Cloud Atlas Sextet

Cloud Atlas Sextet

When I got up this morning to let the furballs out I was greeted by an unusually cool breeze. I looked at my phone to get the temperature. It read 58 degrees. Really? Last time I checked the calendar I could have sworn that it said we were still in July. I was under the impression that I had about another 3 months before I would have a need to pull out the sweaters out of storage. Making things cooler still is the fact that the gassy fireball in the sky is playing peek-a-boo behind some plumpy dark clouds. When that cold air hit me this morning I was almost convinced that I had been in a comatose state and had awoken some time in the middle of October. Chicagoland weather is so freaking skitzo sometimes.

Perhaps today’s weather calls for some classical or orchestral music. I can’t say that I’m really big on that genre. But there is a time and place for almost everything in life. Besides, I think it’s good for the soul to expand our horizons every once in awhile. If we took more time to contemplate things that we thought were not worth our time and day, perhaps so many of us wouldn’t have that lingering feeling that we were missing out on something.

I don’t know who is playing today’s featured track. But the music is the Cloud Atlas Sextet Piano Original.

The Letter

The Letter

Lately I’ve been spotting a lot of post about people writing a letter addressed to their younger selves. I’m sure that folks have been doing this since the day blogging became a thing; but I figured why not get in on the action. So it got me thinking. What exactly I would say to my former self?  Would I try to pass on sage wisdom? Would I give him incites to his future? Or maybe I would just clue him in on what teams to bet on in all future Super Bowls? This is my lame attempt at writing a letter to myself. Hopefully It won’t be too cringe worthy. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Dear Tomasito,

Hey there kiddo. I know this is all going to sound really far fetched to you, but just try to hear me out. I’m you. Or is it that you are me? I guess the best way to put it is that we are one and the same, yet different. Confused yet? Good! What I am trying to say is that I am the future you. About 20 years in the future to be exact. If you are reading this letter, then there has probably been some kind of a rip in the space time continuum; most likely created when George Lucas sold the Star Wars Franchise to Disney. But don’t worry about that right now. Maybe I will tell you more about that in the next letter. But for now let me focus our attentions on things that are a bit more relevant to the both of us.

Let me warn you right off the bat, that you’re relatively carefree days are about to come to an abrupt end. Things at home are about to get really ugly. I know that you think that mom and dad kinda always argued, and that it is no real big deal. But let me tell you, Dad is about to kick things up a notch. It’s all gonna start with Grandpa’s death. I’m really sorry to have to be the one to break the news to you. I know how much we loved the old man. How it happens isn’t as important. There isn’t much you can do at this point to prevent it. However what you can do is try to be there for our dad. When grandpa falls ill, you are going to want to retreat a bit. You are not really going to know how to deal with his impending passing. Don’t fall into that trap. Allow yourself to feel what you are going to feel. Acknowledge the pain. Morn grandpa; after all there is nothing wrong with feeling hurt. Experiencing the death of a loved one is always painful. However you can’t let it get the better of you. Don’t push everyone away. Especially not dad. Not at that time anyway. Trust me, dad is going to act like a king size prick during all of this. But as much as it hurts you to not have Granpa around, what dad will the feels will be multiplied by several magnitudes. Don’t shun him. Be there for him. Hug him. Tell dad how much grandpa meant to you, to the family. Don’t be afraid to let him see you cry. Trust me, no matter how dad chooses to respond, we will, in the long run, probably feel much better about it. Don’t repeat the mistakes I made.

Next item. I know that you know about dad’s drug problem. Do not ignore it! Look kid, the truth is that he needs your help. You need to hammer into his head how much his vices are hurting the family. Make it abundantly clear to him how you feel. Tell him how much it scares you. More importantly make it clear to him that he does not have to deal with this on his own. That you will be there for him, and will do all you can to get him through it. Don’t try to sweep the problem under the rug. It’s not going to go away if you ignore it. He is our father after all. The least you can do is make an attempt to help him get clean. Where I come from dad was never able to kick the habit. It will eventually lead to the the end of our parents marriage. We became estranged from him. There where some violent confrontations between us. And he died an unimaginably sad death. I know that it might seem like I’m asking a lot out of a 15 year old. And in a way I am. But you will discover that life will rarely make things easy for you. Sometimes the choices that you will have to make will almost seem like a damn if you do, damn if you don’t type of deal. Especially in our case. But if you don’t do it, you will be left hunted by the idea of what if. Trust me, you don’t need that kind of thing weighing down on your soul.

