Being Mindful and Giving Thanks for Another Thanksgiving

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I read a news report from a reputable business publication that the company I’ve been working for over 7 years now will be making another significant reduction in its corporate workforce. A spokesperson for the company was quoted that the company is always looking for ways to “optimize” its operation. I can’t help but crack a cynical smile at the way they the spokesperson tries to lessen the psychological blow of mass firings by rebranding it as optimization. Which really is just corporate speak for handing out pink slips like Tic-Tacs, trimming their idea of unwanted fat, and spreading the work that still needs to get done to outsourcing companies. And for the rest of us corporate sharecroppers that managed to avoid the axe, we get to look forward to having the company dump even more responsibilities on our laps with very little if any compensation. Our only reward being that we got to avoid the unemployment line for just a little longer. But you know what, I understand that I can either allow myself to grow bitter and angry; and feel nothing but spite for people in suits that don’t even know of my existence, or I can be mindful that it is the Holiday season. That Thanksgiving is almost here and that I have so much to be thankful for.

For starters I have a beautiful and caring wife that is “with child”(God I love saying that!). A woman that has, for reasons that still eludes me, has decided that she was OK with putting up with my wondering mind, and moody musings. A lady that willingly holds my hand in public, even though I am nobody’s idea of an Adonis. A woman that kisses me gently on the lips and sweetly tells me that I have the saddest eyes she’s ever looked into with the tenderness and love of a merciful angel. Are things always perfect and hunky-dory between us? Off course not. We argue more than I would like, and after all these years it is rather easy for us to get on each others nerves. But our “aim” much like Elvis Costello‘s had for “Alison” is as “true” as it gets.

I am grateful for the little child that is growing within Jess. That little person that was conceived by love and not lust, has sparked a new sense of awareness that I was sorely lacking. The realization that I am going to be a father has slowed down my thought process in some ways. It has brought me a sense of hope that I have not had. It gives me added reason to keep working on myself and keep trying to move passed all my shortcomings. Am I sure I can overcome them all? No. But I have all the motivation in the world to keep on trying.

turkey-prozac-funny-cartoonI am thankful for my family. My mother, my brother, even the sister that I’m not in talking terms with. I am grateful to them because each of them have touched my life and have helped mold me into the person that is writing this today. Are we the ideal notion of family? Unfortunately no. But I still love them with all my heart. Because in the end they are, and will always be, my family. It’s taken me a long time come to terms with that realization.

Since I feel it is relatively safe for me to assume that everyone that is reading these words of mine are in varied states of being alive and kicking, then let us then take a moment to be thankful for the air in our lungs and the rhythmic beating of our hearts. It’s important that we never take the life that we have been given for granted. We should also take a moment to reflect back on those who are no longer with us. Folks like my friend Angel, who has been gone for almost 15 years now, or my other buddy Marlon who died in Iraq, and my father Tomas Gonzalez Jr., whom I had the bitter sweet honor of spoon feeding him the last Thanksgiving meal he would ever have. Each one of them passed on much too young, and it is their memories that remind me to embrace the passing seconds and relish them.

Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarenc...
Travers in his most memorable role, as Clarence Odbody in It’s a Wonderful Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it realistic to sings life’s praises 24/7? Hell no. I mean if we were just marveling at all of life’s wonders all the time we wouldn’t get much done. Plus we all have our George Bailey moments when we wonder if the world would be better off without us; when life feels more like a burden than a gift. But it important that we don’t lose sight that even though life has it’s fair share of painful moments, I personally can attest to that, it also holds more beauty than our scattered brains and modern lives will allow us to appreciate.

Am I my feeling nervous about all this uncertainty that seems to be surrounding my life? Off course I am. Last time I checked I wasn’t an unfeeling machine like the Terminator. In fact I probably feel it a whole lot more now that I have a little baby on the way. But I also know that I’m not alone in feeling that sense of unease. That I am just one of probably millions of lost souls who so happen to be on the same boat. I would also be telling you a bold face lie if I told you I didn’t feel a twinge of anger every time I hear the CEO gleefully touting about the companies record profits, and sales, and how their innovative leadership has managed to make a significant boost to their shareholders portfolio, while those way down the corporate ladder spend sleepless nights wondering how the bills are gonna get paid if they are deemed expendable.  After all, I don’t have the inner peace of an enlightened Buddhist. But I am also trying to reconcile with the fact that life is long and unpredictable and that we can’t put all our energies and focus on possible but unfulfilled future events. Be mindful of them? Off course. Ignoring it completely is just asking for trouble. Be obsessed with it, until it starts affecting your ability to live in the now? Never.

