Half-Past Thirty

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Meme Crush Monday: The Truth About Overthinking

 

Today’s Meme Crush Monday is sponsored by…I don’t remember because I’ve had it saved in my phone for quite some time.  So, thanks to whomever my Facebook friend is that posted it.

Overthinking is self-explanatory.  Often, thinking excessively about one particular circumstance gets a bad rap.  It has a negative connotation because typically, when people overthink, the result is unhappiness.

The mind is incredibly powerful.  We have experiences that continuously shape our perspective of the world, yet often we become a slave to our thoughts.  Dwelling for an extended period of time often begins a chain of thoughts that lead to downward spiral in one’s happiness.  First, an event occurs.  Then it affects us.  We then have to process how we feel about it.  We recall similar instances that have made us feel a similar way.  We relive all of these moments, including the most recent incident…and typically this is where everything ends until there is a new stimulus.

Everyone has an inflated opinion about themselves.  We think that we are both more amazing than we truly are and we also perceive ourselves to be lesser, as well.  People seek to validate both the yin and yan that creates this balance.  This hyperbolic sense of self motivates us to do the things we do.

Here’s an example: I often say that I have a phobia of commitment with regards to relationships.  It’s a blanket statement that is incredibly inaccurate.  Most of my behavioral patterns scream commitment.  I have been writing almost five times a week for this site for nearly four years, I am raising my daughter to the best of my knowledge and ability, and a million other things.  The truth of the matter is that I am very choosy about what I commit to.  So until someone comes along that I deem worth it, I’ll attract temporary “situationships” that are riddled in drama to validate the self-fulfilling prophecy of “I have a phobia of commitment.”

Knowledge isn’t power…applied knowledge is.  If you were to type “overthink” into Google, a million articles, think pieces, and memes would be advising you how to not do so.  Fuck that.  Overthinking is a part of human nature.  Our brains are wired to meticulously analyze data and there is an emotional bi-product from it.  Suggesting that people shouldn’t overthink is like saying “you shouldn’t take a shit when your stomach hurts.”

Overthinking is the cause of unhappiness because people often stop at overthinking into unhappiness.  Some of the most revered music, literature, art, and so on have been inspired by dark moments, deep reflection, and *pauses for dramatic effect* overthinking.

I overthink almost everything.  I pay attention to what people say, show they say it, the timbre in their voice, their body language, what they were wearing, how they were standing, if someone said something in a text message I am trying to read it in a manner based on their behavioral patterns to keep myself from interpreting something with bias, etc.  Hell, the way that I process everything is that I run the gamut of possibilities and then predict outcomes based on the behaviors of the people involved.  If the outcome I desired-or didn’t predict or seventeen other things-didn’t occur, I will analyze every little thing trying to figure out what I missed so that I can be aware if something similar happens again.

I allow myself to go through the gauntlet of emotions that come along with overthinking.  Processing data excessively is one of my greatest assets.  I will put myself through the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical gauntlet until I come up with a plan.  If this is something that I do naturally as a human being and by nature, have conditioned myself to process information this way…why stop at the unhappiness phase?  Fuck that.

If you overthink-of course you do because you’re human-do that.  If you need to talk to someone, then do so.  If one person is tired of hearing about it, find someone else.  If there is no one else to talk to, write it down.  If you can’t write it down, pray about it.  Mull over everything over and over and over and over again.  Eventually, you’ll come up with a brilliant plan..or the “Aha moment,” as Oprah would call it.  Whenever that internal light bulb goes off, it’s almost always a happy moment, right?

Overthinking is mental judo.  Wrestle with it and use its own momentum against itself.  You are just simply the facilitator.

#SoccerDadChronicles Season 3, Epidsode 5

 

I feel as if I wrote this week’s post into existence. I made an anecdote about looking forward to my Orange Monsters playing a particular team this season.  So here’s what happened…

My nephew came along with my daughter, Cydney and I to soccer this Saturday.  We got to the field a little early.  I stood in one spot with my children and waited for the instructors to come over and begin the session.

My nephew asked if he could venture to the other side of the field and play baseball with a few other kids who seemed to be tossing one around.  I told him “Okay,” and began to kick a ball around with Cyd.  I faced Cydney and told her to get past me using some footwork techniques she’d learned over the past year.

