The Power of Words

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I’ve always had the ability to articulate what I am thinking; I’ve just never been one to share such thoughts. As a shy kid growing up  I kept most things to myself.  I’d have a journal and it would be full of blank pages because I didn’t even want to write down my innermost questions, feelings, or anecdotes about my day in them because I didn’t trust the pages I wrote them on.  I think they’d betray me by the peering eyes of my sister or parents.  Believe it or not, as transparent and wordy as I may be on this blog it is still something that I am working on.

My Meyers-Briggs personality trait says that I am an ENTJ-Extroverted, INtuitive, Thinking, and Judging.  Studies have shown that this personality type lives externally, takes everything around them, turns it into logic, and internalizes just about everything.  Without thinking about it we are the type of people to say something that we think is small and it may come off intimidating and insensitive to others’ feelings.  I’m good for that, which is another reason why I keep things to myself.

I keep many thoughts to myself because I do understand that words have power.  Words are everything to me.  It’s nice when people do things for me, but nothing validates me more than someone telling me what they think of something I’ve done. Kind words have motivated me to do extrodinary things and continue when I’m down and not so nice ones have kept me in a shell as well.  I’ll never forget when Timile was pregnant.  She was having one of those nights where as a guy you’d say “she’s being hormonal” and she went off on me.  Timile was an English major so needless to say she was great with words and one of the things that I found the most attractive about her was her ability to use them.  While going off on me, she called me fat.  Now, I’d put on some weight while she was pregnant due to stress eating and since we were poor what she couldn’t eat I’d eat it just to get my money’s worth.  I’d be eating close to two meals three times a day for what we later found out was because of cancer.  Nonetheless, I didn’t say anything at the time.  I just took what she said in and internalized it.  About a day or two later I told her I was fasting for a week and wasn’t eating.  A couple of months later while we were arguing in tears I told her about the time she called me fat and that was the reason I didn’t eat the following week.

“I guess it’s just a need to be heard/ I need people to say ‘I can’t believe your words’/…Thoughts is sporadic I have to un-confuse it/” Jay Z

Because I am a shy person, I tend to do things like that when someone responds negatively to me.  My first big foray into using my words outside of my private thoughts was when I started rapping at thirteen.  People responded to it and I knew I was really good at it.  Saying witty things in a catchy way was a drug to me. The more I did it, the more people gravitated to me, and my confidence grew.  I owe almost everything my life has become to rapping.  It made me clever and candid.  It gave me the ability to know what to say to get the right reaction out of people.  Truth be told, such an ability is what has drew in who would become my closest friends and attracted anyone I’ve had a relationship with.  As I’ve grown older, every once in a while I get the itch to rap, but it isn’t my primary means of expression.  One day, I’ll summon up enough courage to share something with you all.  However, my use of words has evolved into writing and using my talent of storytelling and such like I do on this blog.  Developing my skills here on Single Dadventures has kind of turned this writing thing into a profession.  Word.

As a father, my use of words is more important than ever before.  I’ve literally taught someone how to use the English language as I will start working on teaching her Spanish soon (If anyone has children’s book in Spanish they’d like to donate I know a little girl who’d be glad to take them off your hands).  My daughter has quite the vocabulary because of what I say to her.  She knows what to say and will tell me when a curse slips out on the phone “Don’t say that, Princess Man!” in a reprimanding tone (I’ve only let her curse once.  She had an incredibly bad number 2 accident two minutes after I’d just changed her pull-up and it for real in that Dunkin Doughnuts on 14th st.  It got everywhere and the only only word that described how I felt since it was what I was cleaning up was shit.  I’d said it a bunch of times out of frustration and she asked me “You cleaning my shit, Princess Man?” and I responded “Yes!” It made me chuckle and feel a little better.)

Cydney trully believes that she is a princess.  She does because I tell her she is.  She’s made up in her mind that she is Princess Sofia the First and our home is a castle-so I run with it.  I talk to her all the time like she is royalty and because of this she believes it.  What was once just a game is not reality because of this.

I say all of this to say that words are more powerful than anything.  They can raise people up, or they can raze people down to nothing depending on how you use them.  We never know how what we say will affect others.  There truly is life and death in the tongue, pen, keyboard, smartphone or whatever people use nowadays to say stuff.  Because of that I try my best to use them to speak life into others.  I’m even trying to use my own words to get past my own fears and phobias.  Whoever’s reading this: try your best today and everyday to tell someone what you think of them.  If they don’t believe you then do it every day until they do.  It’ll change their life and it’ll change yours.  It will come back to you when you most need it.

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Giving You the Best That I Got

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Something I’ve never told anyone: other than Whitley Gilbert, my first crush was Anita Baker.  No rhyme or reason, I just remember watching her videos intently when they came on Hot Tracks in the late eighties.  I feel much better getting that off of my chest after twenty-five years.

