Roots

Posted in Personal Story, Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2018 by bigtuna185

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I’m having a son in two days. That’s a reality that’s still hard to catch up with. I’m going to be responsible for raising another little human. Who decided this was a good idea? At what point did everything around me change? If you take the time to ask me how I’m doing, I can almost guarantee that nothing I say is accurate. The truth is that it’s difficult to understand how to feel about this. I’ve never been more excited to welcome a new addition to our lives, but at the same time nothing has ever been more terrifying.

I think that I’m going to lean more towards excited for now though.

I wanted to take the time to explain to my future son, Ezra, what it means to be a part of our family. What it means to be a Troche.

Now I had coined a bit of a sarcastic family motto a while back that really only is known between me and my wife. Regardless, I find it to be on point when you think about it.

“A Troche never forgets, but always pretends that he forgets.”

Now if you look at that negatively, then that would indicate that people in our family would tend to try and get themselves out of trouble, more often than not through lies and deception. This is true to some extent based on the stories I’ve heard about some of my family. However, I like to spin it more to the positive, in the sense that as a Troche, you may not expect much of us, but we will absolutely surprise you with what we’re capable of.

We’re a family that, for a long time, has struggled with being honest, being transparent, being good communicators, being selfless and compassionate, and being attentive. It is a family history that seems like it is built more on mistrust than it is on love. This isn’t to say that the family doesn’t love each other, but in the past they have done a poor job of showing it. I can speak for me and my cousins in the same generation that this has been the case. Family, for all of their flaws, will always be family. I don’t say this out of resentment, but awareness that things need to change.

We’re finally growing into our namesake. We are taking over the mantle of the family name and defining it under our own terms. We get to choose what being a Troche means from here on out. My son will know who he is and where he comes from, but I also want him to know who I am, what I stand for, and that he will have that to lean on if he ever comes upon times of trouble or doubt. These are some of the things that I have learned in my short 27 years so far:

  • Be good to everyone, regardless of whether they are good to you.
  • A hard truth is better than a soft lie.
  • A sincere apology goes a long way towards mending bridges.
  • Respect the work that someone has put into a project, whether assigned or chosen.
  • Common courtesy is not common. Go out of your way to show kindness to others.
  • Be a man of your word.
  • Having a good reputation and being reliable are two traits that are immensely valuable.
  • Show and speak how you feel whenever necessary. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe.
  • Being vulnerable does not make you weak; it reveals the character of others.
  • Just being there when you’re needed can be enough to show that you care.
  • Becoming a good listener will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
  • Be unashamed of who you are. You were made that way for a reason.

And finally

  • No matter what you’re going through, God will take care of you.

These proverbs, if you can even call them that, are a short list of many things that define who I am. These are some of the core values that I’d like our family to become. Someday I might be considered a patriarch in my family, and I would hope that these would be readily apparent without having to say it out loud. I want my family to know that this is a part of me just from my actions.

I’m so conscious of how, from here on out, everything I do or say will affect my son. My wife will be responsible as well, but there’s just something, man to man, that goes beyond that. The wisdom that I pour into him must form a solid foundation, so that even if he goes wayward, he will still be grounded. I cannot control everything that he will do, but I can control who I am for him to look to.

I can’t wait to meet him already. The real work is yet to be done.

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Bathysphere

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2018 by bigtuna185

Heart rate rises and falls like the tide

Once choppy, once smooth

Unpredictable, but reliable

Waves roil and ripple

Across a sea of skin

Submariner of my soul

Come up for air

Breathe deep from life above the surface

Sonar indicates that you are close

Cabin depressurizing

Preparing for ascent

Breech eminent

The New American Tradition

Posted in Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2018 by bigtuna185

Image result for 2nd amendment

There is an awful tradition that has been developing in our country for the past couple of years that I wish would end. The worst part is that it’s entirely in our power to do so, but no one does anything. It’s something that we have to bring up and talk about fervently at least twice every month, yet even if it happened only once a year, it would still be too much. I have a lot of thoughts in my head as a future parent (less than a month to go), a school teacher, a God-fearing man, and as a concerned citizen. Let me start with this:

School shootings need to stop.

I think that’s something that everyone can agree on. The issue only becomes complicated when people start to discuss how they need to stop.

“We need tighter security at schools!”

“We should get rid of all guns!”

” It’s a mental health problem!”

No doubt you’ve heard arguments for all of these things, and each of them does play a part in this. Some of you may advocate for one or many of them. Let me also mention this. I’m all for 2nd Amendment rights. I get why they exist, and I think that everyone in this country has a right to own and operate a firearm, provided they are properly trained, licensed, and vetted.

What I am not for is regular citizens being able to gain access to military grade weapons (or if they aren’t, then they’re a small step below it), automatic machine guns, extended clips, stocks, and other such accessories that would indicate to me that someone is not using this for self-defense or hunting, but rather to inflict harm on someone.