With one swift move, she did so.  I heard a little chuckle to my right.  It was the woman I will refer to as Fly Soccer Mom.  In last week’s episode, I mentioned that in the first week of soccer, Fly Soccer Mom had asked me if I was the coach of the burgundy team and I almost regretted the Orange Monsters before we played a game.  Once I realized where the snicker came from, I smiled and she smiled back.

A few minutes later, a few of the fathers from my team had arrived.  After about five minutes of referring to Derrick Rose having “Penny Hardaway Syndrome,” one of the dads asked who were we playing this week. “I think we have played everyone so far,” one replied.  I responded “We haven’t played the burgundy team yet.”  They thought about it and agreed.  I pulled out a copy of the season schedule, and asked “Today is May 21st, right?”  The fathers said “Yeah.”  I told them “We play burgundy today.”  I’m not gonna lie, I was a little excited about this.

During the scrimmage, the coach of the burgundy team suggested that we don’t use goalies this week.  I didn’t care very much.  If anything, it would have been in his best interest to have goaltenders because I know how aggressive my team plays.

It was a massacre.  The Orange Monsters kicked the ball and ass.  Before I knew it, the score was 5-0.  When it was all said and done, we won like 15-1.  The only goal the burgundy team scored was by the daughter of Fly Soccer Mom.

Scrimmage time begins at 10:30 and usually ends somewhere between 11:10 and 11:30.  Around 10:55, the burgundy team coach approached the other fathers-who are all in their forties-who is the coach of our team and I said “I was.”  He just assumed that the black guy with his hat on to the side wasn’t the one in charge.  The coach asked if I could help him officiate the game because he was having a difficult time controlling the children.  I said “okay,” and attempted to assist.

I looked at the other fathers on my time and in a jokingly tone uttered “I kind of feel a way about this.”  They laughed and said “Damn, he’s the one with the whistle…now he has something to say?”  Truthfully, I always help out.  I’ll keep an extra ball in hand, throw it inbound, and just let them play.

By 11am, the burgundy coach was disinterested.  The fathers on the sideline next to me exclaimed “He looks mad that his team is getting their asses kicked!”  I laughed and agreed with their assessment.  At 11:04, we scored another goal, and the burgundy coach called his team to the side and ended the game without saying anything to me.  Normally, the coaches look at each other and make a suggestion for how much longer we’ll play and/or when the game will end.  None of that happened.  In a facetious tone, I said to my parents “Well that was unsportsmanlike.”

At one point, during the game, I once again heard a laughter about something on the field to my right that I too, found humorous.  Once again, it was Fly Soccer Mom.  I knew she was sitting about ten feet away from me; but I was busy being a coach.  I looked her way and we kind of shared the laugh.  There was another friendly exchange of smiles; and that was that.  When the game ended, Fly Soccer Mom left to the other side of the field to watch her older daughter play.

I called for my nephew who disappeared.  He came back with a cup from Mr. Softee, which made Cydney wan some.  The two of them asked me about going to the park the day before, so I decided to let them enjoy some time at the playground by the soccer field.  I stood there and watched them while reading an ebook on my phone.

Fly Soccer Mom’s daughter was on the playground, as well.  She shouted for her mother’s attention repeatedly, asking Fly Soccer Mom to see her go down the slide.  After continuously persisting, Fly Soccer Mom walked over talking loudly, saying “Ugh, my daughter always wants my attention and doesn’t stop until she gets it.”  Because I had my back turned, I wasn’t sure who she was talking to.  I turned around and she was looking in my direction…Fly Soccer Mom was talking to me.

I chuckled and replied, saying “My daughter is the same way.  I understand.”  Fly Soccer Mom stood next to me and reluctantly showed that she was paying attention.  After a brief pause for doing her due diligence,  Fly Soccer Mom looked at me and asked “What happened today with the coach?”  I explained what I typed out a few paragraphs ago and she responded with “Yeah, I just left,” with a tone of voice that suggested that she often ignores him.

Fly Soccer Mom looked me directly in the eye for the duration of our conversation.  It is very rare that this happens.  There was direct eye contact all morning; but those were all relatively from a distance.  This was different.

