What is love?


What have you learned in your life about love?

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How do I define love? I’m not sure. How do I use the word love? Here are some ways I have used “love” throughout my life:

  • I love my mother.
  • I love my father.
  • I love my wife.
  • I love my children.
  • I love my friends
  • I love my dog.
  • I love pizza.
  • I love reading.
  • I love writing.

The word “love” changes meaning in every sentence I wrote above. If it didn’t, I would be in dire need of counseling. And I probably would have been convicted of several crimes by now. As you can see, “love” changes from context to context. “Love” is a many splintered thing.

Dog


What is your spirit animal?

My rescue dog Earl

I truly believe that my spirit animal is a dog. I mean, if there is such a thing as a spirit animal. I get along well with most dogs. Just as dogs can sense fear in a person, I can sense if a dog is a threat to me. Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Like the time I saw my neighbor’s two Scottish Terriers: one black, one white. I’m sure you be able to guess which one was named Salt and which one, Pepper.

Anyway, as I run toward them, I see them wagging their tails and jumping toward me as I approach them. I think, “What friendly dogs!” And I know they are friendly, and we will get along fine after I pet them. I know this because I am convinced because my spirit animal is a dog. Their owner is holding them back so I can’t get near them, but I am persistent. I get close enough to reach out to Pepper. Suddenly, Pepper starts growling and before I can pull my hand back, he takes one quick, vicious bite at my hand. I’m not sure what hurt more: the open wound on my hand or my pride.

Regardless, I still believe my spirit animal is a dog.

Halloween


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I’m glad Halloween is over. My wife went to work and said I was in charge of the trick-or-treaters. She left me a box of granola bars for the trick or treaters. I was supposed to hand out granola bars. So the children would have a healthy diet and good teeth. When the first few kids come ring the doorbell, I give them each a granola bar. Oh! The look of disappointment on their faces! They told the other kids, “Don’t go to that house! They’re giving out granola bars!” So, I didn’t get any more trick or treaters. And just to make sure no one else rang my doorbell, I put the box of granola bars on the porch with a sign that said, “Take One!” The doorbell didn’t ring again. In fact, the first kids came back and returned the granola bars!

DDR

Stage fright


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I have always been afraid of speaking in public. I avoid speaking whenever possible. However, I ended up becoming a teacher. And now I am a Spanish teacher and a standup comedian.

I was always afraid to speak as a young boy because my first language was Spanish, and I didn’t speak English until I started school. I struggled with both languages through my entire grade school years.

There’s an old joke that goes like this: “What were the worst two years of your life?” “The fourth grade.”

Now, I am still struggling to overcome my stage fright. But now, I am a standup comedian. Each time I perform, I feel a little more comfortable, and a little less nervous. The more I perform, the more confident I feel in myself. All performers admit that they suffer from stage fright, but they have controlled it so well, that is hardly noticeable. I hope to reach that level someday!

DDR

Earl, the rescue dog


Earl, the rescue dog

I apologize for the dog hair. We have a new dog. It’s a rescue. Now my wife refers to me as one of her two rescues. On the plus side, I now have a best friend, Earl, our rescue dog. Earl is a mutt. They scolded me at the animal shelter for calling him a “mutt.” I’m sorry if I offended anyone, Earl is a mixed breed.

After our previous dog Pluto passed away at eighteen years old, I kept hearing, “Dad, can we get another dog? Dad, I promise to take care of him! Dad, I promise to walk him! Dad, I promise to feed him!” And that was just my wife! Guess what! I now get a lot of exercise walking Earl every morning. And every afternoon. And every night.

There are many benefits to having a dog. In addition to exercising every time I walk Earl, I also get to meet new friends. Since we adopted Earl, I’ve met Louie, Stella, Georgie, and Rocco. Those are just the dogs. I hate to say it, but I can’t name any of my neighbors. When you have a dog, you get to walk around with a bag of dog poop. And no one questions your motives.