black-friday-memeFor that reason alone I will put to rest, at least for a few days anyway, any lingering thoughts of what if’s. I’m will not brave fighting through an unholy berserker horde that will be foaming at the mouth in search for that perfect Thanksgiving\Black Friday deal. I won’t bitch and moan about having to work most of Thanksgiving day. I will take a moment to reflect on those that are no longer here with us. And when I finally get around to sitting down to enjoy my warm Thanksgiving meal later in the evening, I won’t fret over calorie counts or carb content, or any other things that will rob me of the joys of having a delicious home cooked meal. And above all else I will be extremely grateful that I got to spend the time that was allotted to me with my wife, her family, and our unborn child. At the end of the day that is really what the day should be about.

With all that being said I hope you all out there spend the day taking part in whatever family traditions that makes the day enjoyable and memorable for you. May the turkey or ham, lechon, vegan platter, or whatever it is you choose to eat on Thanksgiving day be moist and delicious and plentiful. And if the meal turns out to be a little dry don’t be too bummed. Just enjoy the day for all it’s worth. I want to wish you and all your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving. Salud.

P.S.

For those who have been frequenting my little blog here from across the pond and other parts of the world, I wanted to take this moment to thank you for reading. If you ever feel inclined please drop me a line and let me know a little about yourselves. I would love to hear from you. Thanks. 🙂

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

I’ve been struggling over the last couple of day to get myself out of a mental funk. I’ve tried to stay busy. You know, hoping to keep myself distracted long enough for the fog to dissipate over me. But it’s just not working. The harder I try to keep myself occupied the more I notice the disconnect that I’m generally feeling. So after a few lame attempts at getting on with business I just find it less taxing not to do anything. I’m just gonna let time pass me by until this feeling has decided that its had its fill fucking with me.

On Tuesday I almost wound-up experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack on two separate occasions. Both times I felt as if someone had their arms wrapped around me and started squeezing slowly but surely. If I concentrated on the feeling long enough I would start feeling the room begin to spin just a bit. But instead of panicking like I have on so many other occasions, this time I just kept breathing, and went downstairs to play some video games. And if at any point the thought of dread crept in, wondering if perhaps this was a heart attack or some other malady that was striking me, I just repeated softly in my head “So What? What does it matter?” And just like that, on both occasions the anxiety just moved on.

I guess that after several years of dealing with anxiety I’m finally beginning to figure out that putting up a struggle, or fighting it is rather pointless. If anxiety is our bodies outworldly response to our inner most fears; the fight or flight mechanism run a mock, then the only real way to combat it is to choose neither. Instead of running or fighting, just take a deep breath, and accept whatever imaginary fate our minds are conjuring up, by simply saying “So what?” I guess when we give up the struggle, and we no longer are fearful of our impending doom, fear can no longer hold sway over us. We’re left with nothing to feel anxious about.

It’s odd, but I wouldn’t say I feel sad; even though most people I think might be inclined to describe it as such. What I sense is more like a numbness. It’s a lack of emotional attachment. Funny thing is that this feeling or lack-off it, always seem to come around during my days off from work. I work all these long hours doing something that I can’t say I find totally rewarding, and when the day finally comes for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor, to bask in some much needed time in the sun, the figurative clouds above me are too thick to allow for me to feel the sun’s warmth. It would totally piss me off, If I could manage to get properly angry right now. But I can’t.

I will admit there are a number of things that are going on that are partially the reason why I’m feeling this way. But I rather not get into it right now because I’m not in the mood to write a 4,000 word post.

So yeah, that’s been my week so far in a nutshell. A whole lot of blah with one or two minor victories to keep this week from being a total washout. But on a cool note I did come across this beautiful “Take Away Show” acoustic set by Chelsea Wolfe on La Blogotheque’s Youtube Channel while I was doing some apathetic and mindless web surfing. (Do people still call it web surfing or am I showing my age?) Never heard of this lady before but she does have a heavenly voice. I think you might dig this set as much as I did. Especially if you having an overcast day like I am. Anyway I hope one of you is enjoying themselves out there. Until next time folks. Stay safe, take care, and be sane. Peace!

