Sunday, December 14, 2008

"You have not lived until you've found something worth dying for."

     I saw the above quote on a commercial for the show Whale Wars on Animal Planet. If you haven't seen the show, it's a documentary series about a group of people from all over the world called the Sea Shepherds who sale the ocean "hunting" Japanese illegal whale poachers. I love watching the show because it's about people coming together, literally putting their life on the line every day ready to die for something they truly believe in. They are making a difference in the world, and as one of the woman aboard the fleet tells the others in the premier episode, they are one small crew out of the millions of people in the world who care enough to take to the sea and fight for the whales. It may sound dramatic and as many people will say "they're only whales," but this is touching to me. These are the kind of people that I someday want to be surrounded by. 
     It's not the saving of the whales that I love about the show; it's the fact that the people on board the boat (named the Steve Irwin) wake up every morning with meaning in their lives, knowing they are making a difference in the world. This is the reason I have such a hard time with school- I get caught up in everything going on around me and forget what I am passionate about. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking, breathing, and going to class, but I'm not really alive. 
     I started a new job working for the town of Cheshire, CT's youth and social service department. Working at this job, along with working with the kids this summer in California, has really given me a new meaning in my life. My mom really wants me to be a teacher, and I think that someday I will. Once I finish my undergraduate studies at the University of New Haven, I'm really, really considering a Masters degree in Urban Studies. If my grades are good these next four semesters, I may even apply to Yale's one year program. 
     On Saturday mornings through my new job I participate in a something called the Youth Literacy Program (YLP). It's a great program that matches high school aged mentors with first graders, teaching them how to read and write. I feel that having a mentor in ones life is one of the greatest thing that can be provided for a child; one who is guided in the right direction will never stray in the wrong. I never really had a consistent mentor in my life, yet I had a great loving family who supported me growing up and has filled that void. Many kids don't have a supportive family life, are missing a parent, or deal with problems in their home that I seem unrealistic to most people. I talked about being able to recognize "pain in the eyes" of an animal in my last blog; well, I've seen it in the eyes of many children that I have talked to, and sometimes I think that my reason for waking up in the morning is to help kids who have that "pain." 
     Saturday morning I didn't want to go to work. I stayed up until almost five in the morning hanging out with friends and when my alarm went off at 7:30 and then 8:15, I thought about calling out. I have to say that one of my personal strengths is holding myself accountable for my actions, so whether I was tired or not, I was going to go to work. 
     When the morning started at 9:30, and then the kids started filing in at 10, I was disappointed in myself for ever wanting to call out of that job. One first grade boy who is aways smiling, came right up to me and hugged me. I probably said no more than two words to him the week before, yet somehow I had had enough impact on him for him to look forward to seeing me. I was speechless. 
     Because there are more first graders than high school mentors, I was paired off with my own "mentee" during the first week, and when she returned this week she was very excited to see me. We read a bunch of books, and I joked around with her, teaching her that she needed to eat her vegetables so that she could grow taller than her older sister, teaching her what snorkeling was, and also what "quo-a-shin" marks were and how they were used when people in stories spoke. Just watching her watch me talk motivates me to go to that job every Saturday morning. I know that on those mornings I am making a difference. Although I have a hard time attending my 8am class on Tuesday and Thursdays, I never will be late for that Saturday morning program at the Yellow House.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My final ethics paper---:::

I'm writing my final ethics paper on the equality of animals. What the paper will consist of, as any philosophy paper (in this class) has consisted of lately, will be a mixture of vocabulary words and bullshit sewn together so that if read twice, it may make sense.
Ironically, while reading through my research for the paper, the show Animal Police came onto the television (Animal Planet is one of three or four channels I watch, or know what channel they actually are). I sat back and watched it for a while, hoping for some inspiration to push me through writing this paper.
The show always angers me. Many times, animals are left abandoned by their previous owners, without food and adequate shelter. Other times they are removed from their active owners, who have physically abused them by malnourishment and beatings. What always bothers me is this:
why do some people think they are so much better than an animal that they can treat it however they want?
I look at these people as scum. They are the lowest form of a human being who deserve to be treated like a murderer or a rapist, they deserve to go to jail.
Whether human being or animal, any human being can recognize the look of pain in the eyes of a living creature. Those with compassion can also see suffering, hunger, and loneliness. Every human being is born with the ability to exhibit compassion, but many choose to ignore it.
This can be related back to my paper in many important ways. One of the questions that philospiher Peter Singer writes about is this:

[In regards to the equality of woman] "Many feminists hold that woman have the right to an abortion on request... Since a man cannot have an abortion, it is meaningless to talk of his right to have one. Since a dog can't vote, it is meaningless to talk of its right to vote" (Singer, 319. Animals and Environment).

To tie what I wrote into my argument above, if an animal can be hungry just as a person can, it should have the right to food. If an animal can feel physical pain in the same ways that a human can, than an animal should have the rights to not be submitted to abuse. Many other rights of animals fit into this formula, and should be recognized when debating the equality of animals with human beings.
This is a topic that has always hit home with me since I was a kid. I grew up in a family that always had animals. From cats and dogs to guinea pigs, turtles, chipmunks, and horses, we've had them all plus more. Even animals that are viewed as "scary" such as bats seen in horror flicks or horses that tower over the average person in size can exhibit emotions that any human being can relate to. Any human being can engage in many stages of empathy with an animal if they allow themselves to do so.
Personally, I think that my love for animals has come hand in hand with my love and compassion for people. I can cry for a person just as I could cry for an animal, and could never treat either one in a poor manner. I'll admit that there has been times when I have treated another person poorly, everyone has and it is only human, but a true good person can recognize this, repent and "patch it up," and learn from it. It sounds stupid and preachy, but it is something that I have learned through school and being around people, and has helped me have many diverse relationships with many diverse people. Some of the people who you think can't teach you anything are actually the ones who can teach you the most.
The same goes for animals. They will teach you much about life if you can learn to listen.

This blog really has jump started my paper. I'd better get back to it.
I'll try to keep my blogging more consistent...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Running Dry

It's been a pretty good today- better than yesterday. I got some stuff done off my "Thanksgiving break task list," yet none of it was actual school work. I have 100 pages of reading due tomorrow, and I cant seem to get through it. The book is called Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham, and it's terrible. I'm on page 2o and am about ready to throw it in the garbage.
I'm also reading a compilation of short stories for my history class about the Holocaust called This Way For The Gas, Ladies And Gentleman. Quite frankly, I think the class is complete bullshit... I learned about slavery and the Holocaust in middle school, high school, and last year in my world literature class. I'm not insensitive to the topics, I'm just sick of reading the same things, answering the same questions, and wasting my education taking 8am classes about it all. 
I'm sitting in my living room, the pine smell from my swiffer mop still lingering in the room, and the rain tapping the windows in such a manner it's putting me to sleep. It's been a great past few days alone (my roomate went home for the holiday), but tomorrow it comes to an end. The apartment will be noisy and messy again, and I'll spend more time in my room, again. It's nothing against him, it's just that I like being alone to think about things; what I'm reading, going to write, or how I feel about situations going on in my life. I like the quiet, it helps soothe me and help me relax. 
This week's looking to be the busiest of my whole semester, probably the whole year. I'm hoping after this weeks over to proceed with the website and have some more writing posted; it should be complete by mid-December. Hopefully during the winter break I'll be able to focus on sending some writing out to be published, and I'll have a few short stories complete by then too. 
No real epiphanies today... it's going to be a LONG night. I'm off to crack open a Red Bull, or make some coffee. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

::The Dreamer's Disease::

Every so often, I fell into this sort of depression; I wake up, don't want to be awake, yet have to be, and am in a terrible mood all day. Sometimes this lasts a day, sometimes a few, and sometimes over a week. 
I hate my life, the direction I'm headed, and the past I've lived. Nothing can cheer me up and only sad music and being alone gives me any sort of relief. Everyone bothers me; I tell them how I feel or cut them short, and then I've got more on my mind. 
Like in The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, I try and detach myself from my stress, but usually I can't fully pinpoint it. 
I wish I were in California, or somewhere warm. I wish I were outside, on a beach or in a forest. I wish I could feel alive again, among other's who carried me high and all longed to live and breathe for good and not "just because." I want to do more with my life, better things, and I wake up so many days feeling that I'm wasting my days putting half of my effort into school and slowly letting myself fall behind. 