The last three or five times that I’ve been to my local grocery store, I’ve heard ‘Giving You the Best That I Got’ play.  I always go a little slower through the store looking what I’m there to purchase and listen to the words of the song.  It has always been my favorite song from my original boo.  But more than anything, the song reminds me of Timile.  We’d decided that when we got married, this was going to be the song we first danced to.  It was my suggestion.  One summer afternoon Timile and I heard the song playing while we were in the car driving somewhere.  I told said to her that I think this had summed up our dynamic at that point.  I was tired, and didn’t know how Timile’s cancer was going to play out; but I was going to keep pressing on no matter how physically, mentally, and spiritually tired I was.  Timile saw that all the time.  I know that she would feel bad that she couldn’t really do anything to help me.  She knew I was burdened.  It was written all over my face.  I’d gained a lot of weight stress eating.  Many nights I’d have a drink as soon as I got home from work.  The look on my face was that of a man who is weary and had no choice but to continue giving unselfishly to and infant and a partner who was terminally sick; all the while figuring out life at twenty-five.

When I hear the song now, I have small flashbacks of that summer in Buffalo.  While it was tiring, it was one of the happiest times in my life.  As bogged down as I was, I was taking care of my family.  Whatever they wanted or needed I was able to provide.  Sometimes I picture in my head what that first dance between Timile and I would have looked like.  Wearing all white, I see the look on her face as the song played and she’d give me a sorta annoyed look because I’d make a silly face in the midst of a romantic moment because that’s who I am.

I learned a valuable lesson about giving unselfishly during that time.  They often say that those that give a lot know what its like to not receive.  I love my daughter with everything I have, but just about all she can do at this point in my life is take.  I sleep about three hours a night doing something or the other trying to provide for her or trying to just relax from working.  I don’t have much time to hang out and I don’t have a help mate to restore me on the days that I’m feeling the most down.  Doing for others is what keeps me going.  The more out of my way I go, the better I feel.  I think I feel that way because money is cool, but the time that it takes to go out of my way is the most important thing.  Like I said last week, it’s the most important asset and the only thing you can’t get back.  I don’t even expect anything in return from others.  The cynic in me says people don’t give that much of a shit because they’re selfish.  So I’m pleasantly surprised when someone goes out of their way for me.  I almost kept it too real with a friend of mine over this.

People often misquote 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.”  The proper translation of “Love is patient” is “Love is long-suffering.”  Patience suggests endurance and putting up with someone.  I’ll be patient through bullshit.  We’re patient through commercials while out favorite TV shows, waiting for the subway, or sitting in traffic when we have somewhere to go.  You just sit and wait through it. Patience is an adjective.  No matter how you conjugate the verb it is a description of a feeling.  Long-suffering is an action; a verb.  It is also a better description because in spite of what songs say that’s what love is-action. Long-suffering is resilience.  It means waiting patiently without expecting any return (see what I did there?).  People who understand tend to see the world differently.

I think people fear showing love because doing so leaves them exposed.  It means being vulnerable to someone else and there is the potential of being hurt.  To that I say remember that phobias are irrational and fear is God-given for self preservation.  If you fear love, that’s all the more reason to give it.  It can hurt temporarily, but eventually you will be blessed for the suffering you’ve endured.

One more little anecdote.  Three years ago I was watching the Soul Train: Lady of Soul Awards.  They were doing a tribute to Anita Baker.  I forgot who else sang, but Tamia sang ‘Giving You the Best That I Got.’  I used to be in love with her too at one time in life.  When she sang “I bet everything on my wedding ring,” looked in the camera, flashed her ring, and winked I got very angry.  I hated Grant Hill like I was one of the Fab Five for marrying her.

 

What Turning Twenty-Eight Means

Since I got out of court last Tuesday, I have just about been celebrating my birthday.  Getting my visitation agreement amended was the best way to set off beginning a new year.

I enjoyed the last six days.  I got what I really needed: some me time.  Me time to do what I wanted.  On Wednesday, I went to the Kanye West Concert.  However, the real reason for going to the Yeezus concert was to see A Tribe Called Quest, who were the opening act and performing their last concerts as a group ever.  My friend and I wound up missic Tribe.  They kept saying that they felt bad, but I told them I didn’t care.  The little things mean the most to me, so the reason why we were late actually wound up being the best part of my birthday.  On Friday, I spent my birthday seeing my grandmothers in Queens during the day and that night having drinks with my good friends.  Couldn’t ask for much more.

Around 3 AM, I spoke a few words to a friend of mine that I think solidified that twenty-eight would be different.  This isn’t the time to say what that was, but there is a major difference between thinking something and actually declaring it out of your mouth.  It brings the words to life and you have no choice but to follow through with your words.  It’s one of those moments that no matter how things turn out in my life, I’ll never forget that conversation on the corner of 126th and Lenox Ave.  Ever.

