends any bracelet/necklace etc...

More importantly - realize that although Valentine's Day is only one day per year, don't relegate your appreciation for your significant other to only that day. Shouldn't we be maximizing our potential for fulfillment?

The mark of a great relationship is not one that outdoes everyone else on Valentine's Day.

It's one that outdoes the others the other 364.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sickkkkkkkkk



I feel bad. Really bad.

Yesterday morning I was A-Ok. Ready to rock and roll. Grabbing the bull by it's horns. Riding high. Ok, I'll stop.

During the day I began to deteriorate. By the minute.

Because I have the intelligence of a demented sheep I chose to workout after work. I ran half a mile in 4 minutes.

That's reaaallllly slow. And it was difficult. A major challenge.

Then I decided to play in an intramural game I got recruited for.
Another debacle.

So last night I crawled home slowly and went to bed early. I ate some veggies and soup and drank some green tea.

But today I have a ferocious headache and a nagging cough. I have a fever and no energy.

Hence, my pity post.

Hopefully I'll be better tomorrow and I can post something worthwhile to the world.
Especially since I'm getting incessant texts demanding something. So back to the drawing board tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Weekend to Remember






My celebratory weekend was absolutely beautiful. I don't like to bore you guys too much with typical weekend adventures, but this was far from that.

It's a great story and it goes to show you that even though Murphy's Law seeps into our lives at times...the stars align just as often.

Saturday I attended the chocolate festival with a friend, as I mentioned. And things went great from the start. We couldn't catch the bus, so we were approached by a woman who wanted to split a cab 5 ways.

Perfect.

Took us right to the event in charming Old Town Fairfax, VA. The first thing we did was eat chocolate chip pancakes (one of my favorite foods). The local high school key club was volunteering (reminded me of my membership in high school), so the students were serving and cooking up a storm.

After eating we perused through the crafts and some of the jewelry for sale. Some key club members solicited us to enter a raffle. For $4 we could get ten tickets. So we decided to put in the tickets into a snorkel day adventure. One for each of us.
Then we proceeded to the chocolate tasting. We ate fudge. We ate fruits covered in chocolate. We ate chocolate pretzels and peanut butter. We ate coffee and chocolate and chocolate and chocolate. And then more chocolate.

It was heaven.

And somehow, fate would have it, we both won the snorkel adventure. The odds of that were extremely slim and it was fantastic.

The following day I played in my first league basketball game in over 6 months. I was recruited by some of my friends of mine whom I play basketball with at the Georgetown gym to participate in a league in Falls Church.

We struggled in the first half against a very physical and muscular team. Most guys were in their mid to late 20's.

And then ConArtist decided to kick it into gear.

I made back to back three pointers, followed by four free throws to give us the lead for good.

I finished with about 30 points and a few assists and rebounds and most importantly, the win.

Later in the day I had suite tickets to the Wizards game. Sweet suite tickets. Unfortunately I got held up in traffic and missed almost the entire first quarter.

When I finally arrived I was told that I missed out on an exceptional deal. The VP of the Verizon Center (the building) offered our group 4 courtside seats for the game.

Courtside.

F@#$ing courtside.

I wasn't in on it because I arrived too late and the arrangements for alternating between quarters to share the seats was previously arranged.

Shoot.

Thankfully my co-worker Ashley was kind enough to swap me the ticket for the 3rd Quarter for undying love and affection (and a hot dog with sauerkraut and a diet coke).

I was stoked.

I was on the court and slapped five with Pacers guard T.J. Ford. He said, "What's good man?"

He's bigger than I am. Which is hilarious because he is by far the smallest on the court.

I sat right next to the head coach of the Pacers. I talked trash to Danny Granger and Jeff Foster. I also told the assistant coaches to trade Granger and Ford for Amare Stoudemire (to help my Phoenix Suns).

I even said I'd throw in Shaq (which got a pretty warm reception from the players on the bench and other coaches).

The assistant said he doubt the trade would work. But I assured him it would. We needed a good defender to replace Amare I said.

To which he pointed dismissingly at his team and laughed.

It was awesome.

Soooooooo fun. And I have some better pictures I will try and post if I can figure out a way for blogger to stop rejecting them. Above are the ones from my phone.

Ridiculously close.

What an incredible weekend.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary...



To me. A year ago tomorrow I started this blog. Hard to believe it's been a calendar year. With over 200 posts and 3,000 hits and counting. I can't say I'm not proud of all that.

It takes a lot of dedication to stay with something this long, so I hope it's been pleasurable for you guys. I thank my readers for sticking with me.

To celebrate I'm going to a chocolate festival all day tomorrow :). That's one big ass smiley face!

(Don't worry I plan to break 20 minutes again in a 5k today to make up for it).

Also have updates regarding my future plans for mi vida so stay tuned...

Stimulate Yoself...