After our short banter about burgundy coach, Fly Soccer Mom said “There’s only two weeks of soccer left.”  I replied with a “Yeah.”  Something else was said after that; but it was small talk-ish.  Fly Soccer Mom then stated that she was going to go back to the field and watch her daughter.  I placed my hand out to shake hers and said “I’m Chad.”  She responded “I’m *name redacted*.”  There was another smile and she went on her way.

I let the kids play at the field for a little longer because that game me time to read my ebook with no interruption.  The older girls finished their game and as everyone was leaving, I told my kids that it was time to go.  As Fly Soccer Mom passed by my jeep to leave, she briefly looked my way and to make sure I had her attention, I said “It was nice meeting you.”  She smiled and retorted “It was nice to meet you, too.”

After getting the kids in the car, I remembered that I said to Cydney she could have Mr. Softee.  We walked over to the truck and in front of us was Fly Soccer Mom.  While buying her children some ice cream, she looked at me once again and made eye contact, then looked at my daughter, and walked away.

…I know a single parent when I see one.  At this point, I think I just have a radar for it.

There is no soccer until June 11th; so there will be an extended pause in #SoccerDadChronicles for three weeks.

 

Addressing the “What If’s” and the Ones Who Got Away

 

If I ever introduce you to Christina…she already knows who you are.  Christina is a very good friend of mine and confidante.  We first met during Morehouse and Spelman College’s Alumnae coordinated for incoming freshman in the summer of 2003.  Christina, her best friend, Morgan, my best friend, Brandon, and I used to hang out on Spelman’s campus almost every evening in the fall of 2003.  In time, Christina and I lost touch; but Morgan and I remained good friends.  In 2014, Morgan had informed me that Christina moved back to New York; and we have been tight ever since.  Christina’s referrals are how I acquired my last two corporate jobs; so being in the same building only solidified our friendship.

Via text message, Christina and I converse almost all day, every day.  If you as an audience have been entertained by the stories that I write here, or anywhere else, they don’t hold a candle to an unfiltered Chad Milner with no discretion.  She has become the subject of a girl or two I have dated.  One morning, I was laying next to someone I had been dating for a couple of months and shorty sarcastically said “Is that your work wife, [Christina]?”  It was.  An hour later, we were driving somewhere and I let her play DJ from my car.  She said “Is Christina gonna pop up while I use Spotify?”  Knowing that my last comment was, I prayed Christina didn’t reply.

I say all of this to say that conversations that I have with Christina often become topics that write about.  Yesterday, she posted the comment above on Facebook and I sent her a text saying “I gotta write about this.”  So, in an attempt to give roses to the living, I wanted to publicly acknowledge my friend who has played a major role in my success.

Sometimes relationships don’t work out.  Sometimes we meet people that we have remarkable chemistry with and the timing just wasn’t right.  We take people for granted, we get into our own way, or just presume that other grasses are greener, only to find out they have pesticides we couldn’t digest because it wasn’t made for us to digest.

In the journey to self-awareness, we all reflect and ask ourselves questions.  The “What if’s” can drive us all nuts.  Life is a series of ever-evolving tests in which for some seasons, one person is the right answer to a question.  Something, someone, or circumstances change.  Sometimes the questions on the test remain the same and the answer changes from choosing others to ourselves.  People grow up and apart.  What may have been the solution or the remedy at one point no longer suffices.

From time to time, I get a brief case of the “What if’s.”  I can think of two people that given different circumstances and if I made alternative decisions (Read: kept my mouth shut), things could have been perfect.  With one person, the window opened up in 2003, 2005, and 2012; but it just fizzled and for good reason…we wouldn’t have the blessings that we currently do had it happened.  Hell, we are still friends and it’s one of those things we never talk about.  With the second, there’s a part of me that still hates the way that things played out between us.  However, the tension has made for some of my most legendary tales and the muse for a lot of things I have written.