You know how people ask if we feel different after our birthdays and the answer is usually “no?”  I woke up the next morning feeling different.  Was it just another day? No.  I felt the urgency to begin setting goals and planning how to achieve them within the next 264 days.  I thought about Cydney, the life that I want for her.  I prayed for those in my inner circle and something I don’t normally do: I prayed for myself.  I asked God to use me and my abilities to the best of my capacity.  After that, it was back to writing and taking the first steps to my next destination.

I think that I am my own worst enemy.  Being cynical is what holds me back.  While I believe and hope that positive things happen, I usually expect the worst.  I’m usually able to predict how things will happen based on probability and see things and circumstances through.  But I think that my mindset of knowing that things will turn out otherwise is me not having enough faith.  

James 2:17 is the verse that says that faith that is not accompanied by action is dead.  I think that work accompanied by little faith has the same consequences.  I’m pretty sure that I don’t have as much faith because I don’t actually speak much into existence.  I just think it and treat my thoughts like they’re something I’ve said out loud.  Friday night changed that.  It wasn’t much, it was something I have thought for a few months, it wasn’t something they hadn’t known already.  Nonetheless, I have a sense of urgency that has heightened. 

After the celebration comes the work.  Stay tuned…

 

Cydney Quotables Once Again

“I want to see the wind!”

Me: Patty Cake Patty Cake. Baker man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Roll it. Mark it with a b. One for baby and one for…
Cydney: Free!

“Stop talking to me!”

“I want to be a single princess!”

*Holds up candy dispenser* “This is my bention!” (Translation: invention)

*Walks over slowly*
Me: Cydney, what’s wrong baby?
Cydney: My head is heavy *lays head on lap*.”

*Cydney jumps on me*
Me: *in pain* Ooooohh!
Cydney: Did I step on your nuts?

Me: Cydney, it’s time for me to do your hair.
Cydney: Ummm let me think about it.

*While laying in bed*
Cydney: I’m giving my dookie a new home.
Me: Cydney, you making stinky?
Cydney: Yes. Sorry *and then laughs about it*

Cydney: ______ loves you.
Me: How do you know?
Cydney: ______ loves your kisses.
Me: Cydney, you watch too much tv. Where you get that from?
Cydney: Ummm *smiles coyly then runs off*

The Last Chapter: Back to Court Pt. 2

With Timile’s mother not asking but telling me that they’re taking Cydney to visit from December 26th-January 5th per our visitation agreement in Virginia, I filed in New York a motion to amend the visitation agreement that was in place by the State of Virginia.  I strategically waited until Cydney’s grandparents decided to make a move that I didn’t like before I filed.  The point was for a significant amount of time to pass to stack the deck in my favor and get what I wanted from the judge here.  Cydney wasn’t then and never was a Virginia resident.  They lied in court in 2012 stating that Cydney had been in Virginia since approximately September 2011.  That was false.  Cydney wasn’t with Timile or I in Buffalo for most of the month of September; she was in Long Island with my family and she moved to Buffalo October 17th 2011.  They tried to claim that she was a resident so that the Virginia court would have jurisdiction on the case.  It’s all good.

After I filed, I received another text message or so with Timile’s mother saying that they were excising their right per the visitation agreement.  I laughed when I read that last one and was praying that they would get the letter from Nassau County Family Court the next day.  I’m not sure when they got it, but sometime within that next week the letter was in my mail basket.  I read it happily.  I was ecstatic when I saw that the court date was November 19-two years to the day since the last time I saw Timile and things really got ugly between Timile’s immediate family and me.  Poetic Justice.  Needless to say I didn’t get anymore text messages after that.

Tuesday rolled around and that morning seemed incredibly slow.  I got Cydney dressed and took her to court with me on purpose.  If her grandparents had actually shown up, then they could have seen her in her ‘Mommy’s Sweetheart’ shirt and all of her splendor.  If they didn’t show up, then they could hear her in the background as we were negotiating with the judge.  This whole thing has been mental warfare and I have been okay with playing that game.  

When I got there I looked around the parking lot for Timile’s parents’ car and didn’t see it.  I knew they wouldn’t show up, but just in case I had to check.  If they were there, they would see me pulling up in my mother’s not sure whether its mine or not blaring A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Stir it Up’ (I was getting ready for the Kanye West and ATCQ concert the next day) with Cydney in tow.  When I saw the judge, she told me that her computer was down, so she was having a hard time pulling up the docket.  I gave her as brief of a rundown as possible.  She asked me when was the last time that the respondents had seen Cydney.  I told her April 4, 2012.  She told me that since the first case was filed in Virginia, she would have to speak to the judge and ask if they would relinquish the case to the State of New York.  We started a half hour late, and waited for the Virginia Judge for forty-five minutes.  At 1:16 the Virginia Judge had finally said that she remembered the case, that it was really sad, and that she would in fact hand the case over the the judge in New York and let them preside over the hearings from now on.  Win no. 1 for me.

