HBCU’s, Homecoming, and Nostalgia

The smartest decision I ever made was attending Morehouse College. 

I haven’t been able to make the trip to Atlanta for my alma mater’s homecoming since Obama’s first term in office. I hate not being able to attend; but I absolutely love seeing everyone’s pictures on social media.

I don’t have too much of a reference about homecomings outside of my high school and Historically Black Colleges Universities (HBCU’s), which is the kind of institution I attended for undergraduate studies. For those reading who have not attended or don’t “get” the purposes of HBCU’s, it’s very difficult to explain past “My college experience was just like A Different World.

My first experiences at a HBCU were at Delaware State University in the early ‘90’s. The influence of A Different World drastically increased enrollment at these institutions and my aunt was right in the middle of it. My family would drive from New York to Dover for homecoming every year and the experience left a lasting impression on me. My first experience of a school marching band was the DSU Hornets playing the newest hip hop and r&b of the time and the audience reacting to it…that made every concert and marching band I played in corny after.

As a kid from Queens who wanted to play basketball, St. John’s University was where I wanted to attend. Soon as I decided that was no longer for me, the memories of those October afternoons in Dover influenced me enough to say “I’m going to Morehouse.”

Nine years after graduation and 13 since my freshman year, college concurrently seems like a lifetime ago and yesterday. Come to think of it, the freshman class was Cydney’s age when I moved to Atlanta. I’m so far removed from that time period; The A is a very different place. Nonetheless, seeing my former classmates with the backdrop that I first met them in sparks nostalgia. 

What makes HBCU’s such a wonderful place are the people we encounter during our tenure. We traveled from all over the country and diaspora to get an education and share this very black experience: each other. No matter where we came from-geographically, socially, economically, etc.-we all shared a common bond in the struggle. America is a place in which we often have to mask aspects of our personality for one reason or another. So our first taste at actual adulthood is being our unabashed black selves in an unapologetically black place; because unless it is in our homes, we will never have that again.

Our homecomings are one large family reunion. For a weekend we return home: see our former selves in the young people walking around and fellowship with people we have all but forgotten; but had that one crazy night with and never saw again, and so much more. Social media has allowed us all to see each other slowly evolve and it’s always great to actually converse with each other in person.

Said evolution is the best part of it all. On my phone or computer I have watched my peers slowly age. We’ve mostly assimilated into our careers, gotten married, our appearances are different, many of us had children with other classmates and it’s nice to see how much they look like the two people we once knew, and what have you. Some of the extra fun is seeing two people who hardly knew each other in college somehow wound up as some sort of significant other.

I can’t help but laugh at the last paragraph because I know that while I have observed literally all of the above, I know that others have seen me be every last one of them in some capacity or another. Life takes us all on paths we didn’t have mapped out when our world and the future were full of ideals and very little application. I’m almost certain no one thought the skinny kid with braids and oversized clothes that and did recorded mixtapes out of his dorm room would be #SoccerDadChronicles. That’s a story we all have in common, so it’s great to see photos, posts, and videos in the flesh for context into others and ourselves.

This is the time of year in which television stations like VH1 and BET play Drumline and Stomp the Yard ad nauseam. Networks know that it’s the end of homecoming season and those two movies in particular highlight some aspects of the HBCU experience. For most viewers, it is entertainment into a world they have never experienced; for others, a reminder of the good ol’ days. For me, those-as well as A Different World and School Daze-are the latter. All are based on and filmed on a campus I frequented in 2003-07. 

The other day, I watched fifteen minutes of Stomp the Yard and remembered going to the theatres to see it. I remember them filming on Morris Brown College’s campus in the summer of 2006, all of the Greeks shouting as their sororities and fraternities appeared onscreen. Hell, that movie in particular, I see several people I personally knew have their few seconds on camera just being themselves.

While I couldn’t make it this year, I am more than thankful to everyone who shared pictures, posts, and other various forms of content. More than likely, I will be there next year and bring Cyd.

​Soccer Dad Chronicles: Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2

Previously on Soccer Dad Chronicles: I enrolled Cydney into a soccer club in what would become her new school district in the fall of 2016. Playing with mostly kindergarteners, Cyd played very well when she felt like it, scoring at least one goal a game (and a not-so-great goalie). We collectively named our team the Orange Monsters and lived up to the name by wreaking havoc on the other five year olds.