Here it comes. The biggest package since Shaquille O'Neal. A spending/building/tax cutting/tax crediting/who the hell knows bill to a town near you.

Do we need it?

More than Rahm Emanuel needs the f-word.

The economy is regressing by the minute. Thousands upon thousands are losing their jobs everyday. I'm a likely casualty in April. States like California are facing unprecedented debt. The government both federally and statewide are laying off workers at an astounding rate.

Meanwhile, employees who were lucky to keep their jobs are losing their healthcare benefits, vacation time and bonuses. And are often asked to take either unpaid vacations or to work one fewer day per week.

Even USPS may stop carrying an additional day to narrow their delivery to a 5-day week.

Hence, we need a rescue plan. We need to spend money now so we don't continue this downward spiral with no clear end in sight.

And so President Obama's first clear challenge is to resuscitate this drowning economy he inherited with a near $1 Trillion price tag attached to it like a Gila Monster.
Yet, we have stalemate in the Senate.

The House passed a version of the bill last week without one GOP vote. Not a single one. Even a few Democrats voted against it.

What the hell is happening here?

Rush Limbaugh, the self-anointed leader of the Republican Party (sorry Michael Steele...Michael Steele??!! really) has been asking his parishioners to phone congressional offices demanding their representative to vote no.

And it's been somewhat successful thus far.

So here's the deal...

Why are President Obama and other Democrats even consulting the GOP?

Aren't they the ones who threw us into this circus?

I reckon a vote for Obama was a thorough vote for change. A vote to change the way Washington operates. Nothing will change when we consult the same people. It's time to listen to the new representatives. It's time to listen to our Freshman President who should have the political capital at this point to outlaw laughing.

Why has this bill not passed?

I could care less if one Republican votes for it. In fact, the change we need only happens if one Republican doesn't get their greedy hands on the bill to apply more tax cuts to those who don't need them.

Bipartisanship is not what this country wants. Or needs.

This country voted for maybe the most liberal Senator in the United States. They voted out 30 Republicans in the House. Another 5-8 in the Senate. This wasn't a mandate.

It was a f@#$ing demand.

So stop with the political appeasement. Piss some of the right-wingers off. Hell, piss off all of them. They lost the election, and elections have consequences.
If our current demographic in Congress and the White House were different I wouldn't be so adamantly opposed to bipartisanship and compromise.

But I refuse to be a casualty of gridlock. I refuse to care to listen to what the GOP demands are.

Why? Because we don't need them.

Why? Because they're the party who screwed us to start with.

Why? Because they have no ideas but to promulgate the failed policies of yesteryear.

You want change?

Pass the bill.

Today.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Riddle Me This - Can You Solve??? Part 6



I ain't quite what I used to be,
Although there are still plenty of me,
Like a bull - I see red,
I want things to be difficult,
Because I'm bitter and resolute,

I come in all shapes and sizes,
But you know me when you see me,
Aren't you really ready to revolt???

What am I????

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

RB 4 Me?????



Step up to the mic and spray it out,
Twist the tongue a tad just to spice things up,
Wink a little bit - watch them smirk,
Exit with the grandiose of a bogus shrink now,

The card dealer should get to play the game,
What's the fun in sitting back just to refrain?,
That's the difference eh? - Safe and sound,
But won't you regret - when I come around wow,

Wonder what motivates a man like me?,
The thrill - experience, the challenge is what I seek,
Call it selfish, call it immature, call it anything,
Just to justify your bleeding status quo-ing,

Eccentricity fills my veins with more,
Mine's atypical rendezvous galore,
Watch another one, step right up,
But you can't buckle down when I say giddy up now,

It's an attitude mixed up like a martini,
Looks quite appealing - but it absorbs screaming,
Ain't that right when you recollect,
It was better than poor memory can prevent,

It's the tight rope hanging above our heads,
Like a praying mantis courting to get fed,
Step the other way, make things up,
It's better than having to cover up,

To fight mundanity the quirks just pile,
Changing personalities to fit the style,
If you could see in,
Would you even peek now???

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday



Happy Watching. Hope to see some entertaining commercials. Today, is rather special for me and my family. I grew up in Phoenix and have been to the NFL experience when I was in 5th Grade. (Still remember when my best-friend Travis' Mom picked us up and surprised us with tickets). (We yelled the entire way "WE'RE GOING TO THE NFL EXPERIENCE!!")
But this time we are not hosts. We are actually playing.

As much of a sports buff that I am, my life cheering for Arizona teams has been a constant disappointment. The Suns haven't won a championship in my lifetime (f@#$ you John Paxson). The Diamondbacks beat the Yankees for one World Series win a month after 9/11. Nice job fellas, beat the team that needed the win the most.

The Coyotes are, well, the Coyotes. (Once dated the head coaches daughter btw).

Championships are scarce in Phoenix, but finally the Cardinals made it.

And win or lose, it's a big improvement for my hometown.