Sunday, September 11, 2016

Working to Remember and Never Forget

Today marks 15 years since that terrible day.  When I think of the events of September 11th, 2001, I can recall most of it vividly.  I think most of us who were adults at the time can.  I couldn't help but notice today that there seemed to be less and less mention of the anniversary on social media.  Now I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others and I saw very little of anything, at least in comparison to past years, about what happened that day.  I guess it should be expected...time does that healing thing, which is really a good thing. But still, forgetting this is not an option.  

I have to admit, even though this was a notable anniversary, I didn't even think about the day until I finally saw a post on Instagram around 2:00 this afternoon.  Sure, I'd known it was coming, but for some reason it just hadn't entered my mind.  Today was a similar day, weather-wise, to that September day back in 2001, only not as clear and not as crisp, and though I admittedly did not actively think on the anniversary often today, I couldn't let it go without a mention.

Of course, the sentiments that go along with that day will dwindle even more over time, but they should never be forgotten.  In school, our principal always mentions the date and asks any of us who plan to do anything to commemorate the day to share it with him.  Well, the kids in high school today were either babies at the time or not even born yet when it happened, so to them it's not as personal, not as meaningful.

Since my students are all foreign born, they know even less of that sad, sad day, and during one of my early morning periods, they had come to me from their Global Studies class in which they had just seen a video and had an accompanying worksheet to fill out on the event.  They were confused and didn't really understand what they had just been taught.  I promptly decided to forego my own lesson just to talk to them.

I wrote the word terrorism on the board, and asked them to give me words that they thought would fit the definition.  In a bit of sad reality, they were able to come up with some words to fit that heinous tactic: bombs, guns, killing, etc.  I added the word scare and we launched a conversation that began with the recent attacks in Nice and Paris and we worked our way back to 9/11.  I recounted my own memories of that day, from the moment I'd heard a plane had crashed into one of the towers early on to being glued to the television all day and all night.  I choked up a little when I spoke of the heroes on United Flight 93 and knew right then that although my own memories and feelings about September 11th, 2001 had diminished, the feelings were still there deep inside me.  

So if you found yourself in the same place as I today, and you feel like maybe you've lost some of that anger, horror and sadness over the 3,000-plus lives that were lost just fifteen years ago today, then I think you need to relive it a little,  Whether it's by watching a program on the events, or sharing your own recollections with someone who wasn't around and doesn't know.  I think from here on, we're going to have to work to remember...and never forget.   

See also:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another New Year, Another Resolution?

Labor Day 2016 - Every year on this day, I (...and a lot of other people!) tend to reflect on the summer that's just passed and the upcoming 10 months of the new school year. Though things were precarious back at the end of June...a bad back, a cancelled trip to Europe and a decent shortage of funds, I ended up having a great summer!

Here's to a Great Summer!

From the very first day of summer vacation, I was having a blast. From dinners with friends, nights on Fire Island, reunions with old friends, the Invasion of the Pines, trips to Philly, camping, upstate NY, and Florida, it was a fun-filled time for sure.  Here are some great memories...

Good times, yes they were, but now it's time to let go of summer and put my nose to the grindstone. 

A Big Year Ahead

Today was the first day of a new school year, one that aims to be even tougher than last...and I'm already exhausted. The school year 2015-16 was my most difficult to date. I took on new responsibilities and my day to day job became monstrously difficult.  This year is already shaping up to be another tough one, and I just have to dig deep and learn how to better deal with things.

It's All About Focus

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a book called The Life You Were Born to Lead, by Dan Millman, and although I can't say I've been following it faithfully since, I have kept in my mind some of the things it's taught me.  The book basically uses the foundations of numerology to reveal the underlying traits that make you you, and the one thing Millman says about me that rings so true in my everyday life is that I lack focus.

Like the old saying goes, you can be good at a lot of things, but you can be really great at simply one, or two.  Most old adages are founded in truth and surely this one is, especially in my case.  I have my hand in many things, and I am good at a lot of them, but great at none.  As I begin this new year, I find myself once again trying to 'fix' myself, and perhaps focus is the key.

So once the dust settles on the beginning of this new school year, I will be taking a good, hard look at all of the things I do and try and figure out which ones I truly love and which ones I could really do without.  Then maybe I can focus on far less and get on with it...

Monday, August 15, 2016

What am I doing here?

What do you do here?

That was a question I've been asking myself for ages. Inside my head I was understanding him completely, yet all I could muster was how nice it is that Long Island has the beaches and Fire Island and well, you know. I wasn't even convincing myself.

The guy was a late twenty-something from New Zealand, working as an architect in the city, and I'd been chatting with him on the dock at Cherry Grove waiting for the ferry to take me home on Saturday night. It was his first time on the island ever.  He'd gone with some work friends of his that had abandoned him there. 