In just the beginning of this year alone, there have already been 30 mass shootings (defined as a shooting where 2 or more people have been killed or injured by firearms intentionally). That isn’t a made up number. All of these statistics are readily available on http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/. Something needs to change. No 19 year old should be able to purchase an AR-15, much less a 19 year old who holds a grudge and was expelled from school. Frankly, no one needs that kind of firepower.

As a future father, I’m horrified that I can’t feel entirely safe sending my future son to school. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. As a teacher, I understand the safeguards that we try to put in place. We do lockdown drills, which essentially amounts to locking the doors of the classroom, turning off the lights, and getting the students away from the door. They tell us it’s effective because “a shooter wants to inflict as much damage as possible, and a locked door will only slow him/her down,” but it’s really used for the same purpose that kids in the 50s were told to hide under their desks in the event of a nuclear strike. It won’t really save you, but at least it’s better than doing nothing.

Security at schools vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. A low-income area might see metal detectors and police officers regularly at the entrance of a school, whereas a more affluent area will have employees of the school buzz visitors in the front door and make them sign in before having access to anything further. In most cases, if someone wants to come in and do some damage, we’re really powerless to stop it anyway. But should we really ramp up our security at schools? Won’t that just escalate the situation further? Or will it really be a deterrent to any delinquents thinking of making terrible decision?

We won’t know until we try. That’s the big thing though. We haven’t really tried much else. We’ll mourn the deaths of those that we lost after a major school shooting, listen to the rabble go back and forth blaming the wrong things and the wrong people, nothing will happen legislation-wise, and then we’ll repeat the cycle a month later and still be shocked how nothing has changed. This is the only country where this happens regularly. I’ll repeat that for those of you clutching your precious guns as though they were more important than your family.

THIS IS THE ONLY COUNTRY WHERE THIS HAPPENS REGULARLY.

For place that spends 57% of its budget on military expenditures, we do a pretty poor job of policing ourselves and making sure our own people aren’t taking out each other. But therein lies another problem. People will cry “mental health,” which it is sometimes, but what about the rest of the time? Could it be linked to terrorism? Is it white supremacy on the rise? Both solid thoughts, but I think it goes beyond that.

I mentioned that I’m going to be a dad next month. I think that the biggest deterrent to all of this is good parenting and just being there for your kids. Granted, I understand that you can’t control everything that your kids will end up doing, but a little care and attention goes a long way. I would never dream of the day that I failed that much in instilling the right morals and values in my son, to the point where he thought that it would be okay to seek revenge by taking 17 lives. Imagine where the shooter would be if a parent had reached out to him, taken an interest in his thoughts, his feelings. It should never have gotten to that point. I get that this isn’t a real deterrent, but it’s a great preemptive strike to nip whatever  COULD happen in the bud before it escalated this far. Be involved in what your kids are doing. Don’t just throw up your hands in frustration and get angry because you don’t understand what they like. Take an interest. It’s a small price to pay honestly.

I want to hope that something is done about this. I don’t believe a ban on guns is constitutional, but I also don’t believe that people should just be able to purchase guns with that much killing power so easily. It doesn’t help that most of the politicians that have the power to change this are also funded by the NRA. That feels like it should be illegal; the people that can affect gun violence in this country are paid millions of dollars by the organization that would be directly affected by legislation regulating it further. And don’t even get me started on this: https://nypost.com/2018/02/15/trump-repealed-rule-to-block-mentally-ill-people-from-buying-guns/

Let’s not make this a politics issue. Let’s make this a safety issue. Action NEEDS to be taken. It’s clear that what we have already been doing does not work. The worst case scenario is that less people have guns in the world, albeit people who shouldn’t have access to guns in the first place, and is that really a bad thing?

Father to Son

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2017 by bigtuna185

feeling-small

Ezra
You are the helper sent to us
Sent to make our family whole
Sent so that joy and love may spread
Abundant and plentiful shall all things be
For you

Ezra
You come from parents once broken
Parents that had to pick up the pieces
Parents that had to wipe the slate clean
At least more than a few times
Your family is flawed and vulnerable
But together nothing can defeat us
There might seem to be insurmountable struggles
Yet there won’t be anything to take us down
To discourage us
To make us lose hope
To keep our face stuck in the bitter ground
Your parents became tempered steel
Strong and durable
For you

Ezra
Your heart will be humble and true
Loyal, passionate, and loving
You come from a long line of genuine men
Generations of fathers gather to impart wisdom
Upon your life for the rest of your days
And should they fail
The Lord will guide your steps
Just as He did mine
If you are lost, He will find you
If you are distressed, He will comfort
He protects, loves, and watches over us
And there is nothing He wouldn’t do
For you

Ezra
The plan for how you came to be
Has been an eternity in the making
Heaven and Earth and Mountains and Oceans
And Time and Space were rearranged
So that you could be in our lives
Time is all we have with you
It won’t be enough; it never will be
But for now we enjoy the possibility
Of who you’ll become
Your future, fate, and destiny
What kind of man you’ll be
Meanwhile your mother and I
Patiently await the greatest moment of our lives…

…For you.

