Fatherly Advice From One Father to Another Father


My father lives about ten miles away. Yet I don’t get to see him as often as I would like to. We frequently contact each other; but most of those conversations are merely checking in and making sure whomever is on the receiving end of the phone is alright.

Every once in a while, a full-length conversation with my pops is needed. The older I get, the more I realize how much I am just like him. His insights on life from the perspective a similar paradigm with more life experience many times ensures me that I am not crazy.

I spoke to my dad a couple of nights ago. We had been playing phone tag between Monday afternoon and Wednesday night. We talked about life, women, and raising my child.

I told him that within her first three piano lessons, I think that Cydney is a natural. While it may be very early to tell, I think there is a chance that my daughter may have perfect pitch. If she does, that would be close to an anomaly; being that I possess the incredibly rare ability as well.

Dad was elated. “She’s a special one. You just need to keep her busy so that she finds her thing. She’s on level 10 all of the time because she’s just bursting with stuff inside; so she needs to talk all of the time,” he said.

I couldn’t help but laugh at what my father told me. I pictured the million and 17 questions my kid asks me daily and how she is constantly operating on level 10 from the moment she wakes up until she crashes at night.

The conversation became a segue towards a different path of dialog. I paused for a moment and said to the man I once called Trav Murdah: Sometimes I think about this. Cydney is such a special kid and we’ve been through so much, I wonder how things will be different with other ones. Knock-on-wood, one day I’ll get married and have more and she’s just something else.

My dad said “Look, when that day comes, neither one of you will remember these times. You’ll be in the present and it’ll be hard-if not impossible-for you to see the past. I don’t remember you or your sister being Cydney’s age. When I see you at 30, I see you only as you currently are. Unless they’re gone, you will only see her and whoever is around as just that.”

I paused and as much as I could, I related. He was very right. I told my dad “You know, that’s a lot like how I feel about everything that has happened. People often ask me how am I able to move on from Timile. Like, I remember living in Buffalo, and her being around; but that feels like a lifetime ago. I’m not even that same person. So it feels like flashes of thoughts and a distant memory.”

The secret sauce to my ability to constantly move forward is that I don’t look back. If I do, the only reason is to search for context to current problems or prepare for the future. Otherwise, it’s a nice story that I am no longer living.

If life is like a game of chess and your queen has been killed by a silly mistake; why would you constantly dwell about a piece that is no longer there? The smart decision would be to look at what you have on the board, assess and anticipate your opposition’s moves, and figure out a plan to advance without your most powerful piece; or make a way to turn one of your weakest pieces-pawns-into a new queen. You develop this line of thinking, and you can have multiple queens on the board.

The past becomes relative. Our brains move much of the older information into a part of our mind to make room for all that is occurring in the present. The missing pieces allow for logic to fill in, and creates something a little different than what actually happened. We begin to romanticize the past. Fairly fucked up times can become “the good ol’ days” and we miss them.

Constantly reliving distorted views of the past can have adverse effects. People become victims of arrested development like this; in which they’re stuck in a mindset in which trauma happened. Acknowledge that shit happened and do whatever to continue moving forward. Our brains purposefully forget the past so that we aren’t severely depressed. Try your best to keep it there because it is doing its part to protect us all.

Thanks, Dad

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Usher, wil.i.am., and My Daughter


“Do you know who Usher is?” my daughter asks me while getting out of my jeep after six hours of kindergarten-ing. Cydney then said “I like him.”

Always full of surprises, I was curious of trajectory of this conversation. Cydney is really into music. When my child likes a song, she inquires “Who is this singing?” That is usually an indicator that I need to add said song to “Cydney’s Favorite Songs” playlist on Spotify.

In that moment, I quickly scrolled through my mental rolidex of songs I have recently played around Cyd, wondering if I had played any Usher sings in her presence. His eighth album, Hard II Love, had just been released that morning and per a friend’s recommendation, I had been listening to it all day.

My next thought was “What inappropriate song was some dumb five year old singing around my kid that has her innocently asking me of all people if I’m up on Usher Raymond IV?!”

Cydney chimed in “We listen to Usher in class.” Still in parent-mode, I pondered “Okay, I know Cyd’s teacher is amazing with kids and nothing about her says that when she drives off from elementary school, she’s blaring “Lil’ Freak” or “Good Kisser.” Reeling me all the way back in, my five year old tells me “We listen to Usher’s ABC’s from Sesame Street at school.”

