The ups are downs are ups are downs

First it was a shadow on a scan. Then it “looked concerning.” Then there was no sign of spread. Then it looked like the best-case scenario, and always — always — we’re waiting on results. Results came back today. It is cancer. Not the best-case type. Not the worst-case. Something in the middle. Ups and downs meet in the middle.

It’s a good day

Spring is blinging. Flowers, plants, bushes and trees are blooming. It’s the first half of April and the winter weather appears done for the year — no small thing in a place where it can snow in May. All three of my teams are in season. The love of my life is here and her prognosis may be best-case scenario rather than what we spent weeks fearing. Our daughter is this brief perfect liminal self somewhere between a sweet young child and brilliant, loving tween. The dogs are healthy and get along. I’m writing and podcasting and working on short- and long-term creative projects. Someday I’ll look back and know these were the best days of my life. That day is today.

Long time no talk!

I just realized I haven’t written here in over a year. Not a word since the pandemic became the thing. But that pittance of words doesn’t indicate a lack of stimuli. You know how neutron stars are crazy small (for a star) yet crazy dense? Like, a teaspoon weighs as much as Earth? That’s what the past 15 months have been. A world’s worth of whoa shrunk down to a sugar cube of spacetime.

I hope to resume writing here again. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll return, too.

The counting

sidewalk

I grew up literally next door to my grandparents. When school ended I went there at least as often as I did my own home. The school bus dropped me off at the end of the block and I’d run home, the sidewalk’s crests, valleys and slants as immutable as the big blue water tank towering over the town. As I ran, I made sure each foot crossed an equal number of cracks; if one foot got too far ahead, I’d make my gait as awkward and contorted as I had to to make sure the number evened out by the time I reached the front door. On especially unbalanced days I’d cheat to achieve equality. Crossing from the sidewalk into a driveway or past the edge of the lawn counted as a crack. Each step up the front porch could, too. By any means necessary.

We moved upstate to a neighborhood that didn’t have sidewalks. I’d never even known that was possible. Our new home was in a suburban tract where if you wanted to walk, you were out in the street. There was a sunken sliver of space between the streets and the lawns for water to flow down into the grates. In junior high and high school I’d get off the bus blasting Metallica, Public Enemy or Vladimir Horowitz in my walkman at volumes I knew then were dangerous and am now, at 41, beginning to pay the price for. As immersed in the music as I was, no matter how far from the non-sidewalk I was, I always accounted for the cracks. I always made sure by the time I got home that each foot had passed an equal number.

A girlfriend discovered a variation on this fixation when I was in college. Continue reading

Am I one of “those hyphenated Americans”?

This morning I responded to a tweet about the electoral college and slavery, and so naturally in minutes I was faced with the joy of being marked as “other.”

This time was different, though. I’m a light-skinned Puerto Rican who since age 10 has mostly lived around non-PRs, so I’m used to being labeled “other,” usually by ignorant-ass well-meaning white friends.

In high school I was walking upstairs talking with a friend who said something horrible about Spanish-speaking people. When she remembered I was there, and not white, she said “I’m talking about spics. You’re one of the good ones.”

A friend I hung out with every day after school for years “found out” I was Puerto Rican late in high school. “Wow,” he said. “I can see Dan [a darker-skinned mutual friend, also Puerto Rican] climbing up trees barefoot looking for coconuts. But not you.” He wasn’t kidding. Continue reading

Fiat lux

Today Jacobin published “Against the Salary Cap” online, a piece I wrote on why — spoiler — I am against the NBA’s salary cap. You can read it here:

https://jacobinmag.com/2018/10/salary-cap-nba-basketball-players-work

You can also read more of my writing here, soon. I haven’t done anything with this site in a while, but I aim to again. Miss y’all readers. Talk to (ideally not “talk at”) you all soon.

(Forbes image created by Nick DeSantis)

Being laid off

My department head emailed me a week ago to set up a meeting. He’s the third department head I’ve worked under at my current job, but the first to ever request a meeting. We agreed to meet Monday. I wondered what the meeting was about. Three thoughts ran through my mind:

  • I forgot to include some required information on one of my syllabi; perhaps he wanted to let me know in-person such slovenly behavior was unacceptable or even legally precarious. My boss has a military background, so I could imagine him being very attention-to-detail.
  • We’ve never really spoken much, despite working in the same department for five years. From his social media posts, it’s evident he’s a curious, open-minded dude with a potentially robust sense of humor. Maybe he wanted to have a brief chat and get to know me better, man-to-man.
  • I was getting laid off.

I spent the weekend rationalizing why it wasn’t the third idea, rationalizing why even if it was the worst-case scenario, why that really wasn’t such a big deal. I exhausted all the logical possibilities and spent some time in the mushier world of my emotions, a realm I have an attraction/repulsion relationship with. I got to work Monday and looked for my new boss in the big office the old bosses had used while in power. He wasn’t there; he still resided in his smaller, humbler stomping grounds. This seemed a good omen. I reached his office. He welcomed me in. As soon as I sat, he got up and closed the door. I knew then what he announced moments later. Bad news. You’re being laid off.

Continue reading