The Most Fun I’ve Had In Years

 

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Because I spend so much time with and doing kid stuff, I typically look forward to the moments when I can sneak away from my life in my Long Island suburb and “do hoodrat stuff with my friends.” Underneath it all, I’m a big kid at heart.

While it may be a little more imbalanced than I’d prefer, I do make the time to do the things I consider fun.  I talk shit while seeing my therapist/barber, 360.  I spend time with my family and loved ones.  I give myself at least an hour a week in my home studio to toil around with music (One day, I’m going to finish a project).  I go to the gym and lift weights like I’m in jail.  I scratch my baseball itch with my nephew’s travel team.  I hit the hood and kick it with the homies like we’re seventeen again.  I date and have had pretty good sex.  I love doing it all.  However, yesterday evening was the most fun I have had in forever.

It’s summertime and Cydney is home all day.  More often than not, my daughter being home in the daytime puts a hindrance on my productivity.  I treat my deck like my office, crank up the music, and write all day to make these pennies that contribute to my household.  Cydney usually wakes up and says “You’re in your office?  I’m gonna join you!”  Shortly after, she is asking 2,013,182 questions and wants to be entertained.

Typically, I have a little assistance in Cyd being occupied.  My nephew and she play and I only have to intervene when I hear something sounding remotely close to conflict.  My boy has been in Queens spending time with my father and his mom, so Cydney is really looking for me to be the break in between her favorite shows that I can’t stand.

Yesterday morning, Cydney woke up earlier than normal and/or expected.  For most of the morning, she let me work.  Around 1 pm, she couldn’t take anymore.  Because it’s beyone hot, she asked-read: implored-that I take her to go get ice cream.  We did and she was happy.  Then, she wanted to put her bathing suit on and run through the sprinklers.  That was fine, too.  But she wanted me to join her.  I told her “Baby, I got work to do.”  She didn’t care.  Eventually, she was over the the sprinklers and just wanted to play Subway Surfers on my phone.

Around 5 pm, it was time to get ready and leave for my nephew’s baseball game.  By 5:15, it began raining cats and dogs, so the game was cancelled.  At 6 pm, the sun was back out and Cydney wanted to go back outside and play in the water.  “Daddy, the sun is out, let’s have a water fight.”  I kept putting it off because the idea of being soaked and cold isn’t something I was into at the time.  It was getting late and I was 11 hours into my day already.

I looked at my daughter in her bathing suit and gave in.  “Fine,” I said.  Before I could finish the sentence, she was squirting me with a water pump.  She had two already filled up in which one was for me to shoot back at her.  After the initial shock of the cold, I was into it.  We stood by the sink on the deck, filled up, and kept firing.  As I began to refill, she would shoot and I would do the same.  The two of us jumped as we were hit by the water and laughed uncontrollably.  I kept telling my child “Stop.  STOP!  I’m DONE.”  She didn’t care.  Cydney kept firing.  As I ran around the house, she laughingly followed me and continued to attack.  It was a great time.

How did we follow up this event?  Cydney suggested that we watch Nick Jr. in the den in just our underwear and dance as music played during the shows.  It was a great day.

Cydney wants to do it all again today.

The Answers To Life’s Questions Always Find You

 
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We never receive what we pursue with fervor until we acquiesce…I have been reminded of this by way of searching desperately for a sample to one of my favorite songs.

Ever since his cameo appearance on Trinidad Jame$’ “Southside,” I have been a fan of Atlanta indie artist, Fortebowie.  He is one of the most creative rapper/singer/producers I’ve heard in a very long time.  In his music, Fortebowie flips fairly obscure samples.  Half of the fun in listening to his music is trying to find the original song he lifted to create a brand new song.

Sampling is an art form.  It’s a form of audio manipulation that takes a a creative ear to perfect.  In almost forty years of audio production, engineering, and knowledge of musical theory, my father couldn’t sample as well as I can on his best day.  Because of this, I appreciate someone who can do this beyond well.

On his 2015 project, Something Else About Bowie, there is a song called “Wrong Girl.”  In the first verse, I listened as Bowie apologize to all of the hearts he’d broken.  Attempting to justify himself, the last four bars made me pause:

“Only love one muh’f*cka and she won’t let me rest.  Runnin’ round in my mind, doing laps.  What the f*ck?!  Tryna act like she irrelevant; but I don’t give a f*ck.  But my mama know, and my daddy know, and my n*ggas know who run my world.  And until she comes back…I’m f*ckin’ with the wrong girl.”

Those lines summed up exactly how I was feeling during the summer of ’15.  After things ended with my ex, I began dating my “What If” girl.  Shortly into our courtship, I knew it wasn’t going to work out.  It would have never worked out between us; however I may have been a little more patient.  I wasn’t over someone I was very much in love with.  As a means of proceeding through life with no unanswered questions, this period was something that needed to happen.