When these moments occur, I temporarily humor myself and let these thoughts run for a little bit.  It’s an exercise in being human.  “What If’s” are a mild form of having regrets.  My personal feelings about regrets are that they are rejecting God’s perfect plan.  How things are supposed to play out are already written.  We are given free will-which is intent-but we don’t have a choice in the outcome.  My daughter’s mother wasn’t supposed to make it past December 9, 2011.  That would have happened whether we got married or called it quits one of the many times that we did.  She would clash with the person that I have become at thirty.  I may not like my “in-laws” because of how things played out after Timile passed away; but I wouldn’t be writing if it didn’t happen.

The moments of wonderance are temporary; and that’s what I have friends like Christina for…to keep me grounded and be my voice of reason my thoughts can potentially cloud my judgement.

#SoccerDadChronicles Season 3, Episode 4

 

For the Orange Monsters, it was another week, another win.  This is the most aggressive group of five and six year olds I’ve ever seen in life.  They could give the Lost Boys a run for their money.

Before heading to the field, I had a conversation with my daughter, Cydney.  In our pep talk, I told my girl that people aren’t going to pass the ball.  If she wants to score and make a difference, she’s going to have to go and get the ball.  She looked at me and said “Ok, daddy.”

I’m not gonna lie, there’s one team I want to play more than any other one.  It has nothing to do with testing my team’s mettle and creating a rivalry; one of the kids’ mom is just fine.  On the first week at the field, I stood around looking for the parents and children that would become the Orange Monsters.  With a baseball cap, leggings, and a smile, a woman who appeared to be in her early thirties came up to me and asked if I was the coach of the burgundy team.  I smiled back, said “No, I’m orange,” and regretted the soccer club’s color assignments.  Maybe next week.

I’m a single parent who coaches soccer and baseball in Long Island.  Very rarely do I meet other single parents.  However, I just have a radar…I know one when I see one.  I don’t get into much trouble in the city these days, so I’m a little more open to the notion of meeting women where I’d find them: children’s sporting events.

Last Saturday was also picture day.  Because I didn’t want to cut into game time, I sent the parents of my team a text message asking them to come a half hour early so that we could get it out of the way.  Everyone did as I asked.  It was a little stressful for five minutes as I attempted to get the children to simmer down and take a decent photo.  I must have said “Hey!” a good fifteen times.  The Orange Monsters eventually downplayed their name, tucked in their jerseys, and smiled for the camera.  I did something that I rarely do: smile.

When the scrimmage started, the Orange Monsters came out and were relentless.  They scored goal after goal after goal.  I almost wanted to tell them to relax a little; but they wouldn’t have done so, anyways.  My team consists of eight players: five girls and three boys.  Two of the boys are twins and are very aggressive.  However, the girls are otherworldly.  Cydney gets her one goal a game.  Cydney’s pal, is an incredible goalie, and one of the others is averaging three-to four goals a game.  I like letting the girls play together because they get it done.

There is always that one kid and mom on the team.  On the first post from this season, I mentioned that one mother was giving me a hard time, stating her song had been playing since he was three.  All that little boy does is cry and never wants to get into the game.  That mother came with all three of her kids and husband.  The oldest, who has to be about nine, was out of control as the youngest cried incessantly.  She had no control of her children.  Being with a group of other black fathers, we all looked at each other and thought to ourselves “I wish my kid would!”

I love not being the only black father out there.  For once, in a soccer setting, there is someone else for me to relate to other than the coaches and instructors.  During our first stint with soccer, my friend, Neighbour, Cydney, and myself were the only people of color in lily-white and upper-crust Garden City.  No one spoke to me at all.  Over the past two years, I have become good friends with Coach Eddie, Cyd’s instructor since the fall of 2014.  I didn’t fit in with any of those parents.  Most of them acted incredibly snobby and didn’t say a word; so I often sat by myself, away from everyone else, and watched my kid run circles around them as they sipped their lattes.  It’s beyond refreshing to fit in, for once.

The Orange Monsters won 11-0.  They kicked ass.  I even let Cydney play goalie again.  She’s becoming a little more attentive.  She had three saves, even though one and a half of them were coincidental.  But hey, I gotta let her try and not discourage her.

Until next week…

 

Meme Crush Monday: Accountability Ain’t For Everybody

Today’s meme comes from publicity extraordinaire, Anne Edmond, founder of the Craft Agency.

