Saturday, September 24, 2011

Enlightened Men

It seems like gay bashing and bullying is at an all-time high. It's tragic how LGBT youth are teased, assaulted and occasionally driven to take their own lives. It's easy to feel hopeless. Some could chalk childhood bullying up to ignorance or the old adage "kids will be kids". It's harder to justify such behavior in adults; the juvenile rationale doesn't work anymore. The reason adults bully and discriminate is simple - hate. And it's easy to become jaded as adult. Adults don't see the world as a trusting and happy place like the way children do.

It's hopeless, right? I don't believe that. I see a new generation of people who see sexual orientation as something as unimportant as eye or hair color. Working at Corcoran is such a rich experience. It's an environment where everyone works together and celebrates each others' differences. The ladies I work with seem to prefer gay men to straight men. I'm constantly being asked my opinion on dresses and shoes. They always know that I'll keep them up to date with the latest celebrity gossip. But it's the males at Corcoran that really surprise me. Andy routinely talks about having dinner with his gay friends. He freely talks about how he likes his friend's boyfriend. Sexuality is a non-issue.

Mike is the biggest surprise. If there were two people that were least likely to become friends, it's he and I. He likes beer and sports and I like sweet, fruity drinks and watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But we've become really good friends, even though we joke about how much we hate each other. He saw that I was reading an article about a recent Republican debate. He asked what it was about and I explained the story. A gay soldier asked if the Republican candidates would undo all the progress gays had made in the military. The crowd booed the soldier and Rick Santorum (insert joke about his last name) agreed to reinstate DADT. Mike said it was stupid and that he was sure I could shoot a gun just as well as he could.

He also told me of his college orientation. A girl, who just happened to be a lesbian, was his orientation leader. He just happened to say, "that's so gay" and she heard. She told him not to say it. It happened again and she pulled him aside and more sternly told him that he'd better knock it off. He told me that he then realized that, those innocent, it did hurt peoples' feelings and he hasn't said it since.

It's a great story because it shows me that there are regular, all-American guys who are enlightened enough to realize that we're all the same. We just want to be treated as equals. The more people I meet that have a modern, enlightened perspective, the more hope I have for future generations.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Finally! I finally stopped procrastinating! I've been putting off starting my real estate classes for far too long. I've always used money as an excuse. I rationalized that it'd be best to start studying once I paid down my credit card or had more money in savings. That thinking works if I wanted to buy a new outfit or something that I didn't really need. But what I realized is that this online course is an investment! It's just the first step on the road to creating my empire.

I'd originally thought I'd do formal, in-person classes. I felt that they were "real" as opposed to online classes. But the more I thought about, the more I realized that online classes would be a more convenient and expedient option. As the weather cools to a chill, I'll be less motivated to trek downtown to sit in a classroom for 3 hours at a time. Plus, the online version would allow to study at the office, at home or anywhere else I get online.

So, tonight I finally bit the bullet. I paid the $440 registration fee and began my real estate education through the New York Real Estate Institute. The 75-houre course consists of 23 modules. I did the first module - introduction to real estate. It was so interesting! There were a lot of terms that I'd heard of, but never really understood. I think it'll be fun to do a few lessons a night, take notes, study. It'll just like being back in college.

Let the journey begin...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bitch Face

Two agents stopped by our pod on Friday. Both were the stereotypical, mean gay guys. They were essentially older versions of Regina George - pretty, catty and deceptive. They were nice, albeit fake, and made small talk when they found out the person they wanted to see was out of the office. But once they left, someone instant messaged me and said, "Please don't be like that when you grow up." That got me thinking.

I felt somewhat intimidated by him. He seemed like a total catty bitch. While it's not a great technique for making friends, it does seem to be a deterrent to becoming a victim of bullying or a doormat. Is he really mean or is it a defense mechanism?

I often think that I'm too nice and that I let people take advantage of me. Would it be better to be meaner? Sometimes I think that I'd be better off if I used my bitch face more often. Here's a perfect example of when it worked. Antonio and I went to see Contagion this past weekend. The theater was packed! We got good seats but then four whores walked in and decided to next to us in the aisle. They reminded me a lot of Sammy from Jersey Shore (short skirts and ditsy aka whores). They were talked like Valley Girls, which I could ignore during the previews. But then it continued as the movie started and people started dying. It was getting annoying. I'd glance over at them and roll my eyes, but they were really getting the message. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore and I leaned over and sternly said, "Would you guys shut up!” They apologized and piped down for the rest of the movie. It felt great! Being shy and quiet and polite just wouldn't have had the same effect.

Is there a happy middle? It's there a way to be nice and a bitch so that no one messes with you? If you have to choose, which is better?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Escape to Mohonk Mountain

I love New York City. It has an intoxicating atmosphere of excitement and glamour. But every once in a while I need an escape. Antonio and I decided to go on hiking this weekend as a way of getting out of the city. We decided to drive up to Mohonk Preserve, which is about 2 hours north of the city. I felt like I was back in college because I was wearing cargo shorts with sneakers and using my Quest 2006 backpack. We each left with different goals - I wanted a good workout and he wanted to enjoy the scenery and recharge.