After a year of mourning Pluto, my wife and I agreed to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter. We both agreed. No chihuahuas! No pit bulls! We came home with Earl, a great rescue dog! Earl was the name he came with. I liked it because I previously had dogs named Duke, Queenie, and Princess. So, Earl fit right in with the previous lineage of royalty.

Earl doesn’t bark or bite. Perfect! Right? My wife decided to have his DNA done. It turns out that that Earl is half-chihuahua, half-pit bull. Ay, chihuahua! He looks like a chihuahua on steroids. I’m going to have him audition for a Marvel Universe movie. Maybe he can team up with the raccoon. Ay, Chihuahua! The Rescue Dog! All he needs is the cape.

My wife signed us up for obedience classes. But I’m sure the obedience classes were more for me than for Earl. But the classes were very useful. We learned a lot of one-word commands like, “Sit!” “Stay!” “Paw!” We made a good team! Well, after six weeks of obedience classes, even my wife will admit that I am now a very good boy!

When the lockdown was over, we suffered from separation anxiety. Well, mostly me. I missed my little Earl. Oh, yeah, and my wife, too. With Earl, at least someone is happy to see me when I come home now.

When I went back to the classroom, without thinking, I started using dog commands on my students. As the students walked into the classroom, I would say, “Sit!” If they tried to leave class early, I would tell them, “Stay!” When I returned homework, I said, “Paw!” The students didn’t like that.

Yesterday, my wife called me from work to tell me to turn on the air conditioning because it was really hot. I told her I was fine. She said, “No! Not for you! Turn the air on for Earl!”

DDR

Unexplainable


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Some things are unexplainable.

For instance, have you ever been sitting in the cafeteria, or the computer lab, and you have a feeling that someone is looking at you? Well, you can actually feel that someone looking at you. You look up and that person is actually looking at you! There’s an awkward pause and usually the other person immediately looks away. However, you feel them looking at you again, and when you look up at them, that person quickly looks away feigning innocence.

My question is: How is it possible to feel someone’s gaze on your person? We’ve all experienced it. How do you prove this phenomenon scientifically? None of our usual five senses detect our being looked at. We just know someone is looking at us. When we get this feeling of being watched, rarely are we mistaken.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I, too, have been guilty of staring at strangers in public places. I find some people attractive and/or interesting, and I find myself observing (probably more like staring at) them. Of course, they can feel my gaze, and immediately look up in my direction! Busted! What can I say? I feel guilty of voyeurism. Especially if I continue observing that person after acknowledging my guilty pleasure.

I don’t really believe in ESP or other extrasensory abilities, but I am amazed that we have the ability to sense other people looking at us.

DDR

Comedian


The Lineup

Well, I’ve started going back to the comedy clubs after more than thirty-three years. Things have really changed since then. So many changes! I think the changes are for the better.

I was surprised by how many comedians go to the so many available open mics in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. And the comedians are so supportive of each other. Of course, that’s not surprising because Chicago is one of the comedy breeding grounds for the U.S. If you are a new comedian, you may perform every night of the week, multiple times per day. And there are no hecklers. I was incredibly surprised by that. I remember always dreading my confrontations with hecklers. Some of my best shows, of course, were when I was able to handle the hecklers.

Gone are the smoke-filled comedy rooms since smoking was banned indoors, which is great for me since I have always been a non-smoker. But I miss the ambience. However, the audiences are nicer now that they don’t smoke.

Back in 1986, I occasionally earned money as a standup comedian. Now, many clubs have a two-drink minimum for comedians who want to participate for the open mic. Yes, I understand that this helps keep the clubs open, but I remember getting paid five dollars and getting two drinks for performing at the open mic at the Higgins Street Cafe.

Back in 1983, all the open mics started at 9:00 or 9:30. Now they start much earlier, often as early as 6:00 PM. This is much more convenient for aspiring comics who must get up early for work the next morning.

There are so many comics attending all these open mics. Yes, I’m one of them, too. Last night, I went to The Comedy Shrine and there were forty comedians signed up! And about half of them were very funny. Not only do I perform, but I also enjoy watching the other comedians perform.

