• The Psychology of a Trucker

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    617FB288-8106-D2C8-0BCB-E498A06EF3D3Truck driving runs in my family. My grandfather was a truck driver. My father and uncles followed in his footsteps, and so did my aunt Judy. The company belonged to my great grandfather who owned an orange orchard. He was the number one supplier of oranges in Jacksonville for many years before competition began impeding on the business. But, he took advantage of the growing competition and used his trucks to move the oranges for his competitors. It was expensive to invest in trucks at the time, so he charged them a nominal fee to move their products. My grandmother started making marmalade that became very popular in northern Florida and South Georgia, which was where her brothers worked. They owned a truck company that’s now called Tom Nehl Truck Company.
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    I was the only one in my family to go off to college. My brother followed in my father’s footsteps and my sister ended up opening a store with my cousin, Lucy. They had my grandmother’s secret cookbook of desserts, jams, marmalades, cookies, and finger foods that they practiced cooking with at home. They first sold out of the house because the only “bakery” in town was Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme. So, they started off small. They first made cookies and cakes for family gatherings or birthdays. They started getting more and more attention for their desserts. They watched a lot of YouTube videos and practiced at home to hone their craft.

    krispy-kreme-bangkokAnyways, so I went off to college to study Psychology. Yeah, I was the only one in my family who was remotely interested in how the mind works. I was always introverted, and I would sit back and watch people interacting in a room before ever making my move. It was always more fun to eavesdrop and watch the ever changing body language. I was the same during my time in college. Every party that I went to I would be the wallflower watching people. But, it became more interesting the more I delved deeper into my studies because I was able to pick out various behavioral traits. I could tell when someone was peer pressured, I could tell how the person felt based on their arms being crossed or on their sides. It was really interesting. But, when I went to tell my parents about all that I’d been learning, they just smiled and nodded. I love them to death, but I am so the black sheep of my family. I am the one that dealt with an existential crisis at fifteen. I sought to find my true inner-self and they were completely happy going on with their lives as it was. Sometimes, I wish I were like them, but usually I’m glad that I’m not. I used to hate being so different, but now I am wholly content with being the strange one. After graduating with BS in Psychology, I went on to get my Master’s and a Doctorate degree. Today, I practice as a mental health counselor in California.

  • Can It

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    When I was a child, my grandmother used to make my brothers and I her own soda. She had a recipe that she had created for various flavors. She made orange, pineapple, ginger and apple sodas. We always looked forward to seeing her on the weekends because that’s what we were treated with as soon as we step through the door. She told us that she made these sodas because she didn’t like us drinking Coca-Cola or Pepsi. She wanted us to drink something that she controlled. The sugar content wasn’t as high and she knew what was going into it. Her sodas also had no preservatives because she would make them fresh.

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    She wouldn’t tell anyone the recipe. But one day when I was sixteen, she brought me into the kitchen and taught me how to make it. She said that she was passing on the recipe to me because she wanted to pass it on to her only granddaughter. If she had had a daughter, she would have taught her how to make the sodas, she said. And in that moment, I was glad that she didn’t. Not because I wanted the recipe, but because I felt very close to my grandmother and I don’t know if it would have been different should she have had a daughter. She took me through the process step-by-step. I watched how smoothly she zipped around the kitchen even at her age. She was amazing. Once she was done, she let me try my hand at recreating the soda. I did and it didn’t taste like hers, but she showed me where I went wrong. We practiced once a week for a month until I was able to copy her process. Once I had that down, I tried my hand at creating a new flavor. I went with mango because we had a mango tree in the back and it was in season. I had to create a few different variations of it before I had it just right. I let me grandmother try it and she loved it. She told me that I was naturally gifted.

