My First Halloween

This year is my first year getting to do Halloween with my daughter. There have been a couple of hiccups along the way, so I’m pretty excited about this. Cydney’s first Halloween was my first day in Virginia and I guess it’s appropriate that it was the day that the gates of Hell had opened. Last year, Cydney had an outfit all picked out but Hurricane Sandy happened and we wound up being stuck in Atlanta that day.

This year, Cydney is pretty excited. She’s been watching all of her tv shows that have had Halloween themes all week. She’s been saying it’s Thursday since Monday morning and has been talking about how she’s gonna be a “Princess mummalbee for Halloween and trick or treat.” (Read: bumblebee)…

She’s pretty pumped about today as am I. Will post pictures tomorrow!

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A Message From Heaven

Yesterday I made my what seems to be monthly trip to church.  Since I usually get about three hours of sleep a night, Sunday mornings are usually when I try to catch up on rest and take it easy during the afternoon watching football.  It was Men’s Day, and after I heard that Jeremiah Wright (Yep, that Jeremiah Wright) blessed the congregation Friday and Saturday with an incredible word, I felt compelled to go that Sunday.  The men’s choir began to sing an old time religion song and it sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out the song.  Then they began to sing the chorus “I’m cooooooomin’ up…On the rough siiiiide of the mountain!”  I knew exactly what song it was.  Cydney stood up, began to clap, and try to sing along.  She was definitely into it.  With a smile on her face, my mother looked at me and said “I didn’t want to give away what the song was” and rubbed me on my back.  

It was one of Timile’s favorite songs as a kid.  I used to joke on her for being such an old lady for liking that song.  It was a song my grandfather used to play all of the time when I was growing up.  Whenever she’d play that song, I always had a screenshot memory in my head of being in my grandmother’s living room, sitting on the green carpet, hearing the song play on the record player that sat there, and seeing the album cover.  Just a thought that pops up.  I didn’t really think of that, this time.  I looked at my little girl having a moment in the spirit, at happy as she can be.  I didn’t think much of the moment as being anything other than a coincidence.  My grandfather loved those old time religion songs and it was fitting that a group of older men were singing such a song on the Sunday that was designated for them.  My mother said I should take a picture of Cydney during the song, so I did.  She then said to me “That was definitely a message from heaven” with a wide smile on her face.  I smirked.

When I posted the pictures in The Weekend In Pictures post, my father responded to it on Facebook.  He wrote “Do u see Timile Brown in her hair in the Amen! picture?”  I responded that my mother had pretty much said the same thing.  He said “It looks like a scene from a movie.”  Later he re-posted the picture on his own page with the caption “AMEN!!!! I see ya Timile. Smilin’. You couldn’t help but stop by church and show us some glory.”  He also wrote ” Every time I look at this picture I smile. I fully expect a visit in my dreams soon.”  Like I said, I didn’t see it at first or think too much of it.  But it was confirmation because my mother had said the same thing.  That’s the thing about parents.  No matter how old our children are, we are trained to see the things that our young don’t.  Sometimes we let them know that we do, and sometimes we don’t.  I still don’t know what it means other than while I am here looking after my daughter, her mother is from where she is.

Times are changing.  My outlook and everything around me is.  It’s that time of year where I tend to start over.  My birthday is less than a month away, so it makes sense that I look around and reevaluate.  Two years ago is when shit got real, we moved to Virginia, and the hardest and loneliest part of my life began.  I think my parents see this.  They don’t acknowledge it often, but every once in a while they say something to me.  A couple of weeks ago, my mother said to me randomly “I’m really sorry for what you’ve had to endure.”  I looked at her and said thank you.  It feels good to know someone sees that as much as I have moved on and kept it moving that two years ago changed me.  It did.  I was cynical before, and I have become very cynical since.  Thank God I have my daughter to soften me up.  Sometimes I need the reminders to be human I guess.  The last thing my father said to me was “You’re doing good. Hang in there. Things will get better.”

They already are…

The Weekend In Pictures: Missed Homecoming and 10 Year Reunion Edition

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Friday Night: Cinderella
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What I woke up to jumping on me Saturday morning.
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Saturday Night: Cinderella 2
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Saturday Night Live...Cydney was that is.
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Mozzarella sticks in church.
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Amen!
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How I spent the sermon.
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This little boy was trying it. Cydney was the aggressor.
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Post church, pre party.
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Mmmmuah!
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Cydney at the birthday party.

