Archive for the ‘About Me’ Category

In these difficult days of economic struggle, I am fortunate enough and blessed to have a full-time job.  It may not be the best job, but it is reliable and handles my expenses – most of them.

However, the ever-increasing cost of daily living has me on the prowl for a new job that offers something more on the financial stability front.  The cost of gas and car insurance on the rise along with every other form of inflation imaginable is reason enough to sharpen up the resume and sell myself to the few worthwhile, potential employers out there.

I’ve been doing just that and it finally seems like the effort is paying off.  I have a great government job lined up, but the competition for the available positions is downright ridiculous.  Out of over 1,000 applicants, 500 were called back for the testing phase, with an undetermined number eagerly awaiting a call back for an interview.  The grand total to be hired after interviews?  20!  I’m keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on luck because I think I did badly on the testing portion of the hiring process.  On the contrary, I walked out of that test with my head held high and the firm belief that I’ve scored near perfect on it.  My real problem –and it has plagued me my entire working life— is the interview.  The dreaded, awful, sweat-inducing interview.  THE INTERVIEW.  I shudder at the words as if it were the name of an upcoming horror flick.  The thought alone makes me want to go to the bathroom; no need to pay for ex-lax anymore.

Interviews have always been my “Achilles Heel”, especially ones that are of a panel setting format.  Isn’t it already bad enough to have a face to face with someone who is scrutinizing you and evaluating everything you say and do, from the moment you walk through the door?  Nope, let’s just throw in 3 more suits to interrogate you, Oscar!  Sure, go for it, and cure me of any pending constipation problems for the rest of my life, thank you very much!

Comedy aside, I just don’t know why my nerves take center stage in an interview setting.  I’m a generally confident –borderline cocky— individual with a great attitude and common sense, but none of that comes through when I’m being interviewed.  I turn into a completely different person and I walk out red-faced and angry with myself every single time.  The questions they ask make sense, they register, and I normally know the answer but whatever intellectual response I’ve conjured up in my mind gets lost the moment my vocal cords flex their muscles.  Instead, what comes out is some silly, basic, irrational, short response that wouldn’t get me a job at McDonald’s let alone an upscale government position.  It is a real problem because I’ve lost out on some great opportunities as a result of this phobia.

I was hoping this was going to be a self-help/tips type of entry, but it really isn’t.  I have no answers that would aid me to become a better interviewee because I can’t seem to pinpoint the origin of the problem.  I’m not a MENSA member, but I consider myself an intelligent person.  I’m not looking to strike conversations with random strangers, but I’m most definitely not socially awkward.  So what do I do?  What can I do?  Where am I going wrong and how do I improve?

I understand the need for an interview as a tool to evaluate an individual, but sometimes it isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of how someone will perform on the job.  Maybe I will let them know exactly that the next time I find myself in the cross-examination room.  If I can just find the words to say it in the heat of the moment remains to be seen.

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Hi, my name is Oscar.  And I’m an addict.

My drug of choice is a wonderful little device known as a Blackberry.  Or a “Crackberry”, which is the more appropriate term for the case of this addict.  If you’re a proud owner of a Blackberry as well, you may very well know exactly what I’m talking about.  Oh yes, you know damn well what I’m talking about!

Let me just say that I used to frown at the idea of these so-called smartphones; maybe I’m old fashioned but I was one to say that a cell-phone is just that…a phone!  Why on earth would I need a fancy gadget with all these useless tools, when all I really want to do is just make a phone call?!  Besides, I’m not in the mood to read the in-depth novel that is the instruction manual.  Who wants a steep learning curve when all I really need to do is punch in a few numbers…a simple phone will do just fine.  And screw text messaging!  Boy, was I wrong.

I was introduced to Veronica, my “Blackberry Torch” (yes, I named it…don’t you judge me), in December of last year and we’ve been an inseparable item ever since.  My jealous girlfriend will attest to that fact (ironic because it was a gift from her); she seems to think I neglect her and spend more time on the phone than I do with her.  Silly, right?  Ok, so maybe she isn’t so wrong, but it’s just so pretty, shiny, sleek and sexy…and did I say pretty? 