Accountable is an adjective used to describe the expectation of responsibility of someone, an organization, or institution, who are typically held to a high regard.  While liable, responsible, and “to blame” are words that can used in its place; one cannot hold someone any of these words without expectation.

Having expectations connote a belief in the future.  Somewhere between our individual experiences and another’s reputation, we hold others to a standard that we have created; and it is often unrealistic.  Very seldom do people live up to the outcome we desire.  People will almost always fall short.  However, because of what we have made of them, we feel that if they are to blame for their part in things not working out.  People don’t and life doesn’t work that way.

To hold someone accountable for their actions is virtually second-nature to people.  We want to let people know how their actions affect us, others, and themselves.  More often than not, informing people those of high esteem that they let us down isn’t for the sake of making them more responsible, it is for ourselves.  We want to feel better by letting someone we care about-or depended on-that they hurt us.

The truth is that it is difficult for others to grow when they are being held accountable.  Unconsciously, they know that and we do, as well.  This is the reason that wrongdoers will maneuver in a manner that makes the wronged the bad guy.  For the sake of one’s own sanity, they have to do this.  If people were aware of who and how they really are, we would all be clinically depressed.  We have to convince ourselves that we aren’t that bad after all.  We often avoid those that we have left hanging because we are forced into looking into a mirror and recognize that what we are doing to others, we have had done to ourselves.

Has being told how you have sucked ever made you think “Man, I really fucked up.  Starting right now, I’m going to be a better person?”  No.  That is a lesson that we must learn on our own.  I think that is the true definition of karma.  Eventually, we all reap what we have sewn.  The heart breakers become the heart broken and the lesson is more likely to become applied knowledge because the feeling gives context.  All that we have given them are just words.

The key to holding others responsible or to blame for their actions is discernment.  If someone is acting in an irrational manner or irresponsibly; what purpose would it serve to rationalize or hold them responsible?  It’s an exercise in futility explaining anything.

The words that we use are more powerful that we realize.  They may only make up 7% of communication; but we remember what people say more than how they say it or the body language that accompanied it.  Perceiving how one might possibly respond requires holding one’s self accountable.  You are responsible for what you say and do and how it affects others.  Gauging what to say, who to say something to, and when to say something is a reflection of one’s own perception and judgement of others.  How we handle wrongdoers says more about ourselves than them and we become the responsible ones.

Sometimes, we all just want to say “fuck it” and let people know how we feel.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I am one of the high chieftains of “keeping it real;” often keeping it a little too real.  In all relationships, there is a time and place for that and we are just doing our part in the universe.  In these times, the burden of self-sacrifice for the greater good is too heavy and we all need to get something off of our chest…just be aware that it will at one point or another happen to you.

To some extent, I will admit that as I am writing this, I am also talking to myself.  At this point in my life, there are many things that I would love to let off of my chest to a few people.  It would make me feel a lot better and the very little sleep that I do get a night a little more restful.  For the most part, time will handle that.  Maybe it isn’t right to do so just now, in the near future, or at all.

Personally, my loyalty lies within my honesty.  I am often very insensitive to others because of how loyal I am to being truthful.  The price that comes along with this is that there are often two sides to every story and in being this way, I am often prepared to receive it right back as a means of finding common ground.  I guess the best way to look at all of this is as simple as switching out “things” with “people” in the serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change.  [The] Courage to change the people I can…and wisdom to know the difference.

 

Afro-Puerto Rican Superheroine To Be Unleashed At National Parade In June

 

“I’m not the activist that I was in my twenties; but I’m an artist, now.  And one of the things that I have always realized is that about the arts is that art serves to inspire our spirits,” Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez says was the inspiration in creating superhero, La Borinqueña.

US Territory, Puerto Rico is on the cusp of an economic crisis and could use a hero.  Officially licensed and endorsed by the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the proceeds from the comic book wil raise money for their scholarship fund.

Marvel begins the roll-out for their latest project by contextualizing their newest heroine among other celebrated icons.  The cover of the first comic book-that will make its debut during the parade on June 12th-depicts La Borinqueña flying through New York above and being cheered on by singer Hector Lavoe, Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotamayor, a freed Oscar Lopez-Rivera, and others.