We figured the trails would be really easy to navigate. Hmm...not so much. A lovely woman named Linda explained the entire park to us. She showed us a map, highlighted the trails and explained everything. She was so friendly! It was such a welcome surprise to meet genuinely nice people. After practically becoming Mohonk cartographers, we set off on our hike. The first part was the toughest. It was a very steep, rocky climb just to get up the connector trail. Once we got up, it was smooth sailing. The views were amazing!

About two hours into our hike we stumbled upon the most beautiful hotel we've ever seen - The Mohonk Mountain House. At first, it seemed like a mirage. It reminded me of the castle in Beauty and the Beast - just stunning. From that point, we had another 30 minutes until we finally reached the Skytop Tower, the top of the mountain. The walk to the top was tough, but so worth it. We sat down on a bench right on the edge of the mountain and ate lunch. The view was indescribable! Looking out and seeing for miles was so calming and peaceful. Since I l live in a city that is constantly on the go, it was nice to just sit and be still, to listen to the wind, and take a chance to breath.

Then we realized that we had to walk 2 1/2 hours back to the car. We stopped at the gardens of the Mohonk Mountain House and enjoyed (stole?) some lemonade left from a wedding earlier in the day. We took a longer trail back so we could have a different view, but it was hard to see the mountains through all the tress. We joked that they should cut down some of the trees so we could see the forest in the distance. There were a few moments when we were out of the sun and close to the rocks that the temperature instantly dropped at least 10 degrees. I loved it! There was such a calming presence to just stand on the trail in silence. We'd listen to birds, breeze in the trees, and water from the stream. It was inspiring. At one point, we heard a rustling just off the trail. I took a few steps back and there was a deer laying down just off the trail. She looked at me and I looked at her. It was very raw. It was two living creatures observing each other. It's weird but I felt like we were equals in that moment. I didn't want anything from her and she didn't want anything from me. But we were somewhat over it once we hit the long, straight stretch of trail. Our feet were starting to hurt, but we were like steam engines - once we started, we couldn't stop. We just pushed through it. We made it back to the visitor center right before they closed.

Now that I'm back in my apartment in the East 70s, I can sit down and reflect. We had to drive through the town of New Paltz, New York to get to the preserve. I loved it! It reminded me a lot of Radford - it was small-town, quaint and relaxing. I began to imagine packing up a U-Haul and moving there. It's an unrealistic thought because my life and career are all in the city. But sometimes I wish I had a simpler life. Sometimes I get tired of cramming onto the 6 train in the morning, having a tough exterior and always being in a rush (even when I've got all the time in the world). I think it's funny how many so people come to New York for vacation and so many New Yorkers escape to the Hamptons or country homes every weekend during the summer.

It was funny that I wanted a workout and Antonio wanted to commune with nature. I felt like there were times he he was sprinting up the mountain and I was trying to keep. He wanted to get back to nature but it was me who wanted to see the animals and tried to make a connection to the forest. We're planning on going hiking again once the leaves start to change colors in the fall. I really hope that escaping to Mohonk is something that we can do more often. I could really use a frequent escape to the country.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Imagine being not just yourself, but the most perfect version of yourself. That's the premise for the mysteriously forgotten, Bruce Willis movie, Surrogates. The movie takes place about fifteen years in the future. Most people now live their lives through surrogates, which are life-like robots that a person controls with their mind. It's a futuristic concept based around robotics and virtual reality. It was a thrilling action movie that subliminally asks some serious questions about society.

In the movie, Bruce Willis' wife refuses to let him see her when she is not using her surrogate. It made me think about how I don't like people to see me when I first wake up. My breath smells, my hair is all messed up, I haven't shaved. I like people to see the public consumption version of myself. I can understand why his wife locked herself away and only allowed people to see her surrogate self. Why let people see you when they can see you the way you wish you were?

There are small groups of humans in each major city that only live as themselves. They feel that humans were not meant to live through robotics. While they are militant in their opposition to surrogates, they are happy. The live, work, go to school, and play all within the confines of their compound. It's weird to me that they could be so happy without achieving, or at least working towards, perfection. They just are who they are and they're happy with it. I'm constantly going to the gym to improve. While I'm happy with the growth I've seen, it's only temporary. I revert to an insecure, skinny shell when I see a hot guy who's bigger than me. How can you be happy if you're not working towards being better? Can you be happy with stagnation? Or worse - deterioration?

In the movie, people were using robotics to achieve perfection. But it made think of all the other things people do now in attempt to be perfection. Plastic surgery and Botox are designed to fix what's wrong with us. The people usually ends up not looking quiet like themselves; they look plastic. It raises the question - is it better to be a regular person with flaws or a medically-enhanced, physically perfect person lacking the indescribable human quality.