Music to Get Lost In: Led Zeppelin – Since I’ve Been Loving You

Every morning I tend to wake up with a pesky case of earworm.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve had the displeasure of having the earworm be “What does the Fox Say“, which let’s be honest, is no way to start one’s day. Thankfully the gods where merciful this morning and had me wake up to Led Zeppelin’s seven and a half minute masterpiece “Since I’ve Been Loving You. Every-time I hear this bluesy jam the tiny thin hairs on my arms stand in attention.

English: Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page (r...
English: Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page (right) of Led Zeppelin, in concert in Chicago, Illinois Italiano: Robert Plant (sinistra) e Jimmy Page (destra) dei Led Zeppelin durante un concerto a Chicago, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not one to listen to a whole lot of classic rock, even though I dig bands like Led Zeppelin, T-Rex and Queen as much as the next guy; but with that being said I really appreciate how artist in the late 60’s and especially early 70’s were permitted to have these extended jam sessions. I seems that back then artist had a bit more freedom to play a song out and let the drugs and the alcohol, and their emotional state dictate where the song was going to go. Not to many big musical acts today seem to feel comfortable with experiment with their sound the way bands in the past did.

I suggest that today you put on your sound proof headphones, download Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same” (Remastered Live Album) and revel in their blues inspired, heavy guitar sounds. Oh what beautiful noise.

A Change is Gonna Come: The Baby Edition

A Change is Gonna Come: The Baby Edition

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“I’m going to be a father.” That’s the thought that keeps running through my head over and over again,  ever since I stumbled upon the news during Labor Day weekend. There isn’t a spot on my arm that I haven’t pinched just to reassure myself that I’m not experiencing some elaborate dream. Me, a super sized dork that loves comic books, and playing video games, among a multitude of other things that probably are best left to pimply faced weed smoking teenagers, is going to now be responsible for a little life. It all feels a little freaky, a little surreal, and at the same time, oddly reassuring.

I was almost convinced that I was going to have the luxury of several months to mentally prepare myself to the idea of me being someone’s father, before Jess and I actually managed to conceive. I figured that since we were both over 30, I wore tighty whities, and tended to stand way too close to the microwave, that it would have taken us several month of charting solar cycles, taking countless body temperature measurements, and a series of unromantic, clinical, love making sessions, before we managed to  archive maximum baby making conditions. Funny thing is that life, or destiny, or probability, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t care one bit about our plans. Life does what it feels it must, regardless whether we are ready for it. I guess that is why after about a handful of tries my little soldiers manage to hit the bulls-eye. Which, I would like to take this moment to add, is an accomplishment that I am rather proud of. It made me feel like quite the alpha male.

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Since I’m a sucker for symbolism I will take the speed in which we managed to conceive as a good omen. I like to think that the little soul that is shacking up inside the wifey’s belly was probably in a big hurry to get here. Maybe our kid is in a rush to do some good in this world. Then again the child could be the Antichrist. Although I kinda doubt that. I don’t think we have too many anti-Christ running around in our family history.

As I mentioned before, I feel oddly calm about this pregnancy. Which is totally unlike me. I don’t really do calm. I’m a stressful, anxious, worry about a billion things that are beyond my control kinda guy. Calm was never a part of my skills sets. What makes my Zen like tranquility more puzzling is the fact that I am well aware that there are a whole slew of things that can go horribly wrong over the course of the next few months and years. I understand all too well that our kid could develop any of what I am sure are any hundreds of defects or disorders. And that the birth, as safe as they are today, with all the advances in medical science,  still reserve an unspecified amount of danger for both my wife and our little baby. But I’m not worried. There is no sense of fear. I’m feeling pretty chill about the whole situation. Everything that is happening right now just seems right to me. I can’t explain it.