    Canning-Machine-Soda-carbonated-drinksA few months later she would pass away. I think she knew that her time was coming to an end and that’s why she taught me her secret recipe. I went off to college that year. I dropped out about a year after because my Dad had a stroke and someone needed to take care of him. My Mom was working and she couldn’t take care of him. She hated that I dropped out, but I was daddy’s little girl and there was no way I was leaving him when he needed me most. I would make him soda once a week because he loved my grandmother’s soda. He told me mine tasted just like hers and he really liked the mango and cherry flavors I had come up with. One day when a friend of his dropped by the house to see my father, I made them both some soda. John, my father’s friend, worked for OKL Can Line and he told me to can the sodas because they were really good. I looked at my father and I didn’t say anything. When John left, my father pulled me aside and told me to sell the sodas. I told him they were a family secret and I didn’t want to, but he told me it could change all our lives and Abuela would have wanted to help her family. So, I started canning the stuff and selling it at our local supermarket. It soon became really popular and we were offered a large sum for the recipe, but I turned it down. This was my family recipe and I was going to lead the line with this drink. And so, we partnered with a large soda company, I won’t say who (it is a fact that it may or may not be Pepsi), to sell the drink internationally.

  • Building Your Perfect Home

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    manuscript-751When my wife and I first purchased our home, it was on auction. We wanted to find something that would be relatively cheap in Nassau County so that we could renovate it to fit our needs. We were pregnant with our first child, and I was hoping for at least two more kids. So, the house would have to be big because we would need at least a room per kid. I was hoping for a basement because

    I used to live in my parent’s basement when I was fifteen until about nineteen, which was when I moved out to go to the University of Miami. I had been taking courses at the community college in town and I took some AP classes while I was in school. By the time I joined the university I was in my junior year. I actually met wife on campus when I was in my second junior semester. No, she wasn’t a student. She was actually
    working on campus. She worked as a barista on campus, but was a writer on the side. She had been working as a ghost writer for some time and had been working on her own projects for a while. About six months after I had met her, and swept her off her feet, she had signed a book deal.

    University_of-Miami_logoAnd six months from there, I was graduating and I got an offer to move to Nassau County to be the assistant manager for a marketing firm. My wife, Jessica, was doing well and she was working on the second and third books of her book deal. I proposed to her the night of my graduation by cutting out the inside of her book, which was published on the same day as my graduation. I had the ring in the book, so when I handed it to her and asked her to open it, she was surprised to see that there was a large square shaped hole in the middle of the book. She opened the velvet box that was in the center and looked past the book to see me on one knee. Tears fell over her eyelids as she covered her mouth and whelped “Yes.” I kissed her and when we pulled away she told me she was pregnant.

    Home-RemodelingAnd so, there we were buying our first home at an auction. We needed a place to start our family because she could write from anywhere, and I needed to be in Nassau County. So, we bought a house for $90,000 and we invested about $100,000 in renovations to the place because it was in pretty bad condition. We got the money from my parents who gave us a down payment and we got a loan to help with the renovations. Jessica was in charge of the decorating and designing. She enlisted the help of M Daigle & Sons for the renovations to the house. The house went from having no basement to having an attic that spanned the whole size of the house. We turned the attic into a playroom for our soon-to-be born son and for our future kids. We had three bedrooms and an office downstairs.