All joking aside (for now), even though I’m not a techy-nerd, this apparatus is extremely useful!  In an attempt to justify my enamor and infatuation, I’ve highlighted some great reasons for my endless praises:

  1. An organized existence: Need to make and appointment?  Don’t have a calendar handy?  How about alerts to remind you of those pending engagements, meetings or important days?  Well, with a few clicks of your phone, you can do that all and you will never forget your girlfriend’s birthday or anniversary again!  That comes in handy, trust me.
  2. Stay in the social loop/What’s APPening?: If you’re a Facebook and Twitter addict, just download the applications and keep in touch with your circle of friends 24/7.  I happen to love the WordPress application, which allows me to blog directly from the device.
  3. You have mail: Don’t have a computer handy?  No problem!  A Blackberry pushes all your emails thru and notifies you in real-time when you receive new messages – and those annoying forwards.  Sending e-mails is just as easy.
  4. Let’s chit chat: No longer is text messaging the hottest trend.  With a Blackberry, you are part of an elite and exclusive club that comes with its own chatting platform known as Blackberry Messenger, or BBM.  Maybe this one is not that important, but it’s pretty cool to have a phone that comes with a unique identification number and barcode utilized for adding other Blackberry users to your BBM.  Exclusivity is the appeal here folks!
  5. Type away: The “QWERTY” keyboard is a personal preference for anyone that is a Blackberry lover.  I’ve tried phones that are strictly touch keyboard and I find that typos are abundant (and I don’t even have fat fingers).  There is something great about feeling those physical keys and pushing down on them to type out messages.  There is a slight learning curve, but I can type almost as fast as I do on a regular keyboard now.
  6. Real men don’t ask for directions: The Blackberry comes with a very useful built-in map that can get you out of any dead-end!  Who needs to ask for directions or resort to Mapquest when you have a personal GPS right in your phone?  I’m particularly fond of this one because my sense of direction is worse than that of a blind person in the middle of the Sahara.
  7. Say cheese: I used to think that camera phones were over-rated.  Until I realized that most people don’t walk around with their digital cameras; cell-phones on the other hand, are almost always on your person.  I will never miss a spontaneous “Kodak moment” again thanks to my trusty Blackberry!

So there you have it!  It’s not only a material possession; it really does have its useful perks. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to her.  I’m getting withdrawals…

I’ve been thru my share of relationships.  Most of which have finished by me being at the receiving end of a nonsensical excuse for a break-up.  The kind that makes any sort of reasoning, an internal mental struggle that can drive you mad – madness released only by painful acid disguised in the form of tears.

But I promise, I’m not as bitter as I sound; in hindsight, those broken relationships ended for one reason or another –no matter what those reasons were—and it was all for the best.  I’m at a different, happier place in my life now and any attempts at finding cause for past failed romances are useless and irrelevant. 

But what happens when people refuse to close the chapter?  Refuse to close one door and open another one, as they say.  This occurs frequently and makes for a miserable existence on the part of the jilted lover – and sometimes, the heartbreaker.  While I have never placed myself in that position (I let sanity prevail), I can certainly empathize with those that feel distraught over a break-up.  Being dumped, unexpectedly especially, is a difficult pill to swallow; so difficult in fact, that many can’t swallow at all, and are left with the bitter taste in their mouth — or they ultimately end up choking on it. 

My break-ups are handled in a cliché fashion: take it as a learning experience and move on…that works best for me.  Yes, I can understand it’s advice that fits the “easier said than done” idiom category.  What I can’t understand is how some broken up lovers come to a mutual agreement that pursuing an amicable friendship is a healthy form of “moving on”.  I realize that couples turned pals, are possible, and don’t always turn into an affair of scorned ex boyfriends or girlfriends unleashing venomous words guided by hurt egos and pride; the nature of the break-up along with many other things can be taken into consideration when examining these successful alliances. 