Once Again…Cydney Quotables

Cydney: It’s a penny!
Ms. Pat: Cydney can you say dime?
Cydney: It’s a penny.
Ms. Pat: It’s a dime. What is it Cydney?
Cydney: A coin!

“My chest hurts. I need a bandaid.”

Me: Cydney, it’s time to get out of the tub.
Cydney: I’m swimming to Paris.

Cydney makes number two in underpants:
Cydney: Princess Man, say “Ooh wee!
Me: No.
Cydney: *running around* I have mud butt!
**note: She’s never seen Chappelle’s show or hear me say that**

“You’re so rude. I’m over you. We’re done.”

Cydney: Princess Man, I don’t wanna be her friend.
Me: Why?
Cydney: Because…

In Taxi to lady:
Cydney: What are you doing?
Lady: Putting on makeup.
Cydney: Why are you putting on so much?

“I’m gonna watch Sofia the First, and you’re gonna watch Breaking Bad.”

Stranger: What’s your name?
Cydney: Sofia.
Stranger: How old are you?
Cydney: 3.
…She’s already lying about her name and age.

“My butt is not an instrument! *drums on backside* My butt is not a drum!”

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“I’m a garbage can!”

To taxi driver:
“I’m the princess of this taxi!”

Count Your Blessings

 

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No one feels reassured by the phrase "It could be worse."  It doesn't help people put their problems into perspective and feel better.  If anything, it reminds people that they are going through adverse circumstances and they dwell on them a little more by comparing it to what others are going through.  When my friends of mine are going through adverse times and are in the midst of their storms, they often say "I know it's not as bad as anything you've been through" and I always interrupt and tell them "It doesn't matter.  Everyone's personal hell is their personal hell."  In my head I often think "I wish I had the problems you had… It could be much worse,” but I don’t share that.  I’m working on actually showing empathy as opposed to internalizing it.  The truth is, many times I do wish I had my friends’ problems.  Compared to where I’ve been they’re pretty small.  When I talk to an older family member to get their take on how to handle being there for someone, their answers are usually one sentence answers which indicate that the older you get you’ll  realize how minute what one considers their seventh layer of hell to be nothing worth fretting when one matures.  Sometimes, the answer will be “Really?!  Life is much harder than that,” but you can’t really tell someone who’s inexperienced to get over themselves.

Since the day I found out Timile had cancer, I have decided to change my language.  As opposed to telling someone “It can be worse, I tell them to count their blessings.”  That tends to help people put things into perspective.  The day that TImile was diagnosed, I sat outside of the hospital shower room and we were talking.  When she got out, she saw that I was looking uncharacteristically morose.  It’s not often that something makes me sad and it’s really gotta be something for me to actually look troubled.  In an effort to cheer me up, she said “I got cancer, yo. ‘Tha fuck?!”  She was trying to cheer me up.  I smirked, and she said “If I can’t laugh, then what?  Isn’t that what you’d always say?”  I agreed and replied “On a scale of 1-10 on the “Life is Shitty-o-Meter,” this is a 9 only behind you have AIDS.”  Right after I said that I thought about the phrase “It could be worse.”  It didn’t get much worse than finding out that you’re diagnosed with cancer nine days after giving birth to your first child at twenty-five.  

That phrase rang in my head a few months later when the surgeon came into waiting room when I was waiting with Cydney and they said to me that her cancer had metastasized throughout her abdomen and was actually stage four.  I just sat there quietly and looked at my little girl who was in a stroller and thought to myself “I hope for the best,” but in the pit of my stomach I was feeling like this is the same look I’m going to have to give her one day when her mother dies.  It was a look of fighting back sadness just to say with my eyes “Baby girl, it’s just you and I against the world, and the world’s gonna lose against us.”  The surgeon and an assistant stayed in the room with us for a couple of moments to be comfort for the news that I had just received.  I got it together in a couple of minutes and went into the back room to see Timile.  I smiled ate her and looked out the window real quick.  All she saw that time was the face I always show in such a time: someone who has it together no matter what.  