  • Ten Year High School Reunion

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    It was my 10 year high school reunion and I was driving down to Miami from Atlanta. I enjoyed long drives and the last time I had the opportunity to drive for a long period of time was when I moved to Atlanta from Miami. I come from a large Cuban family, and I had been around them my entire life. When I got the chance to do my residency in Atlanta, I jumped at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But, I needed to be on my own for a while. I was already the youngest child, I didn’t want to be babied anymore. The only person who was on my side was my Dad whom I didn’t get along with until the moment I was set on leaving. My Mom on the other hand used all the tricks in her guilt book. She tried to tell me that I didn’t love her, that I wanted to leave her, that I hated her. It goes on and on. I had to promise her that it had nothing to do with her and that it was all about me. Then, she turned it around to me being selfish and self-involved. There was no winning with her. I made her deal, though. I told her that I would come back down for Christmas, New Year, Easter and her birthday.
    reunionAnyways, back to my high school reunion. I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. I was more of a go with the flow kind of guy because I bounced around. I didn’t have a set clique, and I really only had two close friends that I would often hang out with over anyone else. We were sort of the vagabonds of the school. We did our own thing and if people tried to mess with us we fought back. Our motto was treat people the way they treat you. It was me, I’m Michael by the way, Jeffrey and Stephanie. We would often spend our afternoons in the bleachers or we would go to this really cool arcade usually in a smokey haze. I hadn’t seen the two of them in about a year. The last time I was back in Miami was for Christmas. We still kept in touch, but everything was different now. Jeffrey was a restaurant owner. He’s got a killer Cuban restaurant down in Miami. And Stephanie was now the mother of two, a single mother and an immigration attorney. She was hardly ever around. So, this reunion was going to give us a chance to catch up again.

    locked-outThe reunion was a blur. The three of us got really drunk and we ended up just hanging out outside the venue. It made me happy that we still had a close bond even after all these years. We were still the same vagabonds we were in high school. Since we were all drunk, none of us could drive, so we went to a nearby bar to hang out instead. We played darts and pool until we could no longer drink. Then, we headed to a diner to sober up. By 3:00 a.m., we were all exhausted and ready to go home. We said our goodbyes and all set off in different directions. I walked to my car, and I couldn’t find my keys. I was locked out of my car. Thankfully, I still had enough battery life on my phone to do a quick search. I found Miami Locksmith 305 online and gave them a quick call. They came out right away and set me on my way.

  • Meeting Abroad

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    When my wife and I moved to Jacksonville after purchasing our home through Adams Homes, we didn’t expect to take to the city so quickly. We both came from different backgrounds. My wife grew up in New York, so she was used to living the big city life and hopping from one station to the next to make her destination. She was quick paced, loud and very opinionated. I, on the other hand, was raised in California. I’m more laid back, beachy and casual. Yet, we somehow click. Why? I’m not sure exactly. I guess the whole opposites attract thing might be true and maybe we just balance each other out.
    daeguWe actually didn’t even meet in the US. We both taught abroad for a year. I was teaching English and she was teaching Science in Daegu, South Korea. That’s how we met. At first, she didn’t like me. I think it was my poetic charm, but she’ll tell you it was my aloof nature that first put her off. But, she eventually succumbed to my witty banter. Not really. I made a fool of myself one night when I get really drunk and she took me back home. She spent the night on the sofa and made sure that I didn’t choke on my own throw up. Amanda did the same thing for her roommate in college, so I think it was sort of a sign that she was meant to take care of me and I her. I woke up and she had cooked up some pancakes, eggs and bacon. She said, “You’re going to need to eat with the amount you threw up last night.” Never had I ever fallen harder for someone than I did Amanda. I had never met anyone who would have done that for me. I have done it for several friends, but I have never had it reciprocated.

    CadburyI sent her flowers to class and she hated me for bringing attention to her like that, but I just thought it was a nice gesture. So, my fight to get her attention was going to need more input. I added her on Facebook and went through her profile to find something that she truly loved. And I found it. She loved Cadbury’s chocolate. And unfortunately, we didn’t get any in South Korea, so I ordered them online and had them shipped. Sure, they were melted by the time they got to me, but I put them in the fridge and they were better than they were. I put them in a basket for her with balloons and set it in front of her door. I knocked on the door and hid around the corner. Her face lit up when she saw the chocolates. I came around the corner and she had gone back into her room. I gave up. There was no way I was going to win this girl’s heart. As I was walking out of the building, I heard the clicking of boots against the floor behind me. I turned around and found that I was quickly falling to the ground with Amanda on top of me. We landed on grass, thankfully. And she thanked me for the chocolates because they were favorites. We spent the day on the grass eating chocolates and we’ve been together ever since.