I internally sigh with relief and the logical cortex of my brain tells me “Of course, you idiot!”

My daughter’s interest in music is beginning to bud. I love this because I know how much music meant to me when I was her age. My father is a musician and I absolutely loved being around all of that when I was growing up. Now that Cydney is a real kid-not an infant, toddler, or preschooler-she has more of an understanding as well as her own opinion.

At Cyd’s preschool graduation, my daughter confidently walked up to the microphone, introduced herself, and told the room of her peers’ family and friends “When I grow up, I want to be a pop star,” and meant it. She recently started piano lessons and has grasped the rudimentary concepts quick enough for me to really pay attention. After class, she says to me “Do you think that playing the piano will help me with becoming a pop star?” Dead serious.

Last night, while getting ready for bed, Cydney asked me “Daddy, who makes the song ‘wil.i.am.?'”

“wil.i.am.,” I replied. She looked a little confused and retorted “The guy who made the song “wil.i.am.” is wil.i.am.?” Before I could answer back, she began to sing the lyrics to see if I was familiar with the tune she was referring to. I picked up my phone, Googled “wil.i.am.” and the words Cyd sang that I could remember. The first thing to pop up in the search engine was “What I Am,” a song the Black Eyed Peas frontman made with puppets from Sesame Street.

While putting away her dolls that were on her bed, my daughter sang along and danced. I enjoy the moments of seeing Cydney being such a little girl. As soon as it ended, she requested that I play Usher. I perused around Youtube, looking for “Usher+Sesame Street.” The two-week mystery of what song my kid had been talking about now had a title: “Usher’s ABC’s.” I was still a little relieved she wasn’t referring to “No Limit,” a song that she can sing along with some of the chorus.

It was time for Cydney to call it a night. But she had one more song she wanted  me to play for her. “Beyoncé had a song on Sesame Street from when she was a teenager.” That was the moment that I really said “Okay, it’s time for bed, Cydney.”

…my daughter loves Beyoncé.

 

Product of the Recession

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Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Note: this post may not be the most grammatically correct and that is on purpose.

Two nights ago, I was one of 81.4 million people that watch the presidential debate. After thinking to myself “This is taking place down the street from me at Hoftsra University,” a few thoughts ran through my mind. 1) Instead of watching Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, I watched Monday Night Raw with my nephew while playing chess; either show were perfect warm-ups for what I am glued to. B) The back-and-forth bickering of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sounds eerily similar arguments I have had with former girlfriends.

The two front-runners for Head of State gave amazing drama with the fate of the next four years as their backdrop. I listened, laughed, and paid attention to the subtext (I cringed as people like myself were repeatedly referred to as African American…it just didn’t feel right in my spirit). It was all good until the talk of job creation came about.

Donald Trump explained his revamped platform of Reganomics: tax breaks for the rich that are supposed to induce job creation. Hillary Clinton refuted and explained what many of us already know in which this plan obliterates the middle class. Some semblance of the phrase explaining the recession of the late-aughts still leaves a bitter taste in many mouths – including mine.

Many of us are still reeling from the country’s worst economic period since the American stock market crash of 1929. So many factors accumulated into a perfect storm that trickled down to the millenials. While things have become increasingly better, it is very difficult to explain to the generations before us what particularly is going on and why we-millenials-are having a difficult time finding our financial way.

I-and many of us-have heard a variance of “Why don’t you just apply to jobs?” in matter-of-fact-yet-condescending tone. Attempting to have some kind of respect for those before us, we bite our tongues and simply say something along the lines of “I’m a product of the recession.” Eventually, I have learned to rebut this by asking “When is the last time you applied for a job?” After a long pause, the answer is always “A long time ago.” While saying under my breath “So since you don’t know, kindly shut the eff up,” I try to break things down.

Here’s my story. I am 30 years old and graduated from Morehouse College-a very esteemed and renowned institution of higher learning-in 2007. I can think of many people that I matriculated my four years with who are doing some amazing things. To some extent, this includes myself, as well by turning my story into becoming one of the leaders in writing about black fatherhood. I love what I do and am thankful that this passion project of mine has opened up the door for a second career. However, shit is very real out here.