While thinking about how I related to Fortebowie, I began trying to figure out what was the sample in this song.  After doing some searching, I put into the Twitter universe that I was looking for the sample in “Wrong Girl.”  Fortebowie replied saying that he’s keeping that a secret and the fans just have to find it.

I scrubbed out Fortebowie’s vocals on my computer.  I tried to speed up the sample to see if I recognized the voice.  I Googled the lyrics.  I downloaded Karaoke apps to scrub out the middle frequencies of the track and then play into Shazaam to see if it would recognize the sample.  No matter what, Shazaam kept telling me that the song sampled was “Wrong Girl” by Fortebowie.  I would leave it alone for a little while and every few months, I would try again to see if someone on the internet had found the answer.

What often prompted me to try once again to look for the sample was another person on Twitter asking me if I had found the sample.  The searches got shorter and shorter.  Knowing that one day, probably the day I truly said “fuck it,” the answer would find me.

On Monday morning, something prompted me to look for this sample one last time.  Well, the honest answer of what inspired me to look was that once again, those four bars-and other parts of-the first verse were ringing true in my life.  Nonetheless, I looked for all of five minutes.  The first result that popped up in Google’s search engine was Fortebowie’s Soundcloud page, where he originally posted “Wrong Girl.”  I decided not to look there because I had repeatedly and no one had yet to find the answer.

The next morning, I saw a Twitter notification in which someone asked me had I found the sample to “Wrong Girl.”  I replied that I still hadn’t.  Immediately, the person said “Wrong Girl by Latrelle.”

The lightbulb went off in my head.  I knew exactly who Latrelle was.  Because the sample was slowed down, it sounded like a man singing; but it was a woman.  Latrelle was a singer that was signed to Arista Records in 2001-2002.  She had two singles, “Dirty Girl” and “House Party;” both produced by the Neptunes when their music was ubiquitous.  I loved “House Party” and was looking forward to her album being released.  However, it was shelved indefinitely.  “Wrong Girl” was the second-to-last song on her unreleased album that of course, was on YouTube.

Repeatedly listening to what I coveted for over a year, I decided to Google “Latrelle, Wrong Girl, and Fortebowie.”  The first thing that popped up in Google’s search engine was Fortebowie’s Soundcloud page.  THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION WAS THEE ONE PLACE I HAD BEEN IGNORING BECAUSE I HAD LOOKED THERE REPEATEDLY AND COULDN’T FIND IT.  SOMEONE FOUND IT A MONTH AGO!

By nature, I’m both assertive and proactive.  It is beyond difficult for me to stop looking for the things that I am “looking for.”  I feel as if I can find the answers quicker than the universe can reveal them.  I guess this is my way of manifesting “faith without works is dead.”  In the bible, Jacob was dealing with a lot.  One night, we literally wrestled with God until God blessed him.  Jacob had to literally be subdued in his hip.  Most people don’t exhaust their resources until divine intervention steps in.  I try to live my life doing just that.

A Year After Confronting My Past

 

June 28, 2016, 9:47 am.  A year ago at this time I was just arriving home from Virginia.  After waking up at 4 am for a full day’s work, I took an hour nap, packed up Cydney, and left New York on the 26th at around 1:30 am.  Just about every trip to the Hampton Roads area was hell; so I didn’t need to be there very long.

I was returning to a place that I said I would never revisit.  I didn’t feel the need to.  I had been told on countless occasions by many people I need to make it my business to finally see Timile’s grave.  In theory, this makes sense.  However, if you know me or how I operate, you’d know I didn’t need to for the reasons people said that I would.  I’ll come back to this.

The purpose of this trip was to finally see Timile’s grave.  For those who are new, I found out that my girlfriend of five years and mother of my child died via Twitter and wasn’t invited to the funeral…her parents never reached out because they were building a court case to obtain custody of Cydney.  Going back to the darkest time in my life was to remind myself where I have been to give proper context to where I’m headed.  We all need this from time to time.

With the exception of driving around and seeing the places I still have flashbacks of, almost nothing went according to plan.  While I made it to the cemetery, no one wanted to help me, so I wound up not visiting Timile’s grave site.

That was perfectly fine.  The trip wound up not about visiting the dead; but to see the living.  I stopped by Chesapeake to visit Timie’s godmother, I saw one of her friends from high school, I called an audible and stopped by my in-laws for an hour.  That made the trip worthwhile because revisiting that house was confronting a lot of my darkness.

While I had been flirting with the idea of going to Virginia for months, I needed a catalyst to push me into actually doing it.  Last year, I got into arguments with the girl I was currently dating and my ex.  That wasn’t the first time.  But once I noticed this pattern of ultimately having this tense discussions, I felt like it was time to assess how and why I wound up dealing with the people that I did.  I was in a place of not wanting commitment and from the first date, I’d be planning my way out.

