Monday, October 25, 2010

Cultural Awareness

I’ve been racially profiled! I know that I should not be surprised. Being raised in the Greater-Los Angeles area I have had my fair share of racially motivated “random” car stops and general harassment from LAPD and the Sheriff’s Department. That was in my youth when I was a young, vigorous, handsome, young Latino-man. Now I am a grown ass Latino with a respectable career; driving a car with current tags AND insurance!

So I’m sure that you can all understand my befuddlement when I received a mailer from my church. IN SPANISH. WHAT THE CRAP!?! I’ve been at that church for 4 years! Everyone that knows me knows that I don’t speak a word of Spanish. I’m from SoCal! Why the crap would I speak Spanish?!?! I gather that they must have seen my last name and ASSUMED that with a Hispanic surname that I spoke a language other than English. This strikes me as odd on a few levels.

1.    I doubt that Justin Beiber gets junk mail in German
2.    I don’t think that Christina Ricci ever got a mailer in Italian
3.    Ikea doesn’t send me flyers in Swedish
4.    Why is it called “Latin America”? They don’t speak latin; they speak Spanish.
5.    Shouldn’t it be Spanish America?
6.    And the people could be called Spanish
7.    And people from Spain could be Spaniards

I guess that list really is only 2 points, but still valid.

I was talking to Mr. Tiny and Big H about profiling a few weeks back. If you remember, they are extremely large black men. We were talking about how the quiet black man is much scarier than the loud angry black man.
With the loud angry black man, you get what you see. No real surprises. They yell and scare the hell out of all non-minorities in the general area. It’s good for a story to tell over drinks or while doing your nails…”and there was this large afro-american man…very very upset…he kept saying he ‘wished’ someone would say something…”
The quiet, calm black man is much more frightening. Let me frame this for you. Mr. Tiny is 6’2 and 260 lbs of bad ass black man. I think he bench presses Ford Explorers and curls VW Bugs for a workout. Let us imagine this large man is upset, yet quiet. This is much more frightening. You imagine that he is plotting your demise…AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP IT. I would much rather deal with a loud person putting on a show than a large, powerful man that I think is calculating how much force it would take to rip my arms off.

I have another friend – Big Ass Guy (BAG). BAG is actually bigger than Mr. Tiny and Big H. He is like a fusion of the two. Except he’s a white guy. See…you are totally not worried about him! See how the brain does that? BAG’s fingers are the size of bananas, but if he pisses me off, I’m gonna take him down. Large white guys aren’t scary. It’s the lil quiet bastards that are just a lil off that we need to keep an eye on.
What is this post all about??? I was racially profiled so I wanted to make myself feel better. It’s like being a bully. I want to put other people down to make me feel good. Did I succeed? No. Did I give you all something to talk about? Mission Accomplished!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clear as Mud

You may think that I don't know a butt-load about communication, but I do.

Nelly and I attended a "communications seminar" last week to help keep our marriage in check. It was hosted at our local church and was a smaller class - so that we could keep things intimate. Easy readers! It's not that kind of church!

We were looking forward to this for a few weeks. Nelly always enjoys hearing how much I suck as a husband and always finds new ways to point out flaws. Seminars are grand. I enjoy the free food. I enjoy it so much that we arrived early for the spread. Little did I know that it would be fruit and yogurt. I was OK with my whipped strawberry-banana, low-fat, junior size cup. Nelly was not. She was expecting breakfast pastries. So we got off to a fantastic start with our host, Julius. As my wife notices the lack of morning-baked-goodness, she eyeballs poor young Julius. She decided that it was in her best interest to gracefully communicate her displeasure to our gracious host, "Hey. Where are the donuts? I'm tellin' you straight up, man, if don't get me one...oooooh! Man you're gonna put on a little Evil Knievel suit and sell some dimes and nicks on a Big Wheel. You're gonna get my donut some kinda way!"

Now that everyone knows who we are, we decide to take our seats up front. He had already taken a "Communications Inventory" a few days prior. Some of you may be familiar with Myers-Briggs or the MBTI assessment. The seminar was going to use this as a basis of our communication styles and relate it our marriage and other important relationships. Here are my actual, unaltered results:
 The Extroversion is PEGGED! If you didn't know me, you'd think that I am an Attention Whore! Being "extroverts" was the ONLY thing that Nelly and I had in common. She was, of course, an extrovert to a much lesser degree than me.

