Hopefully Alicia Keys’ New Album Will Make People Leave Her ‘Blended Family’ Alone

This is an amazing picture….

Social media: the magical place where everyone is a judge or critic while lacking context, experience, or expertise. I love the creativity it has spawned…even if a lot of the content lacks substance.
Alicia Keys’ newest album, Here, is available in all media outlets (streaming, stores, and iTunes) today (November 4). Rooted in soul, gospel, and hip hop, AK’s newest album is a love letter to people with a New York state of mind. 

Hopefully this album will be the beginning of the end with regards to the internet dragging Alicia Cook through the mud. Here’s first single, “Blended Family (What You Do For Love), featuring A$AP Rocky, is an ode to complicated familial dynamics. On the midtempo track, Keys sings directly to her stepson, Kassem Jr., letting him and the world know how she feels in a manner that many can understand and relate to.

For those that do not know, here is the brief back story: Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz began seeing each other in 2008. At the time, Swizzy was still legally married to his wife, singer Mashonda, whom he had a son with. Keys and Beatz married in 2010 and had their first child, Egypt, a few months later. Needless to say, this timeline can make the transition into a happy family a little complicated.

“I know it started with a little drama. Hate you had to read it in the paper,” the singer begins her second verse. Since the news of Alicia Keys and her now husband became one, she has received some sort of backlash on the internet. People have called her a home wrecker, a word that you’d get if one takes that “m” out of “home,” and a myriad of judgments from people who have yet to understand how complicated life can get. Any little faux pas she makes, note she cracks, or risk she takes, people can’t wait to throw stones and hide their hands while sitting on their high horse.

Men and women cheat. Marriages-half of them-end before death parts the bride and groom/bride and bride/groom and groom; and irreconcilable differences being the cause of most. What almost anyone who has ever been through a divorce can tell you is that the marriage has ended long before the separation or official signing of legal documentation. There is a long period of loneliness in which one’s heart, mind, and spirit has left the union before the body does. How could the classically trained pianist have wrecked a home that was already in shambles? 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. People often don’t realize that we have made mistakes until they look back for perspective. Many people get married and go through hell; only to realize long after it has ended that they weren’t supposed to have united with that person in the first place. We all know people who have entered or stayed in relationships they knew they should have left after several proverbial red flags have been waved. Just because Mashonda and Swizz Beatz wed and had a child together doesn’t mean that they were supposed to.

Nonetheless, mistakes in life are relative. Everything works out the way that it was supposed to. While things may have been complicated for the Dean family, they all seem to be very happy and supportive of each other. It may sound absurd; but many of us are the products of mass confusion and fairly messed up circumstances; and we are all trying to find happiness in our own journey. More can relate to the song “Blended Family,” the story that created it, and ever after they are living much more than the snide comments they make for retweets and internet fodder.

A Tribe Called Quest’s New Album Rollout Brings The Feels

A picture of A Tribe Called Quest at the Kanye show I was too late to see them at.

A Tribe Called Quest is releasing their final album, We Got It from Here, Thank You for Your Service, next week. While I am more than certain that the project is one of love, life and celebration, the title itself makes me feel a way.

I read the New York Times article, Loss Haunts A Tribe Called Quest’s First Album in 18 Years yesterday. It was a heavy, yet beautiful. I had this unidentifiable feeling looking at pictures of Jarobi with a graying beard and Q-Tip-who seemed to never age-beginning to look like a man in his mid-forties. The world and myself have been waiting for “A-E-I-O-U…and sometimes Y” to get it together and lace us with new music; but not like this; but I understand.

A Tribe Called Quest means a lot to me. I’m from Queens. I’m from St. Albans. “Back in the days on the Boulevard of Linden” is not some classic rap lyric to me; it’s my reality. I drive past the block that on November 19 will be renamed “Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor Way” all of the time. My grandfather’s wake was held at the funeral home right across the street from the Nu-Clear Cleaners Tribe stood on and filmed the music video for “Check the Rhyme.” 

The Midnight Marauders’ music was the soundtrack to the hardest period of my life. The October 2011 release of Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest prompted me to listen to their whole catalog repeatedly. Timile, Cydney, and I were in the process of relocating from Buffalo to Virginia. Cyd left with her grandparents October 14, I drove Timile down the weekend of the 20th, and I worked in Buffalo for an extra week, completing the move October 31st. 

