Zaden is…

It was another day in the life of Zaden. The curtains were drawn, the room was dark except for the little ray of sunshine creeping in from the side of the window. He wakes up, goes to the bathroom, makes coffee and as usual, he burns his toast. He turns on the TV and channel surf’s for a bit and then turns it off, “There’s nothing, nothing to watch” he would scream towards the TV. He gets up, makes room in the crowded sink and tosses the dishes inside and with his coffee cup in hand, he walks towards the window facing the street.

He glances out the window looking at the cars trying to get around double-parked cars, while people were rushing and running into each other going to where they had to go.  Zaden takes a pause and remembers a different time, when he too was just like the people down on the street, but not anymore. Most of the time you will find him sitting on his couch reading the paper that is delivered to him every day. He prefers it that way as he doesn’t go outside much these days.door

Flipping through the pages one by one, he sees nothing that interests him, “Damn, why is there never any good news, kidnappings, murders, higher prices for food and gas! what happened to the good times we were supposed to look forward to”, he blurts out.

Zaden puts the paper down, just as he is about to close his eyes to relax he says “Oh! I almost forgot to take my pills”. He gets up and starts to walk over to the bathroom reaching into the medicine cabinet he pulls out his prescription bottles. One by one he takes his pills swallowing them with a cup of water. As he does this he drops one of the pills while trying to catch it, he drops his cup, with water spilling onto his shirt and floor. He bends down picking up the pill, filling the cup with water again, this time, he drinks it slowly and swallows his pill.

Next, he goes to the bedroom to change, takes off his shirt and throws it into a pile of clothes that are in the corner. Opens his closet, finds a long sleeve shirt he starts to button it when the phone rings, his eyes light up and he dashes into the living room to grab the phone. He says “hello”, there is silence, says “hello” again, an automated message is played telling him he has won a vacation to a Caribbean island. You can almost see the smoke coming out of Zaden’s eyes as he yells into the phone before he hangs up.

He finishes buttoning his shirt, grabs the cup of coffee, takes a couple of sips, puts it down, looks around the room, stares at the door, walks over and closes the window that was open. The couch was calling his name so he moved a few pillows around, found his spot, lied down while looking at the ceiling as he slowly closed his eyes.

Who was Zaden? Was he young? Old?  Married? Single? Overworked? Unemployed? Sick? Lonely? I think at one point we all have known a Zaden in our lives. In fact, some us may have become or is a Zaden.

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The Power of a New Year

The Power of a New Year

Wow! Here we are into a New Year filled with hope, promise and new resolutions. How many of you make New Year resolutions? I know you are out there, come on, don’t be shy. As for myself, I don’t care too much for resolutions. Just because the calendar switches over to a New Year what does it actually mean? Will things be different than they were the day before, the week before or what about one month ago? What will suddenly change to make things different?                                              bare trees pp2

Is it our attitude, perhaps it’s the way we will look at things, or are we so down that a New Year may bring us to a better place. Each one of us has different reasons why we act the way we do.

Yes, I agree that a new year can be considered a starting point for new beginnings and new adventures. However, many of us wait for the New Year to make all kinds of resolutions such as, losing weight, getting a new job/finding a job, changing careers, contacting family or friends that you have not spoken to in a while, exercising, becoming a better person and so on.

My question is why wait? Why must we wait for a New Year,  to do all these things that we want to do? If it’s so important to us to better ourselves, why do we need a New Year to start? I don’t know about you but I just hate when people come up to me and ask what my resolutions are for the New Year? When I am asked that question I just say “I want the New Year to be better than the last year”. After all don’t we all want to be better off than before?

I am not an expert or a psychologist, but I think now more than ever we need to hold on to hope because life has become more difficult to handle. We all know what they are, jobs, money, our homes, bills, etc… So holding on to the concept of better times ahead makes us feel hopeful and there is nothing wrong with that.

I wonder what how many resolutions were actually done the year before and the year before that. How many of us can say yeah, I did this or I did that. How about you?

