Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP Greg Giraldo - Some of Us 'Get It'...

Hearing of Greg Giraldo’s passing brought up a lot of emotions for me. Many people seem to think all comedians in whatever medium they work in are all happy & giggly idiots, even in their personal lives. Again, as I’ve said in my previous post, they seem “put together” and more equip to handle the hard stuff in life. ...They’re not. In fact, it’s the total opposite. Most comedians are very sad. They’re aspirations are more than just standing up on stage trying to make people laugh; they want more. Most aspire to be in movies or have their own talk show, perhaps star in a sitcom. My friend Adam Kontras had put a status message about his sadness regarding Greg Giraldo’s death. In a Youtube video, Adam shared his heart with the world, trying to hold back tears and said, “I was in a really difficult place earlier this month and I kinda didn’t let on how bad it was...and how isolated I was...and umm, how I stared at this blue bottle of sleeping pills for way too long...and how I called whatever friends were close by and just wanted to hear some support...because in this industry, you can get to a place that’s so low that there’s no hope. And as a comedian, it’s time to be ‘happy’.”

Sadness hiding behind a smile, a laugh, a joke told can be absolute torture. Entrepreneurial type of people, especially in the entertainment business endure so much. Having to work among some of them, I get nervous sometimes, hoping that their hiatus is just that, hoping that just because I haven’t heard from this one or that one within three days doesn’t mean they’ve opted for the “blue bottle”. Actors, comedians, or any artist that’s trying to get work are all striving for the best of the best. Most of the time, they remain on stage, performing for a crowd of ten and in rare cases, they get that job they auditioned for that lasts for maybe three months or so. It’s never a steady thing. The highs and lows of the entertainment world can really put a heavy coat around your heart. Adam’s status message even sparked a comment from one of his “friends”. She said, quote on quote, “I always find it hard to be sad for those that kill themselves with drugs. He was a funny man, it’s too bad he had to resort to drugs.” When Adam saw the comment, I knew it would stir his heart into a pit of sadness - to see people having absolutely no compassion whatsoever. He replied, “As someone who has felt the depression, this industry can put on you, and who came so very close to having no hope whatsoever - I guess I’m in a very special place to understand EXACTLY what this man went through. It hits so close to home with me from as recent as 2 weeks ago... I’m absolutely beside myself. Please try and understand how overpowering the pressures can be if you don’t have a good support system around you. This is heartbreaking.”

It’s these types of mindsets that make us feel hopeless. “They don’t give a shit anyway.” It’s funny how “happy” everyone seems to be with their lives and once that very darkness hits them, then they start having compassion because now, they’ve gone through it. Other people commented, supporting Adam but I wonder how many people were reading it, saying, “Ah what a waste of life Greg Giraldo was.” I wonder how many people reading my post from yesterday asked, “What a waste of life that Lindsay Lohan is.” The reality of show business of any kind brings highs and lows. With that, brings high expectations which in turn, slaps on huge piles of disappointments. The more expectations that are slapped down, the more dark moments there are for those who are trying to get from point A. to point B. ---it’s never ending. As soon as one rejection is given, thoughts of “I’m not good enough” starts floating in their minds. You’ll also hear things like, “Well maybe this isn’t quite your forté." That’s even worse than just getting a rejection with no explanation behind it. A thick skin can only go through so much.

So Adam, this post is for you as well my friend. You’ve put yourself out there in ways many people wouldn’t dare to. You had the courage to show your flaws, all the while showing your magnificent heart, your imaginative ways of getting through to people. I’ve learned many things from you this past year, including sharing myself emotionally, in hopes of helping others. This is how I see you. You’re a true star in my eyes, because not only does your brilliance shine like a star, you radiate love and compassion for those struggling along hoping to ‘make it’ at whatever passion they’re trying to do for a living. Bravo!

Here’s the video Adam Kontras posted on his wall. I feel like he’s a male version of myself.

If you can't view the video through other websites affiliated with my blog, please click here.

With that being said, may Greg Giraldo rest in peace, and let us never forget how many laughs he has given us. May he roast us from up above...

For more articles, go to www.debrapasquella.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lindsay Lohan's Cries for Help Ignored

If being an alcoholic and drug addict is a “disease” as some people refer it to, then why is Lindsay Lohan checking herself into a substance abuse rehab program on her own accord? How many times does this girl need to be sent to prison and rehab in order for someone to “listen” to her? She’s screaming for help, yet nobody takes her seriously because this beautiful girl is a talented starlet; “she should know better”, or “she’s a smart girl.” While all that may be true, she may be the loneliest woman on earth. Her “disease” is a chosen one. She doesn’t want to feel the pain anymore. Nobody talks about her emotional pain, they all seem to focus on her substance abuse. She doesn’t want to hear people talking negatively about her anymore, but she’s a star, it goes with the territory. What star doesn’t get a bad rap once in a while? Wanting to be a “star” or wanting being in the public eye has some serious consequences. Most celebrities at times feel the desire to be “a nobody”, while ironically, everybody wants to be “somebody”. As they say, bad buzz is better than no buzz, but when a celebrity is trying to obtain the eternal buzz, when does the madness stop? They hide under oversized sunglasses and in some cases, fake mustaches and wigs. (And yes, I refuse to post any photos of her that claim she was doing heroin or kissing Paris Hilton.)

