#SoccerDadChronicles Season 3, Epidsode 5

 

I feel as if I wrote this week’s post into existence. I made an anecdote about looking forward to my Orange Monsters playing a particular team this season.  So here’s what happened…

My nephew came along with my daughter, Cydney and I to soccer this Saturday.  We got to the field a little early.  I stood in one spot with my children and waited for the instructors to come over and begin the session.

My nephew asked if he could venture to the other side of the field and play baseball with a few other kids who seemed to be tossing one around.  I told him “Okay,” and began to kick a ball around with Cyd.  I faced Cydney and told her to get past me using some footwork techniques she’d learned over the past year.

With one swift move, she did so.  I heard a little chuckle to my right.  It was the woman I will refer to as Fly Soccer Mom.  In last week’s episode, I mentioned that in the first week of soccer, Fly Soccer Mom had asked me if I was the coach of the burgundy team and I almost regretted the Orange Monsters before we played a game.  Once I realized where the snicker came from, I smiled and she smiled back.

A few minutes later, a few of the fathers from my team had arrived.  After about five minutes of referring to Derrick Rose having “Penny Hardaway Syndrome,” one of the dads asked who were we playing this week. “I think we have played everyone so far,” one replied.  I responded “We haven’t played the burgundy team yet.”  They thought about it and agreed.  I pulled out a copy of the season schedule, and asked “Today is May 21st, right?”  The fathers said “Yeah.”  I told them “We play burgundy today.”  I’m not gonna lie, I was a little excited about this.

During the scrimmage, the coach of the burgundy team suggested that we don’t use goalies this week.  I didn’t care very much.  If anything, it would have been in his best interest to have goaltenders because I know how aggressive my team plays.

It was a massacre.  The Orange Monsters kicked the ball and ass.  Before I knew it, the score was 5-0.  When it was all said and done, we won like 15-1.  The only goal the burgundy team scored was by the daughter of Fly Soccer Mom.

Scrimmage time begins at 10:30 and usually ends somewhere between 11:10 and 11:30.  Around 10:55, the burgundy team coach approached the other fathers-who are all in their forties-who is the coach of our team and I said “I was.”  He just assumed that the black guy with his hat on to the side wasn’t the one in charge.  The coach asked if I could help him officiate the game because he was having a difficult time controlling the children.  I said “okay,” and attempted to assist.

I looked at the other fathers on my time and in a jokingly tone uttered “I kind of feel a way about this.”  They laughed and said “Damn, he’s the one with the whistle…now he has something to say?”  Truthfully, I always help out.  I’ll keep an extra ball in hand, throw it inbound, and just let them play.

By 11am, the burgundy coach was disinterested.  The fathers on the sideline next to me exclaimed “He looks mad that his team is getting their asses kicked!”  I laughed and agreed with their assessment.  At 11:04, we scored another goal, and the burgundy coach called his team to the side and ended the game without saying anything to me.  Normally, the coaches look at each other and make a suggestion for how much longer we’ll play and/or when the game will end.  None of that happened.  In a facetious tone, I said to my parents “Well that was unsportsmanlike.”

At one point, during the game, I once again heard a laughter about something on the field to my right that I too, found humorous.  Once again, it was Fly Soccer Mom.  I knew she was sitting about ten feet away from me; but I was busy being a coach.  I looked her way and we kind of shared the laugh.  There was another friendly exchange of smiles; and that was that.  When the game ended, Fly Soccer Mom left to the other side of the field to watch her older daughter play.

I called for my nephew who disappeared.  He came back with a cup from Mr. Softee, which made Cydney wan some.  The two of them asked me about going to the park the day before, so I decided to let them enjoy some time at the playground by the soccer field.  I stood there and watched them while reading an ebook on my phone.

Fly Soccer Mom’s daughter was on the playground, as well.  She shouted for her mother’s attention repeatedly, asking Fly Soccer Mom to see her go down the slide.  After continuously persisting, Fly Soccer Mom walked over talking loudly, saying “Ugh, my daughter always wants my attention and doesn’t stop until she gets it.”  Because I had my back turned, I wasn’t sure who she was talking to.  I turned around and she was looking in my direction…Fly Soccer Mom was talking to me.

I chuckled and replied, saying “My daughter is the same way.  I understand.”  Fly Soccer Mom stood next to me and reluctantly showed that she was paying attention.  After a brief pause for doing her due diligence,  Fly Soccer Mom looked at me and asked “What happened today with the coach?”  I explained what I typed out a few paragraphs ago and she responded with “Yeah, I just left,” with a tone of voice that suggested that she often ignores him.

Fly Soccer Mom looked me directly in the eye for the duration of our conversation.  It is very rare that this happens.  There was direct eye contact all morning; but those were all relatively from a distance.  This was different.

After our short banter about burgundy coach, Fly Soccer Mom said “There’s only two weeks of soccer left.”  I replied with a “Yeah.”  Something else was said after that; but it was small talk-ish.  Fly Soccer Mom then stated that she was going to go back to the field and watch her daughter.  I placed my hand out to shake hers and said “I’m Chad.”  She responded “I’m *name redacted*.”  There was another smile and she went on her way.