Is this a rant? I am not sure, it may be, but what I am saying is perhaps we all in some way like to change what we do not like, but we tend to put it off into the future. So, by waiting for the New Year to come, to do all these things, buys us more time. During this process, we tend not to feel guilty about our in actions, because we are waiting for the New Year like everyone else.

I include myself in this conversation. So let me say that hopefully in this New Year we can do what we want to do, take the chance, change what we want to change without having to wait for next New Year to do it.

What do you think? HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

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Not Another Holiday Story

Not Another Holiday Story

The holidays, it seems just yesterday we were getting rid of our Christmas trees, putting away the decorations, screaming Happy New Year at 12:00 midnight with friends and family. Yeah, the holidays are back. The hustle and bustle of shopping and what to buy for our loved ones, family members, friends, our co-workers and so on.DSC00642

No matter what holiday you celebrate it is a special time of year, but for so many it is not. Among the joy and celebration that surrounds us, there are many who just do not feel like celebrating. Isn’t it amazing, with all the glitter, lights, music, the crowds, and all around good cheer, there are those who are lonely sad, depressed, wondering what the New Year will hold for them.

Yes for some it has been a good year, a great job, great pay, picking the right stocks to invest in, perhaps a new addition to the family, all great. The flip side many have lost their jobs, maybe a loved one or divorce. Others are worried about losing their homes, their bills piling up, poor health and so on. You get the idea.

Not everyone has it good, and yes that is how the world is, I don’t know maybe that is how it is supposed to be. All the negative things in a person’s life are magnified during the holidays because of everything that is out there. From the commercials that tell you to buy this and those who make you feel bad if you do not buy this for your wife, child or friend and so on.

One of my favorites is the luxury car commercial where they tell you, do something special, surprise her with “fill in the model” and don’t forget to put the red bow on it, they will love you for it. Yeah, like we all have 70K or more to spend on a car or the hi-end jewelry designer commercials where they make it seem so easy to buy from them.

Now picture someone lets name him Bill, he just lost his job, his wife works part time, has 2 kid’s ages 10 and 13, bills are coming in and already behind one month on their mortgage. Bill was a hard worker, at work every day sometimes would come in early and stay late. Did his job the best as anyone could do, but still, none of that mattered. In the end, it came down to the company that he worked for 6 years wanted to cut costs and in the process look good for its shareholders.

We all know someone like Bill. Imagine how Bill feels when he goes to the mall with his family and cannot buy the things he wants to buy. Or that he has to tell his kids “I am sorry but we just cannot afford it right now“. It could be someone who has no family, or if they do they are far away. It could be someone who does not have friends, someone who is sick, it could be anyone.

It has been a rough couple of years for so many with no end in sight. During this holiday season let us remember the Bills of the world and try to help them any way we can, after all, today it is Bill, tomorrow it may be you. So this holiday season, let’s help those who may need it, a good deed done will come back to you in a positive way. It is a great feeling to put a smile on someone’s face who may feel that life has passed them by.

Okay, back to the good cheer. How many of you will make resolutions for the New Year and keep them? Come on! raise your hands!  I guess many of you are just shy, no problem. It won’t be long before we have to do it all over again.  Happy Holidays! They’ll be here before you know it.

Peace.

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Cliff’s Curiosity

A House That was once Empty

Jay and Cliff are best friends they have been so for 2 years now. They go to the same school, live in the same neighborhood only a block apart.

They are both 11 years old, with Jay being 3 months older. The town they live in is small where everyone seems to know each other which is nice especially these days, where no one seems to have time for anyone, but it can also be problematic at times.

fall trees11On this October weekend, there was going to be a festival in town but Cliff and Jay decided they would not go this year. They both asked their parents if they can hang out together at Cliff’s house instead. They argued that they were old enough to stay by themselves. After a little back and forth both of the parents agreed as long as they did not misbehave or leave the property. They also felt that it was safe since it was during the day so it would be okay.

Cliff was very excited that he would be able to stay home with his friend without his parents or sister, it made him feel grown up.