It’s Time for Hate of The Last Jedi…to End (SPOILERS)

Posted in Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2017 by bigtuna185

The_Last_Jedi_poster

“Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.”

“Who’s more foolish? The fool, or the one who follows him?”

-Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope)

It’s easy to forget amidst all of the hype that it wasn’t so long ago that the mention of Star Wars was done so in hushed tones and with an air of slight shame attached to it. We were (and still are) one of the largest fandoms in the world today. It is an IP that has inspired countless novels, video games, comic books, toys, board games, card games, and any other medium that you can imagine, and yet it was only less than 5 years ago that it was considered an odd gesture to be a fan. Fast forward to 2015 and you would be hard pressed to find anything so celebrated in this day and age. After the travesty that is considered the prequel trilogy, it was cool to like Star Wars again. No doubt we owe the debt of gratitude to J.J. Abrams for resurrecting and delivering a return to the universe that many thought George Lucas had sold out to the Dark Side years ago. Hope was anew inside the hearts of many geeks, young and old. You could sense the joy of those who were raised on the foundation of the original trilogy being able to share their childhood passion with kids of their own today. Even the one-off side story of Rogue One, drawing much skepticism at first, was very well received and became a favorite for many (myself included).

And yet somehow here we are, fresh off the release of a brand new Star Wars film and we’re already back to the cynicism that defined the early 2000’s for many of us. Having finally gotten around to seeing The Last Jedi, I felt it only necessary to throw my hat into the ring to be a voice against the rising tide of hate flowing from people who I know to be avid fans; people who know and love the galaxy far, far away as much as myself. What follows is HIGHLY FULL OF SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I suggest you leave, but also come back after you’ve seen it. The large amount of chatter about this movie that I heard going into it was that it was either better than The Empire Strikes Back (my favorite movie of all time), or that it was hot garbage and a disgrace to the Star Wars universe. The truth, like in most things, is actually closer to the middle.  Continue reading

How 8 Words can Get You Fired

Posted in Personal Story, Random Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2017 by bigtuna185

wordsI’ve been feeling the itch to write again lately, although I’m not entirely sure what to say at this point. So much has passed and changed since the last time that I updated anything on here. My about page and profile are so outdated that at this point they might as well be about a different person. But writing never really leaves you, it just kind of waits for you to come back.

The last time I wrote about something personal I got a great response from it, even though the subject matter was less than enjoyable to write about. There’s been a topic that I’ve been meaning to come around to and address, but I’ve felt that there would be more backlash than support should I decide to publish the post. I’m at a point now, though, that I don’t care for what readers might think, just that I know it’s something that needs to be said.

What follows is an account of how I was pushed out of a job that I loved. All parties will remain nameless because it isn’t so much about who was involved as it is about the need for the full story to be told, lest egos and man’s pride get in the way.

It’s important to start with where I am now in relation to the events that are yet to told. I’m married to my beautiful wife, I have a son on the way, we have an apartment that we live in comfortably with landlords who not only understand and empathize with what happened to me, but have gone through it themselves, and I work 3 jobs so that we can continue to maintain this standard of life. Where I am now isn’t the end of the story, but it serves as a guidepost as to how difficult it has been when it needn’t be so. Don’t get me wrong. We live a GREAT and BLESSED life, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like had events transpired differently. Anyway, onward. Continue reading

Trial by Fire

Posted in Personal Story with tags , , , , on June 19, 2017 by bigtuna185

I’m not quite sure how to write about this, but I know that I need to. Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had to watch my family go through.

We were coming home from our vacation in Florida, away to be at a gaming tournament for my brother’s birthday. It was a great weekend for all of us, my dad, my step-mom, me, and my brother. It was one of those weekends where you felt the stress of the past year just kind of dissipate and evaporate into the humid Orlando skies.

We arrived back at the airport without any issues, and, being that we were in Newark, we had a long drive back through New York traffic in order to reach my dad’s house on Long Island. Save for a few expletive filled moments directed at the various idiots driving on the road (as there are many), there were also no problems driving home.

As we made the turn onto the street where my father lived, I put away my copy of A Game of Thrones that I was re-reading, carefully dog-earring the chapter that I had left off on. I know you probably shouldn’t do that to books, but it’s better than using a bookmark and worrying about whether or not you lose it. Then I have to worry about the bookmark instead of the book, and I refuse to e-read, so here we are. All I could think about was getting to go home and see my wife, who I hadn’t seen for the past four days, her parents, eat some good food, relax on my couch at home, and feverishly look and apply to jobs for the summer. I never got to do that though.