After waiting around in silence other than Cydney coloring and saying that doing so of her Disney Princesses was her job, we finally got to it.  The judge told Timile’s parents that I was asking for the agreement to be modified to supervised visitation based on the grounds that Cydney does not know who these people are anymore.  The judge was basically saying that since Cydney hadn’t seen them since April 2012 she more or less was going to grant this.  Their response started off with Timile’s father saying that they had been going through a lot between illnesses, family affairs, and deaths in the family and that I knew this (Which is true).  He said that had reached out to me (which is true and we did speak), he offered for times for Cydney to visit and I made excuses (Half-true: they weren’t excuses).  Timile’s mother then said that she sent me emails saying what’s going on with her and text messages as well.  I raised my hand and told the judge I don’t know what email address she sent them to because I didn’t get them (Which is true: I have maybe ten email addresses and five of them I use on a daily basis). Timile’s mother who was beginning to raise her voice getting a little emotional (I don’t mean that negatively, you could tell how she was feeling by the tone of her voice) saying that I could have visited them.  She then told the judge that I could have visited them because I have visited other family members and I recently did in Washignton DC which is a few hours away from them and didn’t do so. (Editor’s note: so what?)  

Timile’s father then chimed in and said that once his wife sent these text messages then I pop up out of nowhere with this amendment.  Yes. I. Did.  I would be a terrible parent if I let my child go off with some strangers to her.  I damn sure am not going to Virginia and I damn sure have no intentions of ever setting foot in that house every again.  I just took a page from the Parenting 101 Textbook: Protect Your Child.

The judge went on to say that regardless of what, why, or how, Cydney doesn’t know who these people are anymore and them taking her with them without someone she is familiar with would be a traumatizing experience.  At this point, the judge was thirty minutes into her recess period and had more cases on the docket starting at 2 PM, she was ready to shut this one down and rightfully so.  She let them know that she was about the adjourn this and grant supervised visitation in the State of New York based on the grounds of unfamiliarity.  Timile’s parents didn’t like that one bit.  They kept asking for different things like a court appointed supervisor during visitation and the judge who was starting to get annoyed said that the whole point of doing this is for someone who Cydney is familiar with being present.  Doing that would negate that and there would be no one that she knows in the room.  The judge said that they are a grandparent and know this to be true, deep down they know this, and should know better that what they wanted wouldn’t happen.  I shrugged and looked at the judge with a facial expression that shows “You see what I’ve been dealing with?!”

That right there has been my issue with them the whole time.  Everything has been about what they want.  Not what’s best for anyone else.  They wanted Timlie and Cydney to themselves so they broke up my family.  They then wanted Cydney all to themselves so as opposed to doing the decent thing and telling me my daughter’s mother died (If they didn’t want to recognize me as anything else), come and get your kid, and this is when the funeral is.  Nope.  They want to see Cydney but on their terms’ and are not thinking about what is necessarily best for Cydney; but what is for them.  There’s no human element.  If there was, then Timile’s parents would be adamant about coming to New York, getting reacquainted with Cydney, and then seeing where things go from there first as opposed to just taking her to Virginia like she knows who they are or is old enough to have an elevated level of understanding.

The judge told Timile’s parents that she’s granting the supervised visitation with me present.  It’s what’s best for the child.  We could all go to McDonald’s or something or even to my house.  I told the judge I’m okay with that.  Visitation starts on the 26th of December until January 5th.  I told the judge if they want to they can come on the 25th, just to show that I don’t want to keep Cydney away from them.  The judge also said that we would be coming back to court on January 6th to hammer our the rest of the agreement because I gave many reasons for why this is how visitation needs to go down.  The judge stated that they should be in town so they are not expecting any phone-ins either.  We closed with the judge suggesting that they and Cydney do face time on the phone or something in which I obliged and said that I have Skype.  I’ll send them my email address and the judge said that Timile’s parents can start off by reading stories to her.

So as of now, that’s where we stand.  So as of now, guess who’s coming for Christmas?

The Last Chapter: Back to Court Pt. 1

In May, I spoke about my last trip to court with Timile’s parents and our custody/visitation hearing in Virginia.  In the fourth paragraph, I mentioned that Cydney’s grandparents had dropped their filing for custody and there were negotiations that had to take place that I was not yet at liberty to talk about.  Well, now I can.