Years ago when I was at my lowest point, I had a major drinking problem. I wanted my problems to go away with each sip of my vodka. I’d start in the midday well into the late evening. I remember walking into my psychiatrist’s office numb from the emotional pain of everything I had went through. She quickly scribbled down a script for Ativan and said, “See you next month.” I stared at her and said these words quote on quote: “When I walk out of here with this band-aid of a script, I’m going to drive my car into a tree hoping that’s more effective.” She sat back in her chair with her arm dangling while her other hand was tapping her pen on the desk and said, “You’re too smart for that, Debra. I know you better.” Whether or not she knew me better, in my mind I was really serious, but hell if I had the courage to pull it off. But what would happen if I just cried for help this way? Will she take me seriously? My “goodbye” to her was dramatic, almost Academy Award winning. I insisted she didn’t worry about the money owed for therapy, I couldn’t pay her while I’m too busy pushing up daisies anyway. I walked out thinking that this would surely get me some available help, even if I had to stay at a facility for a month or two.

As I drove off, oddly enough feeling a little better about what I had done, reality kicked in and I knew that at any moment, I would see the men in white coats, or perhaps, the mental health crisis center in their little EMT trucks tailgating me. As I pulled into my driveway and went back inside, I started preparing things, thinking that they’ll surely track me down at home, but sadly enough, help never came. My threats of suicide were ignored. Did she want me to do it? Maybe this would be one less patient she’d have to deal with. Were my problems too much for her? Whatever the reason was, pouring another vodka on ice would smooth things over. A friend had called and came right over, because she could hear in my voice that I wasn’t quite myself. We sat out on the deck and talked for hours. It was the only real help I had gotten, even if she had a few cocktails along with me. I wasn’t alone in this. She had problems too. We were in this together. I then felt like someone related to me, which was the most incredible feeling when you’re in that type of dark place.

A month later, my next visit with the same psychiatrist was interesting. I sat down across from her and she asked, “So how are you feeling now?” I said, "Better but I do have some dark moments." She then went on to say that everybody gets those dark moments, but I stopped her in mid-sentence and then asked her, “Does everybody tell you they’re going to take their own lives in your office? And if they do --do you just let them walk out without calling the crisis hotline?” She stared at me, smiled and then went on to say, “Debra, you’re very well put together and intelligent. You would never do something like that. You wouldn’t believe the types of people that walk through my door day in and day out. You’re not one of 'those' people.” I interrupted and said, “But I am one of 'those' people and you’re being discriminative just because I do my hair and makeup and perhaps, put on a few nice blouses. Inside I am just like them.” She insisted I wasn’t. And no, I may not be rocking in some corner drooling all over myself, but inside I was dying just like they were. The person in the corner may be better off than where I stood: I was smart enough to carry out a task that a person ‘not in their right mind’ may not even think of.

But I digress. Why is it so hard to realize that even celebrities, like Lindsay Lohan need help? YES she has more money than most of her doctors and YES she probably has a lot more going for her than most people do, but she is dying inside. Why can’t someone just take the reigns and say, “Let me help you.” She can’t do it alone. With all of her emotional pain, and then on top of that, the drugs and alcohol to self-medicate ---why can’t one of her loved ones take her seriously? I’m afraid that the next time they see Lindsay in shattered pieces all over the floor, by that time, her pieces will be far too shattered to put back together again. And next time someone wants to make fun of her, mock her drug addiction and beat her with the emotional stick, just remember, she’s not too far off from most people reading this right now. It makes me wonder just how many psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers have gotten their degrees through a candy vending machine.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cat Fight: Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart & Paula Deen, Y'all!

There’s no doubt about it --women are very competitive creatures, especially among themselves, however when it comes to show business, or perhaps just cooking in general, we seem to get thee ol’ bitter bug inside us saying things such as: “We’re the best cooks", “Oh she doesn’t know how to make that right", or “Mediocre cooks don’t know how to bake.” While most comments are based on mere opinions, sadly some of these statements are factual, (of course in my very own opinion). It's been reported that Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart and Paula Deen are in a bitter battle to see who can dominate the ratings for their cooking shows. Although I admire each one of these marvelous cooks, I honestly have to ask one question to myself: whose dinner invite would I accept?

Let’s take Rachael Ray for one. Not only is she in a rush to prepare a 30 minute cook off with herself, but her meals are simple, easy, quick and most of the time, loaded with sodium due to her “quick ingredients”. The type of audience who probably enjoy watching Rachael Ray are either lesbians or straight men. She’s cute and sexy --let’s give her props, but her type of meals are meant for college students and a bunch of working women who have no time to prepare a decent meal. I think she's talented for her quickness, but her style is more, Tex-Mex, toddler daycare fun type of food. I'll even say her cooking is awesome if you're holding a Super Bowl party. Other than that, and perhaps gawking at her while she cooks, in my opinion with all honesty --I’d need a few shots of Pepto and call it a night. I’ll pass.