There was many “It could be worse moments.”  When Timile actually passed, when I couldn’t see Cydney for months, and others.  But I began to think about my blessings.  I have a beautiful little girl, I have my health, and not matter how bad things could be I’m here to fight another day.

My mother told me last night that she had just found out that her breast cancer mentor was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.  After surviving breast cancer three times, this is what was next.  My mother was very upset.  Not just because of what had happened to her mentor, but because it could be her.  I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought about my friend K Star’s mom in which the same thing had happened to.  I thought “It could be worse.”  She spoke to her mentor on the phone for a while.  When she was sitting there silently watching TV, I said t her “count your blessings.”  She said “You’re right” and she went to bed.

Single Parenting: Taking My Daughter on a Job Interview

I’ve been going through a transition over the last few months.  I was let go from my last job about four months ago due to cutback(s).  I always thought of the job as temporary and had been applying to jobs in New York and DC for quite some time, but I got beat even though I saw the writing on the wall.  It’s hard to find a job nowadays and while there are plenty jobs here in New York, it’s very difficult to get one.  For every position you apply for, a few hundred are; not to mention that you’re competing with the rest of the country with all of the people who would love to relocate, and live the dream of in the media capital of the world.  That’s just one of the facets that makes the adage “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere” true.

Since I started writing this blog and it’s taken off and opening up doors, I figured that transitioning from project management and music to public relations would make perfect sense.  Last week I got a call for an interview at a firm in the SoHo area of Manhattan.  It was on a Thursday at 11:30 AM.  Since Cydney stays at home with me and most individuals are working at this time of day I needed a babysitter.  I contacted a friend of mine who is a freelance writer if they could watch Cydney for an hour or so while I went on the interview.  They said they would be happy to do so.  Wednesday evening, they sent me a text saying that at the last minute they had to come in Thursday morning for a mandatory meeting.  This had put me in a bind because I didn’t have anyone I could call at the last minute.  They still tried to see what they could do and make it work.  By midnight, they were told that the meeting was moved from 12:30 to 10 AM and that they could not watch her at all.  I wasn’t upset.  It happens.  I just told them I’ll bring Cydney with me on the interview.  Yes, it’s a little unprofessional and could have adverse affects on the likeliness of me getting the position.  But I’m a gambling man and believe in taking calculated risks: it’s how I’ve received just about anything in life I’ve considered and coveted as special.

So Cydney and I walk into the office and Cydney is greeted with smiling faces who are engaging her.  I apologized for bringing her along to the office manager that I would be interviewing with.  She said it was okay and she unerstood because she has a two year old daughter.  Good sign.  I brought Cydney into the office with me where I was being interviewed.  I gave her a notepad and some crayola markers that my mother had supplied to keep her occupied and “do homework.”  A minute into drawing in her notepad, Cydney felt the urge to make the desk that we were sitting at her canvas.  The manager laughed and said “It’s okay.  Thank God for washable markers.”  We laughed and continued our meeting.  While speaking candidly about my qualifications, I was keeping an eye on my daughter.  Cydney is full of personality so if you don’t like her, there’s something wrong with you or you just don’t like kids so I think she added an extra charm to the interview.

When the interview ended, Cydney went with the office manager to meet everyone around the office as she went to get paper towels to clean off the desk.  By the time they returned, I already wiped off the desk with baby wipes and it looked like we were never there.  Cydney had a plush dog that she was playing with within those two minutes she was gone and the manager said she could have it.  Everyone said goodbye to her and she waved back.  An hour later, the manager sent me an email confirming a second interview and also put in there that it was a pleasure to meet Cydney.  I think it worked out pretty well.

With risk comes reward.  My experiences over the last three years have made me fearless.  My logic is that by the time I turned twenty-six, I’ve gone through what will probably be the hardest things I will endure in life.  Everything else: working, trying to make ends meet, relationships, family, you name it will not be as hard so fuck it.  Even if I fail, get fired, get my heart broken or whatever the laws of probability say it can’t be as bad as where I’ve been.  The people who are publicly considered successful have a similar lack of fear. 