The girl I was dating at the time had said something to me that really rubbed me the wrong way.  After calling me arrogant and making a few judgments (one of the worst things you can do in my book), she said “I feel like you post pictures of Timile for attention.”  I wasn’t mad.  Five minutes after hanging up from the call, everything registered, and then I laughed.  I wasn’t hurt or angry at what she said; I was offended.  Had she asked me I wouldn’t have been; but that was something else and exactly what I needed.

Logged off from the world, I needed some time to prepare myself for what was coming.  I found myself reliving those three weeks in 2011.  I never had regrets about moving there.  It was the right thing to do.  Before she passed, Timile got to spend quality time with my family in New York as well as hers in Buffalo and Virginia.  If anything else, it was a goodbye tour.  Maybe the reason I needed this was because moving every other time was about Timile; so I needed to make one for myself.

A year later, I still stand by my statement that this trip wasn’t about making closure.  I already had peace with the loss.  If the purpose was for that reason, God would have allowed a sequence of events in which Cydney and I actually made it to Timile’s grave site and not just the yard.

This was about opening doors.  Less than a month later, I would be receiving a call that my good friend, Donnell was no longer with us on earth.  Having visited Virginia made getting and accepting this news a lot easier.  The events that transpired for some reason made me quit smoking.  I didn’t need it anymore as a means to relieve the stress that made me feel as if someone was sitting on my chest.

To Cydney, her mother was just stories and anecdotes she’s her about through pictures and limited video.  Something within her changed.  Leaving Timile’s high school home with toys and a t-shirt with her picture on it gave Cyd a connection.  My daughter began using her imagination and injecting herself into these stories.  If she saw a video, Cydney would say “I remember that” and give her interpretation of the events that occurred.  It’s part of her own healing and acceptance.

Since this is getting kind of long, I will end this here and continue tomorrow.

An Expansion on The Twitter Thread That Explains Why Dating Is Frustrating in 2016

I have been sent the link and asked repeatedly if I have seen the post entitled “This Twitter Thread Explains Why Dating Can Be So Frustrating In 2016.”  Having read it, I ask what do they-the person who sent it-think.  The response from just about everyone is that it is very accurate.  I agree.

Five years back into dating, I have more than my fair share of entertainingly dramatic stories to tell.  It is fairly difficult to navigate through those proverbial waters.  In an effort to relate to a friend and their circumstances, I gave the simile dating is like a war zone in which all is fair in which once you are trained in looking down for mines, you get attacked from the air.  It’s become a game in which everyone is playing by rules they made up and wonder why they lose.

Here’s a synopsis of the thread.  Kiran bka @NonProphet_ gives a breakdown of meeting the right guy who seems to have a lot going for him.  The vibe is right and the two have chemistry.  He sells the dream of wanting a relationship and that opens the young lady up.  Feelings begin to develop and then all of a sudden, he’s not as attentive as he once was.  The girl continues to reach out and there’s little to no response and the hurt begins to sink in.  Out of nowhere, he contacts the lady explaining his departure, to virtually dating into obscurity and out of nowhere…the breakup comes.  All of this leaves the feeling of wasted time and a wariness to try again and of course, it does.

It is then explained what happened in the man’s mind.  His intention was never to break the lady-or anyone’s-heart.  The things that were said were genuine and how they actually felt in the moment.  They did want the lady to be the one.  However, the “what if she isn’t the one” thoughts start.  Those thoughts become doubts that become reality.  Before getting too wrapped up, he feels like things need to slow down.  Then the pressure kicks in and everything is ultimately shot to, well you know.  The thread is ended with something so simple, yet to difficult for most to grasp because it takes experience to know this: love is a decision.

“Falling” in love is a myth.  Before we were officially an item, my daughter’s mother was the first person to tell me that love was a decision.  That was one of our first heated discussions because I didn’t believe her.  I was twenty-one years old and my outlook on love was that of inexperience.  She truly wasn’t meant to be on earth long.  At twenty, she understood something that others spend their whole lives just trying to figure out…and she was putting me up on game.  While we were having the first of many philosophical debates, deep down, I wasn’t sold on her.  She was gorgeous; but that’s not everything so I had doubts because on the surface, we were very different.  One day, I just said to myself “eff it,” and while she’s no longer here with us, I don’t regret that decision at all.  I made a choice to love her and even when we had falling outs and breakups, I continued to stick with that decision.

I agreed with everything the young man said.  There was one piece that was and is always missing: accountability.  People aren’t emotionally mature because once again, that takes experience.  I say it all of the time that we attract who we currently are.  If the person isn’t quite ready-for whatever the reason-to make a decision and commit, and this keeps happening; what does that say about you?  Mature love comes with an obscene amount of concession.  The inexperienced are often more concerned about looking to be loved instead of looking to love.