Next order of business. Cut our mom some slack. Look she is one of those people that life chose not to give too many breaks too, and having you bitching and moaning in her ear  24/7 doesn’t make things any easier for her. I know you’re under the impression that she loves our brother Paul, and our sis Jennifer more than us. But as much as this might come as a shock to you, news flash buddy, that is not even remotely true. She genuinely loves the three of us equally. Perhaps if you would stop playing the part of the angry brooding teenager for one second, and would quit mouthing off to the poor lady the moment she looked in our general direction, you might actually realize this. She may suck at expressing how she cares about you sometimes. And she may lacks any sense of foresight. But when it is all said and done, no one will sacrifice more of themselves for your happiness and well being like that little woman right there. So stop being such a dick will ya’, and give the little woman a hug more often. Trust me, she could use the support.

I know how much you hate school. I get it. You find the whole thing ridiculously boring. Plus you get way too easily distracted by your thoughts to actually follow what’s going on in class. I know how much that annoys you. But that is only happening because you probably have ADHD. I know you are probably thinking, but isn’t that something only kids get? Well psychiatrist in the future will discover that you don’t really grow out of it. It stays with you. It just sort of evolves. So you go from being hyperactive to just being easily distracted. That’s why right now all you can do is think about pretty girls and comic books. Try to be a bit mindful about this. It will help you remain focused. Do the best you can in class. Don’t be afraid to ask our teachers for help. Just don’t stop going to class. Cutting school and hanging out with the fellas might seem like a whole lot more fun, but as cliche as it sounds, the only way you are going to escape the prison you feel like you are living in right now, is by getting that education.

In about 7 years, you’re going to meet the love of your life. And you are going to do it through the use of a computer. Yup you read that correctly. But the computers that you will be using at that time will be a bit more powerful than that green screened calculator that you are accustomed to using in the school library. You know that world wide web thing that you keep hearing about? That is going to take off big time. Everyone will be using it. You will be connected with people from all across the globe. It will turn out to be the most powerful information tool probably ever invented by man. But people will mostly use it to watch porn or to send send naked pictures of themselves to unwitting strangers. Let me just get back on the subject of our great love. You will meet her on On April 3rd’ 2002. She will be living in Chicago. Actually one of the suburbs of Chicago. She lives in the town of Cicero, IL. Home of Al Capone.  You guys will hit it off beautifully, in spite of the fact that she is a Bulls fan, and has some questionable taste in music. But I’m telling you, do not let that discourage you. She will save your life someday. And if by any chance I’ve altered the timeline by giving you some of that other advice, then you make sure you go to Migente.com on the date I gave you and look up Delunatic. Trust me, you will thank me later.

I’m sure you are finding all this a little overwhelming for you. You are probably asking yourself, WTF? Oh, sorry I forgot. You don’t know what WTF means. Well it is an acronym for What the fuck. You see in the future we all become too lazy to spell shit out or speak in complete sentences. So we shrink everything down into quick, catchy acronyms that everyone understands. It primarily started as a way to keep our text messages short. Wait, you don’t know what a text is either do you? Ok you know how everyone has a pager in your time? Well that went the way of the eight-track. In the feature we all have super powerful cell phones. More powerful than the computer you will use to meet our future wife. And the cell phones don’t look like the bricks that the drug dealer be having. No sir, these cell phones are lite, sleek, and have 5 inch displays. Oh and you will be able to surf the world wide web on them too, and send electronic mail, and take pictures, and have long typed conversations with other people, also known as textings. You will do just about everything with that phone, except make actually phone calls.