Since there was no way constitutionally that Timile’s parents could gain legal custody of Cydney and they dropped that, Timile’s father, his lawyer, my lawyer, and I were negotiating visitation.  Like many states, Virginia’s laws indicate that grandparents do not have rights.  However, if a parent is deceased a judge will determine whether or not they will grant visitation rights to grandparents contingent on their relationship with the child.  At the time, I was going for the gusto: NO visitation.  It wasn’t that I was trying to keep Cydney away from them; I just wanted her grandparents to have to work with me to see her and not be able to get by under some legal technicality.  To me, that’s bullshit.  My lawyer explained to me that the judge is going to grant them visitation because Cydney lived with them for five months, they will also grant it because she needs to know her mother’s side of the family.  My response to my lawyer was “I have a relationship with just about all of Timile’s family.  Just not them.”  He said “Look, you can either negotiate the terms or the judge will do it for you.  Reluctantly, I said okay and began to negotiate.

The terms that were hammered out were that Cydney’s grandparents get visitation every other Thanksgiving, December 26th-January 5th until she is enrolled in school and needs to be back earlier, a week in the spring, and four weeks in the summer with the summer of 2012 being split into two-two week blocks.  Timile’s father asked in front of the judge if they could have Cydney until after January 4th, since that is Timile’s birthday.  I wanted her back January 2nd because a week is more than reasonable and they’re just grandparents.  I thought that was the dumbest shit ever.  Why on earth would they want to keep a child to celebrate their dead mother’s birthday who won’t be young enough to know what that day even means?  Stupid.

I thought the whole thing was dumb. The fact that I am negotiating visitation with and for Timile’s grandparents in a court like I was married to, conceived Cydney, and divorcing them from a standpoint of logic makes no sense.  It still doesn’t.  Why? Because they’re grandparents.  If it were my parents in court I’d feel the same way.  There’s no emotional bias to this.  It’s just as a parent and the only parent, I think that I should have all say so in who my child is with and around.  I told my lawyer I think this is incredibly stupid.  He told me this: “In my experience this goes one of two ways.  Either one party may start trying to comply but eventually won’t do it anymore or both parties work it out and its no longer needed.”  I gave him a look and said “I don’t know with these people.”  He then whispered in my ear “If you don’t like the terms of this agreement, then get it amended in New York.”

Lightbulb!  My lawyer planted the right seed in my head at the right time.  That’s when I completely gave in and just gave them whatever day they wanted.  I knew at one point or another, I was getting visitation amended in New York.  Fuck Virginia and it’s silly commonwealth laws. I’m going to home where people don’t play these silly games.

Two days later, I received a phone call from someone in my phone named “Daddy” with a 757 area code attached to it.  I was confused because I’m not in the business of calling anyone daddy unless they are a long-legged spider in which their legs still move when you peel them off.  Realizing who was calling, I thought to myself “I thought no one knew how to contact me!”  I laughed in my head and picked up the phone.  Timile’s father was asking if they could take Cydney down with them for a family reunion in Atlanta at one point during the summer.  He said I could come along as well if I would like to.  He asked the right way and then said that he’d rather do this the cordial/non-legal way but if I wanted him to he could do it through the courts with paperwork.  I told him I’d get back to him and let him know.

The truth is I forgot.  Hell no I wasn’t going to no family reunion with them and I still was skeptical as all hell with the idea of Cydney’s grandparents going to Atlanta with her and who knows if they’ll return.  It wasn’t paranoia.  It was being a good parent.

He called me again on Christmas Day wishing Cydney a Merry Christmas, that they had gifts that they wanted to send or deliver in person and etc.  I was fine with that.  I said just let me know when is a good time.  I sent them Cydney’s picture with Santa Claus so that they would have it before Christmas as well.  In March, he called again and said that they had been going through some health related issues is why they haven’t visited yet but they still had stuff for Cydney.  I even let him speak to Cydney on the phone.  She didn’t know who she was talking to, but I still was being nice.  That was the last I heard from him.

On August 10 this year, my phone vibrated with a text message.  From the top of the screen I could what the text said and I saw something about Satan in it.  I thought it was an inspirational text message saying something along the lines of “Don’t let Satan hold you back or something.”  I looked at the text message and the text was from someone I had named Satan in my phone.  I laughed out loud when I remembered that while living in Virginia I saved Timile’s mother’s phone number as Satan.  Yeah that may be harsh; but that’s how I felt.  I have no regrets about that and I still think it’s kinda funny.  Anywho, she said that they loved and missed Cydney, they still had stuff for her they wanted to give her and that she would call me later to see about coming up to visit or Cydney coming down there.  The first thought was “Yall can come here!”  I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to do so hastily and was still holding onto my strategic ace in the hole of getting the visitation agreement amended in New York.