La Borinqueña-whose name is derived from its national anthem-is truly a representative of her culture.  Born in Brooklyn, Marisol Ríos de la Luz grew up in a household in which her father is Afro Puerto Rican and mother of white Puerto Rican decent, that discovers she has super powers when she visits the island.  Equipped with the ability to fly, superhuman strength, and the ability to teleport wherever a Puerto Rican needs her, La Borinqueña will fight villains (I personally would find it hilarious if one was Dominican…that’s a New York joke), address the financial crisis plaguing the Commonwealth, and instill unity among the Diaspora.

Personally, I find this to be incredibly dope.  As the father to a little girl of color, I love seeing different aspects of childhood entertainment that they have often been excluded from be able to identify with.  In 2016, there is a superheroine who my daughter can look and say “She looks just like me!”

Growing up, Timile, my daughter’s mother, had a very difficult time with her own identity.  Born to parents and having siblings with dark skin and coarse hair, she told me that she would look at her family on the couch together and never felt as if she fit in.  She was light-skinned with “bone straight hair.”  Growing up as a military brat, Timile would tell me tales in different parts of the world where children would make fun of her, calling her names such as “Hopi Indian,” and tell her that she was adopted.  Because of this, she spent most of her elementary school years finding pleasure in watching all of the other kids play as if it were television…her and her imaginary horse.

The issue plagued her into adolescence and young adulthood as many people perceived her to be stuck-up because of how she looked.  I always felt bad for the little girl I pictured as she’d tell me this and would think to myself “I would’ve been your friend.”  Truth be told, the reason we began dating was that she had always relegated herself to the background and watching everyone else have fun from afar.  I always tried to include her.

Once we found out that Timile’s biological father was a Puerto Rican man from Rochester, I said to myself that our daughter will never feel the way her mother once did.  Children are cruel.  There will be a day in which someone says something about the color of my daughter’s skin and exclude her for not looking black enough.  Someone will tease her about the texture of her hair.  One day, some one will say something rude about her mother a) not knowing Cydney’s isn’t alive or b) know she is dead and will say something mean about it.

There’s only but so much “You look just like your mom” is gonna do for my daughter.  It’s a wonderful sentiment and something she can hold onto; but there’s no “why” for her to identify with.  It’s difficult to associate with a memory that’s based on others’ perception and no recollection of our own.  My daughter slightly resembles her father and can see that; but she favors her mother with features I don’t possess.  So before that weekend in June, she’ll see me don a hat with the flag on it so that if I put it on her, she can understand that her father is instilling some sense of pride and celebration in who and what she looks like.

There’s a light brown superheroine with fine, yet long, curly hair who from New York that flies around to help others.  To me, that is the shit.  When it’s time to be a superhero at recess among her friends, she doesn’t have to be Lady Thor, She Hulk, or even Supergirl…she can be herself.

 

#SoccerDadChronicles Season 3, Episode 3

 

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter Cydney to Havannah Cafe for brunch.  My daughter loves to take my phone and upload videos of herself onto my Snapchat account.  Upon regaining possession of it, I noticed an influx in notifications via Instagram.  I joked to myself and said “Kevin Hart must have used the hashtag #SoccerDadChronicles again!”  I was right.  It felt as if I had written it into existence because I mentioned that on this site a few days prior.  Hart’s 36,000 views in six minutes trickled into others clicking on the hashtag and up until that day, if you were to do so, all one would see are pictures and videos of Cydney.  Sweet.

Because of Spring Break, there was no soccer the weekend of April 23rd.  Even though Cydney wouldn’t be in town the 30th, I had all intentions of showing up to coach my team because others were counting on me.  That Friday night, I looked at the soccer club’s Facebook page and read that soccer was cancelled.  I was ecstatic, especially because I was hanging out and enjoying the last leg of #FerrisBuellersWeekOff.

The next Thursday, I looked at the club’s site for any updates, and it turns out that I misread the previous week’s message.  The cancellation date was actually referring to April 23rd and not the 30th.  I missed a day.  Whoops.

The first thing that I did this past Saturday when Cyd and I got to the field was apologize to the parents.  I told them that I’d misread the club’s page and they understood.  One father told me that it was all good and that many children were missing due to it being spring break.  I felt a little better.