When I started performing this go-round, I wrote all new jokes. I had my friend Vito look over my jokes and he contributed some very funny jokes, as he did for me back in 1983 and 1986. Most of the jokes went over very well. Afterwards, several comics would ask me, “How long have you been doing comedy?” I suppose you can take that both ways: 1. That I sound like I have some previous experience as a comedian, or, 2. You must be new to comedy!

Well, I am finally overcoming my stage fright and getting more comfortable on stage. My new jokes are getting laughs at all the right times. Plus, I have been inserting my old jokes in there from time to time. At first, I was afraid to tell the old jokes, but I told one or two from time to time. Some of my biggest laughs come from jokes that are more than thirty years old!

I’ll keep working at standup comedy for the near future. I enjoy hearing the laughter. Maybe I’m crazy, but I finally found my true calling.

DDR

I’m back!


I’m back! At least, I think I am. Or, rather, I want to be. I have such a guilty conscience since I stopped writing blog posts. I could list hundreds of excuses for not writing, such as too busy, not enough time, I teach too many classes, I correct too many compositions and/or homework, etc, but I won’t list any!

I really have missed writing this blog, so now that the semester is almost over, I’m beginning to think about writing again.

Secrets


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“A secret is something you tell one person at a time.'”
“Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”

I know how to keep a secret! A while back, my brother told me he was getting divorced after thirty-five years of marriage. He prefaced his announcement by asking me not to tell anyone. I promised not to tell anyone.

A few months later, my brother posted his plans to get divorced on Facebook. I saw the post and thought he phrased it in such a way that blamed neither party for the divorce. My wife was surprised by his announcement. She asked me, “Did you see that your brother is getting divorced?” “Yes, I knew about his divorce. He told me a few months ago that he was getting divorced.” My wife was surprised I knew and then asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Because I promised him not to tell anyone. So, I didn’t tell anyone.” She insisted that I could have told her because she was my wife, and she should have been privy to such information. Well, I did not–and will not in the future–tell her or anyone a secret someone shared with me in strict confidentiality.

I know how to keep a secret!

Miles, not calories


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I count miles, not calories. I’m into running, not dieting. Many people are obsessed by the number of calories they eat when they should be exercising more. Now I’m not one to preach about the benefits of any form of exercise, but people always seem to know the exact number of calories I’m about to consume when I raise a soft drink to my mouth or get ready to order junk food.

Lately, people have been asking me how I lost so much weight. I dropped about thirty pounds and went from a 36-inch waist to a 32-inch waist. They’re disappointed when I tell them that I run about nine miles every day. They either don’t have time to run, or they have a back injury or bad knees that prevent them from running. I don’t have time to run, either, but I make time to run because I enjoy physical exercise and time for ruminating about my daily activities. I work out some of my daily problems and plan my day while running. When I don’t run, I feel as if I’m missing out on something vital. Yes, eat, breathe, sleep, run. They’re all very important. And just as important: reading, writing, running.

And in order to keep running, I eat fruits and vegetables every day. Every morning, I eat a banana, an apple, and an orange. I also enjoy eating a granola bar and a yogurt in the morning. I’m not happy unless I eat three pieces of fruit every day. I also eat peanuts and/or pistachios every day. I love eating peanuts and pistachios! I used to work in a peanut butter factory, and I could eat all the peanuts and/or peanut butter I wanted. And I enjoy drinking orange juice, the pulpy kind. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I like going without meat on some days. I once tried being a vegetarian, but I only lasted about a month before I began craving meat, any kind of meat. I guess deep down inside, I’m a carnivore!

My daily goals are to run as much as possible each day, or at least walk a mile or two, and eat some healthy food before I eat all the other junk food and sweets that I crave and can’t seem to live without. Overall, I feel good, but people I shocked that I run so much and by some of the things I eat. Well, I’m not here to please others. I want to enjoy my life. I can only please others or please myself. I choose me!

DDR