My first job out of college wasn’t at some entry level doing something corporate; I ran the photo department at Walgreens for $7.25 an hour. In Atlanta, that was enough to get by with a roommate and live-in girlfriend; but those student loans I took out had to fall by the wayside. Why didn’t I get some entry level position in Atlanta with as many corporate headquarters in its metropolis? They ALL had hiring freezes.

The second job I attained was working at a mortgage firm October 2008. So what seemed like five years in the making lead to a housing crisis and the people that hired me literally going bankrupt the day before I started. My next job was selling cars in July of 2009. Cash for Clunkers dried up business and I was back to being broke. I had to make my own professional experience and hustled my way into project management.

The problem with having to make your own experience in a time in which everyone is looking for work means that companies can be as picky as they choose. In the days of the internet, a human resources professional can word out thousands of applicants by simply doing a word search, interview a couple of people, hire the one who was referred by a friend, and the answer one gets in return is “You don’t have experience in this setting.” Explaining this to many of my peers, most have sympathetically replied “Yes! This is me!” You can also add to this that one is competing with the 30-50 somethings who were let go and willing to take a pay cut to feed their families? You’re kind of fucked.

As time progressed, so did the interest on my student loans. It’s hard to pay someone $750 a month when you’re already living under your means. So when Sallie Mae Navient calls me about making a payment, I tell them “I know you have a job to do; but I had to choose between paying $700 a month to you all or feeding my daughter. I chose them.” Credit-obliterating debt, the cost of living constantly rising, and many looking out for themselves…what do you do? Hustle and hope for the best.

The silver lining in this all is that The Recession of 2008 has created jobs. They just don’t pay very well, right now. One lesson that always stuck with me from macroeconomics is that cutbacks often lead to some creative people creating new paths. It is still difficult to make ends meet; but I now have two career paths. Right now, neither are paying into a pension; but somehow, I have a feeling that things will continue to work out.

Generation Z is beginning to enter the workforce. They have grown up in a world in which all they know is the internet and being tech-savvy. The way that they have been conditioned to process information means that they will have it much easier than my constituents who are now in their thirties, settling down, and starting families. We’ve become the sacrificial lambs-turned-entrepreneurs.

So…while I’m listened to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump talk about their visions for the future of economic growth, I’m sitting three feet away from a sleeping kindergartner, with fingers typing away on a laptop, thinking “One day this here will all be worth it.”

…This is the very abridged version.

“Why” Are Fathers Receiving Praise For Doing Their Job?

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I was perusing through one of the sites I write for yesterday. While looking for the dates to add to my invoice, I came across a headline and felt inclined to read. The author was inquiring whether or not fathers should receive praise for doing the basics as a parent. I thought it was an insightful read from a perspective that was different from my own.

Fatherhood is often assessed on the equivalent of a learning curve. Dads get excessive props for passing a test with a 65 as if it was a 100. It reminds me of when a high school my science teacher said with all of the conviction in the world “Chad is a solid B student,” as if that is something my mother and father should be proud of. This man with 30+ years of experience in education felt that if I worked to my potential I could be mediocre. That is how fatherhood-black fatherhood-is often perceived; many times by black mothers.

Advertisers have begun throwing dollars and campaigns at viewing fatherhood from a different light. There are commercials and digital content promoting dads doing fatherly things as if it is an anomaly. The question I would like to propose is “Why” as opposed to “Should” fathers receive the “potential to be a solid B student” treatment?

The patriarchs of television are often portrayed as bumbling idiots. With the exception of Heathcliff Huxtable and Danny Tanner, dads are seldom depicted as nurturing. There are many memes and such in which we are made fun as if we are the fun parents that do silly things. We don’t do hair, we leave our offspring to their own devices resulting in them getting into stuff they shouldn’t, or that we throw kids high in the air like we don’t know what we’re doing. Oh…and if you’re a father of color, you aren’t around and don’t pay child support *scratches the surface*.

While studies have reported otherwise-in which statistics mean nothing to the individual-how have so many experiences created this relatively collective paradigm? And why do we spend more time purporting instead of debunking it?