For every pairing of letters we had little exercises to complete. I think this was supposed to give us an idea of how the other spouse views the world. What actually happened was that this gave Nelly ammunition to fire at me throughout the day.

We were on the same side of the fence for the E's vs I' we just had fun making fun of everyone not in the "cool" group. It didn't last long as we were separated for the the S vs N topic. At this point, an abstract painting is shown to us. I am in a very small group of "N's" and clearly I talk too much so I offered up what I saw. Since I cannot find that pic, I will show you something very similar:

Here is what I see when I look at this painting: I see 2 shaolin monks running up the stairs carved into Wudon Mountain. The sun is setting and they are heading towards a temple that is in the upper left corner. In the middle there is a flying dragon and in the bottom left is death. It seems that they are running to their master for help with some evil or dark thing that is coming to the land. The other mountains in the back are already in the shadows, so they must hurry!

Most people will only see the bright orange seahorse at the bottom....

I gave a similar answer when asked in the class of what I had seen. As the debate goes back and forth, Nelly very calmly raises her hand. This was very conniving on her part. The facilitator makes sure everyone is quiet before Nelly speaks. She says, "All I see is a man too old to be playing kung-fu making up a story about messy painting."

We then move on to the T's vs F's. We are again put into our proper groups. A simple question was posed to both groups: You are heading to a party with a good friend; when the friend shows up at your house he/she is dressed ridiculously - do you tell them?  To me this was a no-brainer. F yes you say something - Are you serious!?! You are NOT wearing that! You need to change...NOW.  Satisfied with my answer, I turn to the person sitting next to me. I confidently say, "Nelly and I always ask that before we leave. She wouldn't let me leave the house looking like a fool..."  I wish I hadn't said that. No sooner do I finish my sentence when Nelly's hand shoots back up. Again the room is hushed. Nelly then looks right at me and says, "I can't say that to Ray. He's too sensitive."

So are things that I learned at our seminar:
  1. Nelly is the devil
  2. With Nelly, always assume Prison Rules
  3. Always bring donuts so Nelly's not in a bad mood
Communication is key people! We are all different and we should take strides to celebrate that fact. Learn balance with your spouse - don't cause friction.

The class was awesome. Many thanks to Byron Ricks for the session and thanks to The Grind for hosting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's a Guy Thing

The Fresh Prinze, has been on a roll - he must be butta baby! For being 19 years old, he is very insightful. A few weeks back he began a study on "Marriages of the Bible." The first class was dealing with a passive husband and a controlling wife. The class was great; but I don't want to talk about any of that. I do, however, need to explore something that was said. During the class, the Fresh Prinze caught my attention with this thought:

Every guy has that 1 "chick thing." It can be his hair, or he takes longer to get dressed than his wife...maybe he gets a Brazilian wax...

As I was about to raise my hand on that last point, I looked around and noticed that no one else was in agreement so I sat quietly for the duration. But, this one concept did have me baffled. Do we men really have that "1 chick thing" that the Prinze was so sure about?

I started to really take a look at myself; do an assessment of all that is me. As I looked over all that I am, I was surprised to not be consumed with sheer awesmoness, and I was also struggling to find my "chick thing." I was fairly certain that the young Prinze, with his frosty tips, was onto why was I struggling to find it!? I was driving with Nelly, when I had an epiphany! I knew my "chick thing." In my excitement, I turn to my crazy wife and declare that I have uncovered the 1 chick thing that I have. She looks right at me, eye to eye, and says, "Really Taylor Swift? Tell me about it."

Nelly is the devil.

But she was right. When I looked at my music choice, I noticed my playlist is DOMINATED by Avril Lavigne. When I write, cook, clean, chillax, drive, study, get a brazilian, I am listening to Avril. When I hit the gym, it's all about Brittney. I do dig Taylor Swift - she is more of a cool-down or reflection-of-the-family type music choice. So there it is! I love sugar-pop music! That's my chick thing!