  • When I Became a Hairstylist for a Few Years

    When I Became a Hairstylist for a Few Years

    Blog Update, Goals, Life

    mcupload_56fdac9a13c0bI was born and raised in Dallas. My father owned a truck company that I had no interest in. I was far more interested in the wigs, coats, jewelry and makeup my mother wore when my parents went out on dates. I used to dress up in her clothes and try on her makeup when they went out. My Mom didn’t have to work, but she hated being home all day. My sisters and I would do chores around the house, so she didn’t have to do anything outside of making dinner, which my older sister, Stephanie, took over anyways. So, my mother decided to work to make some extra money to spend on the family or herself. Because I was the youngest and I didn’t go to school yet, my mother would take me to the salon with her. I got to see how much effort went into beauty. It wasn’t about being naturally beautiful, it was all about how well you were put together and how you carried yourself.

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    After I got enrolled at school, I didn’t get to visit the salon much, so I used to make use of the Barbie dolls my sister had in their rooms. I used to give them head-to-toe makeovers. I even dyed the doll’s traditional blonde hair a few times. I even took to sewing little outfits on them because I was bored of the clothes they had and most of the clothes had been ripped apart during tantrums my sister, Lacey, would throw. My Dad caught me playing with them one day and he beat me for playing with dolls. He said it wasn’t manly and that I needed to become a man. He sent me to military summer school every summer after that. And when I turned 12, he sent me to military boarding school. He was hoping it would make me more of a man, but I don’t think it helped. If anything, I learned more about myself because of that than anything.

    1134-aI ran away from school when I was 16 and I moved in with my grandmother in Miami. I went to beauty school and I became a hairstylist for a few years with Aqua Hair Extensions. They helped me find my way and I have since opened my own salon in Wilton Manors. I opened a salon and spa there because I wanted to offer more than just hairstyling. I wanted to offer beard trimming, facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing, massages and even tanning. I have been happy ever since. I eventually forgave my father for sending me to military school, and I think he eventually saw the error of his ways even if we didn’t talk about me very much. He was just happy that I was healthy and that I had a stable career.

  • Moving Down to Fort Lauderdale

    Moving Down to Fort Lauderdale

    Blog Update

    NYUI first left home when I was leaving for college at the age of 21. I had received a full scholarship to New York University, and I wasn’t going to let that chance of a lifetime slip by. As much as my parents wanted me to stay in Chicago, I wanted to move. Not because I wanted to move away from them, but because I wanted to learn to live on my own.

    McDonalds for LifeI had been working since I was 15 at a McDonald’s until about a couple months ago. I started off as a busboy before becoming a cashier. And before that I used to mow lawns, walk dogs and work the paper trail in the neighborhood. I wanted to have pocket money so that I could spend it on whatever I wished.

    Moving to Fort LauderdaleAnyways, I studied biology while I was in Chicago to get my bachelor’s degree. Then, I moved to start my adventures in New York. I spent four years at NYU studying dentistry. I then moved back to Chicago for my residency. I worked under a brilliant alumni of NYU who had set up shop in Chicago. I wanted to learn everything I could from him, and he became my mentor. I spent three years there before deciding to move again. I loved Chicago, but I needed to spread my wings and find new experiences. I got a job offer in Fort Lauderdale and in Dallas. I didn’t want to head to Texas because I just knew it wasn’t the place for me. And Florida just seemed like the perfect tropical paradise that I wanted to be in.

    I contacted a realtor and found myself a cute little two-bedroom condo in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. I flew down to Florida and signed the papers because I was thoroughly convinced that I had found my nest. The next thing I did was to call Top Notch Movers, I found them online and it took just one call to convince me to go with them. They offered me a really good price for the move, and I knew it was just the right thing to do. They came to me and picked up my things. I was going to drive down along with them. I had never had the opportunity to drive through the US and I wanted to add that onto my bucket list of things I had done.