Let’s take Martha Stewart. Oh how I. just. love. her. For one, she’s just brilliant. She can do everything from making her own Halloween decorations and cooking to knitting quilts with the big dawgs up in the slammer. This woman has it all. You rarely get to see a woman of her caliber. And while she may be commercialized to be the ultimate "housewife" and a bit more “mommy-like”----she is quite attractive, both in looks and intelligence. It’s great fun watching at what she does best: cooking. Hey, if she was willing to have Rosie Perez shake up some mean mojitos in her cucina, she has already won my heart. I’ll accept the invite, thank you very much.

Let’s take Paula Deen. Granted the woman needs to wean off the good ol’ “hey y’all”, but for some reason, it works for her. Okay, let's not 'sugarcoat' it --her cooking is the most fattening stuff on earth, but it’s that good ol’ southern comfort food that most people from the south grew up on. These days, people are more health conscious, but they're also not dead to the taste of food. We all want good tasting food. In moderation, these foods are just fine. Martha Stewart commented, “It’s just fat-laden comfort food with no aspiration toward art in the kitchen.” No aspiration or art? Are you kidding? The entire process of everything she makes is a masterpiece in itself. Her baking alone are the works of a chemist. This lady has mastered the art of keeping her family together by means of food. This is the ultimate “soul food”. I’ll gladly accept her dinner invite, with stretch pants in hand.

Why are these women are in competition with one another? They are all so different in their cooking styles and personas, that you really can’t choose one from another ---unless you have a certain taste for a certain kind of food. Most people like that “good food”---the soul food, which is why Paula Deen has higher ratings. We all want to be healthy and feel good about ourselves, but we all look forward to those fun cheat days; those rare Sundays where we claim all food to be fat-free. I remember while growing up when my grandmother from Brooklyn would come over and take over the kitchen. She would use fatback as her cooking base for all sauces and the start of a sauté. It was the base of all foods. In fact, she would hand us fried manteca (rendered pork skin fat). Talk about clogging your arteries. Most of my family lived into their 90’s with no serious health problems. My uncle passed away at the age of 30 years old. He was a runner and never ate meat or anything that was fattening. I found it ironic, because he was supposed to outlive all of us due to his excellent dietary habits.

But if you really take a look at what people are eating today as opposed to the natural ingredients that were used for cooking back then, there is more heart disease than ever before due to fast food joints and “quick meal plans”. In European countries, especially France, they all eat in moderation. Everyone wants to believe that the French paradox (drinking red wine with your food) is the big secret of skinning the fat off your meals and clearing your arteries from any of the 'bad stuff'. It’s not true. If you observe them eating, all of their portions are less than half of what we put on our plates. In Weight Watchers, they tell you to eat 3 oz of chicken or any meat for that matter. This is exactly why people lose weight with them, same holds true for the great French paradox. Less food, less cholesterol. I'll still grab that glass of wine regardless.

So when Martha busts Paula’s ‘chops’ so to speak, she should also note that anything in huge quantities will also make a person “fat-laden” in the hip area. In my opinion? All three of these women should get into the kitchen together and work as a team. Just have Rachael throw the ingredients to Martha & Paula ---I want a meal that's been cooked for more than 30 minutes y'all.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Offensive, Katy Perry!

Seems as though Katy Perry’s performance wasn’t appreciated by parents who took a peek at the “revealing” dress she had on while dancing with the handsome red-headed Elmo. The production company pulled it off after receiving numerous complaints by outraged parents. Are you kidding? Her dress wasn’t anymore revealing than what children are wearing today. In fact, if you head over to the public pools or the beaches, you’ll find worst case scenarios. Will these parents hide their children’s eyes forever? Will they place two eye patches on them in public, in fear of what’s to be seen out there in this big scary world? Get over it.



In fact, earlier cartoons and kids’ shows displayed even more revealing outfits by some of their characters, yet no complaints have been reported. Characters such as, Belle from Beauty & the Beast, Snow White, Smurfette and oh, the ever so sexy Jessica Rabbit. If we’re going to get super conservative, then stop bringing your children to beaches and have them wear full wet suits while swimming. These parents seem to want to flip back time and live like the Amish. In fact, if you’re that concerned, let your kids play with the children that live in the Hasidic communities. I have seen their children and women dress even more revealing at times. It just never ends. When will we stop being so offended and outraged by showing a little skin? It's a huge honor to even have Katy Perry even think about hopping onboard Sesame Street in the first place.

Here's the highly offensive video. Please send your kids out of the room while viewing this.


Click here if you cannot see the video on other websites other than my blog.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steven Slater's Distaste For My Article Written About Him

There are times when I absolutely lose it and go off the wall due to whatever and say things I don’t necessarily mean. I’ve had my 17th nervous breakdown about 100 times and understand those who are at their wits' end. Even in my book I published back in 2005 explains that I am a work in progress; that I’m not perfect and that I’m still trying to grasp life’s lessons as much as I can. With that being said, I am also very opinionated and hold strong to my beliefs on certain issues or topics. There are things I highly disagree with, but it certainly does not mean I am not forgiving nor “mean-spirited” due to the way I express myself. I say it like it is without any apologies, and at times, maybe a few apologies pop out if the person is hurt over my jagged edged words. My sisters sometimes describe it as "Deb's poison pen". I do sometimes go overboard, but never leaning back thinking otherwise. I will lessen the blow, but hold on to what I believe in, unless of course, there’s a different side to the story or perhaps, a change of heart for whatever reason.