Last Spring was my first experience head coaching. I loved that for once, Cydney and I weren’t the only people of color at the soccer field who weren’t working. I built a little rapport with a couple of the parents and one mother in particular…nothing has nor will it happen; but yeah.

Also, a post that I have written two years ago about Cydney playing soccer became a topic on Fox’s The Real in September. So now that I’ve caught you all up…Season 4!

At the end of the Spring season, I decided that I was going to move Cydney up to play with the first graders; even though she would be in kindergarten in the fall. A few weeks into September, the soccer sign-up sheet was placed in the children’s folders. I read the sheet. After kindergarten, the girls and boys are separated. I knew that Cydney would be a little relieved because she was getting tired of being one of the only girls.

I became a little apprehensive at the second thing I noticed. The first grade girls were being combined with the second graders. Cydney’s skillset is advanced enough to not only play-but excel-against second graders. At five, I was wary of her being fast enough to keep up with seven year olds. I spoke to Cydney’s former coach, Coach Eddie, and asked whether or not I should move Cyd up. Without hesitation, Coach Eddie said she can definitely handle that. So I did.

After registration, there was a coach’s meeting. I looked at my call sheet for my fall roster to see if I had any of my children from last season. Two of the girls from my Orange Monsters would be joining me on my burgundy squad.

Looking at my list of girls, I couldn’t help but snicker. The daughter of Fly Soccer Mom would be on the team and I would have to call her to inform when we would be getting started. With my life being a revolving door of irony and drama…I knew this would happen. I jokingly told a friend of mine “Watch Fly Soccer Mom’s child be on my team.” I either need to 1) Stop jokingly claim things into existence or 2) Jokingly claim four lottery numbers.

I showed up to the field on October 1 a half hour early to hand out uniforms and meet my girls and their parents. I also recruited Cydney’s cousin, Keyanna to play. Keyanna is seven months older than Cydney and played together with Coach Eddie. Keyanna’s father and I are second cousins and very close; so I love the idea of our daughters being just as tight.

I introduced myself to the children and their parents as they funneled in, Fly Soccer Mom was not in attendance. Her friend that I met last June was there for in her place because Fly Soccer Mom’s older daughter was playing on a competitive travel team. While on the phone, Fly Soccer Friend knew I was the coach and I found that a little peculiar. Fly Soccer Friend relayed the message that she couldn’t make it and asking when I would be holding practices. I answered questions and it was then time to play ball.

Because of limited enrollment, there are only two teams of first and second grade girls. As opposed to a rotation, there will be a seven-week rivalry of the green team vs. burgundy. We were beginning to get our asses handed to us. The lime team didn’t have a coach; but they had a second grader that I jokingly told parents I knew from before “I think this girl drove here.” No lie, as soon as she got the ball the just blew past everyone and scored. I started thinking to myself “Maybe I should give this practice thing some thought.”

When our session ended, I asked the girls what we should name our squad. There was a few suggestions; but Cydney coined the name “Burgundy Dragons.” We voted and that was what we went with (that’s some alliteration!).

The Burgundy Dragons/Lime Green rivalry has been beyond one-sided. The Burgandy Dragons have been getting nothing short of slayed. Super Second Grader scored like four goals and only played about ten minutes. The Burgundy Dragons didn’t want to run at all. I had one girl who put in some work while everyone else walked around (and no…it wasn’t Cydney).

Cydney is nothing short of lethargic on the soccer field. She kills the instructional period or kick around a ball doing some fairly amazing shit (Like step around the ball with her right foot then side kick the ball with her left foot crossing over from behind) and then just jog around during game time. During the first week, I took her out for it. 

During halftime: I looked at my group of five and six year olds and said “Here’s a word for today. Liability.” The first graders asked me “What does liability mean?” I told them “When your effort can be the reason you’re losing…go tell your parents you learned what liability means today.” Not only do I coach soccer, I teach them vocabulary.

With my pride and joy being a liability, I looked her in the eye and told her “Hey…you’re the most talented kid on this team and they need you. I need you to run.” She looked at me and said okay. Cydney started giving more of an effort. She had a few breakaways. When she was actually running, no one could stop her. However, the field that she is currently playing on is much larger than before, so she died out right before the finish and didn’t score. I sent Coach Eddie a video of Cyd’s play and he said she needs to work on making moves in front of defenseman. If she could do the things I have been teaching her while running in full stride, Super Second Grader wouldn’t stand a chance.

It’s the beginning of a new season and I have a feeling that I am in for some more interesting tales. Our first practice will be this afternoon.