I let the kids play at the field for a little longer because that game me time to read my ebook with no interruption.  The older girls finished their game and as everyone was leaving, I told my kids that it was time to go.  As Fly Soccer Mom passed by my jeep to leave, she briefly looked my way and to make sure I had her attention, I said “It was nice meeting you.”  She smiled and retorted “It was nice to meet you, too.”

After getting the kids in the car, I remembered that I said to Cydney she could have Mr. Softee.  We walked over to the truck and in front of us was Fly Soccer Mom.  While buying her children some ice cream, she looked at me once again and made eye contact, then looked at my daughter, and walked away.

…I know a single parent when I see one.  At this point, I think I just have a radar for it.

There is no soccer until June 11th; so there will be an extended pause in #SoccerDadChronicles for three weeks.

 

#SoccerDadChronicles Season 3, Episode 3

 

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter Cydney to Havannah Cafe for brunch.  My daughter loves to take my phone and upload videos of herself onto my Snapchat account.  Upon regaining possession of it, I noticed an influx in notifications via Instagram.  I joked to myself and said “Kevin Hart must have used the hashtag #SoccerDadChronicles again!”  I was right.  It felt as if I had written it into existence because I mentioned that on this site a few days prior.  Hart’s 36,000 views in six minutes trickled into others clicking on the hashtag and up until that day, if you were to do so, all one would see are pictures and videos of Cydney.  Sweet.

Because of Spring Break, there was no soccer the weekend of April 23rd.  Even though Cydney wouldn’t be in town the 30th, I had all intentions of showing up to coach my team because others were counting on me.  That Friday night, I looked at the soccer club’s Facebook page and read that soccer was cancelled.  I was ecstatic, especially because I was hanging out and enjoying the last leg of #FerrisBuellersWeekOff.

The next Thursday, I looked at the club’s site for any updates, and it turns out that I misread the previous week’s message.  The cancellation date was actually referring to April 23rd and not the 30th.  I missed a day.  Whoops.

The first thing that I did this past Saturday when Cyd and I got to the field was apologize to the parents.  I told them that I’d misread the club’s page and they understood.  One father told me that it was all good and that many children were missing due to it being spring break.  I felt a little better.

After the thirty minute tutorial session, it was time to scrimmage.  Attempting to not show favoritism, I didn’t let Cydney start.  I also forgot almost all of the childrens’ names and figured that I could relearn them as their parents cheered and told them to not steal the ball from their teammates.

Although no one scored for the first six or seven minutes, the Orange Monsters began to roll.  Goal after goal, the other team didn’t stand a change.  The kids that comprise of my team are quite aggressive and definitely live up to their moniker.

When I let Cydney get into the game, she casually jogged along and was almost always the last to the ball.  She’d get a few kicks in and began to sulk.  With each goal her teammates scored, she got more and more upset because she wasn’t scoring.  Then I saw tears.  I pulled Cydney out immediately, telling her that we don’t do that over sports and asked her what was her problem.  My daughter was getting upset because no one was passing her the ball.

Cydney has been learning to play soccer for over two years.  Her previous coach had been teaching her how to play soccer for real.  She wasn’t lagging behind for the sake of being lazy; she was spacing out for other kids to pass the ball and she was open.  Unfortunately, Cydney is playing with kindergartners.  They know nothing of passing.  They only understand run to the ball as fast as possible and kick it.  All I could do was tell my five year old was that if she looks at everyone else on her team, they were running and diving for the ball.  “You gotta be more aggressive, Cydney.  Notice how dirty everyone else’s uniforms are and yours is pretty clean.  You see that?”  Cydney whimpered yes.

After a few minutes on the sideline attached to my leg, I put Cydney back in the game.  She ran with a little more pep and made a few plays.  However, this was the first game in which not only didn’t she score; but she was always the first one to score within the first two minutes of game play.

The Orange Monsters continued their tear.  We were winning 7-0.  The coach of the other team was moving incredibly slow.  Every time the ball went out of bounds, he wanted to set the children up before the next play.  He was killing me.  I kept an extra ball in hand so that as soon as one went out of bounds, I would yell “Live ball!” and put another one in play.

With two minutes left, I asked if anyone else would like to play goalie.  Cydney raised her hand and said “I do!”  There wasn’t much time left and we were shutting the other team out, so I let her give it a go.  My Orange Monsters were killing it and there was no need for Cyd to do anything.  She sat there in a much more ready stance than a few weeks ago (At one point she was playing with the sleeves of her undershirt).  Before I knew it, the game was over and everyone was happy.

I brought my team in and told them how proud I was of them.  They didn’t take the ball from each other, they listened, and most importantly, they had fun…and we won.