This morning Steven Slater had written me a lengthy comment on my post entitled, “What a Drama Queen!” His comment was very to the point and also made me wonder if his story is dramatically different from what the media had posed it to be. See, we never did get to hear Steven Slater’s “voice” - we never got to see what Steven Slater actually said, other than what the media fed us. My biggest problem about this story is that Steven ‘let loose’ on a plane filled with people who were scared to death to begin with. To me, he terrorized people by “having a moment”, as we all do from time to time. Location location location! Going nuts in public takes on a new set of responsibilities. Going nuts on a plane or “having a moment”, I should say, is absolutely terrorizing. As a reputable part of JetBlue’s employee, he should have known better. And sometimes, in life, we all should have known better.

Steven Slater commented:

"This book is for you. It deals with forgiveness, relationships, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues and how to love others unconditionally. It shows that even though we will never be perfect, God's love for us will always be. It focuses on not judging others--to let God be the only judge." -Deb

Hmmmmm.....

------------------------

My what a fascinating read this blog was! I do find it intriguing that so many people, who were not aboard the aircraft, and have only second hand, hearsay information from the infallible New York Post et al, have become so well- informed and intuitive about my situation! Debra, must say I found your blog to be quite incongruous with the values you claim to represent. i,e. healing, compassion, etc. In fact I do recall reading the words "unconditional love" in your author's bio. Having never met, nor even having spoken with you, I would believe it safe to say that neither of us are in a position to speak of one another's motives or nature. Perhaps we will one day be afforded the opportunity to sit down and get to know each other and perhaps humanize this whole story. Who knows, we may find we have things in common and may even empathize with one another. As of now, you have seen only a two dimensional character as created by the media. I can assure you, I am indeed, three dimensional, and there are many facets to this story that you and other bloggers are yet to be privy to. I do hope you might take a moment to reflect upon the fact that the words you write do reach far, and do have effect on those who read them. Such unnecessary reproach is nothing I can't handle, but does have an troubling effect on my loved ones who are wounded by the meanspirited and often erroneous things they read about me. While it is so easy to play Monday morning Quarterback from behind a computer screen, supposition is no replacement for responsible journalism, which includes fact based reporting and sufficient investigation to warrant credibilty. I would greatly appreciate the courtesy of your reserving comment (only in your public forum, of course) until such time as all sides of this have been heard.



Respectfully,


Steven Slater


Belle Harbor, NY"

In response:

"Steven,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I think it’s great you wrote back and maybe we can get a chance to hear your side of the story. I agree, that the media feeds us a lot of what we ‘want to hear’ and less about the actual story at hand. My only problem is that your outburst was on a plane filled with scared people. Everyone that boards a plane is scared to some degree. Was it true that you had an outburst on the pane? If so, then my opinions and disagreement about your actions still hold strong. Do I understand it? Of course I do. You did the one thing most people would love to do, but usually, we think about the consequences. Most of us have outbursts on a lesser scale, affecting only a few people at a time.

I can’t imagine what you must go through within a day’s work. I can’t imagine people complaining over the smallest things, from peanuts to a martini made the wrong way. Tons of people fly with you, and those very people are filled up to the brim with anxiety in most cases. Your job is one of the hardest jobs: the training that went along with it, dealing with the public and of course, perhaps conflicts with your co-workers as well. I don’t know. I’m not in your shoes, however, I can say that if anyone knows what it’s like to have an outburst, it’s me. I’ve felt it, dealt it, and sometimes would shut down for days at a time. I have anxiety that leads into depression. When I get my anxiety attacks, I’m high strung and at times, offensive. My outbursts are uncalled for and many times, my apologies are well received, thank God. I’m not perfect. Neither are you. With that being said, I have had many backlashes to those outbursts as well. I have had people write about me, slander me and also even went as far to humiliate me through other medias because of my actions.

I think we have a lot in common. We’re both articulate and opinionated, and of course, we both can only handle so much in life. I get it, I really do. I know that you weren’t the one to call yourself a “hero” - your fans did. I disagree with them: nobody is a hero for having a breakdown in a public place. A hero is someone who saves people’s lives or helps those in need. I’m certainly no hero for having my own little breakdowns. I totally agree that I only see a two dimensional character. I’d like to see the three dimensional character of Steven Slater, which is why I’m sincerely asking you to tell your side of the story on my blog. I want the media to see the truth. I want people to see the “real” person behind the “nutcase” or in your fans’ view, the “hero”. With that being said, you had stated, ‘...supposition is no replacement for responsible journalism which includes fact based reporting and sufficient investigation to warrant credibility.’ This is a blog, Steven, and if anyone uses blog articles as “credible news sources”, then that’s their fault. I’ve obtained my information from the New York Times as well as other “credible” sources. The stories were all the same. Just because I have an open opinion on what was ‘supposedly’ done, proves to be my right to freedom of speech. Blogs are opinionated and sometimes offensive. I encourage everyone to get their news sources from credible networks and newspapers, not blogs.

