Family Reunion

Last weekend I went to a family reunion. And when I say family reunion, I mean FAMILY reunion. I’ll explain.

About 10 years ago I was walking through Chinatown for reasons I can’t remember, and wound up passing by a temple–quite randomly, I thought at the time–that was founded by the Colchamiro family.

Another strange thing happened to me a few years back. I was in a local pharmacy picking up my prescription, and when the pharmacist asked for my name, I said "Colchamiro,"Last weekend I went to a family reunion. And when I say family reunion, I mean FAMILY reunion. I’ll explain.

About 10 years ago I was walking through Chinatown for reasons I can’t remember, and wound up passing by a temple–quite randomly, I thought at the time–that was founded by the Colchamiro family.

Another strange thing happened to me a few years back. I was in a local pharmacy picking up my prescription, and when the pharmacist asked for my name, I said "Colchamiro," and started to spell it. A woman standing next to me was giving me the crazy eye just then. She asked me if she heard the name right. Colchamiro. I wasn’t sure if she was a stalker or just a nutball, but reluctantly I confirmed what she heard.

She then went on to tell that she, too, is a Colchamiro (since married with a different last name), and that she had drifted away from the family over the years. She was my dad’s first cousin. She remembered him. And as it turned out, she lived right around the corner from me. But I wound up losing her number and couldn’t remember her married name, so we lost touch before we could connect again.

I had always hoped I’d run into her again, just I had meant to check out the temple. I never did. Until now. On both counts.

The Colchamiro family is just one big family in that, there aren’t various family originations that just happen to share a common family name. If you meet a Colchamiro anywhere in the world, that’s a relative of mine. We’re all connected.

That said, over the generations the family split off into many wings, and while the Colchamiros tend to be sort of clan-like in general, the uber family has been extremely disjointed.

Along the way, a few select relatives decided that it was time to reach out to the family at large, and try and bring us all together. It was really something. We all met at that very temple in Chinatown. More than 200 people showed up, from the very senior citizen all the way down to newborn babies. We weren’t all Colchamiros, some had gotten married and changed the family name, but the blood lines were there.

I saw a few relatives I hadn’t seen in years–including my dad’s cousin, who has since moved to Queens not ten minutes from me! Amazing. All in all, it was a really good day. There we were, all packed into this old temple that could barely hold us, but it did. We made room.

Going forward, I don’t know the Colchamiros will come together, but this was sure a great first step.

Re:Y: The Last Man

I finally got back into Y: The Last Man. Just finished the 4th trade paperback, and am all set with to read No. 5. I had forgotten what a fun book it is.I finally got back into Y: The Last Man. Just finished the 4th trade paperback, and am all set with to read No. 5. I had forgotten what a fun book it is.

That Crazy Word ? Responsibility

More and more I?m finding that there is tremendous power in responsibility?and in the word ?responsibility.? I?m not talking about that Spiderman quote, ?with great power, comes great responsibility,??which is true?but the idea of accepting ownership of our roles, whether they be personal or professional.

On a personal note, when I agree to call the accountant or put away the laundry or pick up our prescriptions from the pharmacy, what I?m really telling Liz is that she doesn?t need to put More and more I?m finding that there is tremendous power in responsibility?and in the word ?responsibility.? I?m not talking about that Spiderman quote, ?with great power, comes great responsibility,??which is true?but the idea of accepting ownership of our roles, whether they be personal or professional.

On a personal note, when I agree to call the accountant or put away the laundry or pick up our prescriptions from the pharmacy, what I?m really telling Liz is that she doesn?t need to put any energies into making sure that I do what I say I will do. And in that, it also implies that Liz should feel free to focus her time and energies elsewhere, and that if I run into any kind of problems along the way, that I will either resolve the problems myself or else ask for help. But either way, I agree to take care of it.

Beyond that, I find that when I say the words, ?I accept this responsibility,? the task?picking up the prescriptions, for instance?suddenly becomes more important to me. There?s an issue of pride, of self-respect?and of accountability. If I take the attitude of, ?sorry, honey. Totally spaced. I?ll get to it later,? I?ve prevented Liz from getting what she needs, and what she could have done had we agreed otherwise.

And then there?s a credibility issue. If I want her to take me at my word, I have to honor my word by doing what I say I will do, when I say I will do it, and how. Of course, we can?and often should?forgive each other for our minor trespasses, but if you say out loud to someone that you accept the ?responsibility? of completing a certain task?picking up the prescription?I bet you?ll feel differently than if you simply say that you?ll do it.

I?m not trying to heap more importance onto these daily tasks than they merit, but my point is that the word ?responsibility? contains a great deal of power, and can be wonderfully intoxicating if you accept the actual responsibility that comes with the word ?responsibility.?