I keep getting flashes. Little images. Snippets of moments frozen in time. I’m holding my kid in my arms. Holding this small, defenseless baby, close to my chest. The kid’s almost lost upon the canvas of my oversized frame. I see another image of me walking along side the wifey, with the little one between us; we’re holding hands as we walk on the tree lined side walk. I’m saying something, looking down at this little one, but I can’t hear what I’m saying to her. Yeah that’s the other thing. I keep thinking it’s a her. I don’t know why I think that. It’s not like I have a preference. Boy, girl it is all the same. But for whatever reason, in my head, I keep seeing a girl. I see her, and the wifey and myself laying on the bed, watching as our two, none human girls, Pixie and Dory, peek over the bed with great curiosity. I know that all this is nothing more that figments of my imagination. Images of a desired tomorrow. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. After spending what feels like my entire youth just picturing the worse case scenario, after years of hearing my inner monologue speak so many dark and depressing thoughts, I find it refreshing and rewarding to finally be thinking about something that is hopeful and reassuring for once. This baby is granting me the opportunity to recalibrate my thought processes. I feel like I’m granting myself permission to come out of the shadows. Maybe now I’ll just linger under a shade.

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I do feel real bad for the Jess. I see how her morning sickness last all day. How sleepy and lethargic she is all the time. I remember how in the beginning she couldn’t help but worry about the pregnancy. She didn’t even want to say she was pregnant until the doctor verified it. And she was adamant that I didn’t say anything about the pregnancy except to our immediate family, until we passed the first trimester. Which was really hard for me to do, because I wanted to announce the news to the world from on top of the Willis (Formerly known as the Sears) tower. And all though I was risking suffering grave bodily harm at the hands of Jess, I did leak the news to a few close friends. But it wasn’t until we both heard the babies heart beat that I saw a sense of relief come over the Jessie’s face. Which only served to give me even more encouragement.

I’m doing everything in my power to make things as comfortable and stress free for my wife as possible. I don’t want her feeling any crappier than what I’m sure she already feels. It’s important to me that she has a nice smooth pregnancy. I’ve heard the horror stories about what my mom had to endure while she was pregnant with me. I want to make sure that Jess doesn’t experience anything remotely close to that. That’s why I’m trying to be mindful of her feelings at all times, and doing my damnedest to let things slides, when she’s feeling a bit moody. I want her to feel as much at ease as is humanly possible under her present circumstances.

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I find myself praying. Something that I don’t do with much regularity. I pray to whomever is up there, whether it be Jesus, or Allah, or a conscious universe, that they keep Jess and the baby safe. That they keep both of them strong. That they keep me in mind while they are at it.

All of this is all so new to me. To us. I’m sure that in the coming weeks, and months, we will be confronted with things that we never quite imagined. I know for better or worse my life has changed in a way that I cannot predict. I got a feeling I will have plenty of material to keep me writing consistently for the foreseeable future. But I can say with great confidence that whatever is coming our way, it couldn’t have come at any other time except now. This was the time. I find comfort in that, as hokey as that may sound. I’m as ready as I was ever going to be for this. The next few months and years will be the most exciting and probably frightening period of our lives. I don’t ever use this word, but for this instance I feel it is rather appropriate, it all feels like quite the blessing.

Music to Get Lost In: Smashing Pumkins – “1979”

Music to Get Lost In: Smashing Pumkins – “1979”

Today is November 1st. Which means that it is the start of NaNoWriMo. It’s a yearly event that comes around every November where folks from all across the globe give it their all to write an entire novel in 30 days. I had been debating whether or not I should throw my hat in the ring and participate because I had never tried to do doing anything this ambitious before. But after some good old fashion psyching myself up, I determined that it would be a good learning experience. So Wish me luck with that. Cause I am sure I am going to need it.

Which brings me to my choice for today’s Music to Get Lost In. As you might already know I like to have a soundtrack going in the background while I do my writing. It helps to keep me focused. It’s part of my writing ritual in a sense. And so I was looking for just the right song that would serve as a de facto theme song for my story. After surfing the web sampling a few new tracks as well as some old ones, I came across The Smashing Pumkins – “1979″, from their third album, Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness.

It is suffice for me to say that this song was a personal favorite when it was released back in 1996. And after listening to the lyrics and watching the video I feel pretty confident that it correlates very well with the theme of my story.

So for those that just want to take a little trip down memory lane, or if you are one of those poor young deprived kids that never heard this classic 90’s track, sit back, relax, and enjoy the tune.