Maybe some light needs to be shed on your story. Most people haven’t even heard your voice or your side of the story. Would you be willing to take some time and tell us what really happened on a broader & much more personal scale? You seem to be an intelligent and fascinating guy who I’d definitely befriend on a personal basis. With that being said, I also disagree with many of which my own friends do, and vise/versa. We’re only human. And, like the last line of my article about you says: 'I guess it’s safe to say we can all be "heros" from time to time.' I hope you do consider writing a post for me on my website. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Warmest regards, 

Debra"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where Ya Going?

In the late 70’s, I remember my family gathering around inside the den to watch their favorite TV programs. From Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days to Carol Burnett and All In the Family. I’d get up to use the bathroom and my mother would instinctively ask, “Where ya going?” I couldn’t have been more than four years old back then, but somehow, I never understood why she had to know my whereabouts. I could have told her the bathroom, but yet for various reasons, I could have made a right hand turn into the kitchen and started twirling all the pretty little knobs that were connected to the gas stove. The possibilities were endless. I’d respond to her with a resentful tone, “To the bathroom mom!” To me, she was invading my privacy, but realistically, a four year old does not get the privilege of privacy. I would head back into the den and my mom would tuck me under a blanket, more snug than before so I wouldn’t leave again.

Dad reluctantly bought me a three wheeler motorcycle when I was eight years old. Our house was set back on top of a mountain with tons of Appalachian trails spiraling back as far as Alabama if you had enough gas, food, water and guts. I was always told to stay on the main dirt road and not to go “sight seeing” on paths that weren’t marked. I never listened, but I did make sure I had enough gas in my tank. As soon as my motor started revving, mom would peek her head outside and yell out, “Where ya going?” I had no clue. “Umm, dunno?” She didn’t like that response, so she came outside and gave me the rules of riding my ATV around the same circular path. She even went as far as to install a governor on my gas throttle so I wouldn’t go more than 20 mph. Lame. Oddly enough, on that very day I drove my trike off a five foot tall hill that made me roll over about ten times, to which it finally landed me in the mud face down with the ATV on top of me, crushing my head further into the swampy mess. Thank God for the helmet or I would have suffocated. My mom came running down the path, as if some angel whispered in her ear about my accident. I could feel the exhaust starting to burn my leg at this point, but I was pinned down and could not do anything to get out of it. Within minutes, I felt the huge ATV lift up and I was now able to breathe. “If you woulda’ listened to me and stayed on the path I told you, this woulda’ never have happened”, my mom said as her “mommy strength” kicked in and lifted this 200 lb + ATV off of me.

“Where ya going,” my mom asked as the taxi beeped outside. “Ma, we’re just gonna go to the bowling alley, can I borrow $20 bucks?” My dad would grab a huge wad from his money clip and throw a 20 at me, then proceeded to say, “Be careful and call me once you get there.” I’d always call when I got to the bowling alley, but it certainly wasn’t my destination. At the age of fifteen, we found ourselves partying down these deep hidden unknown paths with huge bonfires. Back then, nobody had cell phones or could get in touch with anyone while being in the backwoods partying, however for some reason, the police and firemen knew we were there. We started to see a few fire trucks and a couple of patrols speeding down this narrow path to get to us. They immediately put out our magnificent bonfire, and then also started to tell us that we made a fire on top of a glass line. No wonder there was a pipe with a nozzle over on the side. We never knew what it was. Then again, I was supposed to be at the bowling alley anyway. We all could have been killed instantly.

At the age of sixteen, I asked my mom, “Where ya going”, as the FBI agents dragged off both my parents in handcuffs for reasons I never knew about. “It’ll be okay, drive yourself to school and we’ll be home shortly.” Mom seemed to have it all together. She knew the drill, more so, expected it. As I watched the agents raid my home while the little white cars with orange sirens were taking my parents away, I drove off to school in shock, slowly, hoping to recall a time my parents were doing something wrong. I thought I was the only one doing something wrong. I never knew where they were going or when they would come back. It wasn’t fair. Did the FBI mess up and grab the wrong people? A million questions posed in my mind and only one thought: I’ve lost my parents. Once finding out that they had broken the law, I realized that nobody was perfect - not even my very own parents who taught me how to be a “good person”. Regardless of what mess they had ended up in, they were human. To me, it was insignificant because these people who brought me up treated me like gold, always watching out for me, yet selflessly not watching out for themselves. This is how I looked at it. Some people held different opinions about this and would ask why, but my answer to that would be: unconditional love. And unconditional love never goes anywhere; it’s a permanent whereabout.

Click here for more about my parents' story.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can Money Buy Happiness?

A close friend of mine had written a status message on her facebook account. Whether it was one of those ‘encrypted’ type of messages directed at a particular person, or just frustration in general, it got me thinking a lot about life. She wrote, “Apparently, an income of $75,000 a year can buy you happiness.” Oddly enough, her status message came at the right time, as I’m sitting at my counter in the kitchen sipping coffee, getting ready for the day and sifting through what other people are up to over on facebook. I left a comment. “I know a few people who exceed that & some of them are miserable souls. There’s a quote, ‘Happiness is not having what you want; it’s wanting what you have...’ author unknown.” As I’m typing away, I said to myself, “What a hypocrite I am. How can I ever give advice about this when I need it myself?” It’s good advice, but nonetheless, a hypocritical one as I thought about the previous day.