Cliff and his family including an older sister who just started college moved into town 2 years ago along with their 2 cats. The house they purchased was vacant for years as it was old, needing repairs and there were stories about that house for years which made potential buyers shy away from it.

The house did need a lot of work, it looked decrepit and not inviting at all. Cliff’s parents did not believe any of that stories that were told about the house, they just assumed it was old wives tales that morphed over the years. It was a big house with a large property that made them want to buy the house.

Because the house was on the market and empty for many years they were able to get a great deal which saved them money to use for repairs and renovations. They had time to fix the house because they were able to say with their parents in town while they were making repairs to their house.

In back, of the house, there was this large old structure which was rundown and old that might have been a barn at one time. “We haven’t got around to fixing that yet”, Cliff would tell his friends. Not far from there was a small running stream behind this old structure, around the stream was a wooded area with lots of trees and rocks. There were piles of leaves all over the ground while the trees were standing completely bare looking cold and harsh. barn 2

There was a certain chill in the air this Saturday morning, a little cloudy with rays of sunshine bursting through every now and then. It was the day of the festival, Cliff’s parents were going into town while Cliff was staying behind waiting for Jay to come over and spend the day. The doorbell rang it was Jay, Cliff rushed like the wind to open the door.

They were like little kids in a candy shop all excited and happy as they both were jumping around the house. Remember how you felt when your parents left you alone at home without an adult, you felt like celebrating.  Cliff suggested to Jay they go to the backyard where the stream was to skip rocks and horse around.

After a while of throwing rocks into the stream, and jumping into the pile of leaves, Cliff turned to Jay and said. “Let’s go into the barn” Jay paused for a moment and said maybe they shouldn’t, since part of the barn was boarded up along with an old lock on the door.

Cliff asked Jay “What are you, chicken? Jay responded “NO!” but still did not want to go in, as the barn looked unsafe, not too sturdy and he also knew that his own parents would not approve. Cliff couldn’t wait any longer, he had never been inside the barn in fact only his father had gone in once when they first moved in, but only once. He pulled the lock open which wasn’t locked tight at all and slowly opened the door against Jay’s wishes.

The door would not open easily, Cliff had to pull harder and as he did the door made loud creaking noises. Cliff slowly walked in through the cobwebs and dust that settled inside, right behind him was Jay grudgingly walking right behind him. They heard a flapping of wings as soon they walked a few steps inside. They couldn’t see what it was while noticing  a strange smell that was in the air.

There were things that looked like old tools, broken down stalls that perhaps horses were kept at some point.  Cliff noticed how much cooler inside the barn was compared to outside He couldn’t understand why as he kept on walking around. There was a pile of hay covered in dust and spider webs.  He heard crickets inside, hiding from the light, they were big, black and ugly as he saw them jump side to side as he walked by them.

They had to watch their steps while walking as there were all kinds of debris on the floor as well as uneven floors along the way. At this point, Jay told him they should leave but Cliff would not hear of it after not getting anywhere with Cliff, Jay decided to leave the barn and wait outside.

All the way in the back was something that caught Cliff’s eye but was unsure what it was. So he walked towards it wishing he had brought his flashlight with him. Jay felt bad so he went back inside the barn. He called for Cliff, there was no answer, he yelled again CLIFF!!!!, still no reply. There stood Jay all alone wondering why Cliff was not answering and what he was going to tell his parents.

to be continued…

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Working as a Consultant

Laid Off Again

Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Ziprecruiter.com, etc…ring a bell?
Well it should, if you are out of work, these are the sites that you frequent on your job search

How many of you out there are looking for work? Too many to count, right?
I can relate and sympathize with of all you. For the past few years, I have been working
on and off as a consultant. I call working as a consultant ‘looking from the outside in”
meaning, technically you are working in the company but not for the company as the agency that hired you pays your salary.  want ads

As a consultant, you are not involved in any meetings that relate to the company, no paid holidays, sick days and vacations. I don’t know how you feel but for me, it’s like a guest visiting someone’s house, it’s nice, but you know at some point you have to leave.