Virginia was a very tough time because I was by myself. I spent all day applying for jobs at a Starbucks, visited Timile in the hospital during the evenings (only for a half hour at a time because her parents told me I had to sneak around and hide), and spend time with my daughter at the in-laws with vigilant eyes watching me as if Cydney wasn’t my child. 

Q-Tip and Phife’s words, Ali Shaheed’s soundscape, and Jarobi’s spirit were the only friends I had in Virginia during those three weeks. Living in a place that was nothing like my stomping grounds, the music was all I had to cure my homesickness. I needed their playful lyrics to express what was a complicated time and abstract thoughts. My mother was just starting her first round of chemotherapy, so even there I was feeling depleted because I had spent all of my time being there for others. I had my big brother, Barry, and my good friend Donnell that I could call and vent to. To this day, I can barely listen to the album Beats, Rhymes, and Life in its entirety…its darkness and frustration with changing times give me Vietnam Flashbacks to those evenings.

However, I can listen to “God Lives Through” from Midnight Marauders all day and not get tired of it. It was the perfect ending to a perfect album. That was the victory lap of a time that can never be replicated. So when it plays, you just vibe out and remember the struggle and hard times with a melancholy smile. It’s the welcomed kind of moodiness, if that makes sense. If one asks me how I feel about living in Virginia five years ago, it’s a pleasant sadness I think of very fondly. Timile Brown may have still been alive; but that was the beginning of the Single Dadventures.

*Does litmus test to see if I can write with Beats, Rhymes, and Life playing. Turns Midnight Marauders back on…Beats was too distracting.*

Reading the Times article yesterday afternoon was interesting. Jarobi lamented on how traveling and recording this last album was taking a toll on Phife, who had been living with diabetes since 1990 and succumbed to the disease March 22, 2016. The click bait articles are trolling by using headlines like “The Final Tribe Album Killed Phife” or some shit that I’m exaggerating to get my point across. Some people are just not going to understand; but I do.

The phrase “Now I can die in peace” is often a joke; but the sentiment is a real thing. I truly believe that Malik Taylor knew his time on earth was coming to an end. The only thing he had left to do was make right with his friend since four years old, Q-Tip, and lay down some Tribe music. I have witnessed people “transition,” in which they stick around on earth until a few more things are in order and then let go. They see the world very differently. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is why Q-Tip said that he had a very hard time listening to Phife’s vocals on this new album. Other than him no longer being with us, there is probably something very different about the timbre of his voice. Those who are transitioning sound different. 

The heavy feeling that is sitting with me in lieu of this final Tribe album is one of completion. I have been trying to see them live ever since. I missed them a few times in New York (I was late to when they opened up for Kanye West at the Barclay’s Arena in 2013); but things happen the way they are supposed to. 

I think I was unconsciously searching for a closing to an emotional void. For the past five years, there has been a lack of vulnerability on my end. I am used to my emotional processing being an internal process that even in times of wanting to shed tears I literally can’t. It’s time for things to be different. So I guess with the last album dropping November 11, 2016, I can say to friends that helped me through a very tough time-Timile, Donnell, A Tribe Called Quest-I got it from here, thank you for your service.

What I Took From Lil Wayne’s Nightline Interview

 

The way I think we all watched the clip from Nightline.

Brian “Birdman” Williams was just given all of the leverage-and then some-to tell Lil Wayne “You need me more than I need you, playboi.”

In 1998, Cash Money Records’s flagship artist Juvenile released the music video for his breakout smash, “Ha.” While Juve was, is, and will forever be the hottest of the Hot Boyz, one couldn’t help but zero in on the kid with the cornrows who in stuck out amongst all of these grown men in New Orleans’ Magnolia Projects. Months later, that teenager with the Cash Money pendant engendered the greatest onomatopoeia of all time: bling bling. The Neo-Negro Spiritual, “Back That Azz Up” concludes with an exhortation in simile form that the world could relate to: wobbledy wobbledy wop, drop it like it’s hot.

Last night (November 1), ABC’s Nightline broadcasted an interview in which three years of interviews with the rapper born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. were truncated into a six minute and change segment. Weezy F. Baby candidly pontificated “Yeah, if they callin’ her a b**** or a h**, I’d have a huge problem with that. But I’d never call a certain kind of female outside her name, unless I got a real big problem with a h**, yeah…,” referring how he would feel if his daughter was called words he has used frequently in his music. He expounded on his relationship with Mary, a woman he is often linked to (There’s God, my family, there’s my kids, there’s music, and weed…in that order). Man, does he have a way with words.

