Lately the internet has become full of arguments about the merits and demerits of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been discussing and pondering all the va…
Music is such a powerful thing. I firmly believe that it is the closest thing we have to a time machine in our world. If you don’t know what I mean, listen to a song that holds some special meaning, and it can immediately take you back to a certain place and time. If you close your eyes, I bet you that you can see things so clearly…music can take us back…make us feel young again…remind us of better, and worse, times.
Music is powerful because it is a casting of emotions, bundled together. And I’ve said it many times before, but there is a distinct feeling, pleasurable to some degree I suppose, when a song hits on exactly the way you feel at a certain point in time.
Perhaps it’s because it reminds you that you’re not alone…that someone else, at some point, felt exactly what you feel now. In this big crazy world, I suppose there is solace to be found when you know, quantifiably know that you’re not alone. Sometimes, that’s huge. Continue reading
So life is trudging along, as it always does for me. I suppose I shouldn’t use the word trudge. It actually moves along swiftly, and somewhat erratically at times as well. I take it all in stride, and enjoy the fact that I live a life that isn’t “common”…that I can’t say with any certainty what my life will look like in 12 months…either good or bad. I like that. It can cause some stress and trepidation, but it’s the life that I’ve lived for so long, I really wouldn’t know how to do anything differently.
And with that in mind, I must announce that I am taking the next step in my blogging journey. I am beginning a new blog. The title of this new blog is “Reflections of a Chicago Life” and it will be a part of the ChicagoNow blogging community. ChicagoNow is the subsidiary, if you will, of a major newspaper here in Chicago. Furthermore, it is the next natural step in my quest to eventually be a “professional blogger.” I don’t mean professional as making a living off of blogging, but if anyone was willing to pay me $10 a month to blog, I would feel like John Grisham!
Have no fear my friends, if you’ve enjoyed “Off The Beaten Path”, you will enjoy Reflections of a Chicago Life. I can assure you you’ll find all the same things, and wide range of topics, that you found here. I encourage you all to hop on over there, and subscribe immediately.
In addition, my Instagram and Twitter accounts will not change, and will be the same that are accessible from this site here. I also have a Reflections of a Chicago Life Facebook Page.
I hope you all will embark on this new leg of my journey with me. I promise you that you won’t regret it. I may update here from time to time, if a topic goes far outside the scope of what I feel comfortable posting at ChicagoNow, but 99% of my blogging for the foreseeable future will be done there. Thank you all so much for your continued support, and friendship. We’re making big moves friends.
I posted this on my Facebook and it sparked a lot of discussion. Thought I would share it here as well.
Good morning friends,
So, I’m not one to withhold my opinion, and sometimes, a thought weighs so heavily on my mind, I just feel a need to share it. So let me say that this post is NSFW and could possibly be perceived as offensive.
So, I’ve seen a lot of discussion as of late about France, and Nigeria, and Kenya, and Beirut and I’m sure a list of other places. I’ve seen some interesting conversations, and criticisms, and they’ve had me thinking. That’s what I love about social media, it allows you to aggregate a lot of thought, and that thought informs my thinking, and often gets me to think and look at things from different perspectives.
So, of course the events of France are on everyone’s mind, and tongue. And that sparks things like the French flag profile pic thing. And I think that’s great. I think it’s great when people want to publicly espouse that they’re feeling for someone else in need. I’m always overjoyed when I see that out of Americans particularly, because we have to be honest, that’s just not the norm of our society anymore. I always use 3 days after 9/11 vs. 3 years after 9/11 as an example of that.
So I see the picture thing like everyone facing in a direction, and that is great. You’re facing in a direction, with your heart and mind in the right place. So, my next natural question is “how far are you going to walk in that direction?” When I say walk, I mean something that’s considered quantifiable action. “Are you donating money? Time? Making phone calls? Writing letters? Espousing thoughts and support on social media is great, but we have to remember that in reality, it’s effects are minimal.
