Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mirror Image

I'm on the road alot to take my kids to my mom's house, who cares for them during the day at no cost, though I owe her a large chunk of my life. One day, I looked in the rear view mirror (which, by the way I think is an oxymoron because you always see what's behind you with any mirror). Anyway, as I was looking in the mirror, I glanced at Gideon as he was gazing out the window. I also saw part of Lucia's car seat, though I couldn't really see her face since her car seat is still facing the rear of the car.

At a red light, I got a glimpse of life.

Life was reflected in the mirror, but as soon as the light turns green, I'll step on the gas and then, life will start passing me by. Indeed, the light turns green, and I move forward. The images in the mirror move further and further away from me. While, there wasn't really anything interesting happening in the mirror worth mentioning, I did get a sense that life was passing by, rapidly.

My parents worked hard to put my sister, my brother, and me through private (Catholic) school. To them, it was a sacrifice worth making considering the public school system in Jersey City at the time. Jersey City is a new town these days. I almost don't recognize it when I visit one of my best friends, Jeff, who is a Washington DC and Pittsburgh native.

Perhaps you pass by Chill Town (Jersey City) on your way to work to NYC and you'll notice some of the tall buildings in the Newport Centre and Exchange Place sections, not far from the Holland Tunnel. When I grew up, all that acreage was one expansive empty lot with bottle caps and broken glass encrusted atop the pavement, near the cracks filled up with weeds.

I used to play there with my brother often. We tossed a baseball around talking about our teams - my brother about the Yankees and me about the Mets. I knew the game, but didn't know much about it. I mean, I liked a guy on the Mets with the name of Joel Youngblood. I didn't even know why (This is before the 86 Championship). Other times, my brother and I would play handball on a graffitti-filled wall while my dad waxed his skyblue Chevette.

We were not rich, but my parents gave me the best that they could provide so that I didn't have to go through what they went through. I'll never say we were poor though because even if the rent was paid a little late sometimes, there was always a roof over our heads. They tried not to do it in front of me, but sometimes my parents argued about money, or lack thereof.

Today, I'm the dad with kids. While I live in a pretty good town with an OK school system, I understand my parents decision to work their hearts out - for us ... for me. We don't own a home and with little income coming in, I've been stressed lately. So Alexa and I have sniped at each other as she mentioned in an earlier post. We're working hard as a team during this tough time, as my parents did.

This week, there was a period of days where no work at all came across my desk. I've been recently demoted. Even after several months of complaining that not enough work was coming in, the financial situation kept deteriorating. So I had to speak up. I have a tendency of being a little too forward sometimes, which is sometimes construed as confrontational. When the news that potentially no more work will be arriving at my desk as a result of a misunderstanding, I blew up. I got upset, closer to enraged.

All I could think about was how was I going to keep a roof over my children's heads. I thought aloud in the presense of my wife and kids that at this rate we'll be out on the street, or worse, have to move in with the in-laws! (he he... just a little joke =).... now back to being serious).

Then, my wife, my life partner talked some sense into me. As if divinely inspired, she picks Lucia up and asks me to hold her. I was still burning up because of the lack of work coming in and the reasoning behind it. I refused to take Lucia because I was angry and I didn't want her to feel my stress. But, Alexa insisted. So, I take Lucia., rub my cheek to her chubby cheeks. I raise her up in the sky and say, "Super Baby!"

Alas, I began to hold back tears. Perhaps this is what Alexa wanted. She knows that I'm really a teddy bear and that my rants are just temporary puffs of smoke. I became emotional because I remembered how my parents sacrificed for me, but not just for me, for my children too. For if I was successful, they would be successful, and so would my children. I teared because I didn't feel successful, at least not anymore. I teared because Lucia's innocence overtook the humanity that took control of me. I lost my vision. I lived only in the negativity of the moment, as opposed to seeing a hopeful tomorrow. I was affected by my little girl's presence because I felt that I have failed her and my family.

A few days later, I watched Kung Fu Panda ... yes, the cartoon movie with Jack Black as the Panda. I couldn't help but relate to the Panda, who at the outset of the movie, was a lover of Kung Fu, but not a practitioner ... much like me.

(ASIDE: Yes, I LOVE old Kung Fu movies where the actors' lips don't match the actual English words you hear).

So, as the story of Kung Fu Panda unfolded, I started to get into it. I usually watch House Hunters, some history show, or CNN, but because we were unable to make a timely Cablevision payment, our cable service was cut, so I put on a movie to take my mind off things.

I saw how Kung Fu Panda was selected to be the one to fight and defeat the antagonist of the story (sorry, I'm not good with remembering character names). I felt like the Panda. I mean, I look like a Panda too. Here, see for yourself and imagine me doing a Kung Fu move.

But I also felt like I couldn't fulfill what I was called to do, just like Panda.

And, instead of believing that everything will just be fine, I fell prey to my fears only looking at the problem, as opposed to looking ahead to a better future, with God's help.

So, I continue battling for a better tomorrow and am hopeful, as are many Americans in this very tough economy.

Sorry, guys no pictures. This is my blog and I can cry if I want to. =) Not really crying though. Just venting, sharing, and being transparent.

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