However, most of what the emcee formerly known as Shrimp Daddy had to say was eclipsed by none other than Lil Wayne, himself. When asked if he regretted his communiqué that there is no “such thing as racism,” Lil Weezyanna stuck to his caricature of being unapologetic by replying that he didn’t.

Reporter Linsey Davis followed this question up by inquiring how the New Orleans spitter felt about the Black Lives Matter Movement. And that’s where things got interesting:

So here’s the thing….

While I don’t share any of the same sentiments that this man expressed, I am not surprised. The 60 second portion that has gone viral and is currently inspiring as many think pieces as Tha Carter 3 sold in its first week is missing some context.

Lil Wayne is a rapper and mostly a damn good one. While this is a skill in which many think they could do cannot, studies have shown that the average rapper’s verbal dexterity is around a third grade reading level. So if the person that is the subject matter had made a nearly 25 year career communicating on an elementary level, why are so many people up in arms? Poet Laureate Clifford “T.I.” Harris eloquently stated what most of the world something that pretty much sums up the mindset of a plurality of rappers:  Man these n****s is all hype/Not even rappin’ on real mics/They just get high and say whatever the f*** they feel like.

The music industry-especially the business of hip hop-is a façade. The players that we see and hear are caricatures doing nothing more than playing a role as if it were real. While it is rooted in music and a culture, hip hop music is a competitive sport with rivalries and relationships between one another that are being nothing portrayed as real. Each personality must evolve aspects of their persona because a shtick can get stale very quickly, especially in the days of the internet.

Throughout his career, Mr. Carter has evolved from baby gangsta, to wunderkind, the Uptown Hot Boy in Gibraud jeans, heartthrob, the “rapper eater,” Martian, “Best Rapper Alive,” pop culture fixture, phenome, rock star, and skater. Now, he is the drugged-up shell of himself that still doesn’t give a fuck. To renege on his September statements regarding race would require Lil Wayne to break kayfabe.

Anywho…I’ll pretend this isn’t an act. Lil Wayne has been rapping professionally for over 25 years and has been a millionaire for at least 18 of them. If 80% of hip hop sales (music, concerts, merchandise, etc.) come from white audiences, his outlook is going to be skewed. While he has tattoos on his face and blonde locs, his naiveté is probably closer to Carlton Banks’ when he thought that he and Will Smith were arrested for driving too slow over by white policemen on that episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Wanye is rich and as he stated on the Fox show that started this whole cluster-fuck at his shows he sees all races. Even if it is dumb and inaccurate, who are we to judge him on his reality?

I found what Birdman J.R. said about prison to be more compelling and the portion on how prison changed his outlook on the world. In jail, the Best Rapper Alive mentioned that his stint in the bing (that’s not a “bling” typo) as most honest portion of the interview. With his eyebrows raised and eyes dilated to draw in light, the former Riker’s Island inmate says “I learned a lot about people. You’re all on the same level. You’re all going through the same thing. Everybody wants to go home.”

If you-the public-watch this portion again, he looks as if in his mind he is internally flashing back to being incarcerated and reliving moments within a flash. If you ask anyone who has ever done a bid, they will tell you that it changes who you are, how you see the world as well as those around you; and you can’t un-see it. Many leave and are institutionalized that they commit crimes to stay inside because they can’t function on the other side of prison walls. From those that I know who have been in the system will echo a similar sentiment as the Heart of Hollygrove, with regards to the only life that matters is their own.

The rest of the interview is then shot to shit; but the Young Money founder has to stay in character. He seems caught off-guard and gives his answer. He begins to bounce up and down, shifts around in his chair, and then ends the interview back in full Lil Wayne-mode, not giving a fuck, flaunting his gang flag, and storming out, proclaiming “I’m a gangsta.” I could be wrong; however, most of what I learned in my college psychology courses about discourse analysis suggests that the veil was pulled back and he had to regroup himself.

Flawless marketing for the book Lil Wayne is promoting. Clearly in other aspects of his career this guy has used his mouthpiece and platform to talk about the plight of Black America at the hands of law enforcement, federal and local government, and other blacks.

Fuck everything I just said…this is bullshit.