The laws of attraction are real.  What you find to be appeasing to your ego is what will find you time and time again.  Where’s the best place to hide if someone is looking up in the air?  Right under their nose is the answer.  What first attracted us to the ones that we ultimately date are the things that they have in common with us.  Deep down we are all a little narcissistic who like what we like and have similar values.  As time progresses and people are a little more relaxed, they are themselves and we are more willing to accept them for who we are because we already have feelings.

We are the culmination of our life experiences.  Often, the man or woman who has doubts and leaves the other they were dating vulnerable is scared.  They were once heartbroken and that crippling feeling of self-doubt forces a wall to go up almost immediately after they have made themselves vulnerable.  As opposed to going through that dreadful feeling again, they fabricate untrue feelings until they become a reality.  The person who ultimately was lead on typically has a tainted image of self-worth.  Eventually, everyone self-sabotages based on their insecurities and once again, everything is shot to you know where.  Spoiler alert: no one will hurt your feelings, disappoint you, and break your heart like your spouse…just needed to throw that out there because dating is the easy part.

I was once having a conversation with an ex of mine long after things between us ended.  I told her that I had come to a realization that I need to not be so cynical.  My bleak outlook on people causes me to have very low to no expectations and unconsciously, I can be pushing those that I love into acting in a manner that supports my cynicism.  It was also an admission of my role in where things went wrong between us.  In other ways, she had done the same to me.  This is part of what and why the universe brought us together in the first place.

I say all of this to say that when dating goes wrong, we often replay over and over what the person did to us and that plays a major role in why we keep going through the same things repeatedly.  The answers to all questions almost always can be found within us.

You can read the full thread here.

Father’s Day Hangover

 

Father’s Day is like a second birthday that you share with a lot of people.  You get phone calls, texts, emails, messages on social media, etc from some of everyone who are acknowledging what you feel is your greatest accomplishment  Men feel validated by their work and there are very few things that lift spirits like the appreciation on the third Sunday in June.

Fatherhood is rooted in providing and protection.  While we are nurturing, we are a different kind of caretaker.  We want to make sure everyone’s needs are met.  If anyone has a dream or a goal…what can we do to get our loved ones from their current location to the proverbial mountain top.  It’s mostly a thankless job, because the only people who really understand what you do and what it takes to make shit happen are other fathers.

This is the reason why I love Father’s Day in the age of social media.  I am thankful to say that I didn’t see anyone wishing their mothers a happy Father’s Day on any timelines.  Sure, there are no badges or tags to put on pictures like the “I Love Mom” one for Facebook (thus proving how little we give a shit about dad); but seeing how my friends and peers treated their fathers, grandfathers, and fathers of their children is heartwarming.  I enjoyed seeing the statuses in which the fathers themselves bragged about how much they were taken care of on their day.  It’s the kind of high that you’re more than happy to be feeling hungover from the next morning.

My favorite editor sent me a Happy Father’s Day text.  I replied “Thank you,” and she asked me what plans did I have for the day.  Then it hit me: the perfect metaphor to describe fatherhood…

I am a lifelong Yankee fan.  Yes, I grew up in Queens; but my grandfather was from the Bronx and I began following his favorite team because that’s who and what he watched.  I had a very hard time coaching my nephew’s baseball team this year because they were the Red Sox.  So for Father’s Day, my nephew organizes a trip for the boys and their families to Citi Field to watch the Mets.  While I am supportive of all New York teams, I’m not a Met fan.  It’s something to do and the tickets were bought for us all to have a good time; so I might as well take it for what it is and enjoy.

While I’m at the game, I gotta buy souvenir cups to get my money’s worth for this beer; which means taking home a Mets cup.  My five year old daughter is only but so interested, so she must be entertained and I can’t just watch baseball and do what I really want to do: get drunk.   Everyone has such a great time at the game, you can bet that everyone will want to and ask to go to more Mets games.  And you can’t say no; everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing and it’s something that you like: baseball.  They are attempting to bond with you even though it’s not the baseball team you like…you’ve been bred to not like the Mets and treat them like the never-do-right little brothers that they are.

Once again, you can’t say no because people’s feelings will be hurt.  You’re too deep in it to turn around, so you 1) Just go with it.  2) Suffer in silence until someone notices you at home watching a Yankee game and says “Oh, you’re a Yankee fan?!  I didn’t realize that,” and it opens up the door for dialog where you convince someone into what you want and make them think it’s their idea (This is the dream that NEVER happens).  3)  Suffer in silence.  or 4) Just give up and become a Met fan.  That is fatherhood in a nutshell.