I find it perplexing that often mothers-or fathers-are seen as primary caretakers. If there is a give-and-take-you know…balance-how is one person primary anything; particularly in a two-parent household? Almost everything in society operates in a homeostatic pattern; so does parenting. The archetypes “Momma’s Boy” and “Daddy’s Girl” are just as prevalent as ever, no? That itself contradicts the nurturing and a predominant progenitor for their child than another model often talked about.

In 2016, traditional gender roles are meandering rapidly towards a different path. Many mothers are the bread-winning, career-oriented ones as well as communities of stay at home dads (Note: fathers hate that term). Nonetheless, the individual mindset seems to be slowly evolving with the time; ultimately causing a divide among men and women who already don’t understand each other due to well, science.

I wrote this three months ago and will say it again: I know just as many terrible mothers as I do fathers. However, motherhood is seldom looked at like “She’s a good mother.” If anything, many matriarchs are given more credit than they deserve.

The truth of the matter is that most fathers I know could care less about praise for being a good father; myself included. I personally love seeing more advertising and content displaying fatherhood-especially black fatherhood-because I enjoy seeing a major part of my identity being more often not in a more positive light; but as something that me-we-really are instead of stock characters in a tired narrative.

The Day Both of My Children Were On Television

 

I received a Facebook request on Wednesday that piqued my interest. We didn’t have any friends in common. I clicked on the profile to see who this person was and why they might be interested. They were a producer at daytime talk show, The Real. The Fox show produced a segment based around an article I wrote; I assumed that the show could have been following up on the piece from earlier this summer.

Fall baseball began Friday evening. My nephew’s team were playing in a tournament that was a fundraiser for veterans. It was the team’s first night game and everyone was excited. About halfway trough the game, the boys on the team noticed that the local news channel was at the venue and were filming to air. The camera pointed towards the dugout and these 10 year olds lit up. Everyone knew to look out on News 12 over the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, I received a phone call from the producer at The Real, informing me that another one of my articles had become a subject on the show, and it would be airing Monday. I didn’t know what post they conversed about; but it was something to be excited about.

Monday morning, I set my DVR to record The Real; unsure if I would be able to watch the live airing. I was preparing for a phone interview at 1 pm that would change my life. As I prepared, I was getting a little anxious. To calm myself down, I felt as if watching something about me on national television would help.

I had an idea of the flow of the show and knew that my part would air before the first commercial break. At the six minute mark, I heard my name mentioned and internally lit up. In June, they didn’t mention my name; I was just “a writer.” This time, they said “Chad Milner,” and mentioned “his daughter Cydney.”

@therealdaytime read it because I wrote it…had to catch the retaping; but it originally aired Monday. Note: the article was originally written two years ago. #soccerdadchronicles

A video posted by Chad (@imchadmilner) on Sep 21, 2016 at 5:55am PDT

As Loni Love began quoting my article, the screen went black. I was looking at the screen and thinking “What the hell is going on?!” Fox was interrupting the show for a special news report. New Jersey governor Chris Christie was addressing the people about the bombings that had happened in his state over the weekend. While that was definitely more important than a two year old article about Cydney being the only black kid at soccer (Note: #SoccerDadChronicles Season 4 coming in two weeks). I couldn’t help but laugh. This is the kind of thing that would happen to me. My interview at 1 pm was cancelled because the company couldn’t get in touch with me; stating that my phone went directly to voice-mail (My phone was in my hand the whole time and didn’t ring). I was upset; but I gathered myself and just figured that God had a plan. Minutes later, I was right back to writing on my laptop because there was work to do. Three hours later, I got a text message from one of the mothers from my nephew’s baseball team. She recorded the segment that aired on News 12 about our boys. It was a nine second clip; but they used my nephew! That made my day more than someone talking about me.

A clip of my boy pitching made the local news…

A video posted by Chad (@imchadmilner) on Sep 19, 2016 at 1:30pm PDT

 

That evening, Cyd and my nephew were outside of the house, playing basketball on the hoop I had just put together a few days prior. The rim was lowered to 7.5 and my mother asked Cydney if she could make a shot on that height. My nephew and I both said “Yes, she can.” She missed the first one and made the next two in a row.

I said to my mother “I guess I’m raising two athletes, huh?” While she plays a beyond integral role in making many of the opportunities for the kids; she looked back at me and said “Yeah.”