The half-hour or so that we chatted on the dock and then during the ferry ride afterwards was the lone bright spot on a night that I would have been better off staying home. I'd had the best night of the summer there the Saturday prior and I guess a re-creation of the same was a long shot to begin with.

The dude, Collin I believe, was a Long Island novice. He knew nothing of it except that you had to travel two hours through it just to get to Fire Island, which he didn't seem to care for very much anyway. Forget about knowing where or even what Patchogue, the place where I live, is. 

He asked the same question more than once, and each time he asked it only brought me to the same place I've been in my mind for the past eight-plus years.  

Long Island is a beautiful place. It's got its own multitude of sub-cultures and beautiful spots.  But it's a big, spread out place, a place where you go to settle down in your own little nook or cranny and hang with the people around you, raise your family, take care of your house and...I'm not really sure what else. It's definitely not a very exciting place to be single, especially gay and single.

I've been thinking a lot these past few months. Those of you who read me already know that. For the longest time I've been yearning to be where life is, where I could just leave my house and not be alone, or even where I am alone and am given opportunities to not be.  Get it? I dunno, a lot of people around me don't seem to. 

So I am finally beginning to formulate a plan in my mind. When I visited Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago I fell in love. Philly is like a smaller, more open-spaced New York with a lot of life and a thriving gay community. A year from right now I'd like to be preparing for that change I've been talking about, a move there. 

Of course, Philadelphia doesn't compare equally to New York, my city, the Center of the World, but I'm figuring it's the next best thing. Hopefully the job opportunities are ample, as well as the housing, and it's certainly more doable than NY.

Of course there is one thing that can keep me here and that would be if I found someone to make me not want to leave, which seems unlikely.  Even the few I've met this summer, and it has been an active one, haven't panned out into anything meaningful, even the dude from the ferry ride the other night. 

During his and my conversation, I was trying to help him find a way to get back to the city. He'd thought he'd just take a taxi, which would've cost him about $300.  I checked the train schedule...nothing.  I offered him my couch and a ride to the train station in the morning and he seemed grateful.

The conversation throughout was really easy and nice, and In the back of my mind I thought, hmmm, who knows?  On the upper deck of the ferry, he leaned over and kissed me before snuggling up next to me, and suddenly the night seemed like it was going to be a different kind of special than the previous week. Then his phone rang. 

It was one of his friends who had abandoned him. It turns out they waited for him on the other side.  He smiled as he told me, understandably relieved, and I was relieved for him. The ferry soon pulled into the station and we got up to get off.

I walked in front of him through the crowd as we disembarked and then I let him pass me once he saw his friend. That was when he turned into an asshole. Where I expected him to turn and introduce me, maybe exchange numbers, he kept walking with his friend, ignoring me completely.  To him I was no longer there.

I actually had to walk past them at one point on my way to my car.  He was in animated conversation with his pal, still without any notion that I was ever there. I walked past, head down, no words. It wasn't worth it!  All I could muster under my breath as I walked past was the word dick!

Though the guy turned out to be a complete, mean jackass, it was still an opportunity.  That doesn't happen too often here, and when it does, it's usually in the summer on Fire Island. 

I need to have more opportunities like that, chances to meet people, and hopefully more that have better results. It's not going to happen in my yard or at the mall or supermarket, but even a trip to the coffee shop in the city will offer me more opportunities. 

I don't have much hope that anything's going to happen for me in the coming year here, but you never know. If not, hello Philadelphia!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bitmoji: A Cool New Generation of Emoji

I remember it was years ago that one of my students told me about emojis.  I think I had asked him how he got those cute little smiley faces and such on his phone and he helped me download it on to my own.  Well, in the years since then, emojis have become commonplace and I don't think I know anyone who doesn't use them.  In the past couple of months, however, thanks to my sister-in-law, I've discovered a whole new generation of emojis, and I am loving it!

Bitmoji is a free app in the iTunes store that combines the best of emoji and you.  The App Store's description says it's the "your avatar emoji," and that's exactly what it is.  After downloading the app, you create your avatar, a cartoonish likeness of yourself.  The process is relatively easy and it takes you through detailed information about your appearance.  Once you're done creating your likeness, the app then adds a sub-set to your keyboard and voila!  You can start using your Bitmoji.  

Bitmojis come in a wide variety of images (I currently have 105 on my phone) and it's always possible to find one that'll fit any conversational situation.  With popular phrases built into images with themes like movies and television shows, the Olympics and more that are constantly changing, this app is tons of fun.  So if you're an emoji type of person, you should definitely check out Bitmoji.  It's a great way to personalize yourself in a fun way while talking to your friends. So click the link below and try it out.  You won't regret it!