I waited until she would send another call or text saying when they would like to come up or schedule a visit.  I didn’t take any action until she texted me again in September 19th saying that they are coming to get Cydney.  Not asking-but coming.  That didn’t sit well with me at all.  Sh said they would the day after Christmas and that if I’m not going to be home please make sure someone is home.  I really didn’t appreciate that.  That’s not love, that’s treating Cydney like a package.  Hell. No.  It took everything in me to not respond saying “You must be smoking crack if you think I’m just letting my daughter leave with someone she doesn’t even know anymore.”  That would be bad parenting.

It had been more than a year and a half, so no was a good time to file to amend this agreement.  I knew I could really get my way now.

Yesterday we went to court.  I will discuss that tomorrow.

The Top Five Regrets People Make on their Deathbed

A friend of mine shared a link on Facebook the other day that I found interesting.  It was about a nurse giving the top five regrets that people have on their deathbed.  I found it to be an interesting read.  Being that she works in the medical profession and was one of the people I met while at Winthrop Hospital during Timile and Cydney’s extended stay it made sense that she posted this.  I wanted to share these five regrets and my take on them.  Thanks Diana for the inspiration.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I could see how this is a very popular thought.  Along the way, we all spend way too much time people pleasing and compromising what we want for what we think is best for ourselves and others.  Many times my family and friends have asked me personally about decisions and choices I’ve made.  My father was very wary about me going to Morehouse ten years ago.  Atlanta is far away from New York and he didn’t want me to be six figures into debt before my life began.  I owe Sallie Mae a lot of money, but I know that my father is pleased with my decision and happy of the man that it was made me.  Many times people won’t understand; but it’s not for them.  My choosing to be a writer may have some short term adverse affects on my pockets, but it won’t forever.  It’s helped a lot of people somehow somewhere…

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

When it’s all said and done, no one will wish that they spent more time at work, or at the office, or spending more time on whatever they were doing to earn income.  Yes it’s important and your family will thank you for putting food on the table, paying bills,and hopefully something behind for them when you leave.  But the truth is when you quit or retire people will miss you and within three weeks someone else will be in that same slot doing the same job you did.  We spend more time at work than we do with our families.  Yes, it’s about quality but quantity is all that we think about when we don’t have much time left.  Make time.  I sold cars for a little while.  I worked close to eighty hours six days a week.  Never again.  Even when I did, I made sure to find the time to spend with Timile.  Recently I’ve dated really busy people.  I can relate as a single parent.  However, when I’m never too busy because I will always find time.

I’ve written two articles and close to 2000 words this morning.  I probably won’t think twice about either one of them once I’m done… I gotta wake my little girl up and start her day.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I am notorious for not saying what I think or what I really feel to loved ones.  My time with Timile taught me a very valuable lesson to not do this.  Despite how things ended, I had no regrets.  I don’t even regret getting to say a proper goodbye to her.  I told her every day that I loved and and made sure she knew how I felt about her.  Sometimes it came out when we would have arguments.  But I take solace in knowing that she died knowing I loved her and wasn’t leaving her until one of us passed on.

My “love language” is doing.  I’m not much of a talker in this sense.  It’s something I’m working on.  Everyone doesn’t understand that language and just expressing how I feel through actions can be abstract to some.  If someone means something to me, I’ll let them know.  If I’ve been seeing someone and I felt the urge to tell them I love them, I’ll tell them.  I’m not afraid on what their response will be.  They could freeze up, not saying anything, or whatever.  I’m not deterred.  It’s not about how I feel by telling them as much as it is letting them know that they are loved.  We’d all be surprised how much that can come in handy when someone is feeling low and they have that little reminder in the back of their mind that someone loves them.

I let my daughter know all the time that the sun rises and sets on her.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Being that most of my friends are somewhere between twenty-five and thirty-two, everyone is getting married, having kids, or are knee-deep into their careers.  My married friends are almost all newlyweds who act like they’re the first people ever to get married.  We all get so bogged down with our life, but other than spouses who do you have?  You can’t vent to your spouse about them.  That’s just asking for a fight.  Sometimes you need an ear to vent to, give you advice on how to handle circumstances, or let you know what may be a better approach in handling your child or how to handle adversity.  Sometimes the best advice comes from a source on the outside looking in.  I try to stay in touch with all of my friends.  We all have live we’re living and are at the age where we’re trying to figure things out, reconcile our ideals with reality, etc.  Everyone doesn’t have the time to talk and many times over the response is “Man I’ve been busy.  My bad.”  Young people act like they have all the time in the world to get back to people.  I’ve lived an experience that has shown me that this is not the case, so I try to treat all of those around me like I may not see them ever again.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Happiness is relative.  I think that most happiness can be achieved by keeping the first four thoughts in mind.  The truth is that the most valuable asset is time.  Like I said, being young, we all think we have forever.  We put off our dreams, people we love, friends, and family over and over again.  “I got you another time” becomes weeks, and then months.  I’ve gotten mad at people over this.  Not just because I’ve felt like they’re blowing me off; but because of how serious I take the concept of time.  That time I’ve been getting put off for work or something else could have been the time that I really needed someone to just talk to other than my daughter.  That time we could have just talked on the phone or grabbed a beer could have been a chance for them to open up on something that they really needed.  You never know.  You could be twenty-five years old thinking you have your whole life to raise your family and be in love with your spouse and be diagnosed with stage four cancer days after your child is born, and die nine months later.  You don’t know and it’s that serious.