There was a company that I worked for in 2012. I loved working there, the people were great, the manager was caring and I enjoyed the work I was doing. It was mid-week in early November when the manager called and wanted to see me.
At first, I wondered what this meeting could be about. There was nothing planned, we already went over what had to be done, what could it be?

I sort of had this bad feeling but I just assumed it was me worrying. Wrong! After a few pleasantries the manager told me that they were not extending my contract and my stay with them will end mid-December, wow I was really surprised. Why? Because I thought I would be there at least early spring of 2013, so yes it was a shock to me.

The manager told me how they loved my work and what a great worker I was, (a lot of good that does me now). After shaking the manager’s hand and expressing my thanks for the opportunity to have worked there, I walked out of the office with my head between
my knees and back to my desk. Here we go again!

My whole attitude changed from that point on. Yes I still worked hard and cared about my work, but you feel different, you feel mad, angry, sad and empty. Why couldn’t they have kept me longer, I was thinking to myself?

You see what happened was, during the time I was there, the company where I was working was bought out by another company and they needed to cut costs, so many, workers along with myself were let go.

Many of those workers were permanent, so most of them received packages, I know it still is hard to lose a job, but at least they got something. I did not get anything.

What do consultants like me get?  We get the consolatory going away party if your lucky. Don’t you just love that? How does everyone else feel? I know that in most cases temporary work is the only option out there, that’s because companies want to save money and avoid having to pay for healthcare, vacations and paid days off.

It is a bad state of affairs that we are in today. Will things ever get better?

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A Strange Morning at the Draven’s

A Haunting Morning

morning dawnIt was just another Friday morning for Luke and his family. There was a cool brisk October breeze in the air. Luke usually wakes up around 5:00 to walk their dog Shadow a German shepherd His wife Ella and their daughter Arina were still sleeping, but they soon will be waking up to get ready for school.

They live in a wooded area with surrounding lakes about 20 minutes from town.  It’s a small town where people tend to know each other. The closest major city is about 90 minutes away, which is where Luke drives every day for work.

Ella was slowly stretching her arms trying to wake up as she glanced over to see the clock that it was 5:40 and Luke had not come back yet. Without worrying Arina, she wakes her up and starts to get her ready for school. Even though Arina is pretty independent for an 8- year-old she needs mom to help her out.

Arina was in the bathroom brushing her teeth when she heard a noise coming from the kitchen door downstairs. She assumed it was her dad coming in, but, it wasn’t.  Once again the noise appeared louder and louder each time around. It was sort of a light scratching and banging on the door, she got her mom and they cautiously went down the stairs.

Before they stepped off the last step going into the kitchen, they looked around to see if anything was out of place or out of the ordinary there wasn’t, so they proceeded to go downward.  They could hear the noise outside the kitchen door, slowly they walked towards the door, but not before Ella decided to pick up one of the carving knives from the counter just to be safe.

Ella looked outside the door from the keyhole but could not see anything, but she could sense something was out there. Arina whispered to her mom perhaps it was Shadow coming back.  Amy yelled out in a nervous shaking tone “who is out there!” There was no reply, just silence. Ella told her daughter to stand back before she opened the door. Arina told her mom wait, she went to pick up a frying pan to hold in her hand, “just in case”, Arina said.

Ella slowly opened the door much to her surprise there was nothing standing out there. She did see some small footprints near the door, possibly an animal. She stepped outside to look around still clutching the knife with Arina not far behind with the pan.

Ella did not see anything so they were heading back inside, but just before they were about to close the door, this big Alaskan Husky barrels right through the door barking as both Ella and Arina were shaking like leaves on a windy day in their kitchen. They tried to stay still, but it was not easy.

The Alaskan Husky was wet, dirty, and trembling, but at least he was not barking which calmed things down things down for them. Ella slowly walked towards the dog noticing red wet marks and scratches on its face.  They gave the dog some food and some water as Ella looked at the clock again now it was 6:00 and no sign of her husband.