The funny thing about plans is that they are never real until they happen. What happened next was not planned.

The car coasted down the bumpy, neglected road, and the first thing you noticed was the yellow tape. You know, like police tape stretched along the fence and lack of fence where a tree had previously fallen a few months ago. Then you look up from the tape and see what appears to be a house, but it no longer is. It takes a few seconds for the brain to add up and process the situation. Charred black, windows and doors blown out, a skeleton of its former self, my father’s house was destroyed. Burned.

I can’t tell you how much it hurt to hear my step-mom cry out to God or anyone for an explanation. To see them walk among the ashes of their now former life, coming to terms with the fact that things would never be the same again. The tears didn’t come to me, nor to my dad, as shock started to set in. Duty took over as a first born son, moving to try and do anything, say anything that might alleviate the situation. But mostly I couldn’t help but just stand there and look at it all.

Brown leaves from the trees overhead swayed in the branches from the gentle wind that blew that day. Brown I realized because the smoke and flames had been so high that it had killed a portion of the tree in a neighbors yard, suffocating it. The surrounding homes were still okay. Luckily, the fire was contained to the middle of the house and didn’t spread. Luckily is a bitter word here. Neighbors came out, anxious to know that my family was alright, that there was no one trapped inside when it happened. They didn’t know we had been on vacation, but they saw that a car was missing from the driveway. Cars drove past trying to see the spectacle that was my family’s tragedy. And you know they went out of their way to look at it. The house is on a dead end street.

My car had been in the driveway when it happened, the entire front, passenger side of the frame melted and drooping into the ground. Cracks and bubbles covered the windshield, straining under the intense heat that surrounded it earlier. The interior was all completely unharmed, so I was able to salvage everything from it, but the smell of burnt plastic was thick in the air inside. My dad’s car, sitting next to mine, useless due to a flat tire for months, wasn’t so lucky. The entire hood of the car was melted and gone, the engine looked like an ice cream cone left out on a hot summer’s day, the fabric on the inside of the car was torn apart and burned, and the rear window of his car looked as if it had been blown out. I didn’t have a car anymore, but that was nothing compared to what my family lost.

They attempted to sift through the wreckage to try and find what little things they could: in the end a few photo albums and a lock box with all of the house paperwork were the spoils. Nothing else could be done for it though. Unfortunately there were some kittens inside that didn’t make it, but the other cats were rescued and taken by a neighbor. The outdoor cats, meanwhile, all wandered along the front lawn, specters from a past life sent to comfort the grieving.

There was a man who showed up at some point who specialized in home fire aftermath repair/consulting, and things of that nature. A tricky business to get into. You don’t want business to be good, but you also need to make a living somehow. It’s a fine line to walk across. This guy did not even come close to finding the line. We realized that at some point the night before, he had tried to call us and tell us what happened, but at 1 in the morning when a random number calls, you don’t pick up. And so we didn’t. Anyway, this guy gets out of his van and tries to shoot the ol’ bull with everyone, asking people where they went to school just to see if they knew the same people that he knew. He was extremely outgoing, and charismatic, and picked the wrong time to showcase these qualities. I didn’t know how to tell him to leave, because we kind of needed him in order to figure out the next step. Eventually one of my dad’s friends showed up and told him to give us at least 24 hours to work through this.

It was a weird process. The initial emotion gave way to focused responsibility on what to do next, followed by more bouts of emotion, followed by action. Family showed up to support us. It was all very strange. To add to it, we still don’t know how it happened. The fire marshal had no answers, and the only information that we got from the situation was a 40 second clip on the news.

I think the hardest part about all of this for me was that I knew that I got to leave and go home. For my dad, my step-mom, and my brother, they couldn’t do that. Home was gone for them. Home was now ash in the wind, and I felt bad. They had nothing left, and there was nothing I could do except go home to my still moderately comfortable life. I prayed while I was there because it was the only thing I could do. Through that time, I heard God tell me “there’s a plan in this,” and that gave me comfort. Our plans may not be concrete, but His are, and hearing reassurance that there was purpose and love behind this was enough. It gave me strength to be there for my family.

At one point I asked my dad how he felt, which was dumb considering the situation, but I wanted to get a handle on his stability. The words seemed to get stuck in his throat, like he was preventing himself from processing the situation: “I don’t know how to feel!” And I just left it at that. This mental portrait, of my dad, silver gray ash covering his shoes, with a streak of red that trickled down, blood from a cut he had gotten while looking for the lock box key in the remains of the house, functioning, yet broken at the same time. I would wish for anything to give him back what he has now lost. But for right now, all we can do is rebuild and remember.

And by the way, did I mention it was Father’s Day?