 

In Defense of Lauryn Hill

When I started this site in 2012, I also planned on creating a second site called My Expensive Hobby, where I would write about my first love, music.  Since I never started it; but “In Defense Of…” was to be my “thing.”  As I began to put in my 10,000 hours, I would write “In Defense Of…” think pieces for other sites.  It’s been over a year since I’ve done one, so here I am….

Eighteen years later, the rest of the world is catching up with me in being disappointed, frustrated, and fed up with rapper/singer/CP Time enthusiast, Lauryn Hill. Over the weekend, Ms. Hill was welcomed to boos at Atlanta’s Chastain Park for showing up nearly two hours late. She apologized to her fans, citing that she has a hard time channeling her energy with time, and now everyone wants to come at her neck.  At this point, Lauryn Hill showing up two hours late is a part of the experience…I personally would feel slighted if I went to one of her concerts and she was punctual.

Let me start off by saying that I understand everyone’s frustration with Lauryn Hill.  From the moment she seemingly came out of nowhere and rapped alongside Sketch and Frank-ay (Haaaay-Hoooo!) in Sister Act 2, you knew she was special; a true one-of-one.  In 1994, I met her backstage when the Fugees were an opening act for Gerald Levert.  She was so nice to my sister and I, that she could do no wrong in my book.  The Score by the Fugees changed my life.  In 1997, she bodied her two cameos on Wyclef’s solo debut, The Carnival (See the serpent play tricks/run game like the Knicks/build you up just to lose the championship/).  Then she released the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998 and I cried bullshit.  I was so fucking disappointed in that album and the L-Boogie that I knew and loved that to this day I REFUSE to listen to “Every Ghetto, Every City” just so that I can say I have yet to listen to Miseducation in its entirety.

Now, the world fucking FINALLY understands how I feel about Ms. Hill.  However, this comes with a caveat.  In the past forty-eight hours, there has been piece after piece citing many of Rita Louise Wattson’s faux-pas without looking past the surface.  Yes, performing on time is one of the obvious things one should do when working in the music business.  The reason that we celebrate Lauryn’s artistry is ultimately what has been her tragic flaw.

In the days of the internet and social media, everyone is a critic or  writer sitting back on their computer opining with no context or experience in the entertainment business.  Because I own the Sister Act 2 DVD, I know that Lauryn Hill and a few other cast mates were given a high school graduation ceremony onset because they missed their own.  When we were first introduced to her, Lauryn Hill was just a kid already sacrificing milestone moments in her youth for the sake of our entertainment.  If it wasn’t for Salaam Remi’s remix of “Nappy Heads,” Ms. Hill could have been back in Newark, NJ and we’d all wonder “What happened to that girl who played Rita?”

The Fugees were given a minimal budget for their second album.  Clef, Pras, and Lauryn put their money into making their studio, the Booga Basement and created an album that no one expected to sell 17 million copies.  L-Boogie was only twenty-years old and fell in love with her band-mate.  Things got complicated, she regrouped, fell in love again, gave birth to a son, and made a phenomenal album.  Yes, Miseducation is an album that is essentially the tales of being a side-chick; but by all means, it’s a masterpiece.  At twenty-years old, she made an album years above her cognitive, emotional, and spiritual state.  What was your life like at twenty-two?  More than likely, life was a place of ideals and shit had yet to get real.

Since Miseducation, Hill has only released one album and a few one-off songs.  The public had been clamoring for new music because Lauryn had sold artwork that was priceless.  People wanted to continue to grow up with her as opposed to living in the past.  In 2005, The Fugees attempted to reunite and the word from Pras and Wyclef was that essentially Lauryn was the reason it didn’t work out.  Lauryn has spent the past eleven years being late to shows and did a bid for not paying taxes.

At forty years old, Lauryn Hill looks weathered.  She literally has given her youth for the sake of us.  People get mad because they spent their hard-earned money on seeing her live and the way she feels is “I have given y’all my life.”  All people care about is “When you gonna give us more?”

The old adage is that hurt people hurt people.  The public’s relationship with Lauryn Hill is that in which Miseducation was all about.  The jilted lover has become the heart breaker that we, the people, keep giving chance after chance, hoping that things will be different.  The love is never enough for the heartbroken, and it often creates a self-absorbed bubble that one lives in; impervious about how their actions affect others.  Nearly twenty tears of justifying and hoping for the best, the breakup seems to finally be happening.

Give “Ex Factor” a listen right now…the roles have switched.  Lauryn Hill has become who she was once singing about.

 

Tweet Through It: A Parent’s Experience on an Elementary School’s Spring Concert

It’s Spring Concert Time! My nephew’s elementary school had its annual extravaganza letting us parents and loved ones know what their kids have been up to.

Every Monday, I have dropped my nephew off to Brookside Elementary with his alto saxophone in tow, picked up the same sax at afterschool because he forgot about it; and as recent as this morning, had venture back to his school because he left his at home.

So I had to sit through another one of these shows. While I was and am proud of Cydney and him at these events, I still have to sit through other kids’ crap. Luckily, I have my phone, Twitter, and a following of people wo have enjoyed me tweeting through these experiences. So without further ado, here we do again…

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Meme Crush Monday: “My Era vs. Your Era” Makes You Sound Old

 

Attention 70’s and 80’s babies: your age is showing…and we are becoming our parents.