  • Born & Raised in Dallas

    Born & Raised in Dallas

    Blog Update, Life

    I was born and raised in Dallas. My father immigrated to the US from Serbia when he was 8 years old. My grandparents wanted to move away and give their children a better chance at life. They didn’t believe there was anything for them in Serbia. My mother was born and raised in New York. Her great grandparents had left Poland to come to America, so she didn’t even know anything before America. My parents met in high school after my mother’s parents had decided to leave New York because my grandfather had been offered a much better job in Dallas.

    Starry NightMy mother says that she didn’t like my father at first because he was never paying attention in class and instead he was always drawing something. One day she sat next to him and saw that he was drawing “Starry Night.” Van Gogh is my mother’s favorite artist, and he is my father’s favorite artist as well. They got their exam papers back that day and my father had a higher grade than my mother, which took her by surprise. Her opinion of him totally changed, so when he turned around and caught her looking at him, that’s when he asked her to prom. He handed her the drawing and it read, “Be my companion this starry night?” The theme for prom was “A Night Under the Stars,” and his “proposal” was clever, my mother thought.

    Our Prom NightMy father on the other hand tells the story differently. He apparently didn’t care much for his history class, the class he shared with my mother, but he was entranced by the red-haired beauty that was my Mom. But, my father, like me, was very shy and couldn’t just walk up to her. Instead, he watched her. He noticed that her bag had several different artist pins on it and her notebook had Van Gogh’s self-portrait on the cover. He figured she must really like art, so he decided to ask her out by drawing Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” just for her. He didn’t realize that by the time he had built up the courage to hand it to her that it was time for prom. So, when she said, “Yes, I will go to prom with you,” my father’s jaw dropped. He rushed to buy tickets right after class and he began planning their prom night. He picked her up in his car, got her a corsage and took her to prom. They left prom early that night because he wanted to show her his favorite spot. He drove up to Klyde Warren Park and they laid on the grass and stared at the stars.

    Two years later, my mom was pregnant with yours truly and they were moving to a home of their own. They had called Hercules Movers and Packers to handle all their belongings because my Dad didn’t want my Mom straining herself or stressing out. He handled everything and didn’t let her lift a single finger while she stayed with my grandparents.

  • A Little Background

    A Little Background

    Blog Update

    Hello, my name is Thomas Gould. Welcome to my website. I started the website as part of my company. I used to be a truck driver for many, many years, and I decided that I wanted to be a business owner. I have been driving trucks since I was 19 years old. I started off working for my uncle’s company in Jupiter, Florida. I was set to go to college at New York University in the fall on a full scholarship because I ran track. But, I got injured my last run of the season. I tore my anterior cruciate ligament. I had to have surgery and rehabilitation, but I would miss my chance to go to college. So, I got a job until I could figure out what I was going to do with my life.

    TravlingI couldn’t go to college because I was traveling from place to place so often, so I decided that I would work and save up my money until I could take a few classes here and there. And that’s exactly what I did. I enrolled at a community college and took a class a semester that was once a week. My uncle understood that I wanted to do more with my life, which is why he gave me some leeway when it came to classes. I had saved up all my money for two years, and I decided to take a couple months off FSUfrom work to focus on my classes. I got my associate’s degree a year later, and I decided to go back to working for my uncle while I took a class or two online at FSU. I chose to major in business management and get a minor in psychology.

    After about a year, there were no online classes that I could take and I needed to move to Tallahassee for a couple of years. So, my uncle gave me the chance to go when he offered to cover half of my tuition. My parents would pay for my dorm, and all I had to do was get a job to have pocket money. The other half of my tuition was covered by financial aid. I got my degree in a year and a half. From there, I moved back home and worked for my uncle again. He brought me into the office this time around and taught me the ways of the business. Five years on from that, I decided to open up shop for truck sales across Florida. And this is my website.

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