Baseball Season Finally Coming to an End

At the end of an undefeated season, my nephew’s baseball coach of three years, Coach Frank, pulled me aside last June. He expressed his concerns that Courtney hadn’t progressed much over the past year. My boy was making good contact; but he wasn’t shifting his bat when he swung and the ball would drop in the infield. During the summer season, he didn’t pitch often because he was attempting to place the ball as opposed to throwing it over his shoulder and putting his body into it.
Courtney had a decent summer season in 2015 and began to show signs of his potential. Playing with a competitive travel team is much different than little league. I told my boy going into that summer that he would no longer be playing against just the best in his neighborhood; but the best in all of their respective communities.

He participated in winter workouts. I didn’t attend many of them but I would take Courtney in the back yard and practice pitching with him. We wouldn’t go inside until he could throw three outs worth of strikes over home plate. He still placed his pitches a little; nonetheless, he was getting better.

When the spring season started, my guy rose to the occasion. Playing in a new division, he led his team to the championship series. At the top of the sixth inning, the Baldwin Red Sox were down by one run. The opposing team loved to cheer very loudly and one of the mothers would pull out an air horn when they scored. The Rockies spent most of the game losing and as soon as they were in the lead it got obnoxious.

With all of the passion in the world, I told the boys to shut that team up. I wanted the Rockies to hear me. At the top of the last inning, my nephew hit an RBI that put our team in the lead. I looked at one of our other coaches and told them to let Courtney pitch. He had been lights out all season and we don’t want to have to play a second game. My nephew took the mound and struck out the side: three outs in nine pitches for the win.

We celebrated for all of four days and it was time to get ready for summer travel ball. Courtney had a decent summer. Towards the end of the season, I showed him how to throw a second pitch, a split-finger fastball—a fastball that drops as soon as it reaches the plate. His arm got vicious. 

By the end of the summer, I would warm up with him by throwing the ball as hard as I could without injuring my shoulder. He could hang without dropping the ball or being scared of it. As I previously wrote, when he practiced with the 12 year old team, he outplayed everyone. 

Slowly but surely, everyone who watched my nephew play baseball noticed his talent. Anyone who saw him recognized that he was hands-down the most talented player on the team. 

My nephew started the summer season as the number five batter in the lineup. He had a little of a slump and dropped to number six towards the end of the season. For those who do not know, the three, four, and five batters are the heart of your lineup. The third batter has the highest batting average, the fourth is the slugger, and the fifth is the other power hitter. Batters six through nine are the lesser hitters; but six is still a decent hitter.

When the fall season started, Courtney continued to progress. By October, my nephew became the number three batter in the lineup. He ended the season with a .750 batting average, .775 on base percentage, and didn’t strike out all season. He twice was one hit short of completing a cycle, ending the season this Sunday with a two-run homer.

I told my nephew last year that while he loves basketball, baseball should and would be his thing. He didn’t believe me and didn’t want to listen. As of now, all he wants to do is play baseball. He always has a glove on and when he has free time, he’s playing MLB the Show. As of now, he can throw three pitches well enough to utilize them in a game.

…He’s come a very long way from that conversation I had with Coach Frank sixteen months ago and I’m very proud of him.

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, Episode 3

 

Week three in soccer began with the Burguundy Dragons’ first practice. We were getting our tails handed to us the previous two Saturdays; needless to say the extra time couldn’t have hurt.

I have paid attention in many of Cydney’s other instructional periods over the year and should have been able to think of an hour’s worth of drills for my girls to do. However, I couldn’t think of not one activity to do that Wednesday. I sent Neighbour a text, asking for her coaching expertise to help me drum up some drills.

That Wednesday afternoon, I showed up, attempted to do some drills with the Dragons. They were somewhat done. I didn’t have the highest expectations; they’re five and six years old. The preliminary purpose of practice was for the girls who were newer to the sport to enjoy it a little more. We did some dribbling, passing, and footwork drills. After 30 minutes, I said “eff it” and let the girls run around and play.

I rounded the Burgundy Dragons up Saturday morning. I told them that we were going to have fun and do our best to win today. I told them to pile up their hands and on the count of three, yell “Let’s get busy!”

They lived up to our little cheer. We came out the gate playing aggressively. Even Cydney started the game running as hard as she could. Within the first 15 minutes, we were leading 2-0.

That changed. We are most deficient at the goalie position. It’s understandable. These first graders are playing on a field four-times larger than in the spring and the goals were much larger as well. Before I know it, we were trailing 4-2. 

In spite of our best efforts, we still lost, 6-3. One girl was so tired she just quite. Another had hurt herself that morning at home and needed to drop out, also. God bless my child, she wanted to kick the ball, lay, and play in the grass. This group of girls had their minds a few other places.