Be blessed.  Be a blessing to those who are on your mind.  Let others be a blessing to you.

Here’s the link to the original article by Sina.

Cydney’s Favorite Songs

My parents aren’t your average parents.  They’re both pretty artsy people (my mother teaches art and my father is a musician), don’t look or act like they’re in their mid-fifties, have are blonde, and have tattoos.  They’re pretty cool people.  My sister and I grew up listening to r&b and popular music-as if they thought my sister and I were too cool for corny children’s music.  There’s nothing wrong with children’s music.  It’s great.  It just did appeal to us.  For our third birthday, our parents bought us microphones with speakers and lights attached and we christened them by singing The Boys’ ‘Dial My Heart’ to the family members at our house celebrating with us.  I also remember at one time if you called our house the answering machine would play my father, sister, and I singing Al  B Sure!’s ‘Get Off On Your Own Girl.’

Cydney is a cool kid as well.  While we watch Nick and Disney Jr all day and she loves those songs, she likes r&b and rap music.  She turns up when ‘Bugatti’ by Ace Hood comes on, sings SWV’s ‘Cosign’ at the top of her little lung-lets, and jumps up and down on the nearest cushion or mattress when the hook from A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Oh My God’ rings out.  With that said, enjoy a play list of our favorite songs to party to on a daily basis.

 

It’s In Your Eyes

I was talking to a friend of mine via text message Saturday night Sunday morning around 2 AM.  They were telling me that they had a pretty long week that required lots of work and little sleep and that they were annoyed by their personal and professional circumstances.  They said they were about to head out and blow off some steam.  My response was confirming that they should do so.  In my head I thought “What is blowing steam?” in a confused manner because the idea of having an outlet to do so is foreign in my life.  The last time I did so was a botched night I was supposed to hang out with someone that didn’t fall through at the last minute due to a lack of communication.  Instead of company to vent to or just not be a parent for a night, I found myself walking around from Midtown to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, having a drink somewhere random, and a climatic end being that I pulled a man in a broken wheelchair backwards from Bellvue Hospital on 26th and 1st to McDonald’s a few blocks away all while he smoked a cigarette that blew all in my face and then asked for money (I gave him eight bucks and told him to get an extra value meal).  That night cost me an afternoon of negotiation and bribery of a fifty dollar gift to my sister to watch Cydney that night.  Was I mad? Nah.  I got out and I helped some guy who needed it.

A few hours after the conversation with my friend it was time to get ready for church.  I’ve been making an effort to go more than once a month (Three out of four weeks!) because whose spirit doesn’t need to be poured into.  It’s not a big church, so everyone knows everyone there and that’s nice sometimes.  With that said, a good portion of the congregation says hello in passing while leaving or heads to fellowship hall for brunch after service.  I’m asked all the time how am I doing with a long gaze into my eyes.  I’ve been told I look like a tired parent and some would say to themselves without saying it to me that it looks like my wits end may be coming sooner than later.  I can’t even lie to them, I say “Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.”  With a smile back the response is a pat on the back or shoulder and some kind of reassuring “It’ll get better, Chad” look on their face.  I appreciate that.  Truth be told, I was at my wits end that day.  I felt very short and was trying my best to not go off when Cydney would fall out terrible-twos style or my nephew wanted my attention and there was a glazed look on my face that insinuates I was zoning out.

I’ve learned to recognize that something in my life is problematic when others can see it in my eyes.  I do believe that they are the window to one’s soul.  I don’t like to look people in them for too long without looking away for a quick moment because I see too much into people and there may be things I don’t want to see.  My demeanor is pretty [frustrating so some] nonchalant and stoic.  Most of my emotional expression come from giving very brief looks in which those who have caught me in one moment are amused or respond accordingly to the look that was conveyed.  I’ve learned to mask my innermost thoughts to the point that it is hard to tell what I’m thinking or feeling.  It frustrated the hell out of Timile that she couldn’t pinpoint my thoughts and she lived with me for almost five years.  That’s how I know the look of concern on others’ face is real because I’m too tired to notice or care that people can see I’m close to checking out.