Wedding Season Weirds Me Out

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The Ides of October mean that not only is the weather getting cooler; wedding season is slowly coming to a close. Between the months of April and November, many of us have celebrated a marriage in some capacity. We have traveled, sent gifts, been bridesmaids or groomsmen, officiated, objected, or just clicked like and said congrats to associates on social media.

I have come to one conclusion after 2016’s season of broom-jumping: weddings weird me out.

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love weddings. I am more than happy seeing my friends profess and pledge their love before God, family, and look amazing doing so. It is a beautiful sentiment and testament that love conquers all. Also, it’s endearing to see men and women-especially women-retire their “player” jerseys (Note: most of the players I know are women).

Most of my close friends have eloped within the past five years. We’re in our early thirties, so that’s about right. The more weddings I attend, the more I become “The single guy.” I am often attending these ceremonies by myself because I am not taking someone seriously enough seeing someone seriously enough to be my plus one (It can get weird if you’re always with a different person at various weddings). I’m usually relegated to the table with a whole bunch of people I don’t know. Said table is usually the single section for all of the other unmarried or the dates of the wedding party; with an unconscious undercurrent of these arrangements thinking two of these people should find happiness or something.

I’m a very laid back person and can admit with humility I look great in a suit. I’m not trying to get all sweaty dancing with people I don’t know and no one I’d consider a prospect. Someone who is married will give me the nudge like “Hey, single man…there’s a bunch of single people here! What you doing?!”

The answer is being smart. Emotions are a thing at weddings and is equivalent to a runner’s high. Singles congratulating someone they care for on the beginning of their happily ever after creates a euphoric feeling that when mixed with alcohol…well, you know what happens. Approximately two years after that wedding will be a baby shower with many of these same people attending, and it can get a little awkward being in the vicinity with that wedding hookup you never called back (In that person’s defense, they got drunk, put your number in their phone, and it got lost in the shuffle).

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I have lived all of the vows one takes on their wedding day (Note: “For richer” being tax season). I’m well aware of how things will be between the bride and groom after that day. There will be many arguments. As complicated as people think dating is, dating is child’s play in comparison. It gets really real because dating is primarily rooted and begins in being selfishness. That changes and most of one’s focus is on servitude with self being secondary – and tertiary when they have children.

Also, the law of average says that nearly half of these weddings I am attending or observing from a distance will end in divorce…what’s hard is you don’t know who is going to be who. It could be something I find out online or my man and his high school sweetheart in which as someone who is widowed is the only person who understands. Some may think this mindset is cynical. I disagree. I’m being realistic and like to be prepared for any and everything.

I think weddings weird me out because it is a confirmation that I have no idea what the future holds. Boy, can I attest to how one pictures life and how it actually turns up can be as different as night and day; and that in itself is a beautiful thing. For one day, everything is perfect. There is still plenty of living to do and things to experience. More than likely, there will be a day that I meet someone who I will want to tell I love in front of our friends and family and get my tux sweaty for.

…I have a daughter will be wearing that all white dress and I’ll have to walk through the surreal moment.

Fatherly Advice From One Father to Another Father


My father lives about ten miles away. Yet I don’t get to see him as often as I would like to. We frequently contact each other; but most of those conversations are merely checking in and making sure whomever is on the receiving end of the phone is alright.

Every once in a while, a full-length conversation with my pops is needed. The older I get, the more I realize how much I am just like him. His insights on life from the perspective a similar paradigm with more life experience many times ensures me that I am not crazy.

I spoke to my dad a couple of nights ago. We had been playing phone tag between Monday afternoon and Wednesday night. We talked about life, women, and raising my child.

I told him that within her first three piano lessons, I think that Cydney is a natural. While it may be very early to tell, I think there is a chance that my daughter may have perfect pitch. If she does, that would be close to an anomaly; being that I possess the incredibly rare ability as well.

Dad was elated. “She’s a special one. You just need to keep her busy so that she finds her thing. She’s on level 10 all of the time because she’s just bursting with stuff inside; so she needs to talk all of the time,” he said.

I couldn’t help but laugh at what my father told me. I pictured the million and 17 questions my kid asks me daily and how she is constantly operating on level 10 from the moment she wakes up until she crashes at night.

The conversation became a segue towards a different path of dialog. I paused for a moment and said to the man I once called Trav Murdah: Sometimes I think about this. Cydney is such a special kid and we’ve been through so much, I wonder how things will be different with other ones. Knock-on-wood, one day I’ll get married and have more and she’s just something else.