Virgo

 

“Won’t you come and chill with a Virgo…” Nas

The Autumnal Equinox marks the official end of summer. To me, it means that I have survived another Virgo season.

From August 2012 to April 2016, everyone I have dated or had a non-platonic dynamic with-excluding one-and-a-half-have all been Virgos. By any and all means, this is not an exaggeration.

For nearly four years, I would meet someone, we would show mutual signs of interest, contact each other, the birthday question would surface, and said lady would reply “August/September ___.” It has become a running joke between God and me because I have/had love/hate relationships with almost all of them. As soon as something would be on the verge of ending with one, God would send me another, and we would have the saaaaame dynamic.

As much as they have gotten on my nerves, my favorite women that I have been romantically linked with were Virgos. Timile was a Capricorn; she too was an earth sign and possessed some similar traits; but it was different. I am a Sagittarius; so Virgos and I being as different as night and day made for lots of drama that I would be more than entertained by. When we first met, almost every last one of them would say they can’t stand someone with my astrological sign. I would laugh, tell them that the feeling was mutual, and in time, we proved ourselves to be correct.

We would have a lot in common; but we were just different and I liked that. However, we often would butt heads because they were very emotional and I’m the opposite. Many of the times I would simply joke around with them, they would take it personally; and I would have to reassure them “Look, this is just me. I talk a lot of shit.”

The fun in the drama was the constant one-upmanship. Every Virgo woman I dated thought that they were the most calculated and manipulative person. Because I don’t like being put into a box, I would observe their behavioral patterns, and completely switch things up on them. Virgos are over-thinkers; just like me. However, for all of their planning and calculating, they often made an emotional decision in haste, continuing the perpetual cycle of living in their mind. There was always a need for order and they all had professions that matched their almost OCD-like need for order. I always wanted to burst their bubble.

I remember having a conversation at my nephew’s Christening in 2007. This was the first time that Timile had come to New York and met my family. We were in my mother’s kitchen conversing with my aunt, who mentioned that she was a Virgo. Timile mentioned that her mother was one, also. Timile talked about how manipulative and calculating her mother was. I just sat, listened, and held onto all of this information; feeling as if this would become useful information at another point in my life.

Four years later, I would be in the midst of a custody battle with my “in-laws,” spearheaded by a meticulous plan orchestrated by Cydney’s maternal grandmother. With help from Timile’s family, I took too much pleasure in seeing her face at me showing up to a hearing to have legal rights to my daughter. This woman had planned for over six months how she would operate to get me-someone she never liked-out of her life. So watching her blood boil and utter words of frustration in complete gave me a rush that can’t be rivaled by too many other sensations in life. Mrs. Brown couldn’t stand me because she too couldn’t put me into a box that fit her paradigm.

I now know the Virgo like the back of my hand (Looks and observes a new cut that wasn’t there yesterday). For the first time in years, this Virgo season was drama-free. I’m still friends with quite a few of these women. Everyone we meet is a segue for the rest of our lives and I am truly thankful for the lessons that I have learned along the way. Truth be told, they have been some of the most influential people in shaping my worldview since 2011.

The Summer’s Over

 

 

“The summer’s over and and we’re watching the sun finally set.  It seems like forever; but forever’s here.”

While I had heard the song several times prior, I never really listened to PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “East Liberty” until that mid-September afternoon. The song summed up the evening perfectly. I was driving on the Hutchinson Parkway in the Bronx, making the trip home to Long Island from Yonkers. I ignored all text messages from my phone.

This was the first of many fall excursions that were dubbed “Sunday Fundays.” The dating dynamic between a girl whose nickname was Fly Light Skin and I had been over; but we enjoyed each other’s company enough to do brunch at the Royal Coach Diner on the corner of Gun Hill and Boston Road. After I dropped her off, I would head to Westchester County to watch football with my long-time friend, Kalique, while our daughters played.

I flat ironed my daughter’s hair the night before and this was an internal invitation for her to be a girly-girl that day. Fly Light Skin was one as well and I think Cydney liked the idea of having an adult woman to do that kind of stuff with. I took the two of them to get their nails done and we all went to our dining spot after.

FLS gave my child a hand mirror and that little girl was obsessed with it. She looked at her reflection and brushed her hair all afternoon. I captured the moment and posted it on Instagram; not paying attention to the purse in the right corner of the shot.My phone vibrated with social media notifications for the rest of the evening.