After the game, I sat in my neighbor’s yard and explained to the fathers this epiphany I just had.  Ranging from new fathers to being a grandfather several times over, we all laughed and they agreed.

I say all of this to say Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers who continue to read because I wrote it.  You are all appreciated.  Keep up the great work.  My work day is cut short because Cydney threw up this morning and is home.

Growing Up Means Outgrowing

 
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I was picking Cydney up from school the other afternoon.  As I walked into her door, I saw that the children were rehearsing a routine to “We Go Together” from Grease.  That was the moment shit got real: I caught all of the fucking feels.

The closing of an era will occur in two weeks.  This was the preschool my nephew attended.  He was in the same class when a pregnant Timile and I moved to New York from Atlanta almost sic years ago.  That seemed like yesterday and forever ago at the same time; now almost five feet tall and headed into fifth grade.  Two years ago, I dropped Cydney off for her first day and holding the hand of her teacher, she introduced herself to the class as Elsa.

Here I am watching Cyd and these same kids singing “We’ll always be together.”  They’re all going to be in different schools and most of them in the same district; but not Cydney.  Yes, there will be new teachers and new friends.  And still, there is something about moving on that makes us all sentimental.

Cydney has outgrown the school she is currently attending.  I see my little girl on a daily basis, so it’s difficult to notice that she’s growing up.  Slowly but surely, she’s evolving.  Very seldom are there instances that hit me in the face and I realize “Man, she’s not that little person I held in one arm anymore.”

Moving forward is an amazing thing.  I’m not one to do much reminiscing about the past.  When you do that, you began to romanticize it.  Fairly traumatic moments can either leave you stifled in a moment in time and afraid to move on or can become “The good ol’ days.”

I spoke with a deacon at my church who said to me that the key to my ability to continuously move forward is that I am always looking towards the future.  He was right.  If I’m looking back, it is almost always to give context to the present and prepare for tomorrow.  I address shit and keep it moving.  When feelings and moments creep out of my emotional memory because I am reminded of them, think about it, analyze, and think about how and what to do next.  This isn’t an act of suppression.  To be honest, I think this mindset has protected me and is one of the major contributing factors to my level of self-awareness.

I know there are going to be major milestones n Cydney’s life.  And at each one of them, I am going to think about her mother.  It’s almost impossible to not do so.  I didn’t make my daughter on her own, so there would be no Cyd without her.  It kind of sucks that almost every joyous occasion in my first child’s life will have a moment of bittersweet feelings and some semblance of sadness.  But that’s life.

To keep it all the way one hundred, all of the “She’s watching down and would be proud” doesn’t make it any better.  I know the words are meant as a means of comfort.  It’s not really comforting.  It’s more or less dismissive to the painful feeling.  “Hey, look at the bright side,” without acknowledging the pain associated with it.

A little context: within the past five years, there isn’t a person that I have met that when they found out I have a daughter that doesn’t inquire about her mother.  There isn’t a person that I have met in five years that literally hasn’t said the words “I’m sorry” to me.  Imagine how much it sucks that at some point or another, every person you encounter and begin some sort dynamic with has started off apologizing or pitying you to some extent.  That has been my life at least once a week for the second half of my twenties.  It’s isolating.  But it’s also not  a norm that most people are used to and I am.  At this point, the only kind of parenting that I know is that of a child without a mother.  It’s all good, though…Cydney is truly her father’s child because she too makes jokes about it.

Today, I posted the picture of Cydney in her graduation cap and gown on social media.  While I am proud of my girl and want to show her off, I do so because in many ways I feel as if I’m sharing her with people.  Whether it’s because we’re friends in different places, Timile’s friends from college, or just people who have started following the blog, she a part of her belongs to a lot of people.  On June 30, 2016, our girl is graduating from Pre-K.

Soccer Dad Chronicles: Season 3, Episode 6

 

After a three week hiatus, the chronicles are back.  Episode five left off with my Orange Monsters decimating the burgundy team that I was eagerly looking forward to playing.  It had absolutely nothing to do with their athletic prowess; but everything to do with the children’s mother…in which we wound up having a nice little exchange.

As Cydney and I are getting out of the car, I see Fly Soccer Mom from a distance.  We’re about two hundred feet apart and for all intents and purposes, I could be blind and not have recognized her.  In the entry, I stopped to tie Cydney’s cleats.  While stooped down and paying attention to my daughter’s light blue laces on her pink Umbro’s, I hear a “good morning.”  I said it back and watched her walk by out of the corner of my eye.  I already knew that this Saturday was about to get interesting.

