Ten Things and a Possible Curse

So, the other day Roger, of Ramblin with Roger (a gentleman from New York, who because of the Internet and a six-degrees thing, I have had the opportunity to make a connection with) tagged me for one of those random meme things. His stated purpose in doing so was to have the opportunity to know me better. Consequently, it is my intention to respond to this tag with ten things that I believe will provide the most insight regarding who I am and what makes me tick.

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Number One: My Dad was fifty when I was born, and my Mom was thirty-eight. Thus, I was raised in a household where my sister—fourteen years my senior—was often mistaken for my mom, and my parents were often mistaken for my grandparents.

Number Two: In many ways my Dad, Medaldo Velez, embodied the American immigrant story, as he was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico, remembers humanitarian visits from Eleanor Roosevelt, and when he was old enough migrated to New York to pursue a better life.

Number Three: After fighting in “the War to end all wars,” my Dad made his way to the West Coast, where he met Frances Marian Chandler, the lady who was to become my mom, who was the daughter of a Presbyterian Pastor, a man who tragically died when she was only eleven years old.

Number Four: I am a tragically disconnected person. I am not sure why, but if I was to guess I would say that the cultural, linguistic, and generational gap between my Dad and I, coupled with the English reserve of my Mom, created an environment, which tripled by my innate melancholy nature, created a circumstance through which emotions were never a comfortable phenomena for me. Not that I am a-emotional. Rather, they primarily turned inward and gave birth to an odd interior life wherein I tend to project sentience onto everything in the world. For example, if I am working on a home project and I cannot drive a nail in smoothly then I will think something like, “You damn, piece of sh*t nail, I’m gonna beat the crap out of you for your insubordination.”

Number Five: As the story goes, after my birth, my Mom had a spell of post-partum depression, wherein she remembers sitting at the edge of her bed in a deep funk, being unable to pick my semi-colicky butt up from the bassinet. After my Mom told me this story, I sat down and wrote a narrative where that event became the birth of my tragic disconnection. I don’t know if this is true, but it makes for a good story.

Number Six: Somehow, in someway, John Calvin, predestination, and the inscrutable sovereignty of God became the dark specter that hung over the forming religious consciousness of my youth. At age thirteen I sincerely confirmed my faith, but I am not sure if I really understood what I was confirming. At age eighteen I had a weird religious experience involving a Chick tract, which resulted in the twenty year journey that I have been on for the salvation of my soul.

Number Seven: Perhaps this is another expression of disconnection, but throughout my school years I basically felt like a round peg in a square hole. I was rather insecure, a little too above the norm regarding my linguistic abilities, and consequently I was not cool. However, this all changed in college where what formerly worked against me now worked for me, and I became “college cool.” This unfortunately led to me being something of an unintentional jerk toward women, as I could not get above my insecurities, and general relational ambivalence.

Number Eight: All the books in my personal library are divided by genre, and are generally displayed with the largest books to the left working down in size toward the smallest book on the right. On the level of information access, I realize it would make more sense to shelve them by author’s last name (as I usually do with the artists in my CD collection), but for me, this is where aesthetics trumps pragmatics.

Number Nine: I started dating my friend’s sister, Paula, the summer after we both graduated from college. We knew each other, but I was not her type and so, in her own words, I was a safe date for her. As time went on we became serious, but I became ambivalent, and she drew a line in the sand. Graciously, however, while cruising on the Pacheco Pass coming home from the Bay Area, I heard the voice of God confront me about idolatry, and about my misperceptions regarding the nature of happiness, and this freed my heart to love Paula. Within a year we were married. Twelve years later we are still married and we have four children: two boys, two girls, who consecutively are Ethan, Elena, Joel and Camila.

Number Ten: I tend to by leery of things like fact memes, chain letters, and all things that ask you to forward what you received to others. This leeriness was reinforced during the era of the Clinton scandal when I was working at Wheaton College and was regularly receiving chain emails from the “friend” of the pastor of Ken Starr, and from the “friend” of the pastor of Bill Clinton, both asking me to support their man in this latest battle of the culture wars by forwarding their emails to my friends. Also, I received several emails regarding a national gas boycott day, which through some kind of economic voodoo was supposed to drive the price of gas down for us Americans who were, God forbid, paying three plus dollars for gas. However, I like Roger and for his sake was all too willing to put my leeriness aside and comply with his request to post ten things about myself. And yet, I don’t think I will tag five other people. If this brings some kind of curse upon my head, so be it.

3 Responses to “Ten Things and a Possible Curse”

  1. Jamie Holts  

    Well said Great information, keep up the great work!

  2. Roger Green  

    Well, THANK YOU, Mr. Velez. Your response was not only very interesting, but touched on some of my own secrets, which I will have to ponder.
    And I just don’t think you’ll get a curse on your head; those memes often ask for tagging, and I so seldom actually do so that I’m actually surprised I did in this case. Well, except for the stated reason re: you.

  3. Kevin Benson  

    Tony – Pretty cool. Despite knowing you for 30+ years I learned a lot. Who knew you had a melancholy, introspective side? :)