I sit in front of my computer, or holding a book in an attempt to do school work but no matter what I do, my mind wanders to something else. This isn't some kind of disorder, like ADD that I can't control, it's my heart telling me I need to be somewhere else. I still haven't finished that paper that was due on Wednesday. I have a book, actually two books, that should be read by Tuesday that aren't, and I've missed several other papers that should have been more important to me but were put aside for personal reading or writing. 
I'm not failing out of school or anything like that; my grades are OK. The things that I complete are always good, A's or B's, but OK isn't good enough for me... I'm my own biggest critic. 
I feel like I'm sleepwalking through life, like I need to be doing something else but I don't know what. I need a sign, some guidance, something to help me figure this all out. What am I meant to be doing with my life?
I didn't post this to complain or cry to whoever reads this. I posted it for those to identify. Life can be lonely, and for those who can relate to today's post, I wanted to be sure you knew that if you feel this way, you're not going through it alone.  
This morning, I didn't want to wake up, but I did. I had to, we all have to. There has to be a purpose for all of us, and I feel that if we listen, we'll find it; we'll hear it. 
I'm trying to listen more in an attempt to hold my head up, but today in particular has been hard. Maybe it's because I've been alone for almost a week now in this apartment, or maybe it's because today was the day that I needed to start asking questions again. 
Everything does happen for a reason, doesn't it?

"The clothes he wears no longer fit, he freezes while he stands..."

Tonight I spent a lot of time reading and writing. First I started working on my paper that was due three days ago now. I took a stance, wrote a paragraph and a half, and then came to write in my blog when I was at a loss for words. I started to write in my blog, complaining about the paper and its topic. I reread what I had written, copied and pasted it, and suddenly I had two pages of my paper written; and the stance was opposite the stance I had taken to begin with. That was pretty cool.
Than I sat back on the couch and read more of Way of the Peaceful Warrior. That book really gets me thinking, and suddenly I was inspired to write, so I put the bookmark back in between the pages, picked up my notebook, and started to work on a poem.
In two weeks I have a writing portfolio due: it needs to have two short stories with 10-20 pages each, a ballad , a sonnet, a villanelle, 3 haiku's, and three of whatever else I want. The catch is they all have to be new pieces of work. Tonight I started the ballad.
Now I felt inspired to write, and just before I began one of my best friends from California called me, and for some reason I engaged in a deep conversation with her. I've been alone in my apartment since last Friday and I have been very reflective, doing a lot of thinking about life, people, and what I want to be doing with mine. When I hung up the phone with my friend, my idea about what I wanted to write my ballad about had significantly changed. 
Ballad's are my least favorite type of "rhyme schemed" poems to write; sonnets are my favorite. A ballad, if you don't know, is usually a long poem that tells a story about a character. It starts en medias res, or "in the middle of things." It usually ends leaving the reader wondering what's going to happen next. That's the fun thing about a ballad, every reader imagines their own ending.
When I write a ballad, I like to write about a character with an internal conflict rather than an external. Eventually on my site one of past ballads will be posted; it's about a football coach who suffers from communication problems with his daughter. Yes, this is an external problem, but it stems from internal conflicts that are within the main character, the father. The poem that I wrote tonight, or actually started writing, is similar in regards to this, yet totally different in scenario. I consider myself a realist, and this new poem is certainly a realist piece. 
Suddenly my clock reads 12:30am, and I need to get to bed... more tomorrow!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Resurrecting The Champ