My dad said “Look, when that day comes, neither one of you will remember these times. You’ll be in the present and it’ll be hard-if not impossible-for you to see the past. I don’t remember you or your sister being Cydney’s age. When I see you at 30, I see you only as you currently are. Unless they’re gone, you will only see her and whoever is around as just that.”

I paused and as much as I could, I related. He was very right. I told my dad “You know, that’s a lot like how I feel about everything that has happened. People often ask me how am I able to move on from Timile. Like, I remember living in Buffalo, and her being around; but that feels like a lifetime ago. I’m not even that same person. So it feels like flashes of thoughts and a distant memory.”

The secret sauce to my ability to constantly move forward is that I don’t look back. If I do, the only reason is to search for context to current problems or prepare for the future. Otherwise, it’s a nice story that I am no longer living.

If life is like a game of chess and your queen has been killed by a silly mistake; why would you constantly dwell about a piece that is no longer there? The smart decision would be to look at what you have on the board, assess and anticipate your opposition’s moves, and figure out a plan to advance without your most powerful piece; or make a way to turn one of your weakest pieces-pawns-into a new queen. You develop this line of thinking, and you can have multiple queens on the board.

The past becomes relative. Our brains move much of the older information into a part of our mind to make room for all that is occurring in the present. The missing pieces allow for logic to fill in, and creates something a little different than what actually happened. We begin to romanticize the past. Fairly fucked up times can become “the good ol’ days” and we miss them.

Constantly reliving distorted views of the past can have adverse effects. People become victims of arrested development like this; in which they’re stuck in a mindset in which trauma happened. Acknowledge that shit happened and do whatever to continue moving forward. Our brains purposefully forget the past so that we aren’t severely depressed. Try your best to keep it there because it is doing its part to protect us all.

Thanks, Dad

Usher, wil.i.am., and My Daughter


“Do you know who Usher is?” my daughter asks me while getting out of my jeep after six hours of kindergarten-ing. Cydney then said “I like him.”

Always full of surprises, I was curious of trajectory of this conversation. Cydney is really into music. When my child likes a song, she inquires “Who is this singing?” That is usually an indicator that I need to add said song to “Cydney’s Favorite Songs” playlist on Spotify.

In that moment, I quickly scrolled through my mental rolidex of songs I have recently played around Cyd, wondering if I had played any Usher sings in her presence. His eighth album, Hard II Love, had just been released that morning and per a friend’s recommendation, I had been listening to it all day.

My next thought was “What inappropriate song was some dumb five year old singing around my kid that has her innocently asking me of all people if I’m up on Usher Raymond IV?!”

Cydney chimed in “We listen to Usher in class.” Still in parent-mode, I pondered “Okay, I know Cyd’s teacher is amazing with kids and nothing about her says that when she drives off from elementary school, she’s blaring “Lil’ Freak” or “Good Kisser.” Reeling me all the way back in, my five year old tells me “We listen to Usher’s ABC’s from Sesame Street at school.”

I internally sigh with relief and the logical cortex of my brain tells me “Of course, you idiot!”

My daughter’s interest in music is beginning to bud. I love this because I know how much music meant to me when I was her age. My father is a musician and I absolutely loved being around all of that when I was growing up. Now that Cydney is a real kid-not an infant, toddler, or preschooler-she has more of an understanding as well as her own opinion.

At Cyd’s preschool graduation, my daughter confidently walked up to the microphone, introduced herself, and told the room of her peers’ family and friends “When I grow up, I want to be a pop star,” and meant it. She recently started piano lessons and has grasped the rudimentary concepts quick enough for me to really pay attention. After class, she says to me “Do you think that playing the piano will help me with becoming a pop star?” Dead serious.

Last night, while getting ready for bed, Cydney asked me “Daddy, who makes the song ‘wil.i.am.?'”

“wil.i.am.,” I replied. She looked a little confused and retorted “The guy who made the song “wil.i.am.” is wil.i.am.?” Before I could answer back, she began to sing the lyrics to see if I was familiar with the tune she was referring to. I picked up my phone, Googled “wil.i.am.” and the words Cyd sang that I could remember. The first thing to pop up in the search engine was “What I Am,” a song the Black Eyed Peas frontman made with puppets from Sesame Street.

