About Me

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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

12 April, 2014

The Joys and Not So Joyful Things About Spring

After the winter we had in New Jersey, with record snowfall and record low temperatures, it's without surprise that spring is welcomed with open arms. Longer days, chirping birds, brighter and colourful surroundings all have a natural way of making people happier, walk lighter on their feet and seemingly more positive in their outlooks towards life.

As a teacher, it means a step closer to the summer when teachers are off and get to have time for themselves. As a writer, it means Book Expo America and the Writer's Digest Conference and, generally, more time to write and edit. As a husband and father, it means more time with my family, playing soccer outdoors with my son and splashing around in the pool.

But, as winter ends and spring begins, it's a reminder that another year is passing and we're all one more year older. With that, a new (or renewed) list of achievements and failings can accompany the changing of the season. As humans beings are wont to find flaws and as much as we like certain things, like the warmer weather and brigher days, we still find things about which to complain about those things we enjoy.  So, with that said, here are my current (things could change next year or tomorrow) top ten positives and negatives about spring. 

10 Negatives About Spring (not in any particular order)

1. Allergies
2. Bugs. I'm not scared of them. I just find them annoying, buzzing around your ears and such.
3. Bug bites 
4. Severe fluctuation in weather (day-to-day and within each day)
5. Yard work. I really hate having to do it but I like the results after it's finished. 
6. The season in which taxes are due. However, this is due to no fault of the season. If taxes were due in the winter, then I'd feel the same way about winter in this regard.
7. The looming end to the English football (soccer) season
8. Spring cleaning. This is very much like indoor yard work. 
9. Spring colds. Cold and flu should be things of winter only. Spring and summer colds, intuitively, just seem contradictory. Just say it. Spring cold. Summer cold. Worse still, they're harded to deal with because, if you're like me, you've got allergies on top of the flu.
10. Noisy and, sometimes, rowdy latenighters. Usually, those guilty of this are returning college students and high school seniors. I don't begrduge them their fun. They're entitled to it. I just wish they were a tad more considerate to those of us who have, perhaps, passed their prime and don't hangout like they used and/or have kids who they're trying to keep asleep through the night. 

10 Positives About Spring (again, not in any particular order) 

1. Warmer temperatures
2. Longer days. Goodbye standard time, hello Daylight Savings!
3. Spring Break
4. Outdoor tennis
5. Running outside
6. Nature's colours
7. Driving with the windows and moonroof open
8. It's the writer's season. Spring and summer appear to be when most of the conferences and workshops happen. Although writers write and share 24-7-365, in an odd way it feels like late fall and winter is when we cram inside and bang out on the keys to our laptops and spring is when we start to reconnect and share what we've written. 
9. Street fairs and farmers' markets.
10. Baseball. Although I'm not a baseball fan, the way I am a football (soccer) fan with a team I support and follow, there is something very special and truly American about ball parks filled with kids in helmets and carrying bats, wearing mitts and the smell of hot dogs and burgers wafting through the air. There's a tradition aboury. it and something pure, too. The unique sounds of a ball landing in a glove or coming off the bat - the ding of an aluminium one or the crack of a Louisville Slugger - is pure Americana. It's innocent and hopeful, the way spring itself is. 

06 April, 2014

"Judge not, that ye be not judged"

Here's one for inclusion in the annals of 'mind your fucking business.'

I've waited for this to happen and it's a good thing for the person's sake she didn't confront me directly. Just short of witnessing someone actually hitting or molesting his or her own child, I'm very much an advocate of letting parents parent in their own way. Abuse and neglect are very real concerns and, as a parent and a teacher, I'm hyper-sensitive to them. But in today's world on ongoing psychobabble and knee jerk responses to everything, thanks to our undereducated readings of reports and articles on parenting in publications like The New York Times and its weekly magazine, TIME, Psychology Today, Parents, Parenting and the like, we need to stop putting the cart before the horse and ask before shooting.

I play squash every week on Sunday at 7 am. My son has swim lessons Sundays at 9:55 am at the same location - Lifetime Athletic in  Florham Park. Instead of driving to the gym for squash, back home or to my wife's work to get my son, then back to Lifetime, my son and I make a father-son morning of it. We go to bed the night before earlier than usual, get up early on Sunday and get to the gym for my squash hour. After playing, I give my son a brief squash lesson before the next players who booked the same court arrive. Then we take a short trip for hot cakes after which we return to the gym and chill before swi.

Today, as usual, we arrived and were greeted by the same employee who works the desk every Sunday. We were met with her usual smile and offerings of a good day. It was about 6:15am. After hot cakes, the same employee was at the desk and she told me of the woman who came in just after us. I wasn't even aware there was someone behind me, to be honest. I wasn't even aware there was someone behind me. From the way it was told to me, the impression I have is that the other gym member was, at best, surprised but really, I think, shocked that a six year old would be at the gym that early. There is a day care at the gym but it doesn't open until  8 am. The employee at the desk appeared to have my back. The woman apparently inquired if there were programs for kids that early. The employee did mention that the gyms (there are two basketball courts) aren't used and children could play there, if there aren't any pick-up basketball games going on. And I've seen other kids at around 7 am shooting hoops or kicking a soccer ball.

I'll give the other member the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she was just surprised and curious but, in my experience, when people can't mind their own business it's usually to tell someone else that he or she is in the wrong. And, with my stance on parenting - let the child's parents parent the child - it's best that the woman hadn't confronted me directly. If she had, I would likely have just shaken my head and walked away. If she'd persisted, however, I would've reminded her that she knows nothing about me or my son and how he's raised and, basically, for her to mind her own fucking business. 

Perhaps this entire post is me judging those who judge but I believe people really do need to remember to clean up their own backyards, not throw stones in glass houses, and be aware that if you spit in the wind it's only going to come back at them. Ironically, I turn to The Bible to help illustrate this point. I say ironically because, while religion can be good in a general sense, I think it is one of the greatest proponents of 'judgmentalism.' That notwithstanding, in Matthew 7:1-3 it says "Judge not, that ye not be judge." Hypocrisy, self-righteousness, holier than thou attitudes, closed-mindedness are, in my opinion, things that cause more problems than good. There is more than one way to do any one thing - parenting, spirituality, exercising, generosity, what have you - and I think it is worth reminding everyone to see things from other people's eyes, to walk in their shoes, practice tolerance and acceptance and to remember that no matter how wise you are, and how much of an expert you are at whatever it is you are an expert in, no one of us is wise enough or expert enough to be able to judge the heart of a fellow human being. More importantly, none of us are perfect.

So, when asked for your input, remember to give it respectfully and humbly. And, if you're not asked for it and no one's lives or limbs are in danger, mind your own fucking business.