Is there anything I’m leaving out? Huh-mmmm There is going to be three Star Wars prequels. Don’t get too excited about them. You will be let down. There will be a new Indiana Jones movie too. But Indy will be old. And he will go hunting for crystal skulls that turn out to be alien heads, with the greaser son he never knew he had. It stunk. There is going to be three live action Transformers films. But the Transformers in the movies will not look anything like their cartoon counterparts. As you may have already guessed, that sucked too. A movie is going to come out called The Matrix. It will not suck. But the subsequent sequels will. In the 2000’s there will be an explosion of Superhero movies. Thanks to giant leaps in CGI, the FX in these movies will be awesome. Batman, Superman, X-men, Avengers, will all be featured prominently. You are going to get one hell of a kick out of it. You will still be reading comic books. But they will be digital. Video games are gonna rock. The world wide web will expose you to more music than you ever thought imaginable. The NY Giant’s will lose a Super Bowl, but will then go on to win their next two appearances against the New England Patriots. It will feel oh so good. The Mets are going to perpetually stink. When they aren’t being bums, they will lose a world series against dem’ damn Yankee’s. As for the NY Knicks, let’s just say that in the 2000’s they will have you clamoring for the heartbreak of the 90’s. It’s that bad. And whatever you do, do not go outside or turn on the TV for about a week after 9/10/01. The next day the world will take a strange dark turn. For once we will be better off having our heads buried in the sand.

You will move to Chicago, get married in Mexico, and will vacation in Montana. Our life will take some interesting turns my young friend. Just remember that no matter how hard it gets, don’t ever lose hope. You are tougher than you know. If there was one last thing I wanted to leave you with, that would be to try not to take life so seriously all the time. Don’t be afraid to live a little. Stop being so jaded. Life can be a whole lot of fun, if you are willing to allow yourself to enjoy it from time to time. And please, for the love of God toss all that shy shit to the way side. It won’t get you anywhere. Let people notice you. Don’t worry so much about the people that might reject you, because it is the people that take notice that will make all the difference in your world.

Take it easy Tomasito. And see you in your tomorrow.

Tom

Every Day is Exactly the Same

Every Day is Exactly the Same

48 hours ago I was in such a good mood. I was feeling so energetic and optimistic. I thought to myself, man I hope this feeling last me through the week. Two days was all life could afford me. I worked 10 long hours. Was stuck in traffic for another 3 more. That’s 13 hours of doing things that do not bring me an ounce of happiness. It’s taking every ounce of my energy too not loose my cool. I don’t want to take my frustrations out on anyone. But these breathing exercises aren’t doing a goddamn thing for me. I really wish I had a better handle on dealing with this stress. That I could just let moments of frustrations pass me by, without ruining my day. I’m just not at that point yet. I’m even find it difficult to express myself right now. I’m just so damn frustrated, you know. Even my thoughts are stuttering at this point. That is why I’m cutting this post short. I just needed a moment to vent. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit kinder.

In the meantime I will listen to some Nine Inch Nails. Everyday is Exactly the Same. I think the son is fitting.

Family Ties

Family Ties

Yesterday I accompanied the wifey and her family to a little family outing too Cantigny Park inWheaton IL. I can’t say that I was uber excited about walking around all day looking at flowers and whatnot, but my manager was kind enough to get me the day off, so any day out of the office is a damn good one in my book. I don’t know if it was because the weather was cool and pleasant, for being late July, or if it was that we all were feeling a little giddy about not being at work on a day that usually we all would be working, but something had us feeling like a bunch of Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli’s. There was this jovial vibe that seemed to be coursing through all of us. Any internal worries that might have been hanging around in the back of our heads decided to take the day off, and allowed us to just enjoy the day for all that it was worth.  So the father in law, two sister in laws, two nephew in laws, the sister in law’s husband, the wifey and I hopped in two vehicles, drove 20 some miles down the road and entered the former 500 acre estate of Colonel Robert McCormick. As soon as we pulled up to the place, I spotted a bunch of decommissioned tanks. I immediately got excited at the site of these war machines from a bygone era. But when I found out you could actually climb those metallic beast, I got extra happy,  and I thought to myself, this day might not turn out to be half-bad.