While putting away her dolls that were on her bed, my daughter sang along and danced. I enjoy the moments of seeing Cydney being such a little girl. As soon as it ended, she requested that I play Usher. I perused around Youtube, looking for “Usher+Sesame Street.” The two-week mystery of what song my kid had been talking about now had a title: “Usher’s ABC’s.” I was still a little relieved she wasn’t referring to “No Limit,” a song that she can sing along with some of the chorus.

It was time for Cydney to call it a night. But she had one more song she wanted  me to play for her. “Beyoncé had a song on Sesame Street from when she was a teenager.” That was the moment that I really said “Okay, it’s time for bed, Cydney.”

…my daughter loves Beyoncé.

 

Product of the Recession

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Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Note: this post may not be the most grammatically correct and that is on purpose.

Two nights ago, I was one of 81.4 million people that watch the presidential debate. After thinking to myself “This is taking place down the street from me at Hoftsra University,” a few thoughts ran through my mind. 1) Instead of watching Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, I watched Monday Night Raw with my nephew while playing chess; either show were perfect warm-ups for what I am glued to. B) The back-and-forth bickering of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sounds eerily similar arguments I have had with former girlfriends.

The two front-runners for Head of State gave amazing drama with the fate of the next four years as their backdrop. I listened, laughed, and paid attention to the subtext (I cringed as people like myself were repeatedly referred to as African American…it just didn’t feel right in my spirit). It was all good until the talk of job creation came about.

Donald Trump explained his revamped platform of Reganomics: tax breaks for the rich that are supposed to induce job creation. Hillary Clinton refuted and explained what many of us already know in which this plan obliterates the middle class. Some semblance of the phrase explaining the recession of the late-aughts still leaves a bitter taste in many mouths – including mine.

Many of us are still reeling from the country’s worst economic period since the American stock market crash of 1929. So many factors accumulated into a perfect storm that trickled down to the millenials. While things have become increasingly better, it is very difficult to explain to the generations before us what particularly is going on and why we-millenials-are having a difficult time finding our financial way.

I-and many of us-have heard a variance of “Why don’t you just apply to jobs?” in matter-of-fact-yet-condescending tone. Attempting to have some kind of respect for those before us, we bite our tongues and simply say something along the lines of “I’m a product of the recession.” Eventually, I have learned to rebut this by asking “When is the last time you applied for a job?” After a long pause, the answer is always “A long time ago.” While saying under my breath “So since you don’t know, kindly shut the eff up,” I try to break things down.

Here’s my story. I am 30 years old and graduated from Morehouse College-a very esteemed and renowned institution of higher learning-in 2007. I can think of many people that I matriculated my four years with who are doing some amazing things. To some extent, this includes myself, as well by turning my story into becoming one of the leaders in writing about black fatherhood. I love what I do and am thankful that this passion project of mine has opened up the door for a second career. However, shit is very real out here.

My first job out of college wasn’t at some entry level doing something corporate; I ran the photo department at Walgreens for $7.25 an hour. In Atlanta, that was enough to get by with a roommate and live-in girlfriend; but those student loans I took out had to fall by the wayside. Why didn’t I get some entry level position in Atlanta with as many corporate headquarters in its metropolis? They ALL had hiring freezes.

The second job I attained was working at a mortgage firm October 2008. So what seemed like five years in the making lead to a housing crisis and the people that hired me literally going bankrupt the day before I started. My next job was selling cars in July of 2009. Cash for Clunkers dried up business and I was back to being broke. I had to make my own professional experience and hustled my way into project management.

The problem with having to make your own experience in a time in which everyone is looking for work means that companies can be as picky as they choose. In the days of the internet, a human resources professional can word out thousands of applicants by simply doing a word search, interview a couple of people, hire the one who was referred by a friend, and the answer one gets in return is “You don’t have experience in this setting.” Explaining this to many of my peers, most have sympathetically replied “Yes! This is me!” You can also add to this that one is competing with the 30-50 somethings who were let go and willing to take a pay cut to feed their families? You’re kind of fucked.

As time progressed, so did the interest on my student loans. It’s hard to pay someone $750 a month when you’re already living under your means. So when Sallie Mae Navient calls me about making a payment, I tell them “I know you have a job to do; but I had to choose between paying $700 a month to you all or feeding my daughter. I chose them.” Credit-obliterating debt, the cost of living constantly rising, and many looking out for themselves…what do you do? Hustle and hope for the best.

The silver lining in this all is that The Recession of 2008 has created jobs. They just don’t pay very well, right now. One lesson that always stuck with me from macroeconomics is that cutbacks often lead to some creative people creating new paths. It is still difficult to make ends meet; but I now have two career paths. Right now, neither are paying into a pension; but somehow, I have a feeling that things will continue to work out.