On the work front, part of my commitment to the people I supervise is to teach them?to the best of my ability?how to become more autonomous. And a big part of that?of being able to function more effectively with minimal help and/or supervision?is teaching and illustrating to them the value of responsibility, and what that means. Especially with the younger staff, but even with some of the more senior members as well, I?m realizing that I hadn?t been advising them quite as well as I could have.

When I explain to them in detail about what tasks are their responsibility, and which ones aren?t, they often get that deer-in-the-headlights look at first, but seem to embrace the idea not long after.

As an example, I?ve been telling the staff, individually and collectively, that if they agree to do something?say, hand in one of their stories by their assigned deadline, but for whatever reason can?t?it is their responsibility to tell me about it as far in advance as possible, and that they need to figure out how to resolve the problem on their own, or else ask for help. I used to tell them that they ?needed? to tell me if they were going to be late, that they ?needed? to resolve the problem if one arose.

Now I say that it is their ?responsibility.?

That single tweak in language, that single word change … it makes all the difference.

There is real power in the word ?responsibility.? Try it out. See how it fits, and then let me know what you think.

Responsibility. It?s quite a word.

Ice Capades

Yesterday morning turned out to be quite the little adventure.

After a month or so of taking care of the paperwork and registration and whatnot, Liz and I finally came into a used car, courtesy of my in-laws. The last step was to get the car inspected. We had an appointment for 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

But let’s back up a day. A friend of mine is in from out of town, and it being Friday night, well … the usual mayhem ensued. In total we hit three or four bars (I can’t remember)Yesterday morning turned out to be quite the little adventure.

After a month or so of taking care of the paperwork and registration and whatnot, Liz and I finally came into a used car, courtesy of my in-laws. The last step was to get the car inspected. We had an appointment for 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

But let’s back up a day. A friend of mine is in from out of town, and it being Friday night, well … the usual mayhem ensued. In total we hit three or four bars (I can’t remember), and by night’s end I was pretty sloshed. Also remember that Friday night we had that horrible weather, so getting back to Queens from Manhattan was a bit of an adventure. I got into bed around 12:30 a.m.

When my alarm went off at 6:30 Saturday morning, I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t even close to being in the mood to deal with the inspection. I was hung over. Bad. I dragged myself out of bed anyway, showered, changed, had a quick breakfast and then bundled up. Because outside the parking lot–and our car–was covered in ice.

It took me a good 15 minutes to chisel the car out as it warmed up, but I finally got the windows clear. Naturally, the tires were dug in so deep that they couldn’t get any traction, so I had to dig them out as well. Finally, we got going.

Liz and I are still learning Queens, so we didn’t know the best way to get to the mechanic, so we relied on MapQuest. And if you’re wondering, yes … that was our first mistake. The directions were kinda right, as long as you don’t count that they had us going the wrong way on a one-way street, in the ice and snow. We know the area a little bit, so we finagled our way through until finally we found our way.

Even after all that, we were only five minutes late, so things were starting to look up.

Except that when we pulled up, the guy out front was shoveling now. I said that we were here for the inspection. He said no inspections today. The machines are frozen. Needless to say I was less than thrilled. He said sorry. Yeah. Like that was going to help me.

And yet here’s where those little bits of kismet come together. I scolded the guy a bit for not calling us to let us know there would be no appointment. He suggested that we try the Sonoco next door, which we did. It was a pretty creepy place.

There’s that really bizarre scene in Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis finds himself in the hands of Zed and his very icky buddy. And we all know what happened after that. This gas station was a lot like that. One country song after another playing on the radio, all about Jesus. The place was dirty and creepy. The guy running the place was dirty and creepy too. He was big and fat with a thick scraggly beard that looked like it hadn’t been washed in months. He was wearing a ratty, oily mechanics jump suit with rips in the side. He barely spoke.

But they did the inspection right away and we were done in less than 30 minutes. Thing is, if the other mechanic from the first place had actually done the right thing and called us to cancel the appointment, Liz and I probably would have stayed home, leaving us to deal with the inspection another day. So how about that?

On the way home we actually found a quick way back–only took a few minutes–so bite me Map Quest!

It was a goofy morning indeed, and despite the snow and ice, we were back–with an inspected car–by 9:30. All in all, not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Talk Radio

Last night Liz and I saw Talk Radio on Broadway. Liev Schreiber was in the lead, and he was absolutely great. Just great. Talk Radio originally kicked off around 1987. It was written by Eric Bogosian, who played the original lead. He also reprised the role in the movie version, which was directed by Oliver Stone. I haven’t seen the movie in many years, but that was quite good too.