I thought to myself, "Well this ain't so bad. I'm sure other guys have far worse chick things. I bet Julius rocks out to Miranda Cosgrove during his mani pedi sessions."  Pleased with my discovery, I set out to write a great post about the topic. Then the devil stepped in...She says, "Oh PLEASE! You have like 10 chick things!" Before I could tell my loving wife to "get thee behind me," She rattled off a list that she must have composed since hearing the Prinze speak. In no particular order, this is what my adoring wife of somewhere between 7 to 10 years says are my chick things:
  1. You loooove Taylor Swift
  2. You iron all your clothes
  3. You have to make sure that your clothes lay right
  4. You change your outfits 10 times before leaving the house
  5. You won't mix fragrances 
  6. You have underwear for different days of the week
  7. You are crazy about your hair
I think that we can all agree that she is crazy and has a skewed view of the world and of my greatness. Here are my thoughts on her list:
  1. I don't looooove any one but Nelly. Avril is by far my favorite artist and there is no secret about that
  2. I have to keep all this looking good
  3. I have to keep all this looking good
  4. I DO NOT have outfits. An outfit is a pre-arragned pairing of clothing that cannot be mixed and/or matched with other articles. I have clothes...that may or may not need to be changed before leaving the house...because I have to keep all this looking good.
  5. I don't have "fragrances." During the summer I use a "body spritz" and during the winter it's normal cologne or a body spray. I HATE having a foofy lotion smells mixed with either of those...
  6. we go. I don't generally wear underwear. So she's dead wrong here too. But, I do have specific types of underwear for different activities. Hanes Classic boxer-briefs for athletics; T-back, banana slings for dress pants....yeah....that's about it. Going commando all other times.
  7. I don't even have enough hair TO style! I have small tuft up top because she won't allow me to shave my head!
 Now that we have dismissed her false claims, I think we need to look at some other men that we all know. With my keen eye (and a lot of input from Nelly), I have found some others have "chick things" that we may want to take a look at. Here we go!

Zergio: Nelly claims that he has all the same things as me (go figure). He did kick it up a notch in the clothing department: He has his own walk-in closet so that his wife's clothes won't get mixed up with his. He is also the biggest gossip that you will ever meet. Wants all the details and surrounding information so that he can draw his own conclusions. Absolutely loves Chick Flicks.

Isak Adamson: Has a thing about clothes...particularly the way the collar lies. Has a lot to say about home decor. Does the basic chick thing..."It doesn't matter" then gets upset because it, did indeed, matter.

Dusty Gardener: Is a chatty-catty. Drives a minivan. Rents a minivan when he doesn't take his own minivan on trips. Packs enough clothes to last 10 days when we go on a 3-day trip (good thing we have a minivan to get all his luggage in). Deathly afraid of bugs of all sizes. Drinks Arbor Mist (Melon White Zin) to chillax. To kick it up a notch while watching the Cowboys, the drink of choice is Zima (complete with sour apple jolly rancher).

Dallas Jabbawockee: If you look up metrosexual in the wikipedia, his picture should surely be emblazoned throughout  the reading. Shirts are tight and usually a mid-drift. The skinny-jeans are tight enough that you'll know the religious preference of his parents. Hair is perfectly coiffed. An attention whore, but with the added twist of being a tease. He doesn't try clothes on, he models them to make sure the fit just tight enough. He once showed me how to wear a jacket 3 different ways depending on the season. Is an amateur hair stylist as the situation call.  I'm fairly certain that he is on Team Edward.

The Fresh Prinze: What can I say? He has a wiki site devoted to the Cullen Coven. Hair is frosted at the tips and is messy just enough to make it look like no time or attention was put into it, meaning it must be at least 30 minutes to achieve the look - has to be hair paste. He wrote, directed, choreographed, and starred in a rock opera based on The Notebook - he was the young Noah. Asked Julius to be his under study so that the show "could go on."

I really don't believe that any guy has a "chick thing." We all have little quirks and differences and preferences that make us who we are. Sure Dallas has to lie on the bed to get his jeans on; but he can rock that ish. Maybe I have to save Dusty when we see lady bugs, but that's ok with me. Yes I have had debates with the Fresh Prinze about Alice Cullen developing a conscience on her own and how that doesn't really fit - but Twilight is a jacked up book that I will never understand. Yes Zergio refers to me as his BFFAE...that's because I am. Isak has wigged-out when British Indian and Country Cottage styles are mixed in a house; but who doesn't?