Sometimes I think Cydney notices this.  She’ll give me a look, rub my back, and give me a big hug.  I think deep down she knows that all she can do is take and my patience gets worn pretty thin.  She tries the best she can and sometimes randomly says “I’m sorry” (which makes me feel like shit) thinking it’ll make me feel a little better.  Actually it does.

As far as blowing off steam goes, I have a birthday next week so I’m sure I’ll be re-acquainted with that concept within the next ten days or so.

So Amibtious

image
An unfinished tattoo I got when I was nineteen symbolizing that I've always seen myself as a writer.

 

 

I’ve never believed in the mantra “Make your haters your motivators.”  However, when one does find success it is only natural to think about all of those who may have made negative comments that could deter others from one’s vision.  The second to last song on Jay Z’s mixed-reviewed Blueprint 3 is one of my favorite songs he’s ever made.  The song starts with an a minor chord and Pharrell Williams saying “3 in the morning on the West Side Highway.”  The chords and the quote set the mood for the song (There is nothing like driving on the West Side Highway at 3 AM.  I find it to be one of the best time and places to reflect while driving).  Off the bat, the song had me drawn in.  Mr. Carter then raps about all of the people who have told him that he didn’t have what it took to make it a lack of intellect, talent, and ambition.  In spite of all of that, he persevered and made his vision come to fruition.  By the end of the third verse, he seems to be looking back with satisfaction at all that he has achieved in spite of naysayers, his environment, and executives that all in some way said “no.”

I felt so inspired by what my teacher said…

No teacher could ever tell me I’d amount to nothing.  I was way too smart for that.  I spent elementary and middle school bored out of my mind reading my social studies book cover to cover, talking, and passing notes even when it was science or math class.  When my family moved from Queens to Long Island, my sister and I went to our new high school for a placement test to see which classes would we would be best suited for.  My guidance counselor looked at my test score with widened eyes at how well I did.  She told my parents that I should be put in all honors courses, but my report card said in every class “Frequently misses homework” so she thought that I should take the regularly tracked classes and see where things go.  Her analysis made sense.  I didn’t find school challenging and was acing everything effortlessly, so I didn’t do homework.  I didn’t need to.  Nonetheless, I made one of my missions to make my way into all honors classes by the time I graduated from Baldwin High School in 2003.

In the fall of 2002, I accomplished my goal:  with the exception of math (because I didn’t want to), all of my classes were honors and advanced placement (AP for short) which gave me the possibility to earn college credit.  The class I was the most excited about being in was AP English.  I liked to write.  I’d been writing music and song lyrics since as long as I could remember.  When I saw my teacher for the first time I told her I was looking forward to her class because I’m a writer.  She replied “I saw your writing.  I wouldn’t say that.”  That rubbed me the wrong way.  I made it my mission to not give a shit, fly through the course writing pretty decent papers about books I never read.  I only read one book in her class, and still got high eighties and nineties on all of my papers.  I made it known I didn’t read the books either.  At the end of the year when the AP test scores came in she saw I got a 3 out of five on the exam.  A 3 was enough to not have to take English 101 my freshman year in college.  My teacher saw me and said “You got a 3 on the AP test!  I was actually surprised to see that.”  I responded to her “That’s your problem.  You never thought much of me.  The day before the exam my grandfather died and I saw him blue in the face.  I didn’t care when I took the test.”  The look of disgust on her face at my brazen response was all of the satisfaction I needed.

Ten and a half years later, I wish I could run into her again.  She lived around the corner from me, and part of me wonders if she’s there and that I would run into her at Pathmark one day.  I’d love for her to ask what I’ve been up to, and me tell her that I’ve become a writer, I’ve been written about in major publications, and have a following in every continent but Antarctica.  Now, in no way was my twelfth grade English teacher my motivation, but I do love to thumb my nose at a person or two who have said something negative about me.

I’m different.  I can’t base what I’m gon’ be based off of what everybody isn’t…

A few years ago I noticed that my motivation to accomplish tasks was just to shut people up.  I was someone who just wanted to prove people wrong and have the satisfaction of knowing that I did.  I realized that this train of thought made me a slave to everyone else.  What fueled my successes was based on what others wanted or expected and not myself.  Almost anything I did had menial satisfaction and all accomplishments felt like hollow victories because of this.  I say all of this to say dream big and let the only motivation you have be your own.  If you have goals that you want to reach, then let the reason why you do them be for yourself.  Only let others be your motivation if it is to serve others.  At this point, my inspiration for making most things happen is for my daughter to be happy.  I want the best for her, so I work my ass off for her.  I do it for whatever other children I may have and whoever their mother may be.  I want my nephew to continue to see me as a role model.  Even with that said, these fuel my ambition because I want them to.