     Today, sitting with my family of close to thirty people, I did a lot of thinking about my life. I thought about the direction I really want to take my life, and listened as I heard stories from my aunts and uncles about when they were young, and heard my other cousins talk about their dreams, loves, and failures I wish I could spend more time with them, they really mean a lot to me. 
     When I got back to my apartment, I wanted the movie Resurrecting The Champ. I didn't watch it alone, but had I done so, it may have made me cry. It was a very powerful story about trying to prove oneself, and dealing with failure, change, and stolen dreams. As always, I tried to connect the story to my life and way of thinking. 
     EVERYBODY lives their life trying to impress others. No one can truly say that they don't care what other's think-our world revolves around what others think. This isn't a bad thing though, my mood changes when I make my father proud; he's probably the hardest person in my life to impress and when he tells me he's proud of me, or when I know that he is, it's the best feeling in the world. 
     However disappointment is the worst. Throughout my "failures," dropping out of college three times being a few of the most prominent (and other "skeletons" in my closet among others), I have felt like, and have let people down before. Sometimes I wish I could be someone else, a champ like in the movie I watched tonight. Wouldn't everyone love to be a born success story? How good would it really feel to impress everyone, your son like in the movie, or your father, like in my life. Sometimes life throws some hard pitches, and many times you strike out. What I've learned most from failure is that the way you bounce back is the biggest lesson we as individuals will learn in our lives. Failure is only but a meaningless word, a word that should be defined is it's normal definition, but rewritten as a life lesson, or  what defines a person. 
I've got a Japanese symbol on my left arm. Sometimes I tell people it's because I was a "meat head" in high school, and it's true that I love the gym and was very too much into lifting weights my senior year of high school. However, it takes a lot of strength to overcome failure, and that is what that tattoo means to me. 
     I consider myself a failure. Sometimes I look in the mirror and ate the person staring back, yet a failure is someone who isn't afraid to take risks, who is strong and resilient, and someone always ready to learn. I'm a failure at directions, and as my family knows, I get lost A LOT. With that said, I also know a lot more territory now since I've been lost in many places (many of them the same places over and over) and now know how to get "un-lost" if I make a wrong turn there again. 
     That is an example of true failure. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

So I didn't write my paper that was due today. Instead I kept reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior, and hung out with my sister. Tonight I'll hang out with my best friends at some local bars and probably see tons of people I don't want to see. I'm not too excited about being home...
I'm not too sure what to write about today; there was a terrorist attack in India and 78 people have been killed. Apparently the gunman were targeting Americans--go figure.
I don't want to talk politics on this blog whatsoever, but I feel like I as well as most other Americans are becoming so numb to all the murdering going on overseas. It's funny how the only way I found out about this terrorist attack was because I was checking out CNN's website.
I became numb and entered a mini-depression last year when I learned about Darfur. It's not my disappointment with our country that depresses me, we clearly can't help everyone. What makes me sad is how people can kill one another, and how others can allow it happen. By others, I don't just mean the U.S. However, I don't think most people in our country value life the way people in the East do; we have never been refugees, experienced genocide first hand, and for the most part, never experienced starvation. Yes, some people are hungry in our country, but it's not often you see an entire society who cannot find or afford to feed their children.
I don't like to talk about genocides and other terrors going on overseas. In my multicultural education class at Springfield College, a class that was created for teachers to learn to teach all students equally, we spent a great deal learning about bullying.

If you're teaching a class and you hear a student mutter a name under his breath, or push another student in such a way that it would be easy to overlook it, and you do overlook it, you are just as much responsible for the bullying as the bully is. The term referred to is inaction. If you watch a kid get beat up on the playground and you don't help him, you're as much at fault as anyone else.

That's why I don't talk too much about genocides and terrors; what have I done to stop them? Nothing.