Generation Z is beginning to enter the workforce. They have grown up in a world in which all they know is the internet and being tech-savvy. The way that they have been conditioned to process information means that they will have it much easier than my constituents who are now in their thirties, settling down, and starting families. We’ve become the sacrificial lambs-turned-entrepreneurs.

So…while I’m listened to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump talk about their visions for the future of economic growth, I’m sitting three feet away from a sleeping kindergartner, with fingers typing away on a laptop, thinking “One day this here will all be worth it.”

…This is the very abridged version.

“Why” Are Fathers Receiving Praise For Doing Their Job?

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I was perusing through one of the sites I write for yesterday. While looking for the dates to add to my invoice, I came across a headline and felt inclined to read. The author was inquiring whether or not fathers should receive praise for doing the basics as a parent. I thought it was an insightful read from a perspective that was different from my own.

Fatherhood is often assessed on the equivalent of a learning curve. Dads get excessive props for passing a test with a 65 as if it was a 100. It reminds me of when a high school my science teacher said with all of the conviction in the world “Chad is a solid B student,” as if that is something my mother and father should be proud of. This man with 30+ years of experience in education felt that if I worked to my potential I could be mediocre. That is how fatherhood-black fatherhood-is often perceived; many times by black mothers.

Advertisers have begun throwing dollars and campaigns at viewing fatherhood from a different light. There are commercials and digital content promoting dads doing fatherly things as if it is an anomaly. The question I would like to propose is “Why” as opposed to “Should” fathers receive the “potential to be a solid B student” treatment?

The patriarchs of television are often portrayed as bumbling idiots. With the exception of Heathcliff Huxtable and Danny Tanner, dads are seldom depicted as nurturing. There are many memes and such in which we are made fun as if we are the fun parents that do silly things. We don’t do hair, we leave our offspring to their own devices resulting in them getting into stuff they shouldn’t, or that we throw kids high in the air like we don’t know what we’re doing. Oh…and if you’re a father of color, you aren’t around and don’t pay child support *scratches the surface*.

While studies have reported otherwise-in which statistics mean nothing to the individual-how have so many experiences created this relatively collective paradigm? And why do we spend more time purporting instead of debunking it?

I find it perplexing that often mothers-or fathers-are seen as primary caretakers. If there is a give-and-take-you know…balance-how is one person primary anything; particularly in a two-parent household? Almost everything in society operates in a homeostatic pattern; so does parenting. The archetypes “Momma’s Boy” and “Daddy’s Girl” are just as prevalent as ever, no? That itself contradicts the nurturing and a predominant progenitor for their child than another model often talked about.

In 2016, traditional gender roles are meandering rapidly towards a different path. Many mothers are the bread-winning, career-oriented ones as well as communities of stay at home dads (Note: fathers hate that term). Nonetheless, the individual mindset seems to be slowly evolving with the time; ultimately causing a divide among men and women who already don’t understand each other due to well, science.

I wrote this three months ago and will say it again: I know just as many terrible mothers as I do fathers. However, motherhood is seldom looked at like “She’s a good mother.” If anything, many matriarchs are given more credit than they deserve.

The truth of the matter is that most fathers I know could care less about praise for being a good father; myself included. I personally love seeing more advertising and content displaying fatherhood-especially black fatherhood-because I enjoy seeing a major part of my identity being more often not in a more positive light; but as something that me-we-really are instead of stock characters in a tired narrative.

The Day Both of My Children Were On Television

 

I received a Facebook request on Wednesday that piqued my interest. We didn’t have any friends in common. I clicked on the profile to see who this person was and why they might be interested. They were a producer at daytime talk show, The Real. The Fox show produced a segment based around an article I wrote; I assumed that the show could have been following up on the piece from earlier this summer.

Fall baseball began Friday evening. My nephew’s team were playing in a tournament that was a fundraiser for veterans. It was the team’s first night game and everyone was excited. About halfway trough the game, the boys on the team noticed that the local news channel was at the venue and were filming to air. The camera pointed towards the dugout and these 10 year olds lit up. Everyone knew to look out on News 12 over the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, I received a phone call from the producer at The Real, informing me that another one of my articles had become a subject on the show, and it would be airing Monday. I didn’t know what post they conversed about; but it was something to be excited about.