Madelene and I occasionally drive around aimlessly hunting for open houses on Sunday afternoons. Our plans fell through on a previous intention on another location due to construction problems and beyond, so we were out on the prowl for a new nest. Our condo is great for the two of us, however we want more property, more bedrooms, more family coming over and possibly starting our own one day. Let's face it, my uterus isn’t getting any younger. My mind was set: I refuse to bring up a child in an apartment. As we pulled up to this smaller sized colonial house, tucked back from the road for enough privacy, I had a feeling of “home”. With the market being the way it is, this house couldn’t have been worth more than $300k. I started thinking differently, as I opened the door and saw the inside. My heart sank. The realtor greeted us inside, staring back at my new BMW with dollar signs in her eyes. I insisted that my wife keep quiet about her employment with BMW, just so realtors would take us seriously.

She walked me down this adorable corridor, bypassing two living rooms on each side to show me the focal point: the kitchen. This wasn’t any typical kitchen to cook your TV dinners in----this was the ultimate ‘cooking show’ kitchen: granite countertops with a huge island in the middle along with four beautifully handcrafted cherrywood stools. There was a six burner stove, three large ovens and a refrigerator that could hold enough food for an army. Adjacent to the stove was a door leading out to its gorgeous deck that could hold up to fifty people if need be onto a landscaped backyard that was the size of a football field. Total privacy. This “small” house had five bedrooms, cathedral ceilings, skylights in every bathroom, an elaborate stone fireplace and a beautiful finished basement that was more of a rec room. The details of every single inch of this house was just amazing. Someone loved this home. I took the tour twice, as she handed me a paper with the list price of $500,000 dollars. A half a million dollars for this “cute” home. And that’s just what it was---cute, nonetheless, "home".

After reading the listed price about 3,985.729,598 times to see if my eyes weren’t playing games on me, the realtor asked, “Are you working with another realtor?” For some reason, I didn’t hear anything. I just stared at her. Again she asked, “So, are you working with someone?” For some reason, I wanted to cry. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that if I were to buy something, it would be through my sister who’s a real estate broker, but even so, if I were to buy something close to this, I’d need a helluva lot more money to come up with anyway. I just told her we were looking around for now, and thanked her for her time. As I walked outside, I felt empty. I kept remembering times when I was growing up at home on a large property with family and friends always coming over. Most of the events were held at my parents’ house because they had everything: a huge yard, a pool, two huge living rooms and five bedrooms. It was a house meant for a family. It was a house meant to “live in” - not to just to hang your hat for the night. It kept me awake for hours, until 6am rolled through like a bastard, slapping me with a dose of reality.

I must have slept for one hour, finding Madelene curled up next to me waiting for the alarm clock to go off. She woke up and said, “It’s gonna be a beautiful day!” As tired as I was, I got up, showered, finished work and got a surprise visit from an old friend. We went driving around, enjoying the beautiful weather and even visited with my parents who she hadn’t seen in years. It was then I realized that no amount of money could buy me the happiness of waking up next to Madelene, spending time with my old friend and visiting my parents on a Monday in the late afternoon hours. Not many people have that opportunity. There was no amount of money spent, no thought of financial worries --just pure happiness. Little things in life like that are the ones that make life worth living for. Imagine having all the money you wanted, not being able to wake up to someone you love, or having an old friend visit you on a beautiful afternoon. Life would be pretty dreadful if money was the only motivating factor.

It’s not about the big house you live in, but who you come home to. Or, it could be the passion you have for your career, while most people hate their line of work. I do believe that happiness begins inside the mind. Sometimes it’s genetics, and other times it’s circumstances. I came across a few inspiring quotes that helped me a lot.

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.” - Benjamin Franklin

“Happiness is not a matter of events, it depends upon the tides of the mind.” - Alice Meynell

“Attaining Happiness is an ‘inside-job’.” - Author Unknown

“You can begin to shape your own destiny by the attitude that you keep.” -Michael Beckwith

And remember, your self-worth isn’t about what other people think of you, it’s about how you enjoy your life and what makes you happy. “Success” means many things to many people. For those who think success means only money, then they really haven’t succeeded in gaining that sense of enjoying the little things in life. Everything has to be bigger and better, and most of the time, they’re usually never satisfied with anything. Through experience I have learned that having too high of an expectation can lead into depression. It took a while to learn it, but I did. At times, I get that “I want I want I want” pangs, but it’s definitely getting better. I just have to refocus and notice the things that are priceless; the things that money can never buy: faith, love, family, friends and a passion for life. This apartment isn’t looking so shabby after all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All Fired Up!

Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban smoking in city parks, beaches and even Times Square. Are you kidding? As a nonsmoker, I have to say this is absolutely ridiculous. If you’re going to ban smoking on NYC streets, please ban all the diesel fueled busses, as well as Hummers and every single oversized SUV out there. That’s worse for your health than a slight breeze of someone’s secondhand smoke. Try putting your mouth around a transit bus exhaust pipe and then take a puff of a cigarette. Which affected you more? Case closed. We’ve eliminated smoking in enclosed spaces like restaurants and bars, etc. That I can understand. I even want to venture to say that people who sit at the bar should be able to smoke if it’s sectioned off and of course, long after dining hours. Come on, smoking goes hand-in-hand with cocktails. There is a few ‘local’ bars that I will not name that bring out the ashtrays after 1am. I think it's great. The smokers don’t have to schlep outside like unwanted patrons just to enjoy a stogie. After dinner, anything “should” go. This is just my personal opinion on this, and I absolutely hate the smell of smoke myself. Fire it up I say...