This is who we are ladies. And you wouldn't want us any other way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life Lessons

My birthday was yesterday and I find myself reflecting on the magnitude that is me. All the accomplishments, the high-fives, the smacked bottoms...ahhhh, my life is BRILLIANT! I was looking through some old trappings from my MHS days (Cavaliers Bitches!) and I came across a very old list tucked away in my peechee folder:
I'm sure that we can all see 1 glaring feature of this list. No, I am not talking about the authenticity that has been verified by (1) the date of "6/93" in the corner or (2) the lines in the paper showing that it has been tucked away, folded, for years. I speak of the the last item on the list. I am still trying to find 1,000 True Fans. I don't blame myself, I am far too talented to not be noticed and admired. I charge you, readers, for this lapse in my legacy! You are not getting the word out and now we all suffer for it. Thanks fans.

But I digress. Today I want to talk to you about some of the things I learned while on this earth. From my humble beginnings in Monctlair, CA (IE REPRESENT!) to my heyday here in the Big D (The Lone Star State) I have had many lessons. Some were very hard learned, while others came just at the right time. Life is that way - ups and downs will be had; it is important that we holdfast to our values and learn the important lessons.

My dad is great man. Many of the lessons that I still hold to today were taught by my Pop. I am almost a whole generation younger than my brother and sister - 9 and 11 years younger than them. I am thankful today that I grew up with old school parents. This means that I grew up with old school values, ethics, morals, and traditions.

I remember when I was about 11 years old sitting at home when my dad came home from a long day of work. He was a land surveyor; back then it meant he was awesome at math and had to carry a lot of equipment in the field. He walked in mentally and physically fatigue. I was a little punk and didn't know any better, so I started to complain that I was hungry. My mom was not home, just me and Pop. He said to give him a minute and he would make me dinner. After about 10 minutes, I kicked up the complaining again. I will never forget what happened next. Pop walks out of his room and walks to the kitchen. As he walks passed me he said "I'm making this for you because I said I would, not because I want to" - that may seem harsh to some of you, but from that day forward I understood what it meant to be a man. If you say you're going to do something, you do it. What ever it takes. You make sure that you keep your word. In those days, sometimes all you had was your word, and if it wasn't good, what did it say about who you are?

As far back as I can remember, my dad always told me that I needed to where "North" was. It was easy for me to determine back then. We lived at the base of the San Bernardino Mountain range. If I was outside, I just needed to find the mountains and I knew that I was facing north. I loved spending time with my dad. We would go all over the Inland Empire, San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernadino Mountains, Los Angeles county and every time he would ask me, "which way is north?" I would look for the mountains and point. He would let me go to job sites with him and he'd unfurl a huge map across the hood of his truck. These maps were massive, even by today's standards. I would look at contour lines, buildings, roads, land marks, etc., and my dad would show me where "north" was on the map. As a kid, I so took this for granted. I didn't even realize what I was being taught at the time. My dad was making sure that no matter where I was in life, that I would always be able to find my way. He gave me something that can never be taken away. Land Navigation in the U.S. Army was easy money. Even today when I look at blueprints and AutoCAD for hours on end, the drawings just make sense. I can be any where on this planet and never feel lost. All because my pop took the time to teach me something so simple. It is very empowering. I'm sure that with the GPS enabled phones, people don't understand the magnitude of this. You will when you're driving in a major city on a cloudy day :)

Every summer and every weekend, my dad would walk in to my room at 7AM and ask me if I was going to sleep in all day. That simply meant that there was a job to do and I was meant to do it. It would be worse if he left before I woke up. My dad is all about manual labor building character (I used this with Bobert Creamer a few times). Once he left me a letter when I was maybe 14 years old:


I had my Lucky Charms and went out back. There was an old coffee can of old rusted nails, an old hammer from when my dad was 14, and a huge pile of wood slats that I needed to get up. That was my dad. We would buy him new tools, electric tools, fancy tools... but he just used what he had and I did the same. He always made sure that I had what I needed to accomplish my job. He would show me how to do it first, then would watch me for a minute, then I was off to take on the world. Even then, he was teaching me about life. I may make a mistake here and there, but he had taught me right and trusted me. He also taught me that as long as I was going to be at his house that there was plenty of work to go around.