Monday morning, I set my DVR to record The Real; unsure if I would be able to watch the live airing. I was preparing for a phone interview at 1 pm that would change my life. As I prepared, I was getting a little anxious. To calm myself down, I felt as if watching something about me on national television would help.

I had an idea of the flow of the show and knew that my part would air before the first commercial break. At the six minute mark, I heard my name mentioned and internally lit up. In June, they didn’t mention my name; I was just “a writer.” This time, they said “Chad Milner,” and mentioned “his daughter Cydney.”

@therealdaytime read it because I wrote it…had to catch the retaping; but it originally aired Monday. Note: the article was originally written two years ago. #soccerdadchronicles

A video posted by Chad (@imchadmilner) on Sep 21, 2016 at 5:55am PDT

As Loni Love began quoting my article, the screen went black. I was looking at the screen and thinking “What the hell is going on?!” Fox was interrupting the show for a special news report. New Jersey governor Chris Christie was addressing the people about the bombings that had happened in his state over the weekend. While that was definitely more important than a two year old article about Cydney being the only black kid at soccer (Note: #SoccerDadChronicles Season 4 coming in two weeks). I couldn’t help but laugh. This is the kind of thing that would happen to me. My interview at 1 pm was cancelled because the company couldn’t get in touch with me; stating that my phone went directly to voice-mail (My phone was in my hand the whole time and didn’t ring). I was upset; but I gathered myself and just figured that God had a plan. Minutes later, I was right back to writing on my laptop because there was work to do. Three hours later, I got a text message from one of the mothers from my nephew’s baseball team. She recorded the segment that aired on News 12 about our boys. It was a nine second clip; but they used my nephew! That made my day more than someone talking about me.

A clip of my boy pitching made the local news…

A video posted by Chad (@imchadmilner) on Sep 19, 2016 at 1:30pm PDT

 

That evening, Cyd and my nephew were outside of the house, playing basketball on the hoop I had just put together a few days prior. The rim was lowered to 7.5 and my mother asked Cydney if she could make a shot on that height. My nephew and I both said “Yes, she can.” She missed the first one and made the next two in a row.

I said to my mother “I guess I’m raising two athletes, huh?” While she plays a beyond integral role in making many of the opportunities for the kids; she looked back at me and said “Yeah.”

Virgo

 

“Won’t you come and chill with a Virgo…” Nas

The Autumnal Equinox marks the official end of summer. To me, it means that I have survived another Virgo season.

From August 2012 to April 2016, everyone I have dated or had a non-platonic dynamic with-excluding one-and-a-half-have all been Virgos. By any and all means, this is not an exaggeration.

For nearly four years, I would meet someone, we would show mutual signs of interest, contact each other, the birthday question would surface, and said lady would reply “August/September ___.” It has become a running joke between God and me because I have/had love/hate relationships with almost all of them. As soon as something would be on the verge of ending with one, God would send me another, and we would have the saaaaame dynamic.

As much as they have gotten on my nerves, my favorite women that I have been romantically linked with were Virgos. Timile was a Capricorn; she too was an earth sign and possessed some similar traits; but it was different. I am a Sagittarius; so Virgos and I being as different as night and day made for lots of drama that I would be more than entertained by. When we first met, almost every last one of them would say they can’t stand someone with my astrological sign. I would laugh, tell them that the feeling was mutual, and in time, we proved ourselves to be correct.

We would have a lot in common; but we were just different and I liked that. However, we often would butt heads because they were very emotional and I’m the opposite. Many of the times I would simply joke around with them, they would take it personally; and I would have to reassure them “Look, this is just me. I talk a lot of shit.”

The fun in the drama was the constant one-upmanship. Every Virgo woman I dated thought that they were the most calculated and manipulative person. Because I don’t like being put into a box, I would observe their behavioral patterns, and completely switch things up on them. Virgos are over-thinkers; just like me. However, for all of their planning and calculating, they often made an emotional decision in haste, continuing the perpetual cycle of living in their mind. There was always a need for order and they all had professions that matched their almost OCD-like need for order. I always wanted to burst their bubble.

I remember having a conversation at my nephew’s Christening in 2007. This was the first time that Timile had come to New York and met my family. We were in my mother’s kitchen conversing with my aunt, who mentioned that she was a Virgo. Timile mentioned that her mother was one, also. Timile talked about how manipulative and calculating her mother was. I just sat, listened, and held onto all of this information; feeling as if this would become useful information at another point in my life.