The meme posted above is one that I arguably hate the most.  What prompted me to write about this one was the popularity of the #RunningManChallenge: 90’s Atlanta bass classic “My Boo” by the Ghost Town DJ’s syncopated drums rattle and out of nowhere, people start shuffling their feet back and forth.  I find it to be very entertaining.  But since it’s the internet, everyone has an opinion and people whose age begins with thirty are starting to sound old.  I’ll get there…

Back to this particular meme.  Someone in their early twenties could have put it together; but the sentiment is often shared by people much older.  A picture of hip-hop poster child, Nas, lighting a cigar while donning a white t-shirt, shades and adorning lots of jewelry.  In comparison, one would say a leader in ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop, Young Thug, has blonde locs, tight clothing and his legs crossed.  All of this insinuates that former pities and is lambasting the latter in what is “real” hip-hop.  Clearly whomever made this meme and those that concur with its message have never looked at Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, or any hip-hop act before Run DMC.  The original emcees at the forefront of the movement dressed and their not-so-complicated rhyme schemes were more resemble Young Thug more than Nas.

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I’ve seen Young Thug wear this ensemble…
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Melle Mel

Music is the soundtrack to life and rarel-if at all-does one genre define multiple generations.  There’s only hip-hop and “classical” music (in which that’s an umbrella statement for various forms of western musical styles).  What makes hip-hop unique is that it is a culture that is driven by music.  So, we’re at this crossroads in which those of us who grew up with it are watching it continue to evolve at its rapid pace while we are beginning to slow down.  It’s youth-oriented and the first generation to grow up where hip-hop always existed are now sounding smug, elitist, and like our parents who we once rebelled against; saying that they “just don’t understand.”

Back to the #RunningManChallenge that acted as the inspiration for this post.  A few days after this began to pick up steam, here came the old people talking about “That’s not the running man!”  There have been memes and videos reprimanding and lampooning these kids for having a little fun.  My peers pointed out that the running man was a dance made popular in the late 1980’s and early 90’s that looked a little different.  They’d say “These kids have the nerve to do something simple, jack the style, and call it the running man?!  The nerve!”  They sampled it.

Twenty years ago, the complainers grew up with hip-hop in which many of their favorite songs lifted portions of r&b, soul, and disco records, rearranged them over looped drum breaks and called it sampling.  Their parents who grew up on Motown, Philadelphia International, Stax, etc. heard these songs and said “That’s not music!”  They just didn’t get it.  Maybe they bought “Rapper’s Delight” or “The Message” when they were released; but the genre still had roots in disco and was more reminiscent of the music they grew up with.  Because it’s youth driven, the next generation-us-made our own interpretation and pushed the genre forth.  The less recognizable it became to our parents, the less worth they saw in it.  My father is a professional musician who has virtually lived in a studio for forty years.  With all of his knowledge of music: theoretically, technically, and historically; he could never sample and manipulate and Earth, Wind, and Fire record like I could.

Nineteen years ago, twenty year-old Harlem rapper and shiny leather enthusiast, Ma$e released his first single “Feel So Good.”  The track sampled Kool and the Gang’s 1973 hit “Hollywood Swinging” and Kelly Price word-for-word sings the chorus of Miami Sound Machine’s “Bad Boy.”  What’s the difference between this and some twenty year old’s shuffling their feet back and forth in place and calling it the #RunningManChallenge?  The same people who immediately blurt “What you know about goin’ out, head west, red Lex, TV’s all up in the head rest?” are being subjective and hypocritical.

We often discredit this newer incarnation of hip-hop and its purveyors and pity it.  Saying that it’s not “real” hip hop.  Our parents said the same thing about hip-hop in comparison to the music they grew up.  Fifty years ago, the parents of Baby Boomers said the same thing about The Beatles.

Do I like everything that I hear nowadays?  No.  I’m not supposed to.  I listen to some of the music my almost ten-year old nephew, five year-old daughter, and fourteen year-old cousin like and this “This shit is dumb.”  Am I gonna doing some of these dances they do?  Nope.  But I’m not gonna knock it, either.  I remember being their age and my parents not “getting” Wu Tang; but we could find common ground in Method Man’s incarnation of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need To Get By.”

I guess I say all of this to say to those of my era: let the kids have something.  It may not look like what we know and love; but be happy that the music and culture we love and call our own is still at the forefront…when people just knew it would die before most of us were born.

Mother’s Day as a Single Father

 

The second Sunday of May is a very interesting day.  While we should give roses to those who are living, Mother’s Day is a day in which we all give appreciation to the women who gave us life, as well as those we have created a life with.