But I’m speaking from a personal point of view.  I just can’t fathom being friends with someone who was so much more at one point – I have enough friends as it is anyway.  If you don’t share children, a mortgage or anything else that binds the two of you, say your goodbyes and don’t look back.  Avoid complications, drama and further heartache.  Erase them from your facebook, delete their numbers and toss the photographs, but that’s just me I guess. 

The whole “let’s just be friends” concept post-love, is nothing but awkward when I think about it.  The fact is, the relationship has failed on ALL fronts.  A relationship that consisted of romance AND friendship – you can be friends without romance (until you cross that line), but romance doesn’t exclude friendship.  What makes someone feel that friendship, after parting ways romantically is going to be sunshine and daisies, when you’ve already had your chance at both? 

I find that people who long for the friendship-ever-after, usually have ulterior motives and let’s face it, if the break-up wasn’t mutual, feelings linger for one or both parties. 

Common reasons for wanting to have a platonic relationship with your ex, despite still having feelings for them are:

1. Refusing to let go of the past-Yah, you have great memories and a history, but that’s the key word.  It’s history.

2. Monitoring an ex’s activities and whereabouts-Stop it!  This is unhealthy and borderline stalker behavior.

3. A false sense and usually misguided hope of “starting over” and getting back together-You’re never going to be happy as long as you have this mentality and live in the comfortable confines of a blissful daydream.

None of the abovementioned will benefit the broken-hearted.  If you find that you’re on that boat, do yourself a favour and disconnect yourself from the person that has said their goodbyes already.  Don’t miss out on a better opportunity at love because you’re giving VIP status to someone who doesn’t deserve your heart.

What constitutes a man being in touch with his feminine side?  How does a woman come to the conclusion that a male counterpart should be labeled under that category?  A category generally frowned upon by other males, who tend to live by the “real man’s man” code, resulting in probable embarrassment for the guy viewed as too effeminate.  Yet females, from personal experience, tend to think of it as an endearing quality (a turn-on even), resulting in said male, secretly –or not—being proud of his higher than normal estrogen levels.

I’ve been told more times than I can count, that I am far too in touch with my feminine side.  Is it a justified observation?  Yah, probably.  The only thing that leaves me baffled is, how does one really determine what’s overly feminine behavior for a guy?  Is it really odd and out of character for a male to take extra care of their appearance, for example?  Granted, maybe I do go the extra mile; I take an awful long time styling my hair, especially for someone with short hair to begin with; my mom, being an aesthetician, offers facials (they’re amazing) and waxing for those extra, out-of-place eyebrow hairs that are a nuisance – I gladly accept the free services.

I lost points on the masculinity, macho scale amongst friends because I am loyal to a hairstylist and frequent a salon instead of a barber-shop.  I’ve been the butt of jokes because I’m a fan of going to the mall for a shopping excursion.  Gasp!  Is it really so bad that I like shopping for nice things?  Is it a crime that somebody sans menstrual cycles, knows how to color co-ordinate attire?

The aforementioned not only allude to me being in touch with my she-part, but it also means I’m a “metro-sexual”;  A made up term, probably stemming from the whole “being in touch with your feminine side” notion –glorified by pretty male celebs–  that I won’t delve further into, for this post.

Besides the appearance related aspects, being in touch with my femininity also applies to my sensitivity and emotional scale – as if there were an actual scale used to measure such things.  Crying in shows, books and movies usually causes a riot of laughter from my male buddies…maybe tearing up during “Spider-Man” might have been unwarranted, and I rightfully deserved the mock treatment, but give me a break.

If I’m ever overly romantic or bragging about my girlfriend, it automatically means I’m “whipped” and have lost some sort of independence…Or maybe I just like treating her good?

