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

Summer

Image result for time

I am in Kentucky. Visiting future in-laws. Time being what we will of it, I do not wish to call them “future” in-laws. The future is “then,” and they do not feel like “then,” and no one knows what then will or won’t be. This is now, and they feel like now, which feels like this.

So. I am in Kentucky. Visiting in-laws. Seen and heard birds and accents and people I’ve never known before. Shopped at a 24-hour Wal-Mart. Been bitten for the first time in my life by a horsefly. Been bitten for the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time by a horsefly. Been to a supermarket with signs saying you must buy cigarettes in the checkout lanes and not at the service desk, the opposite of what signs say in NY. I’ve gone to a baseball game and scored a goal in a family soccer game and met more tennis players in a week than all the prior years of this life.

I think I’m eating elk tonight. I am enjoying Kentucky. Enjoying my future in-laws. Time is a bit stretchier here, now. This.

Unfold away, Universe

So far 2017 has not been my healthiest year to date. In fact, most of my loved ones seem to have been dealing with infections and bloodwork and tests since before Christmas. Generally I try to adopt a “Don’t worry until you have something concrete to worry about” attitude, because more generally I try to live by “The universe unfolds as it must; you can’t bend it; maybe bend you?”

The past couple weeks I’ve been waiting for more bloodwork while trying not to let the limited info from the last bloodwork I had done metastasize into bugging out. Imagination is often a useful thing, but sometimes it runs amok and is not so fun. Like when you get a call about your test results that goes:

THEM: So we have your test results.
ME: OK.
THEM: Yours are a little high.
ME: Yeah?
THEM: A normal reading would be somewhere in the range of 40 to 60.
ME: OK… Continue reading