Mother’s Day has taken on a very different meaning in my household.  Five months after Cydney’s mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, my mother was informed that she had a malignant tumor in her breast.  While my mother was beginning her process, I was knee-deep into surgeries and living in hospitals in 2011.  I recall a conversation in which my mother was emotionally processing that her oncologist threw out the possibility of a mastectomy.  In the moment, I had to do my best impersonation of my mom-take feelings out of the equation and keep it real for perspective’s sake-and tell her that while I understood, I wished that surgery was an option.

The fall of 2011 was very difficult for me.  While having to hide around in Virginia because my in-laws knew Cydney’s mother was being put on hospice and trying to get rid of me; the only comfort I had was being there for my mother who was just beginning chemotherapy treatments over the phone.  The last time Timile-my daughter’s mother-and my mom saw each other, my mom showed Timile her bald head and they bonded because they were sharing an all-too familiar experience.

After Timile passed away and my mother was finishing up her first round with chemo, I was neck-deep in custody cases in two states for my daughter.  A week after major surgery, my mother did most of the driving from New York to Virginia for us to get my baby back.  In a time where she needed to be resting, what was more important to her was that I had my little girl that I was just beginning to feel the way about as my mom does for me.

I don’t do hospitals.  When my mother had her second surgery, I didn’t visit and she understood.  The only time that I did was to drop my aunt off.  I stayed in the room all of five minutes and spent the rest of the time in the parking lot.  Most people would say “Chad, get over yourself;” but at twenty-five years old, shit got incredibly real for me and she got it.  Before my grandmother passed, I couldn’t visit her in the hospital, either.  I had to wait until she came back home before ultimately saying goodbye.  The way that both my mother and her mother just “got it,” is a manner that only a mother can and will literally hold on to dear life until you’re ready.

Cydney only experienced on Mother’s Day while Timile was alive, and she was only three months old.  All she knows is making that day special for my mother and her aunt, who act as mother figures in her life.  Listening to this week’s podcast, she’s more than happy to do so, as well.

We have just entered a different juncture in Cydney’s life.  For the most part, she wants to control the conversation about her mother.  Even if I am on the phone with someone else and she is within earshot, she begins to feel a certain way when Timile’s name comes up.  It has to be her who brings her mother up, or she begins to get a little sad.  While she is perfectly fine with being different, I feel as if she is become more and more aware that it isn’t the norm to be missing a mother.  Her friends in school don’t understand it.  Yes, saying that my daughter is more than several handfuls is an understatement, she clings on to her daddy because he’s everything to her…I can see it in her eyes.  Hell, she has a mild form of separation anxiety when people she cares about leave and begins to cry, saying “I’m gonna miss them.”

Another interesting pattern of behavior that I have noticed in my daughter is that she more or less sees parts of herself in women that she has seen me date.  She will want to participate in activities that are reminiscent the times she has spent with us….if she liked them.

One can look at my daughter and see that she is mixed with something.  Her mother was half-Puerto Rican.  Whether it is something that she-or I or her mother, who didn’t even find out until she was twenty-three-know much about from a cultural standpoint, it is still a part of her identity.  From time to time, I would tell my daughter she’s part Puerto Rican, she would say “No I’m not.  I’m black.  I don’t want to be [part] Puerto Rican!”  All she knows is the black family engulfed in black culture that use black colloquialism as a means of communication.

From time to time, Cydney would hang out with one woman I was dating, and at one point the woman being of Puerto Rican decent had come up in conversation.  Cydney all of a sudden exclaimed “I’m Puerto Rican!”  In and for a moment, Cydney had begun to identify.  While I dated that lady, my daughter would happily say that she too, was Puerto Rican.  I was telling this to my barber who doubles as my therapist (barbers are therapists); and he said “It was as if you dating this girl gave Cyd the co-sign to identify.”  In my mind, everything clicked.

We all gravitate towards people because we see a likeness between themselves and us.  At five years old, Cydney is slowly transitioning into the phase in which she begins to filter her opinions.  However, these are moments I pay a lot of attention to.  My daughter is looking for those small nuances in various women in my life.  Whether it’s the nurturing and stouthearted mindset of my mother, the resilience of my sister, and the little things she sees in the women I date that she is looking to step in and be her stepmother, it’s very interesting to observe.

I’m very careful of who I let into Cydney’s inner circle.  Because she has no memory of her mother, she more or less is looking for one.  We have very different agendas.  While this may be what she is seeking to acquire, I want someone who love me enough to want to love my kid.  For someone I’m dating, Cydney is not the key nor is she the gatekeeper.  Being there for my daughter doesn’t “do it” for me.  It’s nice and it gives me the feels; but I’m protecting her.  There is a good chance that Cydney’s first heartbreak could be attaching herself to someone she wants to be her mother…and they move on because things didn’t work out between us.  One of my highest priorities in life is to protect my little girl; who with very little life experience could possibly project her hurt on me.  And while that too would suck, I can handle that.

I know this post is pretty lengthy; but there were a lot of thoughts to share.  Enjoy this week’s podcast.