After our loss, I was determined to have an even better practice so that we could hit the field and win some games. Since there are only two teams, a rivalry is brewing, with the Burgundy Dragons being the underdog. 

Once again, I texted Neighbour to advise me with drills I can have the girls perform. I would like to say that the results were mixed. One drill was to have the girls practice passing while running. Since all these kids do is run into a cluster with everyone trying to kick the ball, I thought it would make sense for the Dragons to spread out and we could score more goals.

Nope. The girls would run, stop, kick the ball. They weren’t getting it. Since my days start at 4:30am, I was beyond spent by 5:30pm. So once again, I just let the girls run around and told their parents to thank me for tiring out their offspring.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, our game was cancelled. I sent a max text to parents of my team and did something I never do: got some rest. For me, “sleeping in” is staying in bed until 8:30am. I woke up at 9:45am, ran an error or two, came home, then slept until 3:45pm. That was one of the best Saturdays, ever.

Everyone Tries To Marry Me Off…

I didn’t have any other picture to go with this post….
I have become that guy…the one that everyone tries to hook up with someone they know.

While others could-or would-possibly be annoyed by it, I find it funny. I get it. I’m 30; educated, tall, rumor has it I’m good looking, and seemingly a nice guy. Everyone knows someone who is nice and equally single and people don’t really understand why.

I am often asked “Why are you still single?” With a smile, I often reply with something along the lines of “I don’t know,” accompanied with a shrug. That is typically what they like to hear and it sounds a lot better than “I’m emotionally unavailable and incredibly selective with whom I deal with.” 

With bright eyes, people respond “I know a girl! She’s really pretty, she’s nice…,” they begin to run off said woman’s credentials. Education, career track, and then typically comes the hard-sell: “She doesn’t have kids and she has a body!” To prove their point, everyone pulls out their phone and shows a picture.

It happened thrice over the weekend. One of my best friends, Brandon, was in town for a funeral. We went to high school and college together, so his whole family has known me for umpteen years. I walked into the door, made my rounds, and right as I sat down, it started. Brandon’s family made a suggestion about one of his cousins. “You know Arbara, right?” I was asked. “Yeah, I do.” For the rest of the conversation, please refer to paragraphs above. 

Everyone’s suggestions come with the same caveat: they don’t live anywhere near New York. Being one of my closest friends and knowing all parties involved, Brandon shot everyone down and said “She lives in Indianapolis” to his family. The rebuttal: Right. She dances for the Indiana Pacers! I laughed and told them “I’m a [die-hard] Knicks fan who still hates Reggie Miller and all that he represents which is why I laughed heartily that he too retired with no championship.” For the record, the family was right about Arbara; she’s very pretty.

This became the subject of fodder while we sat around the table playing spades. I laughed and said “I’m the one everyone tries to marry off.” I told the table and the others in the run about my good friend from college, Chase, who is a newlywed and I guess wants me to be as happy as he is. I met someone at his wedding six months earlier and he’d heard about it. “We can be…!” He texted me and I followed with the punchline “But she lives in Dallas,” and the room erupted. There was another Chase story I wanted to tell about this anesthesiologist I was dealing with. His wife is one and he said “We can talk about this!” I didn’t tell that story because two of Brandon’s cousins know “Doc.”

Almost on-cue, Brandon’s wife, chimed in. “I know someone in Atlanta! She’s real pretty, she got a body on her, she’s a teacher, and she got a dope condo in a very nice part of town!” As she pulled out her phone to show off her friend, she told me “Just let me know the next time you’re in Atlanta and I’ll let her know!”

Once again, shorty was gorgeous; but there was that caveat. My boy came to bat once again, telling his significant other, “Chad can’t leave New York. He’s got two kids and they’re close.” The artist formerly known as $B has always been my go-to guy and voice of reason.

Once again, I don’t find any of this annoying or bothersome. I am very much entertained. Worst case scenario, I get to look at pictures of my friends’ pretty friends.

I don’t give the excuse of I’m too busy because most people know that’s bullshit. I once tried it and was told “A man makes time for the things he wants to.” The person who shut that down was someone I was beginning to date and she was right.

Upon writing this post, I reached out to Arbara to let her know that she’s partially the subject of today’s post. We both laughed about it. She told me that her family has attempted to auction me off to her as well.

​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

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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