Cydney and I made our way to the field.  Cydney began to kick her ball around with me as Fly Soccer Mom’s youngest clamored to her.  It was entertaining to see what my life was like without it being me.  Fly Soccer Mom suggested to her child that she should kick the ball with Cyd…because we all as parents know that feeling of “I don’t want to be bothered and right now, you’re at a prime activity for someone else to be watching you.”  Fly Soccer Mom, a few of the other parents who were funneling in, and I were all conversing about some of everything and nothing.  She asked if we were playing the burgundy team today, and I replied that I didn’t think so.  We went our separate ways and I told her I’d catch up with her later.

Then it was game time.  We played the blue team.  They only had two kids show up.  I split up The Orange Monsters evenly which lead to uneven teams, so I played for a little while.  For the most part, I just played a little defense, trotted around, and made passes to open teammates so that they could score.  It was actually kind of fun.

One thing I am learning is that I like children that aren’t mine a little more than I thought that I did.  For the longest, I wanted nothing to do with other people’s children.  Hell, I barely wanted to date other single mothers.  Mine are enough and stressful.  However, between coaching basketball, baseball, and soccer in the past few months, I really enjoy it. I find myself looking forward to the games and practices.  My relationship with my nephew and daughter is much stronger.  A couple of weeks ago, I took my nephew to his school district-wide track meet; so many kids and their parents knew me from being their coach or being a coach on an opposing team.

Needless to say, this week was kind of a wash for The Orange Monsters.  I didn’t keep score because it didn’t really matter.  The kids had fun.  Cydney didn’t score any goals; but she got close.  After a while, I wound up playing goalie and tried to let everyone score who sent against me.  I wound up blocking one of two by accident.

Once the game was over, Cyd asked if she could play at the park for a little bit.  I said yes because I didn’t have anything to do.  I looked around, saw Fly Soccer Mom, walked over and told her in jest “As a man of my word, I said I’d catch up with you a little later.”  She laughed and we talked for a good hour.  We had acquaintances in common.  Right before I left, she laughed and said “Small world.”

Next week will be the season finale to season five of Soccer Dad Chronicles.  We play the burgundy team.

 

A Conversation With My Father About “The Game [of Love]”

 

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A picture my father took of his son playing in the Little League Coach's Game

Having conversations with my father are like dialog with an older version of myself; but we both have a mutually vested interest in making the younger version better than the older.  As a child, I didn’t get my dad.  Matriculating into and through adulthood, he began to make more and more sense.  At thirty years old and a father, myself, I listen to a lot of things he tells me and think to myself “In many ways, I am just like you.”

Growing up, most of our disagreements were typical father/son disputes.  Like minds often butt heads.  Very rarely-if at all-do we have heated moments.  There are times when he has said some very real shit and it has hurt my feelings; but he almost always calls after to soften the blow and that does mean a lot.  Neither of us like conflict and when there is, we want to resolve it quickly.  Even in these rare instances, I know that the reason for a departure from his laid-back demeanor is because he is passionate about me being better than him; so he isn’t speaking out of anger but with conviction.

I called my dad yesterday afternoon to chat and tell him a fairly hilarious interaction between a woman I met and myself.  Maybe without consciously thinking about it, I was reaching out for advice and I knew that no one else would know what to say better than he.  A few months ago, we talked about someone I was dating and he said to me at thirty years old, I’m way too young to be as cynical and jaded as I am.  That statement resonated with me.  It was something that I had been thinking; but hearing it from the source of all sources that I respect was the first step in me trying to approach life differently.  With age and experience he was saying that at my age, I’m supposed to still be “with the shits” in the name of love because when I’m his age, the pickings get slim, and I don’t want to be that.  So the story was more or less a report to his challenge.

He gave the nonchalant chuckle that I know comes out of the side of his mouth-because I do it too-and because of his experience, was able to quickly articulate something I was thinking to myself; but was still an abstract thought.  Slowly, but surely, the conversation shifted from me to someone that we both know.  He said that they’re batting 0-for-90 in the dating department.  “No matter how much I try to teach [them], coach how to swing, and the mechanics that come along with playing the game, they still do what they’re going to do…but just because they keep striking out, that doesn’t mean they can’t get a hit,” he said like an OG.

My dad went on, “We all need a good team.  A good player can become great by having a good team.  Without the right coaching, players get hurt, and take themselves out of the game before they fully develop.  So they learn improper techniques and keep getting hurt.”

I replied “Yo.  That’s some real shit.  I need to write that down!”  My father said “No.”

I responded with “No…I’m gonna write this down in my notebook, write the post, and then get paid for it.”  In a tone that could only be described as a coach who is always hard on his star player but had to give him props, the man I call Trav-Murdah said “Exactly.”