Whatever happened to the first amendment? Did someone delete it? As much as I am against burning any holy book, you have to wonder why our government seems to favor Islam-based countries over their own. Think about it: people of Islam have been burning our flag, our bibles and basically they’d burn us if given the chance. Yes, of course, “extremist types”, but here in the U.S., it seems that our first amendment rights and freedom of speech went down the drain. We all want peace, that’s a given, but when does it come to the point of pulling our pants down just to appease the people of Islam? Many people of different faiths in this country respect Muslims, but the people who are extremists, and of course those who are still very sore about 9/11 should be given a little slack for their emotions. Get this--- in East Lansing, they’re offering a 10K reward for information leading up to the burning of a Quran outside of a city mosque. Really? Seriously? You’re going to waste 10K on information leading up to, umm, the rights of the first amendment? They said no suspect has been identified or "arrested" in this case. Umm, for what---littering? That’s what he did. He littered. He fired up a few pages and left the remains.

This next story really lights the fire under my ass. A New Jersey train conductor, Derek Fenton was fired from his job because he decided to burn the Quran outside the planned mosque near ground zero on September 11th. He was with his company for 11 years with a very good reputation. Again, although I disagree with the burning of any holy bible, this is not. against. the. law. His first amendment rights have been violated. The company has no right firing him because he didn’t do anything that would be detrimental to his job. Maybe he would have gotten flak when he got back to work, but I think it’s awful that someone would fire him just because of difference of opinions, especially with the high emotions set on September 11th. And let me add another thing to my rage against people ‘outraged’ over U.S. citizens acting out like this: the planned mosque near ground zero is set to open their doors on September 11th of 2011. Coincidence? I think not. After I heard this, I began to think a little differently about everything. Everyone else in other countries are burning our flags, bibles and whatnot, and yet we get fired, arrested and get a 10K reward over our heads if we do something we’re allowed to? That doesn’t make sense at all and frankly, I feel that the United States is a little scared of the people of Islam. Fear instills many emotions and irrational decisions.

Maybe I’ll get arrested for writing this blog post, but then again don’t I have “freedom of speech”? I don’t think it exists anymore. I beg you to watch this video by Pat Condell, who articulates everything that's wrong about the mosque near ground zero. If this post didn't set some red flags for you, watch this video. Even a Brit knows better. Click here to view this video.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Real Hero: Donald Trump

Let’s face it, people love drama. They love the thrill of pointing fingers and coming to outrageous conclusions about whatever. Lately, with all the media chatter about Rev. Terry Jones who had planned to burn the Qurans this September 11th, the mosque being built near ground zero and most of all, calling someone a "hero" for jumping out of a chute of an airplane just because he had a hissy fit for whatever reason, is just insane. A real hero, as Ian Lidster stated on my previous post, is the guy who set the plane down in the river and everybody got off alive. That’s a true and genuine hero --not this nutcase Steven Slater. Let that story RIP please.

My real issue today is the media though. For now, the burning of the Quran has been canceled. This pastor who had no more than 50 people in his congregation stirred up nationwide chaos. Who’s to blame? The media. They gave him the publicity to make his voice heard - to make the world outraged on either sides of the argument. There are no positive resolutions in burning Qurans. It just creates hatred and anger among people. It’s not just about his thoughts, beliefs and “freedom of speech” ---he’s endangering lives of our own troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rev. Terry Jones will stop the burning of the Qurans if Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the owner of Park 51 Mosque moves the mosque to a further location. What clout does this unknown pastor have? I don’t get it? I agree that burning the Qurans is an awful idea, but if nobody knows about it, why smear him all over the media? The media is making this world a messy place to live in and giving attention to idiots who don’t deserve it.

Then, we have a peaceful resolution to it all, yet the media says it’s all for a publicity stunt. Why? Because the media wants to see the burning of the Qurans and see the mosque go up. Why? Because the media makes money off controversial topics. They're definitely not peacemakers. They are troublemakers if anything at all. We’re sucked into it, just as they feed it to us day after day. Donald Trump says he will buy out the mosque that is going for 4.5 million dollars. In fact, Trump says he will give them a 25% profit on top of it, so that they can build their mosque a little further down, but not too far if they like. Trump says it’s not for his benefit, in fact, it’s bad real estate if he does invest in this property. The location is horrible and the only reason why he’s doing this is to make a peaceful resolution for everybody. What’s so wrong about that? And even if it’s for a publicity stunt----who gives a rat’s ass? He solved a major problem. People around the world are up in arms because of this mosque being built or not. Now, a wonderful and peaceful offer comes, and Donald Trump’s the bad guy? Gotta love the media. Does anyone else have a better solution? Hats off to you Donald Trump! If anything, I vote Trump for mayor of New York. In my opinion, Trump’s the real hero in all of this.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

What a Drama Queen!