#FerrisBeullersWeekOff: My First Vacation in Three Years

 

From April 22-May 1, I was childless for the first time for a whole weekend since March 2013.  Once or twice, I had a whole 24 hours off; but those were days in which Cydney was rolling with her grandmother while I was at work.  That hardly counts because they weren’t days of rest.  I still had to wake up at 4 am and be productive for a check.

I often would envy my friends who have yet to conceive.  I love my kids; but the kind of obligation, constantly being broke, and fatigue that comes along with always being “on” is debilitating it’s amazing I’m rarely sick.  My jovial spirit and perchance for talking an immense amount of shit masks  a man who is often physically, mentally, and spiritually fatigued.  Behind the sardonic sense of humor and darkened eyes is a guy who wants to hug everyone who says “You look tired.  You need a vacation.”

My mother surprised her grandchildren.  While I traveled from New York to Dallas for a wedding, she told Cydney and my nephew she was taking them with her to visit her friend in Florida.  To their surprise, they were embarking on a seven-day Disney Cruise.  My elation couldn’t be described in words.  The twenty-second of April had been circled on my calendar for months.

I went to Texas and enjoyed myself.  The chance to travel without packing up the little one, having to cater whenever she wanted or needed something was beyond amazing.  I stayed in the hotel Friday afternoon and wrote with a change in scenery and pretty much drank all weekend.  Sunday morning, I touched back down at LaGuardia Airport and made it my business to continue the party, all while getting some well-needed and deserved rest.

I slept until 8:30 am–which for me is the equivalent to waking up at 12 pm.  Almost all week, I slept with just a blanket and no sheets because I could.  There were dinners, happy hours, dates, and four out of nine days, waking up somewhere that wasn’t home.  While most of my work for the week had been submitted to editors, I did some writing for myself posted a pre-recorded podcast.

My mother texted pictures and let Cydney call throughout the week to let me know what an amazing time she’s having.  Cyd was almost always beaming about the grand time she was having.  She told me that she met all of her favorite princesses, and as soon as my nephew tried to tell her they weren’t real, she retorted “They’re real the way wrestlers are real!”  Well played, Cyd.

Did I miss my daughter?  A little bit.  Our week apart is the longest Cyd and I have been separated since her mom passed away and it was long overdue.  I do love daddy-daughter time.  However, the lapse in self-care was so depleted that I was more engulfed in having adult time and no responsibility other than Chad Milner.

In true Chad Milner fashion, there was drama; but fun enough for a laugh.  There was the phone call from an ex that reminded me of how entertaining she was.  There was a little tension between someone else that I once dated as well that only added onto a beyond epic soap opera I think we both have a love/hate relationship with.  It’s all good, though.  I need these kinds of things to survive.  Accepting this has made life just a little easier.  I’m a writer who constantly needs conflict for episodic story arcs.

After a rather epic and fitting ending to #FerrisBuellersWeekOff, I drove home Sunday Morning riding high off the previous nine days.  I had breakfast by myself, took a nap, and when I woke up that afternoon, I could feel my mind and body beginning to shift from vacation back to dad mode.  That was a very long four hours before heading back to LaGuardia Airport to pick up my family.  Everyone was excited to see each other and tell me about their week in person.  Five hours after waking up to the beginning of my transition, my once quiet home had once again become filled with noise.

It’s back to baseball practices (I said I would attend while my nephew wasn’t in town and eventually said “Fuck that…I’m going to happy hour!”), coaching soccer, doing homework, constant reprimanding, stressful bedtimes, and all of the love that depletes me, yet makes my life one worth living.  I wouldn’t trade mine with anyone in the world, no matter how much it can get on my last nerves on a daily basis.

Last night, I was conversing with my father via text message.  As I wrote about him in my manuscript, I told him that the older I get, the more I see that we’re alike.  We talked about how money is only but so valuable and time is how we both show that we care.  There was an agreement in the feeling empty and overwhelmed virtually being Superman.  I could see that he, too is in need of a vacation.

Meme Crush Monday: Holding One’s Tongue

 

This week’s Meme Crush Monday is sponsored by no other than my favorite editor, Kweli.  She posted this a few weeks ago.  I saw it and told her I am going to write about this, somehow.  It’s only right that one of my first posts into this weekly venture comes from her.  I had been internally toying with the idea for some weeks.  When I told her about it, she said “Yes, you should do that!”

At first, I had nothing.  Then I saw the meme pop up again on my timeline…and a guy posted it.  So I figured as a guy who has more than his fair share of being on the receiving end of these moments and explain.

It feels as if I have been doing a substantial amount of writing about ego.  I’m okay with this.  Whether it’s being to prideful to apologize (because that means giving up leverage), admitting to a lie, suffering in silence, etc., ego is often involved in the death of interpersonal relationships.

With that said, dishing out these verbal lashings is all ego.  Someone’s feelings are hurt. There is a range of emotions that come before anger.  Anger is a quaternary emotion:  First there’s disappointment; which stems from someone we care about not living up to our expectations.  In time, people get frustrated because of a disappointing act.  By definition, resentment is the bitter indignation at having being treated unfairly aka whatever’s.  The irritation continues to bother and then people get pissed off.  The fifth and final emotion would be indifference.  By the time something is said, someone has been hurt for quite some time.  Their ego had been bruised and someone has been constantly pressing the contusion-it could be others or ourselves internally-causes one to erupt…bruising others’ ego.