So a few days ago, there was a candlelight vigil at the French Consulate, as there were in many other cities, in support of the people of France. I went, and I only went for one reason; because I knew there would be French people there. I wanted to be sure that my face was one of the faces that they saw, offering a smile, perhaps a handshake, or a hug, and saying to them “Hey…I feel your pain. I can empathize with what you’re going through, and we want you to know that we’re here for you” whether that means just that hug, or coffee, or a floor to sleep on, or whatever. And with all the talk and discussion, and dismay focused around the events in France, I was sure I would see at least 1 familiar face in that crowd. But I didn’t. But, what I found funny, was that as I logged onto Facebook from the vigil, I saw people who lived anywhere from 5-20 miles from the place I was standing, actively talking about France. Now that shit just blows my mind…that’s just fucking maniacal.
So, my mind just takes a natural step back and asks “Well, how far have you walked for human rights, or social justice, or the plight of foreign peoples recently? Every day I see people facing in various directions over the ills of others, but how far are you walking for them?
And I get it. We get wrapped up in ourselves. We live in a “me” society, and if it’s not about me, then why should i give a shit, and honestly, that’s ok. But just say that.
It just strikes me as odd…and truly as disingenuous. I often feel like a lot of people are living out other peoples consciousness’ and reacting in ways that are expected, and that’s what truly irritates me. As I always tell people “Be who you are, and live accordingly.” I can recall on several occasions saying something tantamount to “I don’t give a shit about the indigenous people of wherever right now, I’m trying to get mine.” And that doesn’t make me a bad person…it makes me honest. And anyone who knows me knows that I am many things, and I’m not the most egalitarian, or politically correct, or caring person in this world, but I’m honest, and if I don’t give a fuck about you, I will tell you I don’t give a fuck about you. There’s not need to pretend or put on airs.
And of course, my mind shoots back to where I live, because in all reality, I don’t live anywhere near Paris, and while I feel for those people, my attention is always supremely focused on what is most immediate to me. Daily, I see people talking about Chicago, and what’s wrong in Chicago, and what’s going on in Chicago…so how far are you walking for Chicago? Writing letters? Making phone calls? Having group discussions in your home? Joining demonstrations and gatherings? Talking to elected officials?
If you’re going to stand staring…that’s completely fine, but know that you’re standing and staring, and know that there are people out there who are running. Someone I talk about frequently is a woman named Alaa Basatneh…we are friends on here, but I’m not going to tag her because I don’t want to intrude or embarrass her. But, she is half my age, and does 5 times the work I do for the people of Syria. Google her. She has sacrificed her youth, at a time when she should be working a part time job at the mall and enjoying school and having late night coffee with friends, to support the people of Syria, and she’s sacrificed her own personal safety. (and there’s actually a documentary film about her doing so…yes, it’s on Netflix) She’s running a marathon at a sprinters pace. She utilizes social media to get the word out, and get attention to the problem, but she knows that real people have to get into real motion to create and sustain change.
So how far are you walking today?
Todays song mirrors the mood that this topic and thinking over it puts me in. I listened to it about 5 times on my job into the office. Enjoy.
This week is Social Media Week here in Chicago. Had to start the week off with a blog before I head over to the Merchandise Mart to pick up my pass and hit my first session of a solid week of Social Media talk for myself.
So this morning I had a short exchange with a friend that got me thinking about beauty. Anyone who knows me knows that my mind is constantly spinning off into tangents. Couple that with my memory issues, and within 5 minutes, I have no idea where I started.
But first, I was thinking about the person I was talking to. From there, I started thinking abstractly about beauty. Often, when we think of “beauty”, for many of us, a picture of a person pops into our head. I find this unfortunate, because beauty has so many facets. I think we often hear media talk about “beauty” as it pertains to a person, that we often forget about things like the beauty of the human spirit.
I’m a person who loves beauty in all its facets. On Friday, I went to a fundraiser. At the fundraiser, there were pictures from an exhibit about Afghanistan. I mentioned to a woman that they were fabulous pictures, but I’ve seen very few pictures that actually do Afghanistan justice…it is an absolutely beautiful country.
“When people talk about Afghanistan, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them refer to the beauty of the place.”
It is beautiful. Perhaps that fact escapes them…perhaps it just never comes up. But that’s one of the things that popped into my mind as I was driving in the sun of this beautiful Monday morning.
From there, I started thinking about all the beautiful people that I have in my life, and I get to spend time with. Whenever I think about beautiful people, the first person who usually comes to mind is my dear friend Beena. Whenever I talk about Beena, I always say “…aside from being a physically beautiful woman, she has one of the most beautiful souls that I’ve ever encountered.” I’m fortunate that I have a lot of friends like that in my life.