I thank you, Pop, for molding me into who I am today. The world thanks you, without you my greatness would never have been. What kind of sad place would this be? No worries, Pop. I'll handle this one for you! You're Welcome Cyberspace - Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Attention Whore vs Drama Queen vs Master Baiter

The great philosophizer Jack G. Gargoylewitz IX said it best: People dont want ambiguity!!! they want to be recognized!!!!

Aside from bad punctuation, I believe that he is correct. Take yours truly for example. I have been on a campaign to be famous for some time now. I want the masses to greet me with a knowing smile and a nod of approval....of my GREATNESS. My quest for fame is to add something to this world. People should equate my name (or likeness) with "the voice of our generation." I'm here to spread the laughter one post a time - webisodes are under development.

Does this make me an "Attention Whore?" Shit yes it does. To me, an Attention Whore is someone that loves the limelight and is totally comfortable with all eyes on him/her. This person understands who they really are at the core and are ready to share it for the betterment of the world. The Attention Whore seeks to be seen, heard, talked about, to be the topic of rumors, etc. Some use their looks to accomplish this (Kim Kardashian), others have real talent (Superman), some pretend to have talent (Brittney Spears), and some are just deserving (me). In my world, the Attention Whore is not really doing anything bad; they want to share who they are with everyone that may look their direction. They have confidence in their looks, talent, fake talent, or just sheer awesomeness. I like these people! Say what you will, but everyone reading this post knows the list of people that I just laid out. They aren't putting others down to get attention. They are not fishing for compliments.

What I don't like is the Drama Queen. Sure, we can call them "Drama Kings" too; but I think it's funnier to call dudes "Queens," so we will stick with it. Drama Queens come in ALL FLAVORS. They are life-force-sucking people - like a weird Jedi/Vampire combo. They can find the worst in all situations - much like the "sour puss" from work, but the Drama Queen can find the suckitude in everyday life....and they never tire of talking about it. Please DO NOT confuse these people with the Attention Whore. They are whoring themselves out, true, but not for the attention. They want to contaminate the world with their bad attitude. The Drama Queen that I absolutely abhor is the Gym Kitten. We all know her. She is the one with the painted on work-out pants with "Smack It" stitched over the derriere (she may opt to wear the ultra small shorts), a shirt cut up to show off the boobage and toned, tanned torso,  hair done in naughty piggy tails, AND A HAT PULLED DOWN OVER HER EYES.....If I walked into the office all oiled up in euro-cut speedos while wearing glasses, I wouldn't expect anyone to comment on my horn-rims. If you are dressed to show the world your goods and services, don't be offended when people notice. The low pulled hat does not mean you don't want people looking at you when you show up wearing pasties and a thong. You know who you are; men know who you are; and yes, women know who you are and they also don't like this type of Drama Queen. We all know some sort of Drama Queen and we work to avoid him/her. There is no such thing as casual conversation with these people. Unlike the Attention Whore that talks about themselves, the Drama Queen can rattle off 15 topics (none of which are their faults or can be fixed) to drown  you with. If you can't think of one.....bad's you.

It may surprise you to know that woman, by far, out number men in the Master Baiter category. Let me give you a quick example: I'm gonna go swimming...I don't want to be wearing a bikini with all these 20 year olds around. Sure thing Brooke Burke! Sound familiar? How about "I just threw something together...let me know if it tastes bad." You got it Gordon Ramsey! I, of course, am talking about the fisher of compliments. The Master Baiter is very crafty in how they extract niceties from people. They know that they are great at what they do or how they look (which I don't have an issue with) but they seek to be complimented...THEN HAVE THE AUDACITY TO PRETEND TO BE SURPRISED WHEN COMPLIMENTED! Are they whoring themselves out? Absolutely. Are they bettering the world or putting others down? No. They are feeding on the words that people throw at them. I'm not talking about people with real insecurities. I'm talking about people that absolutely know their worth, but feel compelled to validate it. Could you really see me saying "Oh...I just threw this post up...let me know if it's good...not really sure about it.." OH HELL NO! This is what I say "Read this. You will be in awe of my greatness. You must then share this greatness with anyone that knows you. And with some that you don't know. Because I am greatness. The world deserves to read this post. Go forth and with this post do my greatness."  That is what I would say.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Deuces Wild