How about this one: “You’re such a girl”, after putting the toilet seat down in its rightful spot.  So a true man has to be devoid of simple manners and etiquette now?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the expression, “being in touch with your feminine side” is grossly misused and misunderstood.  The archetypal male and female have been set in stone and are predisposed to behave in a certain fashion by those that are likely to type-cast.  It’s usually harmless and the comments don’t bug me at all, especially coming from close friends.  I love the way I am, and I don’t have a problem showing off my more, sensitive side.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a guy with masculine sensibilities (lots of them), but being a momma’s boy my whole life, I can definitely see the influences.  I’m just a big softie around the almost non-existent edges – I must be leaking testosterone from somewhere.

Love Is In The Air

Posted: April 11, 2011 in About Me
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After feeling like I’ve hibernated all winter, April brings me a sense of rejuvenation.  The year is still young and I’m excited for the months ahead; spring fever has definitely infected me yet again.

The snow has melted, the showers are falling and the flowers are starting to raise their pretty little heads to the welcoming breeze.  The smell of damp earth, combined with the unmistakable scent of spring brings a smile to my face.  And love, love is definitely in the air.

I don’t know what it is about spring, maybe the beautiful weather or just something in our biological clock that makes our hearts skip a beat and overwhelm us with romantic notions.  People –couples specifically– are in better moods and it shows; lovers holding hands as they take walks in the park; some enjoying a romantic picnic amongst a scenic field of daisies; others gazing into each others eyes as they share a cold drink at the patio-bar.  It’s as if a fresh start has been made and whatever problems they might have had, seems to have gotten lost in the beauty of it all.

My girlfriend and I have been dating just over a year – this will be our second spring together.  When a new spell arrives, I get to thinking about seasons past…nostalgia and reminiscent feelings, you could say.  I am a melancholic person by nature, after all.  The lady in my life has given me some fond memories in our short time together, and I’m thrilled at the thought of having yet another unforgettable season with her.  What else can I say, except that I’m madly in love with her — and spring! 🙂

Love!


A Tribute To Toronto

Posted: April 10, 2011 in About Me
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Toronto is a wonderful city I have the privilege of calling home.  That wasn’t always the case though.  I was born in a war-torn, third world country (El Salvador), that is still, to this day, struggling to rise from the depths of poverty and crime; although the civil war came to an end years ago, the effects of it are ever-present in the corrupt governments and never-ending violence.

Even though I was only 7 when I left –maybe too young to grasp the real gravity of the situation—I remember clearly, the gunfire, explosion, screams, and tears…the horrible soundtrack of war.

But this isn’t really a post about the calamities and misfortunes of my homeland.  Maybe I will tell you more about that another time.

This post is more about being appreciative and grateful of the life this country –this city— has given me – especially after experiencing, albeit only for a short time, living in the midst of disaster and unrest.  I wanted to tell you why I feel proud of calling this wonderful place, home; a tribute to Toronto.

Toronto is a city boasting with diversity and a multicultural population that makes it all that more beautiful.  You can’t find a greater indication of this than in the various neighbourhoods, and districts that encompass it; enjoy some of the finest Greek food and festivities by taking a stroll on the Danforth; authentic and delicious Chinese food, along with cheap prices for practically anything (herbs, fruits, accessories, shoes), awaits you at Chinatown on Spadina Ave; venture into Little Italy if you’re in the mood for a cappuccino and expect a warm welcome from the vocal and friendly crowd; The Annex is a trendy and eccentric area lined up with beautiful Victorian style houses, for your viewing pleasure; if you love shopping and like to keep up with the latest trends, head over to the fashion district on Queen St. and “shop til you drop”; if you like the lavish lifestyle and want the fine dining experience, head over to the upscale Yorkville area and don’t be surprised if you bump into a celebrity or two.  And that’s hardly scratching the surface of the various districts you can choose from.