It took this long to figure out that there was no passenger who supposedly assaulted JetBlue’s crybaby, I mean, umm, “hero”, Steven Slater? Other passengers who had witnessed his insanity said the gash on his head was there the entire time even before he boarded the plane. What gets me the most are the people who thought this guy was a hero. I mean...really? A “hero”? For what? Going insane on a plane, screaming on the loud speaker and then grabbing a few brewskies to then hop out of an emergency chute? He acted more like a mentally unstable frat boy than he did a hero. I’m sorry, but from the get go, I thought this story was a bit ‘off’ than what most people had initially thought. “Oh he finally did what we all thought about doing! He’s such a hero!” ...Really? You wanted to go insane too, scream out over the loud speaker in your office and then jump out of an emergency window near your boss’s desk? Hopefully you’ll have some beer on hand. By the time you get down to the first floor, I’m sure they’ll have the mental health team waiting for your arrival.

But, I digress. I get it. I do. I know that we all can feel overwhelmed at times, and yes, it would be so nice of an outlet to say “eff you” to everyone who has ever pissed you off, but in reality, it’s just not realistic if you want to keep your job, your friends & not have your family call the men in white coats on you. Some of us go through nervous breakdowns. “What’s a nervous breakdown?” It can be anything from stressing out so dramatically that you can no longer function in life, to lashing out just like Steven Slater did, even if he still does function in life. Any outrageous behavior like that needs some type of counseling. Was he even offered any professional help? Did he go on medication for this ridiculous scene? They never tell you the ‘mental’ breakdown of what really happened --they only say “he was fed up”. Well, so are most of us----come on! Somehow, he got away with the biggest ‘terror’ scare ever. Think about it: you’re sitting on a plane with all sorts of thoughts in your head. “Will a terrorist hijack the plane? Will the plane go down in the water somewhere? Will I survive this trip? Will someone have a bomb onboard?” Then this dipshit goes insane, instilling more fear than what was initially there from the beginning, and he’s called a hero? A hero???

I've always said that people’s true colors come shining through once the real story is finally revealed. And what I mean by that is, people can come across “normal” and calm, when yet there’s so much brewing inside of them. You’ll never know how crazy they are until that one incident that enables them to show their true selves. If a person has that type of instability inside of them, rest assured you will see it if you stick around long enough. These types of people can convince the world that they’re completely sane - ‘they got it together’. They can even go as far as being called intelligent and oh, perhaps even a “hero”. So, now that we know that there was absolutely no passenger to piss Steven Slater off and it was just a matter of a time bomb waiting to go off, is he still considered a hero, or can we now say he went a little nuts that day? I guess it’s safe to say we can all be “heros” from time to time.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Infecting Others by Burning the Quran

Sometimes I wonder if being a Christian is the right choice for me. More often than not, most Christian people rub me the wrong way, in means of either pushing my buttons or judging everyone about what they ‘should do’, or more so, what they shouldn’t be doing. They’re more focused on the sins of other people, I guess perhaps to save their souls, however I do believe it’s a self-serving agenda that makes these “Christians” so high and mighty, leaving them to believe that they are simply playing the role of God. If someone of the Christian or Trinity based religion had so much faith, then why don’t they believe that all Christians alike will be saved, and have been saved through Christ Himself? Think about other religions, such as Islam. Most Americans seem to compare the “terrorizing demonic” types of Muslims (extremists) -- but there are Christian Fundamentalists who are terrorizing fear mongers themselves. It goes both ways. In the Bible, Matthew 22:36-40, it tells Christians that the greatest commandment of the law is to love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. That is the first and greatest commandment. The second is, love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor may be a Muslm.

Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, plans on burning the Quran this Sept. 11th. This doesn't display what Jesus would have done. He is demonstrating hatred, intolerance and most of all, revenge for what Muslim extremists have done. He’s not only demonstrating revenge, but he’s deeply hurting people around the world by disrespecting their God -- their “free will” as Jesus put it, to believe in another higher power. What right does Rev. Terry Jones have by burning the Quran? Ah, well freedom of speech saves him, but will the rest of the world save him? He’s not only endangering himself, but he’s doing the very thing that all terrorists do: he’s giving ordinary, innocent Christian believers a bad name.

May I remind Rev. Terry Jones of this scripture in “his” Bible?

"You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been trouble and confusing you." ~Galatians 5:7-10

I am sure that by Rev. Terry’s actions, it will soon trickle into other people’s actions, leaving us in a deep, destructive and more of a chaotic world by burning the Quran.

Another message for Rev. Terry Jones, perhaps one more scripture from “his” Bible, may I remind him of this:

“Accept Christians (or people of other religions) who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.” ~Romans 14:1-5

Or better yet, What Would Jesus Do? He probably has a bumper sticker with the “WWJD” plastered on it. It’s amazing what religious people will do in order to get their message across. As I’ve said before, I am against the mosque being built near ground zero, out of the respect and avoidance of conflict, so that people can pray in peace to whatever god they worship, not because they’re of a different religion or what other extremists have done to us. If Rev. Terry Jones is so strong in his faith, then he should turn the other cheek when other people around the globe step on his flag, burns his bible or disrespects his religion. He should not seek revenge for what other terrorists have done. There are innocent people at stake and I truly believe he is going upon pure impulse due to his anger.

Sometimes I think Christianity isn’t such a peaceful religion after all. “... it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others.”