I did what any 340lbs, 35 year old kid would do, I claimed on the tanks. This turned out to be a bit of a physical exercise for me since there were no steps. I just had to grab on to something and step on the tracks in order to climb up. But it was fun. All the guys in our group were doing the same. The women just laughed at us and took pictures. We then toured the 1st division museum. Walked through the Ideas and Rose garden. We had lunch at the McCormick restaurant. Laughed at the sister in law’s disbelief when the waiter brought over this ridiculous large half sandwich, which she had only ordered because she was under the impression that it would be a very lite meal. We took the tour of McCormick mansion, marveled at his dining room and library, and looked over his impressive gun and ancient sword collection. We wondered out loud what the estate must have looked like in it’s heyday, when the richest and most influential people in Chicago, Hollywood, and Washington D.C. would frequent the grounds. After touring the estate for the better part of the morning and most of the afternoon, we all climbed back into our cars and headed to the sister in laws house for some grilled hot dogs, burgers and beer. All in all it was really pleasant day.

In my eyes the the wifey has such a large, extended family, and they are a close nit group to boot. When I am hanging around with them I feel envious of my wife. Yes, I know I probably shouldn’t feel that way, but I’m sorry, I feel what I feel, and that right there is what I feel. I admire how the wifey’s family support each other, sometimes financially, but always emotionally. Even the wifey’s father, who I am pretty sure was not my biggest fan at first, came around. He even helped us with the down payment for home. Without her father’s help, we would have missed out on our little dream a reality. The wifey’s family seem to share a bond that I have only seen fake TV families share. I never been lucky enough to experience that.  I’m not saying that my family and I never shared any happy times together. But it sure seems to me that we shared a lot more bad ones than good.

There are times I find myself fantasizing about what it would be like to hang out with my mom and siblings again. It’s not exactly a happy thought, but it is one that comes across my mind at some point after spending some time with the the wifey’s family. That’s one of the reason’s why I sometimes look for an excuse to skip out on one of their countless family events. I don’t feel the need for the constant reminder of how different my family dynamic is.

When I first arrived to Chicago, and I met the wifey’s family, I was really freaked out by them. They were really nice and kind, lite hearted people. Well maybe not so much her parents, but her siblings were real cool with me. I on the other hand was real skeptical about the whole bunch. I used to think that there was no way in hell that these people could genuinely be so pleasant and innocent. It had to be an act of some kind. But after spending almost 10 years mingling with the wife’s family, I can tell you with all the confidence in the world, that it was no act. They are genuinely a nice group of people that really love each other .

I know for a fact, that if our marriage failed for any reason, my wife will be able to count on the loving support of her family. At no point will she ever really feel alone. Because her family will do everything in their power to make sure that she knows that they are there for her. Her mom and pop’s, sisters and brother, aunts and uncles, and countless cousins, and nieces and nephews, will each take the time to pick her up, dust her off, and make sure that she stays up on her feet. Whether she cares to admit it or not, the wifey would have a much easier time recovering from our failure. I can’t say that I would be as fortunate. If the wifey woke up today and decided to leave me for whatever reason, I would pretty much be left to fend for myself.

When we got married, all of the wifey’s immediate family, and some of her cousins came to witness the event. But the only people that I had there for me were some very good friends (that I had actually met through the wifey), and my ex-roommate and her family. I knew that my kin didn’t have the financial means to make the trip on a short notice. So I figured that if I made it a 2 year engagement that it would buy them enough time to scrounge up enough cash to get their affairs in order and join me for my wedding day. But for one reason or another, they wound up not being able to make it for our big day. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t mind not having them there. The truth is that it stung a heck of a lot. I really wanted to have them there with me. We had experienced so many sad and unpleasant times together, that I had kind of hoped that I could at least have one memory of all us together, sharing in what turned out to be genuinely the most beautiful day of my life. I wonder how maybe their presence would have somehow made an already special day all the more incredible. I did manage to push off the hurt feelings long enough for me to enjoy the festivities that evening. But when it was all over, a part of me felt a smidgen of melancholia because I didn’t have my family around.