While leaving the Bronx, I observed a certain person liked the picture on Facebook. I chuckled to myself for a moment because I knew the person all too-well. She almost never comments on my pictures; but she did on this one. Nothing was ever coincidence with her; so I paid very close attention to this break in her typical behavioral pattern.

The cross-country trip across the lower New York peninsula is about a 25 minute drive. By the time I exited off the expressway onto Yonkers Ave, I received a text message from my Facebook friend I had a checkered history with, to say the least.Even in this brief moment of being direct, she was communicating passively. I smirked and left the message unread.

While watching the Giants game, I told Kalique about the day. Every Sunday began with a synopsis about the never-ceasing drama that is my life outside of parenting. My longtime friend inferred that while there seems to be an ever-present amount of discord around me, I am always calm and in control. The way he said it was a lot more profanity-laden; but that’s what he meant. I think a direct quote was “Chad, you are the muthafuckin’ puppet master.”

I had to laugh at my consigliere because it’s very true. This evening was the moment that I realized it. I believed it before; but this was the day that I was truly convinced. I let all parties I interact with that day feel as if they were making the decisions. If and when they felt like they no longer wanted to deal with me, I created an environment that made them feel as if they were calling the shots. “They’ll be back” I would think to myself.

I operate in this manner because it’s easier. You can tell people what they want to hear or directly make a decision for them. However, they will not listen until they come to the conclusion themselves…I’ll just facilitate the process.

As we continued to shoot the shit, FLS sent me two or three text messages. I wanted to enjoy the game in peace with two of my boys I have known since middle school in peace.  I needed a little peace from everyone. Texts often lead the interpreter to jump to conclusions, especially when there is a non-platonic dynamic between men and women. My Samsung was on silent like I ain’t need the stress (For all of my PARTYNEXTDOOR fans).

It seemed like my Facebook friend always came around when things were ending with someone. Her reemergence always signified the beginning of the end. On an unconscious level, I probably let it happen. I always let her back in. Even if or when people knew of her, she always flew under everyone’s radar.

That was last fall. This summer, the same thing happened. The cast of characters have changed and the situations even more interesting; with the exception of one person. The summer is over…

There was supposed to be some kind of existential tale to take away from this. I guess that went out the window for me to just tell another story.

 

Remembering B.I.G. 20 Years After the Death of Tupac Shakur

It’s only right I used the pic with the Morehouse shirt

Deuteratagonist: the second most important character to a protagonist that may switch from being with or against the protagonist, depending on the plot or conflict.  There is no better word to describe the dynamic of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace in their individual Greek tragedies.

Today marks the 20th year that many of us remember where we were when word was widely publicized that Tupac succumbed from his gunshot wounds (Slow clap for that alliteration).  No one thought twice about Pac dying from the drive-by that occur ed on September 7th.  Like he did two years prior, everyone thought the rapper would survive from his wounds; until it actually happened.  September 13th has become a day of remembrance for generations x and y, as we universally and collectively play tracks from Shakur’s extensive catalog.

This morning, I watched the newly-released trailer for the upcoming biopic of Shakur, All Eyez on Me.  In the less than two minute clip, the producers included a dialog between contemporaries Pac and B.I.G., portrayed by actors Demetrius Shipp Jr. and Jamal Woolard.  I immediately switched from my Spotify playlist entitled “Pac,” and opted to listen to The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die.

Two September 13th’s before Makavelli’s passing, Frank White’s debut album was released.  Ready to Die hit New York City like a typhoon.  There was no such thing was being anywhere within the five boros and not hearing one of its 17 tracks-or one of the remixes-blaring from a tape deck, radio, or a lyric being quoted in everyday conversation. I won’t delve into this anymore; there are hundreds of thousands of words dedicated to the greatness and impact of the album with the chubby baby with the afro on the cover.

One can’t tell the story of the Thug Poet and King of New York without heavily mentioning the other.  Their careers and legacies have been intertwined since their respective beginnings.  The majority of the public was introduced to both emcees between 1991 and ’92.  When Heavy D and the Boyz performed on In Living Color, Tupac-who was well known in hip hop circles but not a household name-can be seen dancing on the stage right next to Puff Daddy, who had already signed the Brooklyn emcee.  There were a few issues of The Source magazine and see pictures of the two as they stood side-by-side and grimaced for the camera with middle fingers up.