Then my mind wandered to all of the beautiful people that I got to spend my weekend with. This Saturday, I went out to watch the fights. My friend Veronica was there, who is beautiful inside and out, and although I don’t think we could be more different, and sometimes I want to throttle her, my life is enlightened by the beauty she brings to my life. Then there was Phil, whom I’ve always appreciated for the beauty of his honesty. He has no problem separating the wheat from the chaff, and that is exactly how and why we become friends…and with him was his girlfriend Karina, who is a very physically beautiful young lady, and was an absolute delight to chat with. Then there was Daniel and his female friend. Daniel is a beautiful soul with a keen eye for social justice, and human rights. I love people who think so far above and beyond themselves. I find selflessness very beautiful. And then on both Saturday and Sunday evening was my friend Karina. A new friend; I’m having the pleasure of meeting and getting to know a new friend who brings a new shade of beauty to my life.
On Sunday I got to train Jiu Jitsu…and while I was on a mat getting beat up by a roomful of alpha gorillas and savages…they are all beautiful people. The caliber of character I encounter at training is the reason I’ve remained there for the entirety of my Jiu Jitsu journey, and why I intend to stay there.
And then of course, is the woman whose conversation sparked this entry, Ophelia. While I don’t know her very well, I do know that she is very sassy, and endearing, wrapped in a visage of exceptionally exquisite beauty.
My friends often tease me by saying “You think everyone is beautiful” or “You think every girl is cute”. And yes, that is true…because they are. Who am I to say that someone isn’t beautiful…or this person is less beautiful than another. My views of beauty certainly don’t jive with the popular notions of beauty…but I”m totally ok with that. I know I get that from my father. I rarely recall him calling any woman anything other than beautiful. The first thing he’d say to any of my friends was “Aren’t you the cutest thing?” He appreciated beauty, in all its facets. That’s mad hip.
And of course you have the sexual aspects to it all as well. Being in the presence of a beautiful woman is like…to me…it’s like being in the rays of the sun on a beautiful spring day. It makes you feel…hmm…wow, I don’t know the word for it. I suppose it’s like sitting in a bathtub that’s just the right temperature. But yeah, it makes you feel alive. When I first met Ophelia, I was like “Wow…Umm….wow” and then pretty much avoided her. Sometimes sunlight can be too intense. I dig that too.
So yeah….I’m thankful for all the beautiful people in my life, as well as all of the beautiful things I get to see day in and day out. I try not to take any of those moments for granted…and I often fail, but then I have mornings like today to remind me all over again…and I guess that is a part of life.
So 2 days ago, a dear friend of mine said “You know, you haven’t blogged in forever. I checked.” It struck me as a super sweet sentiment that she cares. I promised her I would blog last night.
I’m blogging now, before I head to bed.
So, I started this blog 2 months ago. It originally was titled “Heartbreak and Lullabies”. Continue reading
My mind is in a spin today. Some days it’s relatively calm, and some days it just churns…spinning and spinning.
A week or so ago I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine. She visited me a year ago. We were talking about the visit, and I really couldn’t recall much of it. Apparently we went to a Teavana, and I was charming the knickers off the women who worked there, and when I stepped away for a moment, the young ladies told my friend that I seemed like an amazing guy, and that she better hold on to me…blah, blah, blah. I don’t recall any of this. Even in retrospect…nothing.
“You know that’s a symptom of PTSD right?”
I love new experiences.
They nourish my soul…like they make me feel alive in a way that simple day to day motion does not.
My desire for new experiences has taken me all over the world, and served me well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a multitude of experiences that many even older than me haven’t.
And when you had a desire for new experiences with a little dose of courage, there’s not much you can’t do. Continue reading
Was watching the video exchange between Donald Trump and Jorge Ramos, as well as the exchange between Ramos and the gentleman in the hallway. I then sat and thought a minute about conversations I’ve had recently about how popular Trump is, and what exactly that means for America as a whole. It immediately made me think about conversations I’ve had with adults and students alike, both in and out of the classroom, about former politicians who’ve run on platforms of hate and hate speech. Most notorious of course being Adolph Hitler. I know I’ve often found people finding it extremely hard to understand how platforms of prejudice, racism, xenophobia and hate reach national status. Well, now we’re getting a glimpse. It starts small, and subtle.