Along with the assorted cultural flavour, the performing arts are abundant in the Toronto scene — on par with the likes of New York and San Francisco.  Choose from one of the many ballets, operas and theatre shows being offered on a daily basis.  Musicals are one of my guilty pleasures; I’ve seen “The Phantom Of The Opera”, “Grease”, “The Secret Gardern” and “Wicked”, to name a few.

Truly, you can’t praise the city without acknowledging the inhabitants.  The people of Toronto are, for the most part, amicable and easy-going.  Don’t be scared to give a smile or a friendly hello because you are likely to be reciprocated.  I guess the myth about Canadians being overly friendly isn’t a lie, EH?  Also, much like any country, we are very patriotic; the hockey arena is always full with enthusiastic Torontonians cheering for our team, even though they never win.

Of course the city isn’t perfect and just like everywhere else, there are a few bad apples that ruin the utopia for the rest.  However, the good qualities outweigh the bad, without a doubt.  There is a feeling of safety and comfort that people from other parts of the world have never felt – a privilege and right that everyone should be entitled to.

The experiences I’ve had, the friends I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned from growing up here are invaluable.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  I remain a faithful Torontonian until the end.

A couple of days ago, while talking to a close friend, I let him know that the blogging craze had infected me and I was/am in the process of setting up an epic page.  It’s going to be a great site, I said, not entirely believing it.  “What are you going to blog about?  I hope you choose a specific topic, otherwise stick to Twitter updates”, is what he said.  I was quick to tell him what I’ve already mentioned in this very blog; the topics I plan to write about are limitless and assorted.  A true bag of potpourri that anyone and everyone can find some sort of enjoyment in.  At the risk of having a “Captain Obvious” moment, the name of the blog is, “The Art Of Variety” – “variety” being the key word.  I can’t apologize for having a range of interests that run longer than the Great Wall Of China and I don’t feel guilty for wanting to share them with you.

I realize I may be breaking some sort of unofficial cardinal blog rule in doing this, and making the process of getting a loyal following all that more difficult.  I got to thinking of the advantages and disadvantages of starting a general blog as opposed to a “niche” blog.  However, I’m not going to bore you by listing them here because I’m almost certain many of you fellow bloggers have at one point or another, done your research on the matter.  I just want to clarify that while I have decided to write about a mixture of topics, I do plan to visit recurrent, specific themes.  My previous blog-post was on a book review, which is one of the many topics I will be writing about throughout my blogging experience.  So, if you’ve enjoyed reading my review on “The Kite Runner”, I suggest you bookmark this page because I will be doing many more book reviews/critiques in the time to come.

And yes, I do have a Twitter account (thanks again “Captain Obvious”).  I was never really much of a fan –I used to think it was useless—until last summer, when I decided to join and I realized that it has its benefits: great way to keep up with the news, research tool, networking and self-promotion amongst others.  The short story of it all is, with so many wonderful (and not so wonderful) things to talk about and discuss, Twitter is not the best outlet for letting ALL of it pour out; 140 characters just isn’t enough.

In Brief…

Posted: March 31, 2011 in About Me
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They say your first blog post should be an informative one, that sets the tone for what lies ahead.  The truth is, I made this blog not to focus solely on one topic, but rather to voice my various opinions and thoughts with the intent of giving YOU something to think and/or talk about – and maybe, just maybe, entertain you in the process.

Really, what better way of reaching a broader audience than to have a diverse list of topics?  You’re bound to find something for you within these pages; whether it is pop culture, politics, literature, critiques, technology or just a good old rant – I live it and blog it, hate it or love it.  I guess you can call me an aspiring polymath.

I implore you to stick around, participate and give me feedback coupled with some patience.  This is after all, my very first attempt at a blogging platform and I am still familiarizing myself with the various settings and gadgets that WordPress has to offer.

You may not know a lot about me, and these short paragraphs certainly didn’t do much as far as getting us acquainted, but you will find that getting to know me won’t be so difficult once the posts get going.  Thanks for reading and I hope you come back soon!

-Oscar