After the thirty minute tutorial session, it was time to scrimmage.  Attempting to not show favoritism, I didn’t let Cydney start.  I also forgot almost all of the childrens’ names and figured that I could relearn them as their parents cheered and told them to not steal the ball from their teammates.

Although no one scored for the first six or seven minutes, the Orange Monsters began to roll.  Goal after goal, the other team didn’t stand a change.  The kids that comprise of my team are quite aggressive and definitely live up to their moniker.

When I let Cydney get into the game, she casually jogged along and was almost always the last to the ball.  She’d get a few kicks in and began to sulk.  With each goal her teammates scored, she got more and more upset because she wasn’t scoring.  Then I saw tears.  I pulled Cydney out immediately, telling her that we don’t do that over sports and asked her what was her problem.  My daughter was getting upset because no one was passing her the ball.

Cydney has been learning to play soccer for over two years.  Her previous coach had been teaching her how to play soccer for real.  She wasn’t lagging behind for the sake of being lazy; she was spacing out for other kids to pass the ball and she was open.  Unfortunately, Cydney is playing with kindergartners.  They know nothing of passing.  They only understand run to the ball as fast as possible and kick it.  All I could do was tell my five year old was that if she looks at everyone else on her team, they were running and diving for the ball.  “You gotta be more aggressive, Cydney.  Notice how dirty everyone else’s uniforms are and yours is pretty clean.  You see that?”  Cydney whimpered yes.

After a few minutes on the sideline attached to my leg, I put Cydney back in the game.  She ran with a little more pep and made a few plays.  However, this was the first game in which not only didn’t she score; but she was always the first one to score within the first two minutes of game play.

The Orange Monsters continued their tear.  We were winning 7-0.  The coach of the other team was moving incredibly slow.  Every time the ball went out of bounds, he wanted to set the children up before the next play.  He was killing me.  I kept an extra ball in hand so that as soon as one went out of bounds, I would yell “Live ball!” and put another one in play.

With two minutes left, I asked if anyone else would like to play goalie.  Cydney raised her hand and said “I do!”  There wasn’t much time left and we were shutting the other team out, so I let her give it a go.  My Orange Monsters were killing it and there was no need for Cyd to do anything.  She sat there in a much more ready stance than a few weeks ago (At one point she was playing with the sleeves of her undershirt).  Before I knew it, the game was over and everyone was happy.

I brought my team in and told them how proud I was of them.  They didn’t take the ball from each other, they listened, and most importantly, they had fun…and we won.

 

In Defense of Lauryn Hill

The world is finally fed up with rapper/singer/CP Time enthusiast, Lauryn Hill. Citing she has “difficulty channeling her energy with time,” Ms. Hill apologized to her fans after being welcomed to boos at Atlanta’s Chastain Park over the weekend.  Now everyone wants to come at her neck.  At this point, a late Lauryn Hill is a part of the experience…I would feel slighted if I went to her concert and she was punctual.

I understand the frustration with Lauryn Hill.  Since August 25, 1998, I have been beyond disappointed in her.  Since she stepped into the cypher and out-rapped Sketch and Frank-ay (Haaaay-Hoooo!) in Sister Act 2, we all knew she was a true one-of-one.  Going toe-to-toe with EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) award winning Whoopi Goldberg, she stole the show in every scene.  Somehow I-we all-knew there would be more of her.

In 1994, I met Lauryn Hill backstage at a Gerald Levert concert in Baltimore.  The Fugees were the opening act in which my father-a keyboardist for Gerald-said they had the smallest room on every stop.  She humbly took the time to chat with my sister and I, two nine year olds, who were fans that kept calling her “Rita.”  In 30 years of being around musicians-legendary and amateur-Lauryn Hill was the nicest of them all.

In 1996, The Score  changed my life.  She bodied her two cameos on Wyclef’s 1997 solo debut, The Carnival (“See the serpent play tricks/run game like the Knicks/build you up just to lose the championship/”).  “If I Ruled the World” and mere adlibs on Cypress Hill’s “Boom Biddie Bye Bye (Remix) built anticipation for the greatest hip hop album of all time: Lauryn Hill’s solo album…so I thought.