For all of my friends and readers who are not parents: this is what being a parent is all about.  Strapping up your boots and making things happen.  For my readers who aren’t single parents: this is everyday.  People can or may flake out for many justified reasons and sometimes just because people suck; but that doesn’t stop the show.  You have to carry the load of two people.  Many times it can seem like a disadvantage and some people may be hesitant to be around you because of negative stigmas attached to being one.  Single moms have a harder job, but due to their wiring and social norms get a little more leeway in showing some emotion in general and in front of their children when things get sticky.  For me, there’s no time for any of that.  Just keep it moving with a smile and when my kid is old enough to understand let her know what I’ve had to do to make things happen. 

The Weekend In Pictures: Filming, Santa Claus Scouting, and Convention Edition

This weekend I’m starting the pictures with our busy Thursday:

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8:30 AM Q4 Bus Selfie
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9 AM E train selfie
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10:45 7 train selfie
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Chillin' on Madison Ave before filming
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Getting ready to shoot
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Cydney being filmed at Madison Sq Park
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Watching Cydney from a distance
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On camera interview
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That's cranberry juice in the cup...
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At Madison Square Garden... I told Cydney to leave the flower alone
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And we wound up going home with it.
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Looking to see what the kids like so Santa Claus can buy it.
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Graco makes toy strollers now
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Rolling through Toys R Us
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Soccer Saturday
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The sole doesn't fall far from the...
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Cydney spent most of her time at the expo like this...
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Black people love the Cha Cha Side
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VIP seats for the concert compliments of neighbour
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My mom and Cydney
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My mom enjoyed her birthday gift.
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I dozed off...
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Outside the Jacob Javits Center
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Basketball on Sunday
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Spongebob had Cydney's attention Sunday evening.

I Want To See Timile

I told Cydney that Timile died yesterday…

After a long day of interviews, filming, and a meet and greet Cydney and I were taking the Long Island Railroad home. Trying to keep Cydney from falling asleep a little too early (it was 9 PM) without her bath and nightly rituals I was going over our day with her and asking her if she had fun. After I mentioned seeing Cydney’s beloved neighbour she was telling me everyone else wanted to see.  Cydney said “I want to see Timile.” I told her “You can’t see Timile, baby.” She didn’t ask why, but continued to say repeatedly “I want to see Timile.” After the sixth out seventh time I had to tell her “Timile died, baby.” She paused for a second and said “She died?” I responded “Yeah, baby. You okay with this?” She shook her head, said “mmhmm,” and didn’t ask anymore.

Cydney took it like a boss. I know she was processing what I had just said to her but she handled it well. I knew three time was coming for me to tell her. A couple of months ago I prepared myself after having a conversation with a friend of mine about Cydney and having to tell her about her mother one day. About two weeks ago, there was a dead slug on our porch. Cydney would ask about the slug and inquire why it wasn’t moving. I told her that it was dead. She responded “It died?” And I said “Yes.” The day before yesterday Cydney noticed that the slug was gone. She asked where it went and I told her it was gone. I didn’t want to say the d word again. She then said that the slug went away, pointing at the grass and insinuating that the slug went back to where it came from. That was how she handled death.

I was going back and forth with two of my friends last night who show the most care about Cydney’s well being. One conversation led how both went, really. One friend had asked me how did this make me feel and the conversation became me coming to some realizations while the other became a vent session formulating what I’d figured out.

What I came out of this with was that while I love Timile and always will, it is no longer an “In love.” In my mind and heart Timile would never be the elephant in the room. Telling Cydney about Timile was the hardest part of her passing away and that hurdle was cleared. Sure I’ll have to answer more questions but that was the last part of moving forward. If it comes to dating or someone vying to be Cydney’s stepmother, Cydney knows her mother is gone and while no one can replace her she will not keep an open place in her heart for someone she’ll never meet. There will be no unrealistic expectations. I think that goes for both of us.

I told my friends that Cydney knows what a mommy is. She calls Timile her mommy because she learned that. I’ve asked if she wanted a new mommy one day and sometimes she’d say Timile is her mommy and other times she’d give a suggestion. She never says “I want mommy” or some kind of variation of that, but she will say that about another person or two that she really cares about.