The level of anxiety on Ella was increasing with each passing minute that Luke was missing. Arina started to cry realizing that dad was not home, and neither was Shadow while this strange dog with marks on its face and body was there with them instead.

Who was this dog? Where did it come from and why was it there. But more importantly where was Luke? Where was Shadow?

to be continued…

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Adara is Anxious – part 1

Bullied

Adara was sitting out on the porch waiting for her aunt to call her for supper while her uncle Brad was in the shed putting his tools away after a day’s work.
You see Adara has been spending the summer with her uncle and aunt on their farm.
Her parents felt it would be good for Adara to get away and be outdoors, hoping to put last year behind her.

She is extremely anxious as summer is coming to an end. Adara is going into the 10th grade this coming fall. The past school year was not a good one for her.
Students bullied her and made fun of her for no reason. They told her she is ugly, fat, wore old clothes and that she was useless.

There were many days that she went home from school crying her eyes out, literally a waterfall of tears would be streaming down her face. She could not understand why they would be so mean to her. depressed3

Adara is your average girl. She is about 5. 3 ft. tall, slightly overweight but not obese. Her hair is shoulder length, dark and wavy. She is a good student never in trouble, belongs to a poetry club, not good at sports, shy, not too talkative and has very few friends.

As she helps her aunt clean up after supper her thoughts are with the upcoming school year, wondering if anything will change or if it will remain the same.
Okay, right about now you may be wondering if her parents have gone to school officials to express their concerns how their daughter is being treated at school, right?

Well, they did reach out to the school, but as usual, the school was unable to provide them with any satisfactory solutions, other than the usual such as providing counseling for
students who are bullied  as well as talking to the students about the effects that bullying can cause and blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, the student who is being bullied
has their life turned upside down when in reality it should be a special time in their lives.

Adara says good night to her uncle and aunt and goes up to her room for the night, something she does a lot when she is at home. Adara does not socialize much
so her room is a place where she can relax and feel safe from the outside world, but is she? Social media, let me repeat Social Media. She reads what they say about her on these social sites.

Where in the past there may have been a couple of students who would do the bullying, now it is multiplied many times over. In addition, many of them hide their identities behind these sites while writing hurtful comments. In the last few years how many students have committed suicide because they could no longer handle the pain?

What a tragedy, imagine what these students have gone through to take their own lives.

Poor Adara, not only does she have to endure the verbal and sometimes physical abuse outside, but now she can see and feel the pain that social media delivers right inside
her home. It’s not so bad now, but she knows once school opens it will start all over again.

Adara is getting anxious.  School starts next week.

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A subway Ride on a Sunday Afternoon

NYC Subway ride

NYC subway pulling into station

It was a hazy hot summer Sunday afternoon in the city, New York City to be exact. It was one of those rare times when I really had nothing to do. So I got myself dressed took the essentials with me, my IPhone, bottle of water and my wallet and off I went.

Living uptown provided me with enough time to think where I should go and what to do when I got there. I was happy to feel the cool air flowing in the air as I stepped into the subway.

With my headphones on tuning out the world, I started to watch
the people on the train without being too obvious of course. It’s amazing being in a subway car one can come across people from all around the world, with different backgrounds, beliefs, attitudes and stories.  Which for me makes a subway ride interesting and at times entertaining.

For example, there was a young lady probably no older than 21 or 23
sitting with her 3 young children ages I guess from 1 to 3 years old. The two young boys were twins and the girl was the oldest. Was she a single mom? Is there a dad in the picture?

Was the dad there but left once he found out she was pregnant? Not sure but looking at her face you can tell life has not been kind to her. I wonder if she has any family helping her, I hope she does.

I glance over the corner of the train where a middle age couple, both well-dressed were sitting together. They seemed to be arguing over something, perhaps about money, a job loss, or maybe one of them was caught cheating on the other. There were no tears just frustration and anger on both sides.

I slowly turned my head to the left side of the train where a group of teenage boys were talking loudly all dressed somewhat alike wearing vests with some kind of lettering
and images, “were they in a gang or just wearing a style made popular in the town they lived in”.  As the train was pulling into the station and the group of teens were getting off the train you can feel a certain sigh of relief within the car as they left.  It may not be the right way to think, but that is just the way things are today.

