• 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.

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