That metaphor was a word.  Plainly spoken, yet vague enough for one to ponder on and its allegory hitting the nail on the head.  I know a lot of people who take themselves out of the game.  They got hit once or twice by the proverbial pitches life throws.  Or they got on base, made it all the way around, the catcher blocked the plate as they were running home at full speed, got tagged out, and they got injured in the process.  When it was time to bat again, they started crowding the plate, playing afraid, got hit by another pitch and said “Eff playing…I just want to watch from the bench or the stands and make commentary on what everyone else is doing wrong,” not realizing they were always playing the game wrong.

Then there are those who do get hurt from the game and are never the same.  They want to change the game completely when the rules of the sport have existed long before them.  Those are the people that want to just want to play baseball with a major league swing in which they’re using a tennis racquet, the pitcher gotta throw a beach ball, then the basemen have to wear gloves but can only kick the ball to each other to tag someone out.  That’s the “I just want things to happen organically” squad.  Nah fam, that ain’t how the game goes and no one wants to or will play by your dumb rules.  They find themselves in the bleachers; wondering why all your peers are in the major leagues-married or happily committed-and upset they not seeing that MLB money…and they’re way more talented than their friends.

People never get taken out the game; they take themselves out.  People just want love to happen; but don’t put the proper energy into it.  It is something one must work on with the same energy and passion they do their careers.  Maintain the hunger, find a good team with the right coach, and they’ll be on their way.  I tell the kids I coach in little league who get upset when they strike out “Look, the best players in baseball only hit the ball 3-out-of-10 times.  Shake it off, relax, and play your game like you’ve been taught, and you’ll be fine.”  It’s really that simple.  We just make it more complicated than it is.

My father and my friend may be batting 0-for-90.  But they keep batting like the last time never happened.  That in itself is commendable.

 

Meme Crush Monday: To The “I Did It Myself” Single Mothers

 

This Meme Crush Monday is sponsored by my good friend and brother-from-another, Kalique…the biological father of two beautiful girls and the head of a blended family in which he is the paternal figure to his wife’s son and daughter.  He does any and everything for all four of his children and considers himself tertiary behind them and his spouse.  Salute, my g.

I write a post just like this every year around this time.  Why?  Because it’s needed.  I’m doing my civic duty.  I write about fatherhood and it is something that I am passionate about.  As a black father, I feel as if I am fulfilling parts of my universal purpose by giving a voice to a demographic that is mostly covered from a deficit rather than deductive standpoint.

Fathers only get two days a year: our birthdays and the third Sunday of June.  Right before, during, and maybe a day or two after Father’s Day, many of single mothers get to posting statuses, memes, pictures, tweets, and a myriad of other forms that relay the sentiment congratulating themselves or other mothers for Father’s Day.  Mohagany-a black subsidiary of Hallmark-had the unmitigated gall to green light and mass produce a card for children to give their mothers for a day for fathers.  Another company made a commercial echoing similar sentiments.  Word?!

Here’s the truth: for every absentee father, I know an equal amount of bad mothers.  If I am correct, the number of children born out of wedlock in black communities is around 72%.  Some mothers raise boys that unfortunately perpetuate and continue the cycle that they were born into, as well.  Does anyone shed light on these?  No.

I bring this up because nobody talks down or badly about those who aren’t the greatest mothers on the second Sunday in May.  We’re busy uplifting the matriarchs who are amazing, shitty, and absentee ones.  Because whether or not you’re a great one or not, you’re still a mother and you should be celebrated.

To the “I did it all of myself” tribe: no you don’t.  There are a couple of parents that really do 100% of their own.  However, they are the outliers of the bell curve.  To be an outlier means that you are truly the 1% of the world.  Many may feel that they don’t always have the emotional support and that makes them feel all by themselves.  I can relate to that, because often I feel emotionally isolated as a single parent.

For the most part, someone plays the role of father figure.  Grandfathers, uncles, older siblings, cousins, teachers, pastors, deacons, chaplain, imams, rabbis, khalifs, principals, community leaders, coaches, boyfriends, good friends, neighbors, landlords, that old guy in church that really loves kids and just has a way with them, Mr. Wendel that Arrested Development made that song about, etc.  Very rarely does someone live in an isolated bubble or vacuum in which there are no men to play a role of some sort.  I just wish that we did a better job celebrating the village that it takes to raise a child than isolating the ones that don’t.

My nephew has never had an interaction with his father…and he could give a fuck because he doesn’t feel as if he’s missing out.  I’m there.  There can and will be a day in which he will feel something because of this.  But when he has that Will Smith moment on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air moment, he’ll have his uncle who coached baseball and basketball, who gave him advice or girls, and how to turn his little hustle ideas into something enterprising in a way his mother never could because she can’t fully relate.

Mother’s Day, is Mother’s Day.  I have a lot of help with my daughter, Cydney.  Instead of patting myself on the back, I shift the love towards those who have been there.  I have even given gifts to girlfriends who have been played a role, even if it was temporary; just to show them appreciation for helping me out and being there.  They’re still an influence on Cydney.