Four years later, I would be in the midst of a custody battle with my “in-laws,” spearheaded by a meticulous plan orchestrated by Cydney’s maternal grandmother. With help from Timile’s family, I took too much pleasure in seeing her face at me showing up to a hearing to have legal rights to my daughter. This woman had planned for over six months how she would operate to get me-someone she never liked-out of her life. So watching her blood boil and utter words of frustration in complete gave me a rush that can’t be rivaled by too many other sensations in life. Mrs. Brown couldn’t stand me because she too couldn’t put me into a box that fit her paradigm.

I now know the Virgo like the back of my hand (Looks and observes a new cut that wasn’t there yesterday). For the first time in years, this Virgo season was drama-free. I’m still friends with quite a few of these women. Everyone we meet is a segue for the rest of our lives and I am truly thankful for the lessons that I have learned along the way. Truth be told, they have been some of the most influential people in shaping my worldview since 2011.

The Summer’s Over

 

 

“The summer’s over and and we’re watching the sun finally set.  It seems like forever; but forever’s here.”

While I had heard the song several times prior, I never really listened to PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “East Liberty” until that mid-September afternoon. The song summed up the evening perfectly. I was driving on the Hutchinson Parkway in the Bronx, making the trip home to Long Island from Yonkers. I ignored all text messages from my phone.

This was the first of many fall excursions that were dubbed “Sunday Fundays.” The dating dynamic between a girl whose nickname was Fly Light Skin and I had been over; but we enjoyed each other’s company enough to do brunch at the Royal Coach Diner on the corner of Gun Hill and Boston Road. After I dropped her off, I would head to Westchester County to watch football with my long-time friend, Kalique, while our daughters played.

I flat ironed my daughter’s hair the night before and this was an internal invitation for her to be a girly-girl that day. Fly Light Skin was one as well and I think Cydney liked the idea of having an adult woman to do that kind of stuff with. I took the two of them to get their nails done and we all went to our dining spot after.

FLS gave my child a hand mirror and that little girl was obsessed with it. She looked at her reflection and brushed her hair all afternoon. I captured the moment and posted it on Instagram; not paying attention to the purse in the right corner of the shot.My phone vibrated with social media notifications for the rest of the evening.

While leaving the Bronx, I observed a certain person liked the picture on Facebook. I chuckled to myself for a moment because I knew the person all too-well. She almost never comments on my pictures; but she did on this one. Nothing was ever coincidence with her; so I paid very close attention to this break in her typical behavioral pattern.

The cross-country trip across the lower New York peninsula is about a 25 minute drive. By the time I exited off the expressway onto Yonkers Ave, I received a text message from my Facebook friend I had a checkered history with, to say the least.Even in this brief moment of being direct, she was communicating passively. I smirked and left the message unread.

While watching the Giants game, I told Kalique about the day. Every Sunday began with a synopsis about the never-ceasing drama that is my life outside of parenting. My longtime friend inferred that while there seems to be an ever-present amount of discord around me, I am always calm and in control. The way he said it was a lot more profanity-laden; but that’s what he meant. I think a direct quote was “Chad, you are the muthafuckin’ puppet master.”

I had to laugh at my consigliere because it’s very true. This evening was the moment that I realized it. I believed it before; but this was the day that I was truly convinced. I let all parties I interact with that day feel as if they were making the decisions. If and when they felt like they no longer wanted to deal with me, I created an environment that made them feel as if they were calling the shots. “They’ll be back” I would think to myself.

I operate in this manner because it’s easier. You can tell people what they want to hear or directly make a decision for them. However, they will not listen until they come to the conclusion themselves…I’ll just facilitate the process.

As we continued to shoot the shit, FLS sent me two or three text messages. I wanted to enjoy the game in peace with two of my boys I have known since middle school in peace.  I needed a little peace from everyone. Texts often lead the interpreter to jump to conclusions, especially when there is a non-platonic dynamic between men and women. My Samsung was on silent like I ain’t need the stress (For all of my PARTYNEXTDOOR fans).

It seemed like my Facebook friend always came around when things were ending with someone. Her reemergence always signified the beginning of the end. On an unconscious level, I probably let it happen. I always let her back in. Even if or when people knew of her, she always flew under everyone’s radar.

That was last fall. This summer, the same thing happened. The cast of characters have changed and the situations even more interesting; with the exception of one person. The summer is over…

There was supposed to be some kind of existential tale to take away from this. I guess that went out the window for me to just tell another story.

 

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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