Then there was my attempt to throw a housewarming party for our new place this past spring. I had invited my brother, mother and sister, to come out and spend at least a long weekend with us. I thought it would have been a good opportunity for me to get the family once again under one roof. For once I didn’t want to feel like an outsider intruding in the wifey’s family events. I just wanted to share a very special moment for me with my family. But again, I could never get a real concrete commitment from any of them. Eventually I was turned off by the whole idea of holding a house warming party. So I called the whole thing off. I know it was stupid of me for canceling. The best thing I could have done was to hold the event as planned, and enjoyed the day with my friends and the wife’s family that has become my family. But I am an idiot, and I allowed my family not being there to get to me. All I managed to do by doing that, was to rob the wifey from having what would have been a very special moment for her. Which just made me feel twice as shitty.

The thing is that I am just as guilty. My brother had his first kid almost two years ago. And I have yet to meet my beautiful little niece. My wife encourages me to go back home and meet the little one, and her mother, all the time. But I always manage to convince myself of a million different excuses as to why I can’t go. My mother has been inviting me to visit her in Puerto Rico for the better part of two years now. She has even offered me to pay for my trip. Yet all I can come up with is more excuses.

I don’t know what is wrong with us. It’s not like there is any hatred or leftover animosity between my family and I. At least I don’t think there is. We talk to each other on the phone at least once every two weeks, however for whatever reason, we seem to do everything in our power to avoid being in each others presence. I don’t know why it turned out this way for us, it just kinda’ did. I wish I understood why, cause that might mean that maybe I could figure out how to bring us back together again. Even if it was just for one day.

There is this great quote from the movie Garden State, that I often go back to when I think about my family:

“You know that point in your life when you realize that the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have someplace where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”

I gotta say I agree with that assessment. It sure seems to correlate with my own experience. I guess that longing won’t end until I have my own kids someday. Or at least I hope it does.

I have nothing but kind things to say about my wifey’s family. Well…there might be some things I could do without. Like the fact that their food is way too spicy and it makes my ass feel like there is a fire burning right through it when I go to the bathroom. Or how they seem to share a love for loud, repetitive, Mexican music that features major accordion and tuba solos. They like chili powder on their candy, which should be considered a crime against nature. And some of them believe that most Puerto Ricans are knife wielding criminals that have an odd fetish for hubcaps; which I just notch it up to cultural misunderstandings. But when it is all said and done they are a loving bunch. They have accepted this Nuyorican into their home, and have reminded him of what I need to strive for when I have my own family. And as long as they don’t introduce any of my future kids too Tex-Mex fashion, I will always be proud to call myself an honorary Deluna.

Big Men Don’t Dance

Big Men Don’t Dance

As a big man there have been several restrictions that I have placed on myself in order to spare me from potential embarrassment. I don’t wear shorts in public. Not even the long baggy ones that go slightly past the knees. Very few big’s can pull off shorts. Our stocky calves and wide frame, just make us look like super-sized children, wearing their daddy’s clothe. Not cool. I don’t wear wife-beaters. Maybe if I had large defined biceps, with triceps to match, I wouldn’t be so hesitant to show off my arms. But since my guns are flabby I restrain myself or risk being confused for a resurrected Captain Lou Albano. Last, but definitely not least. I do everything in my power to avoid having to dance.

I think I carry my 340 pounds pretty well, If I do say so myself. I don’t walk with a wobble. I don’t break out into a sweat for just breathing. For the most part I feel like a really wide skinny person. That is until I get on the dance floor. Then all bets are off. I lose control of my limbs. I have very limited sense of space. My movements become jerky and awkward. I feel like I’m moving around like a mechanical bear that has a bunch of busted hydraulics. I don’t have a shred of grace. Which is a damn shame. Because you see, I kinda dig what some would consider a good dance track. Electronic, Dubstep, Chillwave, New Age, R&B are all musical genres that get my mountain like body moving. But I won’t allow myself to participate. Just feel too embarrassed. Too cool for school.

So When I hear a song like Bruno Mars – Treasure, I am relegated to keeping my butt off the dance floor, and bust-a-groove in my head. But let me tell ya, in my mind, I move like one graceful motha’. I’m a sight to behold. M.J. got nothing on me.