At one point I helped raise money and awareness for Darfur. I donated money to the website. I volunteered almost nightly at a local Springfield food pantry, and for the first tie in my life, I felt like I was making a difference.
Now I don't do anything. This is partly because I'm busy with my new school, writing, pledging for a fraternity, and other selfish things. Sometimes because of this I feel like I'm losing myself. Becoming "numb" to things comes hand in hand with a loss of care, kindness, and compassion. I never want to fully lose that.
I started off with not much to say today, but I actually ended up writing a few words, huh? Everyone have a happy Thanksgiving, and as lame as it sounds, try and think about how thankful we really should be for the food on our table. Oh, and have some fun :D

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emerson's Cabin

Whether it is true that Ralph W. Emerson secluded himself in a cabin for however long he did, or whether he visited with the townspeople and his mother on a weekly basis, it is true that everyone needs to take time to themselves to step back from the world. This is written in my favorite Robert Frost poem Into My Own.
Taking time to step away from things, away from society, people, noise, the rush, and all other stresses, helps us hear the words inside our head which have struggled to be heard during times of most busyness. 
This is why Emerson retreated into the woods to write Walden, and this is why I chose to stay on campus this Thanksgiving break rather than spend my week home with my family. I'll spend time with them, especially on Thanksgiving Day, but I need this time alone to complete tasks, to write and read, and to spend some time listening to myself. It sounds very "hippy-ish," but try taking a day, or better yet a weekend or a week and secluding yourself. Light a few candles, buy a new book, grab a pad and write and draw how you've been feeling. Doing this is a type of expression that every person NEEDS and can help one stay sane, or regain sanity. 
I skipped one of my classes today and spent the afternoon in the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. I'm working on a short story called Addiction about a man who is haunted by alcoholism throughout his life. The title will probably change once its completed, but I was able to write three pages or so while drinking coffee and relaxing. 
I also bought two new books: Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, and Stephen King's Memoir of the Craft, a book that he wrote about writing. 
I spent much of the later afternoon reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book that was recommended to me by a friend, and a book with the words "A Book That Changes Lives" written under the title. I believe that a book can change a life, and I've read a few that have changed my life. Someday, I want to write a book that changes lives.
Unfortunately, if I ever want to write a book, I need to graduate college, and with that said, I need to write a paper. Goodnight!

The Last Day Of My Life

I'm sitting here at my table in my apartment, candles lit, totally procrastinating doing any form of work that involves the word "college." Instead, what I'm going to provide here at 12:11am, will be words from a "college student" with little life experience and one who has had little sleep in the past few nights. Since I'm lacking inspiration, I'm going to quickly complete a google search to find some. 
I searched for "life-changing quotes" and here's the first one I found:

"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?"
-Steven Jobs.

Now I have no idea who Steven Jobs is, why he asked this question, or why he is worth being quoted asking this question in the first place, but the question did get me thinking a bit. 

If today were the last day of my life, I would absolutely NOT spend it doing what I'm about to do today (after I wake up at 6am to start my day). If I was going to die the day after tomorrow, I wouldn't go to class all day long and take a nap in between. There's TONS of other things that I would do. These are things that any decent human being would probably do, and this is something not even worth writing about. With that said, I do like to plan, but I do not want to plan the last day of my life. 

I can tell you some things that I wouldn't do. I wouldn't go to the gym; I love working out and am fascinated with the good it can do for the body. However, the reason I love working out so much isn't because "bigger muscles make me look more attractive" or because it will make me live longer and healthier. I love the impact that an efficient work-out program can have on a person's life (combined with an ideal diet plan and sleep pattern). I once worked with a boy, no younger than fifteen years old who told me he wanted to kill himself because everyday he was teased in school for being overweight. If no one had ever helped this boy, he might not still be sitting in his classroom today. Fitness means a lot more to people than many would ever think, and I hate when people label others with names like  "gym-rat" or "meat-head." I can honestly say that my first gym membership which my parents bought for me around 2002 saved my life. I wouldn't be the same person I am today had I never picked up my first free-weight. I wouldn't spend the last day of my life in a gym, but I'd make sure I relayed what I just wrote above to the people closest to me. If my last words were spoke of the importance of fitness on the people of our society, I wouldn't feel disappointed. 

I wouldn't write a book. This is because I could never write a book in a day, I can't sit still long enough. I also cant read a full book. I always tell people that I have "book ADD." I have a bookshelf filled with books separated by bookmarks. This is because most of them are half-read. I keep saying I'm going to finish them all, yet on the last day of my life, this is something that wouldn't cross my mind. 