My daughter’s mother is dead and she has no actual memories of her.  That in itself could make Mother’s Day a fairly somber day for both of us.  However, it makes me feel good to redirect that energy towards what I do have rather than what I-or my daughter-doesn’t.  Emotions are energy.  I learned in physics that energy cannot be created or destroyed; but it can be redirected.  So if a feeling is an energy, I can let the emotions hit me and have an impact; or I can use an action-love-to redirect said energy into another direction.  That’s a law of science; which is something that has been experimented on many times and always applies under the same conditions.

You can be the greatest mother of all time who was raised by a single father that had more children than the Jacksons and they’re youngest and only girl.  With all of that knowledge, they still can’t do what a father can.  Our minds-mothers and fathers-are wired differently; so at one point or another, there will be a disconnect when it comes to relating.  You can have all the experience in the world shaving your legs, under your arms, and even have a little mustache that needs to be tended to.  But you can’t fully teach him how to shave his beard against the grain because it grows differently and those are a different kind of razor bump because of how testosterone makes the hair grow.  You can’t explain fully explain your son how that first entry while having sex feels and that cloudy judgement from the climax feels because you don’t process it the same way.  You can’t explain to your daughter what to look for in a man and set an example or what kind of game to stay away from because you aren’t unconciously wired to be a bloodhound for insecurity like a man is who attracts who he currently is or what he is looking for.  I can’t do those things for my daughter, either because I’m a father-a single father-who on his best day knows I can’t do that, either.

I hope there is a June in which I don’t have to rewrite this from a different angle saying the same thing.  Maybe one day, I will write it well enough to redirect them to an old article.  Actually, I’m more than perfectly fine with doing it every year.

 

 

Half-Past Thirty

 

While writing yesterday’s post, I looked at the date in the bottom-right corner of my laptop and noticed the date: May 23, 2016.  I was six months and one day into being thirty.  As of November 22nd, I will no longer be thirty; I’ll be in my thirties.  This doesn’t scare me at all.  In fact, I’m enjoying it quite a bit.  One hundred eighty-three days into it and I’m already preferring my thirties over my twenties.

For the most part, the theme for the past six months has been acceptance.  For those who are not there yet, here’s a microcosm for the first digit in your age being a 3: I go to the gym to work on my chest and triceps…only to leave with my knee aching for no reason.

The first lesson of acceptance I have learned is that my body is no longer my greatest asset; my mind is.  I can lift obscenely heavy weights, dunk, and if I felt like it, run two miles.  However, my body needs to rest and recover.  If I am going to physically exert myself, I have to plan and rest accordingly.  While there are and will always be new things to learn, almost everything that comes my way is based on my life’s experiences.  I am aware that all of my actions directly affect others.  Living in the present it cool; but it’s not reality.

Almost nothing goes according to plan and for good reason.  This is something that happened all-too-often in my twenties.  However, at this point in life, I am more apt to shrug off a less-than-desired outcome as opposed to getting frustrated to the point in which I can’t function.  Life is no longer a place of ideals.

Three days before my thirtieth birthday, I was informed that my boss’ boss was terminating my contract due to budget cuts.  In the moment it sucked; but it has been a blessing in disguise, even if I’m not making as much money as before.  It was just a job and this writing thing is a career.  Some places that I have written for have been absorbed by larger companies, some have temporarily and permanently folded.  This has caused me to be a little more creative and begin to prepare for the next part of my life.  While the first draft of one book is complete, I am toiling away at my first release.

No longer do I feel torn between two worlds.  I’m a suburban, Long Island dad and I love it.  Four out of seven days of my week consist of some kind of practice or game my children are participating in.  While I love to have some time to myself and philander in the bright lights of the city that never sleeps, I am finding myself to have less and less in common with my friends with no children who attend happy hours on a regular basis.  But at this age, I know that I still have and need a little of both.

One of my largest acceptances in the past few months has come in the form of my nephew.  For the longest, I felt weird looking at my guy as something more than my twin sister’s son.  A part of me would feel slightly uneasy when he’d refer to me in some capacity as a dad.  I have and I’m raising two children.  To be honest, it feels as if everything else in my life has begun to fall into place as soon as I have stopped resisting this.  I’ve had a peace and happiness that I didn’t before.

I have a feeling as if the next six month will be mostly preparation.  There’s a heir of life is going to be completely different by the time I turn thirty-one.  If the first step to change is awareness and the second is preparation, opportunity will be next.  I have found myself thinking from a very different perspective.  So while the stakes aren’t too high, now is the time to try some different things, try some shit I normally wouldn’t, entertain thoughts that I normally would be against because why not.

I’m aware that I am kind of leaving this without a conclusion or summation.  There is none.  Sometimes you gotta leave things open-ended.

 

 

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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