Both rappers heavily alluded to dying young.  They either spoke it into existence or inherently knew their life’s work wouldn’t have their significance until they left earth.

While revolving around the use of words, rap is a competitive sport.  In time, the closest allies become almost always adversaries.  In just about every era, there are two that stand out more than the rest of the pantheon.  Collaborative freestyles with “My nigga B.I.G. right beside me” become “If Fay had twins, she’d prolly have two Pacs.”  There could only be one king and both knew it.

In spite of being ready to die, both Shakur and Wallace are proof that there’s life after death.  Their words and influence have lived on 20 years after both were gunned down.  In less than six months, we will all play “Hypnotize” repeatedly, just as the kids did on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn during B.I.G.’s final ride through his neighborhood.  And on March 9, 2017, there will be some written words about a connection between these two deuteratagonists as well.

So on this day, throw some ice for the nicest emcees. *cues “I Get Around” to follow “Unbelievable”*

 

 

The First Day of Kindergarten

 

Day one.
I attended Kindergarten at Allen Christian School on Merrick Boulevard in the St. Albans area of Queens, NY.  Of my first day, my sister and I walked into the classroom, we met our teacher, her assistant, and a fresh box of Legos were opened for the new students to play with.  In my mind, I can still recall the face of one of the plastic figures in that play set.  If that was September 1990, my mother and I were both across the street from 31 years old when our children first started “real” school.

Cydney began kindergarten last Tuesday.  On Labor Day, her excitement was on level 12.  I was surprised at how easy it was to get her ready for bed that evening.

My little girl woke up the next morning, bright eyed, and adrenaline rushing.  Both she and my nephew were ecstatic about the first day.  My boy is starting fifth grade; and it is the only year that both Cydney and he will be enrolled at the same institution.  My mother, sister, and I walked the block-and-a-half to their elementary school.

I lined up with Cydney in front of the entrance where Kindergarten enters.  There was a nervous anticipation in the eyes and faces of the teachers, students, and parents.  Moms and dads looked at their five and six year olds with pride as they took pictures with their phones.  You could see that every parent was in their feelings.  Someone probably wept in their car.

I wasn’t very emotional about Cydney beginning Kindergarten; but the day was surreal.  A little over six years to the day, Cydney’s mother and I packed up all of our belongings and cats, and drove from Atlanta to New York with five heartbeats in a U-Haul.  Life is extremely different from what Timile Brown and I imagined what our little London Milner’s-that was the original name we agreed on for Cydney-life would be like.  The eighteen month year old I decided to share with the world was at a big-kid school.

When school let out at 3pm, my mother and I greeted Cyd at her teacher’s door.  The first thing that the instructor said to me is “Cydney is hilarious and has a lot of personality!  I’m going to have to stay on my toes with this one.”  All my mother and I could do was laugh because that was a very accurate statement.  We chuckled and Cydney began to yell about how amazing her day was.

Day two.

The second and third days of school went off without a hiccup.  Friday started off like Tuesday through Thursday; until I picked her up.  I was greeting to a tears and a weeping daughter.  Cydney’s teacher in a very un-alarmed tone told me that there was a little girl drama between my daughter and another child.  I could help but chuckle because that sounded about right.  The adults knew that everything would be just fine and blow over by Monday morning; but the girls acted as if it was the end of the world.  The other little girl involved was bawling and wanted her dad.

Day three.

During the whole five minute trip home, Cydney sniffled and told me that her new-and-former-friend was upset and it was her fault.  I inquired about what happened and Cyd said she didn’t remember.  Eventually, my child told me that the little girl said she didn’t want to be Cydney’s friend anymore.  “You don’t need to be my friend anymore.  You can just be free and play by yourself!”  I was too proud.  At five years old, Cydney Moriah Milner knows how to shut shit down.  This apple didn’t fall far at all.

Day four.

It’s a brand new week.  I am all but certain that the two little girls will be friends again.  Cyd excitedly skipped to the line to resume school.  As she walked in the door, I told her “Have a good day!”  She waved back and said “Okay!”