The conversations with my friends ended with me telling the first one I needed a sugar mama and the second one was me telling them that after a long day of assessing things about Cydney’s and my future it was appropriate that this happened. I then let them know in my own way where my mind was after a long day of evaluation capped off with the conversation with Cydney.

Basketball

Before I caught the music bug, I played basketball for a good part of my childhood.  I played in a couple of leagues and school teams during the school year and tournaments during the summer until I got to high school from second to eighth grade.  Whenever I had a free moment, I wanted to play basketball.  It was the reason I didn’t take my piano lessons seriously which to this day bites me in the ass.  I didn’t play in high school because I was knee deep in making my debut album and politics although I killed during tryouts but that’s neither here or there.  Basketball was life.  When I chose music over basketball, my old coach told me he was kinda hurt I quit because of my potential.  I keep telling myself one day I’ll play in a league again.

My nephew loves basketball.  He has a little hoop up against the door in the den where the main tv is.  Whenever I turn to a Knicks game, he tries to follow along as much as his attention span will allow him and the rest of thee time shoots on the hoop pretending he’s playing in the game.  Every once in a while I would take him outside and teach him some drills to teach him how to play for real.  He had a playschool hoop and for a year I made him shoot a regular ball into it.  If he could nail shots on a hoop that small with a regular ball, a regulation hoop will be easy.  

I put up a full regulation hoop this summer; right when he started basketball camp.  I go out with him once a week or so and teach him drills: dribbling and shooting with his left, chest and bounce passes, and defense.  He doesn’t want to do that for too long.  He just wants to shoot around; but he wants to be Michael Jordan (ugh).  The other day I told him that we spend so much time practicing without the ball is because most of the time on the court, you won’t have the ball.  He said to me he hates practice.  That infuriated me a little on the inside.  

It was a microcosm of his mindset.  Yes, he’s seven and playing around is all that kids want to do.  But he has this same mindset about school.  Brightest kid with all of the potential in the world and will do the minimum to get by.  He hates homework, procrastinates, and won’t do his reading during the week and have to all day on Saturday.  My mother and I tell him the same thing about basketball and homework: it’s practice.  You have to repeat the same actions over and over again until you’re not only great at it, but the best.  He just wants to do what he’s good at and gets frustrated when he has to continuously work on something he’s not good at.  He’s not good with his left hand, so I force him to work on his left.  He hates it.  It’s the same thing with math.  The way I force him left, I turn just about anything into a math problem to make him solve it as quickly as possible.  He may hate me for it right now, but he’ll thank me later… I don’t want him to regret not practicing like I did with the piano.

The Sunday Conflict

 

I saw a friend of mine send out a tweet a couple of weeks ago asking “How many of yall actually turn the game off for your daughter’s princess shows?”  She then said her father never did and Sunday was football day.  I laughed when I read this not realizing what she was referring to.  This commercial hits the nail on the head of every Sunday in my household.  When I first saw it I laughed because I noticed that the father in the commercial is none other than my favorite dim-witted sidekick Waldo Geraldo Faldo from Family Matters not realizing what the commercial was about.  The commercial came on again later that day and sure enough not too much longer after it played I was switching to the Disney Princess sing-along DVD that quells the complaining from a certain toddler of mine.

1 PM rolls around on Sundays, and Cydney says “No football!”  She likes to watch sports with me, but she can only watch but so much.  Her attention span is short just like any two year old, but of course it changes my afternoon and almost all of my Sunday plans which revolve around being in front of the tv.  A couple of weeks ago, I turned to the 1 PM game and Cydney said “You can watch football from your computer” to me.  She was right.  However, after seeing how badly the Giants were getting mollywopped by the Carolina Panthers, I turned it off and let her watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and whatever she wanted to.  I was over it.

I know I’m not the only father with a daughter who’s had to do this.  I know I’m not the only who has to do this every week.  My Sundays have been reduced to watching the Giants lose repeatedly, Cowboys fans gloating (which makes me sick) and Jets fans celebrating what would only be considered success because the bar was set so low (I really do hope for the best for them) on social media; and Disney Princesses during the latter part of the day as well as missing the whole season 4 of Boardwalk Empire.  It’s worth the sacrifice for my daughter’s temporary happiness for now…as I wait for the Knicks’ season to begin.