Was it wrong to assume the worst? Why is it that we seem to judge people too soon?Should we care enough to stop and see if we can help one another?

Are we all too busy in our own hectic lives to reach out and help someone
or are we afraid, because sometimes no good deed goes unpunished? Has today’s world affected the way we act and behave or do we have so many problems of our own to even care about anyone else? Just wondering.

Oh sorry, here is my stop, getting off the train now but I hope to see you again.

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Politics as usual

State of Affairs?

Isn’t amazing that we tend to follow people like a herd of cattle. We support candidates because of what party they belong too?  It is that kind of thinking that has brought us to the mess we are in. What a shame isn’t it?

Why align yourself with a person just because he or she is a Republican, a Democrat, a Liberal, a Conservative and so on? Why not vote for the person that will do the most for you? There are good and bad people in all parties and groups, although lately, it is extremely difficult to find the good.

For example take a look at what happened in New York. You had ex-Governor Spitzer running for Controller. You have ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner running for mayor. Both were disgraced out of office because they could not keep it inside their pants!  In fact, Mr. Weiner just recently had new issues with texting inappropriate images of his —-. What a joke!

Do we really want their hands in our pockets? Can they actually get elected? The sad truth is they could, and some have but thankfully both Mr. Weiner and Mr. Spitzer fell way short to be considered for nomination. Whew! Boy did we dodge a bullet!

Difficult Times:

For many of us, we tend to talk about the past because life today is just so difficult and the future for so many is uncertain. One could argue that every generation feels that life was harder for them when they were growing up, remember the so-called good old days.

Every era has its ups and downs, that is how life works, let us not forget the great depression, recessions and inflations and so on.  Somehow things eventually got better, but will it this time? There are signs that it may not be easy this time around. The biggest problem facing most of us are JOBS! There are not enough jobs to go around. Companies are not hiring and those that are lucky enough to be working are doing the jobs of 2 and sometimes 4 people.

Part time jobs, reduced hours, temporary jobs as consultants are the norm these days. Without jobs, how are people going to survive? Oh wait, maybe the government will take care of us, is that what this country was based on, more handouts and freebies?.

Passing Legislation For you and me:

legislation There are so many things that are being debated      every single day. When these decisions are made it    will affect us all in one way or another for many,        many years to come. Obama Care, balanced budget,  spending cuts, raising the retirement age, illegal        immigrants, cutting military aid, and on and on.

We as middle-class Americans are always asked to     sacrifice for the good of the country. But when is the middle class going to get their share of the pie? The rich always find a way to get ahead of the game. The poor have the government to help them with various programs. Now there is nothing wrong with that, accept, for many, it has become a lifestyle.

Which goes back to what I said earlier, if there no jobs, no opportunities and no ability to improve yourself what chance do we have?

Why Bother?

The unfortunate aspect of it all is we are just tired and fed up with our politicians, our leaders, companies, CEO’s,  our bosses, the list is endless. We just do not have the energy to keep fighting, many of us have given up we just do not care anymore. We are too busy trying to survive. The gap between the rich and the rest of us is growing at an alarming rate.

Why bother?  We say it will not matter in the end the result is always the same, the average American will get the short end of the stick. We are disgusted with corporations who always find loopholes to better themselves, the bosses who treat workers like crap because they can, the government because they have the power, and on and on.

The middle in middle-class is getting harder to find. How long will the middle-class have to carry the burden of keeping this country afloat before it disappears?

Why should we have to suffer because our politicians were and still are, wasting the money, they take from us with bad judgments and misguided policies? Every time we get paid (if we are lucky enough to have a job) they take more money for this and more for that. Most if not all politicians would rather pass the buck to the future generations instead of tackling the problem head on today.

However, I guess it all depends on your situation, some are in great financial shape while others are barely surviving.

Welcome to the New America!

Continuing on…

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