Because someone is hurt, “going off” is an attempt to make themselves better.  Unconsciously, people want whomever offended them to feel just as hurt as they do.  The result is often futile.  Because by the time something is said, the hurt has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time.  Do you ever feel better after?  No.  Maybe temporarily; but you’re still angry.

The other side of this proverbial coin is that one should listen when their counterpart says something out of rage.  Whether it’s true or false, it’s how-or convince themselves-that’s how they feel.  They have felt backed into a corner, instinct kicks in, and they attack.  If shorty says in the midst of vexation “You’re a fat piece of shit,” they mean it…even if you’re 130 lbs soaking wet.

If-or when-you’re on the receiving end of the being told off: try your best to not take it personally.  To be angry means that someone is in an irrational state.  People are the summation of their life experiences.  Sometimes people say something that was a trigger that had absolutely nothing to do with you.  Easier said than done, especially when someone you love has embarrassed you and picked at that one childhood insecurity.  Nonetheless, try to keep it in mind.

Here’s the thing: once you let your tongue go, you’ve shown your hand.  You’ve given the most raw expression of how you really feel.  All leverage is lost.  You’ve doubled down and thrown in all your chips without knowing what or how the other person is thinking.  The person who is being told off now has all of the power.  Your ego is now at the mercy of someone else.

Every once in a while, I get affected by something someone says; however, that’s incredibly rare.  There was one defining moment in my relationship with Timile-my daughter’s mother-got to me and I decided I would never let that happen again.  She was five or six months pregnant and fed up with a bunch of things.  She called me fat when I had gained weight stress-eating somewhere between being torn between she and my family and that she was having a hard time eating.  For five days I told her I was fasting for spiritual reasons; but what she said had cut to the core.  Some months later we got into an argument and I told her how much that hurt and she felt terrible.  She couldn’t apologize for the statement because that was how she felt and wanted to hurt me; but she did ask to be forgiven for hurting my feelings.  Never again.

From then on, I made a choice to be minimally affected by people’s words.  Very rarely will I actually clap back.  For what?  It won’t make me feel any better hurting someone that I care about.  Rage and even hatred are indications that someone really cares about you–or me.  Indifference is the opposite of love.  Instead, I’ll let whomever to believe whatever they want.  About a year ago, I was dating this one girl for a couple of months.  I guess she had been feeling a way for a while and took it upon herself to go off.  Towards the end of a ten-minute rant of all of the things she didn’t like about me, she had the gall to say that I post about my daughter’s mother on social media to get attention (If you’re a new reader, she’s deceased).  I wasn’t hurt or angry…I was offended.  Five minutes later I was on the phone laughing about it.  I couldn’t take her statement seriously.  She couldn’t even pronounce Timile’s name correctly.  I write everyone off who pronounces it Tim-eele.

About a week later, we spoke.  The girl I was dating apologized for what she said and stated that she felt as if I wasn’t over Timile.  False; but I let her believe whatever she wanted to.  Her ego needed that.  The truth of the matter was that I wasn’t over my ex that I had stopped seeing maybe a week or two before we met and decided to let that fly under the radar.

Growing Up Is Fun

 

“You’re going to be an adult much longer than you will a kid…so enjoy this time.”  I have said this to Cydney and nephew on numerous occasions.  Typically it is after one of them laments that adults get to do whatever they want and I shoot that one down right away.  However, if I had to opt between being a kid again or being thirty years old, I would almost always choose the latter.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing.  The way our brain allows us to look back at some fairly fucked up things as the good ol’ days that defined us is amazing.  The times we had no one to play with in recess was how we developed our imagination.  Not fitting in with the cooler kids in middle school was what made us embrace our individualism.  That first heartbreak in high school that was the end of the world saved us because we see what said person looks like on social media and they look very washed up…and so on.

This past weekend, one of my closest friends from college got married.  Almost the entire weekend, I was looking at the present and the future (his and mine individually).  My friend was as well; but we were doing so very differently.  He was acknowledging the people he considered loved ones who have known him forever as we sent him off to his forever.  At one point or another, everyone he talked to he lead off with a brief anecdote of the role that they have played in his life (“This is my homeboy I’ve know since ___!  We used to ____!”).  He was giving what will come next in his life context because ultimately, he wouldn’t be standing there without the support of all of these people.

Once the ceremony was over and there was nothing left to do but pack and head back to New York from Dallas I was the first time I had begun to look back at our friendship.  I met Chase-Julian during New Student Orientation in college.  I was conversing with my parents after the goodbye ceremony while they were buying t-shirts.  My father had said something about me setting up my studio in my dorm room and this guy with shades on at night (As a New Yorker, this was the most absurd thing I had ever seen in life at the time) said “You got a studio?  I rap.”  We didn’t exchange info that day.  A few days later, I saw him again and the same thing happened.  The third time, we walked and talked in the rain to Taco Bell, came back to my room, recorded a song, and have been friends ever since.