The first single for Miseducaion was “Lost Ones,” and “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” followed shortly after.  She was primarily spitting bars and I was pleased.

I had to wait an extra two weeks after the release date for Columbia House to ship the album to my house (Remember those days?!).  By the time I received my copy, “Ex Factor” was the new single; and I expected her to do so, a la “Killing Me Softly.”

I listened to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and felt hoodwinked by the first two singles.  To this day, I REFUSE to listen to “Every Ghetto, Every City,” just to say I have yet to listen to Miseducation in its entirety.  You could have scientific evidence that it is the greatest album of all time and I still wouldn’t.  At thirteen, that evening in September ’98 was when I learned “do not have expectations.”

In the past forty-eight hours, think piece after think piece have cited many of Rita Louise Watson’s faux-pas without looking past the surface.  Yes, being on time is a given when working in the music business.  However, what we love about Lauryn’s artistry is ultimately what has been her tragic flaw.

Social media has made everyone a critic or  writer.  People opine with little-to-no context or experience in the entertainment business.  Because I own the Sister Act 2 DVD, I know that Lauryn Hill and other cast members had a high school graduation ceremony onset because they missed their own.  When we were first introduced to Lauryn, she was sacrificing milestones of her youth for the sake of our entertainment.  If it wasn’t for Salaam Remi’s remix of “Nappy Heads,” Ms. Hill could have been back in Newark, NJ and we’d all wonder “What happened to that girl who played Rita?”

Blunted on Reality flopped and Columbia Records gave The Fugees a minimal budget for their follow-up.  For those who don’t know, often a second album is a chance to recoup the record company’s financial losses from the first.  Clef, Pras, and Lauryn used their cash advance to build a studio and created an album no one expected to sell 17 million copies.

L-Boogie was only twenty-years old and fell in love with her band-mate.  Things got complicated.  After heartbreak, she regrouped, fell in love again, gave birth to a son, channeled it into her creative outlet, and used her platform for others to see themselves in her pain.

What was your life like at twenty-two years old?  More than likely, it was full of ideals and shit had yet to get real.  Yes, Miseducation is a masterpiece that deserves all of its accolades.  Lauryn Hill made an album years above her cognitive, emotional, and spiritual state…even if it is the tales a side-chick.

Because Lauryn sold priceless artwork, the listening public clamored for new music.  People wanted to continue to grow up and with her.  In 2002, Hill released the Unplugged 2.0 album and a couple of singles after.  The Fugees attempted to reunite in 2005; both Pras and Wyclef blamed Lauryn for no album or tour coming to fruition.  Since then, Lauryn has spent eleven years being late to shows and did a bid for not paying taxes (I wanted write her while she was in jail.  But I had a problem channeling my energy into remembering; my heart was in the right place).

At forty years old, Lauryn Hill looks weathered.  She sacrificed her youth for the sake of us.  People are irate because they spent their hard-earned money to see her live.  She has been saying to her fans  “I have given y’all my life,” and all people care about is “When you gonna give us more?”

Hurt people hurt people.  The jilted lover has become the heartbreaker that we, the people, keep giving chance after chance, hoping that things will be different.  For the heartbroken, the love they receive is never enough.  Often, this creates a self-absorbed bubble one lives in; impervious of how their actions affect others.  After nearly 20 years of justifying and hoping for the best, the inevitable breakup has commenced.

Give “Ex Factor” a listen…Lauryn Hill has become the Wyclef she once sang about.

 

Tweet Through It: A Parent’s Experience on an Elementary School’s Spring Concert

It’s Spring Concert Time! My nephew’s elementary school had its annual extravaganza letting us parents and loved ones know what their kids have been up to.

Every Monday, I have dropped my nephew off to Brookside Elementary with his alto saxophone in tow, picked up the same sax at afterschool because he forgot about it; and as recent as this morning, had venture back to his school because he left his at home.

So I had to sit through another one of these shows. While I was and am proud of Cydney and him at these events, I still have to sit through other kids’ crap. Luckily, I have my phone, Twitter, and a following of people wo have enjoyed me tweeting through these experiences. So without further ado, here we do again…

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