Talk Radio is about fictional radio shock jock Barry Champlain (Schreiber) who had a night time talk show inLast night Liz and I saw Talk Radio on Broadway. Liev Schreiber was in the lead, and he was absolutely great. Just great. Talk Radio originally kicked off around 1987. It was written by Eric Bogosian, who played the original lead. He also reprised the role in the movie version, which was directed by Oliver Stone. I haven’t seen the movie in many years, but that was quite good too.

Talk Radio is about fictional radio shock jock Barry Champlain (Schreiber) who had a night time talk show in Cleveland during the late 1980s. Think of an angrier Howard Stern who’s heavy into politics. His views are extreme–and hilarious–and the play unfolds over one night on the air. So it’s mostly a one-man-show, and again, Schreiber is fantastic.

Highly recommended.

Should Old Friends be New Friends?

Before I officially launched this Web site two weeks ago, I compiled the email list of people I wanted to contact. I decided that I was going to tell everybody on earth that I knew about my Web site, and would let them decide if they were interested or not. I included friends and family, some co-workers, some people I used to work with. And I also scoured my old email databases and found some names that surprised me, including a few people I?d lost touch with over the years, for whatever reason.Before I officially launched this Web site two weeks ago, I compiled the email list of people I wanted to contact. I decided that I was going to tell everybody on earth that I knew about my Web site, and would let them decide if they were interested or not. I included friends and family, some co-workers, some people I used to work with. And I also scoured my old email databases and found some names that surprised me, including a few people I?d lost touch with over the years, for whatever reason.

One of those people?someone I used to work with?is a guy I?ll call Jeff. We first met about 10 years ago when I was a staff reporter and he was in the accounting department. We hit it off pretty much right away. Jeff and I both liked books, we were Yankee fans and shared a similar sense of humor. We?d chat throughout the day and go out for drinks now and then. And he was a big fan of my writing, even back then. He thought I had real promise, and was very encouraging. He was in my corner; I was in his.

And then ? I started to realize that while Jeff had a lot of good qualities?he was loyal and honest, smart and funny, and just a decent person overall?he was also a bit toxic. I discovered in him an inner bitterness I hadn?t picked up on right away. Jeff was an optimist ? sometimes. But he could be quite negative at times (can?t we all?), which didn?t bother me so much at first, except that I started to feel weird sort of tug. As the next year or two went on I got the very real sense that while he wanted me to succeed at work and with my writing, he also kinda didn?t want me to succeed [i]too[/i] much. I was trying to get better as a journalist, at writing fiction, but I got the sense that he liked our friendship just as it was, and wanted to hold it in place. Boxed in.

It was bizarre. He would read some of my stories and tell me he liked them, but then in the same breath trash parts of them as if my writing missteps?as he saw them?were obvious, and I obviously should have seen them myself, and that I should be scolded for not noticing sooner.

I know it?s difficult sometimes to describe the nuances in a relationship so that someone else can get it, so I?ll just say that I didn?t like the way I started to feel when I was around Jeff. I felt a little ? guilty. Punished. Ashamed.

This got me upset. At times I felt betrayed by Jeff because he wasn?t being the person I thought I knew. Sometimes I would get angry when I thought about him. Sometimes I?d get frustrated. And other times I?d be disappointed or even sad. And then I went through times of feeling guilty about how I felt, like[i] I [/i]was betraying [i]Jeff [/i]for not thinking of him in the same light I once did. I was blaming myself for abandoning Jeff! This wasn?t good.

So as the years went on I talked to him less and less, and finally, about five years ago, I decided to move on. It had been about six months since we?d been in contact, and when I thought about reaching out to him ? I didn?t. And quite honestly, I didn?t miss him at all.

Somewhere along the line, though, something occurred to me that helped put my Jeff situation in perspective. Deep down I blamed Jeff for not being the friend I wanted, for not being the person I wanted. But that?s on [i]me[/i]. My expectations simply were not in line with reality. I wanted to Jeff to be the person that I wanted him to be, rather than accepting him for the person he really was. I didn?t like admitting this, but a big part of my unpleasant feelings about Jeff had nothing to do with Jeff. They had everything to do with me. Once I accepted my own responsibility?took ownership of my part of the relationship?my guilt and frustration went away immediately.

I simply accepted that Jeff is Jeff. Good, bad, right, wrong or indifferent. He is who he is. And either there was a place in my life for Jeff or there wasn?t. For a long time I decided there wasn?t.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I found Jeff?s email in my address book. It had been about five years since we last had contact and so I thought, oh, what the heck? Sometimes two people just need a break from each other, so I?ll include Jeff on my email list, and maybe it will be better now. That?s even if Jeff responds.

He did. Which I thought was very cool.

But within reading the first two sentences of Jeff?s email, there he was again, being harsh and critical without my even asking. The same feelings kicked up in me again, like I was tainted, being dragged back down in the mud. It was the same old Jeff. And that old Jeff isn?t a bad person overall, he?s just not a good person for me to have in my life.