I wouldn't kill anybody because as I would know, life's too short, and nobody has the right to take another's life. Well, I take that back; nobody has the right to take another's life  most of the time, but that's writing for another blog entry. 

I wouldn't rob a bank, or steal anything. Material objects, those things that are worth the most in the eyes of many, hold the value of nothing when you have one day to live. I might actually give away my material possessions, giving to my family and friends things that mattered the most to me, and donating the rest to a charity of some sort. 

I wouldn't have a party because I think parties are over rated. I may, however, have for myself a funeral, like in the book Tuesday's With Morrie. I live every day of my life hoping to make an impact on those I meet and I'd love to see all of the people I may have reached, those that I love, admire, am inspired by, and care the most about, in one room together, smiling and talking. If I was offered one final wish, I think that would be it. 

As I always tell my friends "my eyes are tired" right now. My friends always respond sarcastically by saying "just your eyes are tired?" With that we laugh, and I go to bed soon after. I am going to go to bed now, with certain academic goals unattained, I'll attempt to do my school reading tomorrow. To me, blogging counts as writing, so my goal of writing a page a day has been attained for today, and this productivity is somewhat comforting to me. Comforting enough to allow me to fall asleep within the next ten minutes. 


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The "First Post"

         It only seems right that the first post in my blog be an introduction of a sort. I should tell you what I plan to blog about, a little abut me, and why I even have a blog; why I'm "blogworthy."

         The purpose of this blog is to serve as an outlet for me. It is written in direct parallel to my website ( in which I'd like to give great thanks to the designer of it Dave Estes, an amazing artist and my best friend from my hometown of Wallingford, CT. You can check out his website at 

         I need an outlet because, as we all know, life's not always good. I'm not a nihilist, yet I tend to write some depressing stuff. On this blog, I'll try just to write, good and bad, weird and strange, truth and lies. I will not, and I repeat, WILL NOT, report on my life, crying to you about whatever seems to be going bad for me at that particular point in time. This is not my journal; I hide that under my bed and write in it when I can transpose my emotions into a story or idea... or when I don't want to cry to a publicly read blog.

         Plus the idea of writing whatever I want to be read by whoever wants to read it sounds pretty cool to me. 

         You can't categorize me just as you can't rally categorize my writing. Some people see me as intelligent; others see me as dumb, wacky, and crazy. Some see me as a writer, others as a student, and others as a personal trainer. Some look up to me while others hate me. Some days I dress nice, others I dress in my athletic-wear. I love animals, sci-fi, sports, poetry, my family, exercise, and all forms of art. What I want to be when I grow up is someone who makes a difference. 

         I believe that actions DO speak louder than words, and I am NEVER all talk. I agree that ignoring something that is wrong is just as bad as partaking in it, and I support anyone who stands up for what they believe in. 

         I also support passion. I support anyone who is passionate about anything: overcoming a fear, beating a record, athletics, graduating or doing well on a project. Passion is always accompanied by love, willpower, care, and compassion. Those are the traits that I look for in people that I choose to surround myself. They are the most important to me. 

         I can't half-ass anything. This gets me in trouble a lot because I'm an extremist; I love fitness so I become a personal trainer and aspire to be a bodybuilder; I volunteer at an animal shelter so I sneak home a bunny even though my moms allergic and my dad threatens to throw me out of the house; and I love to write so I create a blog and a website. 

         I'm busy with school right now. Most of the time I'm behind because I'm a procrastinator, I love to dream (and sleep), and I ALWAYS take on almost more than I can handle. I write when I can, and am working on trying to write a page a night. Here in this blog I'll keep you updated on my current projects. 

         Thanks for reading and I hope you'll revisit time after time and check out what I'm up to. If you don't, I can't be mad about it, because I probably don't know you. If I do know you and you decide not to visit my blog anymore, don't tell me because I'm really sensitive. I'll write a poem about it, or cry myself to sleep. 

         Until next time...