We have found ourselves in the middle of a war, gentlemen. The battle lines have been drawn and we need to choose sides. There will be casualties...Oh, there MUST be casualties. I am speaking about bathroom etiquette, or lack of, that is displayed in America today. Gone are the days when we can just walk into a public/group restroom and handle business without a second thought. The things that we have taken for granted have been turned on their heads. This may very well lead to the moral demise of a once might nation: Man Land.

I have noticed an alarming increase in the number of bathroom conversations. We are not talking about sports scores between urinals or passing the newspaper between stalls. We are talking about phone calls in the potty. Just the other day, I found myself sitting down for a rousing game of solitaire when all of a sudden I hear someone walk in, pull up in the next stall, on a conference call. It is happening all the time! These people are not just listening in; they are active participants with multiple people on the line. They dial-in, walk in to the stall, then proceed to unbuckle, drop pants, sit down, hunker in and go on with business as usual. This of course leaves me in a bad spot. What if I had pepperoni pizza with jalapenos that day? What if I'm on a 2-day cleanse? What if I had bad Chinese for lunch? I'm sure that you can all see the problem here. Am I to knock on the wall and let him know he needs to mute? Do I try a courtesy flush? Do I try to hold it all in until he's done and gone? What are the ground rules for phone calls when you're dropping off kids at the pool??!

There are just some things that shouldn't happen in a Mens Room and that is one of them. The other is the peeing while on the cell phone (this includes bluetooth). Also something that shouldn't happen is the "Superman" in front of the urinal. You can't just stand there looking forward with your hands on your hips like bullets are bouncing off your chest. And....NEVER DO THE ONE-HAND SUPERMAN, ON HAND CELL PHONE COMBO!

I never thought that I would have to actually write down the Potty Rules; I had assumed that these were being passed down father-to-son in the same fashion as Miyagi-Do karate. Yet, here I sit explaining how men should conduct themselves in the restroom. I am not talking about the 1-seater at your house or the single stall rooms that can be found at Starbucks. I am talking about a real Mens Room - multiple thrones to include a handi-capable spot and at least 3 urinals.

Urinal Rules:
  1. Always take the urinal farthest away from the door
  2. If that one is taken, you go to the urinal that is farthest away from the 1 person in there i.e. the one next to the door
  3. If both urinals at the far ends are taken, you may only use an open urinal if there will be a 1 urinal separation between you and the other person
  4. If there are open urinals but you will be next-to, or in-between, then you must pee in an open stall
  5. Never "Superman" a urinal
  6. Never be on a call while in front of the urinal
  7. Never lean over the urinal and lay one hand on the wall
  8. Feel free to write your name or do some simple math
  9. Peeing into a trough negates the freedom to write your name or do math problems
  10. If your cell phone rings, wait till after you shake off, zip up, flush, washed and dried your hands, and left the Mens Room before answering
Rules of taking open urinals may be modified while at the movies or sporting events - this does not give carte blanche to pull up next to someone if there are other open spots. Let's use some sense here!

Stall Rules
  2. Leave the handicapable stall for last, but feel free to use it
  3. Always flush when done
  4. If you had spicy food, lead with the courtesy flush
These rules have been in place since the first multi-stall bathroom was invented. There we have it! Simple, easy to follow rules that should exercised at all times.

I know that women (I should say "moms") are not really understanding all of these rules. They pee with babies on their laps. They have family meetings while dropping a deuce. They can be in there on the phone with their mom, bff, cable tv guy, or anyone else. They don't view any of what was just outlined as simple rules needed to keep the balance of man in check. They see it as "stupid stuff that guys do and they need to get over it."

I am not asking women to understand these rules. I am reaching out to men. Real men understand the underlying issue. Real men know that something needs to change. Real men read newspapers on the pot, they don't chat about days events. It's time to put the man back into the Mens Room.