So I won?t be contacting Jeff again.

This time around I accept Jeff for Jeff. I wish him well. But his journey will have to unfold without me in it, just as mine will unfold without him.

Sometimes old friends just can?t be new friends. And sometimes, maybe it?s better that way.

Planning for Spring

Been a few days since my last blog … busy week at work and needed a little rest.

Speaking of which … last week I finally came to the end of an extremely productive period. Before 2007 kicked off I came up with a game plan for the first 90 days, which are coming to a close. I had several writing goals?one of which was to launch this Web site, thank you very much?and I?m very happy to say that I hit my goals.

And now I?m pooped. But one of the great things about being pooped?about haBeen a few days since my last blog … busy week at work and needed a little rest.

Speaking of which … last week I finally came to the end of an extremely productive period. Before 2007 kicked off I came up with a game plan for the first 90 days, which are coming to a close. I had several writing goals?one of which was to launch this Web site, thank you very much?and I?m very happy to say that I hit my goals.

And now I?m pooped. But one of the great things about being pooped?about having some down time?is to plan for the next phase. And that?s what I?m doing now. I have a tendency to want to just go-go-go, but sometimes a bit all over the place, starting new projects before I finish the old ones, and then having multiple projects?unfinished?all at the same time.

Which planning really helps with. So for the next week or two I?ll be finalizing my spring writing goals?what I hope to accomplish between April 1 and June 30. There will be a few surprises for sure, but I need to have my goals spelled out for me and posted on my wall so that they?re visible to me every day. For me, if I don?t see it, it?s like it doesn?t exist. I?m visually motivated, which bugs Liz to no end, as she likes everything to have a place, and to be neat and organized. (Sheesh. The nerve of some people …)

I?m really excited to get rolling, but I need this little downtime to recharge, to get organized and be ready for the spring.

It?s almost here.

Richard Jeni: 1957 -2007

I?m in a state of shock and sadness.

Richard Jeni, one of my all-time favorite stand-up comedians, and probably one of the funniest voices I?ve ever heard, died today. According to reports, he shot himself in the head. He was only 45.

We hear of suicides all the time, and they?re always sad and tragic, but this one is really hitting me hard. As my friend Rich Henn quite accurately pointed out this morning?Jeni?s HBO special Platypus Man (from the early 1990s) is one of the best single I?m in a state of shock and sadness.

Richard Jeni, one of my all-time favorite stand-up comedians, and probably one of the funniest voices I?ve ever heard, died today. According to reports, he shot himself in the head. He was only 45.

We hear of suicides all the time, and they?re always sad and tragic, but this one is really hitting me hard. As my friend Rich Henn quite accurately pointed out this morning?Jeni?s HBO special Platypus Man (from the early 1990s) is one of the best single hour?s worth of comedy you?re ever likely to see.

We?ve been quoting those bits for 15 years, because they still make us laugh. Out loud. A lot. If you ever get the chance, watch it. It’ll have you in tears it’s just that funny.

I?m not sure why this tragedy, among all the tragedies, is hitting me quite as hard as it is. Maybe because I always thought Richard Jeni would get as big as George Carlin and Chris Rock, and never quite got there. Maybe it?s because I just connected with his humor?his voice?in a particular way, and now I?m reacting to the reality that that voice will never speak again.

I don?t know.

I guess it just reminds that me that?despite what we often tell ourselves or would like to think?there isn?t always more time to get to the things we want to do, or say the things we want to say to the people we want to say them to.

How much of our time do we waste with petty bickering and posturing? How many moments do we waste holding grudges? Expecting people to change? Being angry at life for not being what we want it to be, rather than accepting what it is?

This is a very sad day. And while I know that Richard Jeni?s death isn?t the least bit about me, I grieve over his death. I didn?t know the man personally, but I miss him?or what I thought of him?already.

My heart is heavy right now.

But I will celebrate his legacy. Just not today. Today I grieve.

Richard Jeni

1957 – 2007

Heroes – Closing In

I have to admit, while I’ve been liking Heroes so far, I haven’t loved it as much as most people who watch it. But the last two episodes–the extended sequence with HRG flashbacks and this week’s with Sylar sneaking Mohinder’s list out of him–the drama’s really amped up. I’m probably more into it now than any point in the season …I have to admit, while I’ve been liking Heroes so far, I haven’t loved it as much as most people who watch it. But the last two episodes–the extended sequence with HRG flashbacks and this week’s with Sylar sneaking Mohinder’s list out of him–the drama’s really amped up. I’m probably more into it now than any point in the season …

Re:The Law of Attraction…

I’ve been hearing a lot about this lately. I’ll have to check it out …I’ve been hearing a lot about this lately. I’ll have to check it out …

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