On the surface, Chase and I have very little in common; but that’s part of what made our friendship last all of these years.  Sure there have been hiccups.  Nonetheless, tried and true, he has been one of my most unwavering loyal friends.  When he lived in DC and knew I needed to get out of town, I would pack Cydney up and we would sleep on his couch.  If I was going out to philander, he’d lend me his BMW and watch my daughter.  One time, he watched Cyd while he was incredibly ill.  In fact, on his couch is where I transitioned from just writing about Cydney on my blog to telling my story…Looking back, that was the moment blogging ended and my career as a writer began.

June 2013 was the last time that I visited the DMV area.  That last trip was very different.  I wasn’t dealing with any women.  There were no streets to run.  This wasn’t an escape from New York, either.  We had both just met women who would change our lives.  On one of my last days in town, I came back to his apartment and there was a pretty little light skinned girl on his couch named Benita.  If I’m correct, she had scrubs on.  Chase had mentioned her a few times prior and there she was.  She barely said a word.

Through conversations on the phone I heard how their relationship progressed.  Benita evolved from “You remember the girl that was on the couch,” to “I’m moving to Atlanta for a job and we’re doing the long distance thing,” to “I helped her buy a car,” to “We’re moving to Philadelphia,” to a picture of the two of them smiling while she wore an engagement ring.  I was watching my friend who has always been a little goofy grow up and I was enjoying the process.

Growing up is dope as fuck because while you’re advising your friends from the sidelines, they’re doing the same for you.  When Chase and I met, I was the skinny kid with cornrows that wore baggy clothes who would lose his shit if he put on one of my $35 fitted caps.  He’s seen me go through phases that we’ll both look back and think “What in the fuck were you wearing?  What the fuck were you thinking with her?” and so on.

After every weeding that I have been a groomsman for, there is a moment after the bride and groom ride off and it’s just us.  Briefly, we run down all of the other girlfriends and situationships like “Remember _____?!” It’s as if that moment is a goodbye to all of the ones who didn’t “fit” and weren’t supposed to work out, because we’re glad that we’re there for the reason we are.  We’re saying “It’s been great watching the groom grow up.”  My only request is that whenever I get married, PLEASE record that conversation so that I can laugh, too.

Making My Hatred of Bedtime Entertaining

episode 13 copy

The biggest gift and curse of living in a hospital for the first month of Cydney’s life was that she was spoiled.  We were all spoiled.  Timile and I didn’t have to put her to bed at all.  The problem is that all of the nurses had grown attached to her.  I’m almost certain that this led to a pattern that to this day I can’t break: Cydney is beyond difficult to put to bed.

My bond with Cydney solidified while she was an infant.  Because Timile would be out of it, I put her to bed every night.  I would keep diapers opened and already greased up so that when she would wake up, I could just wipe and swipe pampers.

The second phase of Cydney’s difficulties with going to bed occurred when she was about two-to-three months old.  She would only go to sleep if I walked around with her.  There was no sitting down, putting her on my shoulder, and rocking her to sleep.  This would only lead to my child crying in my ear.  If she went to sleep, I still would have to hold her until she hit that REM phase; or I would have to start all over again and the cycle would last another hour and a half.

We had a small bedroom in the upstairs portion of a two-family house and the ceiling was truncated in half by the roof.  So at 6’1″ and 230+lbs I literally had all of four feet to pace back and forth while ducking my head.  I had to do all of this quietly because Cydney’s mother was asleep and her grandmother was deathly afraid of men.  Eventually, I alleviated this situation by putting Cyd in one of those front-carrying papooses and would do bottles until she knocked out at 2:30am.

When Cydney was a toddler, she didn’t do naps.  If she took one, it would last for about three hours and getting this to happen meant I had to walk her around in a stroller for anywhere between thirty minutes and an hour.  Bedtime consisted of putting her in her crib and at 4 in the morning, she would wake up and call for me to put her in the bed with me.

At five years old, bedtime is when Cydney wants to tell me all about her day.  Cydney talks all day; but somehow leaves out all of the important stories, anecdotes, and questions until 10pm when her father’s day begins between 4 and 4:45am.  I must alwas sing a lullaby and tell a story.  I am often fed up because after doing all of this and coming to an agreeance that she will shut up and go to sleep…she doesn’t.

With all of that said, I was so annoyed that one night I decided to tell her the story of the Three Little Pigs in a way that only I can.  I figured I might as well be entertained by saying the most absurd things.  She laughed the whole time.  One night, I noticed that as I was telling this tale, my nephew was sitting outside of my door listening and laughing the whole time.  So, I decided that I should dedicate one podcast to my narrative.

The players: Three pigs named Cedric, Fredric, Edric; Wolfman and a surprise cameo from a beloved marketing icon.  Enjoy.

 

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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