Category Archives: Guest Posts

Book Excerpt: Poetic Justice

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To commemorate reaching the 40,000 views mark: Here’s one of the short stories from the book I’m working on…

Poetic Justice: Cydney My Wingman

“Nigga don’t approach her with that Atari, nigga, that ain’t good game, homie, sorry/ They say conversation rule a nation, I can tell/ But I could never right my wrongs ‘less I write it down for real/”-Kendrick Lamar

A few months ago I wrote a post based on this book/study called “Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others.”  My bachelor’s degree is in psychology after nearly three years of majoring in business management because I was seriously considering a career in marriage counseling.  What I love about music is how it makes people feel.  We hear certain songs and lyrics that triggers emotions related to the song.  My love of music and the most common theme and motivation of composers-love- inspired me to study how people interact with those they often feel the way that these songs often conjure.  Since then, I’ve always had an interest in articles like this.  I found this post to be an interesting read.  After interviewing over 3,000 subjects they had an empirical study and the results intrigued me.

In the last part of the article, John T. Molloy gave bullet points about single fathers and widowers.  What stood out the most to me was that he stated “Single fathers with young children have little or no energy for a social life.” (2014)  I laughed at this because it is beyond true.  I don’t have the time or the energy to waste on being social.  I’m not going to chase any woman around for months or spend every weekend I can be out and about—I have a daughter.  In the context of dating and relationships I know what works for me and what doesn’t.  It doesn’t take me long to see it will work out or not.  I will also not lead someone on for months just because I am lonely and sometimes need the company.  I’d rather be by myself or doing dad stuff with Cydney.

My friends know that they will not see me unless it is someone’s birthday or a special occasion.  No one holds that against me.  Everyone also knows that if I am dating someone and there is potential for taking them seriously that if I get one free night a month, it goes to her.

I take Cydney with me everywhere.  Cydney has come with me to happy hours, birthdays, barbeques where we’ve got home late, and she is my traveling buddy.  It’s to the point now that if I am out without her, people ask where she is.  She is a part of my crew of constituents and when she isn’t there to be part of the revelry her presence is missed.   Because Cydney comes with me almost every time I’m out, when I meet women she’s with me.  Cydney is in fact my wingman.  She’ll scout around and if she feels up to it, she will let her presence be known to said girl knowing that I have to follow behind her and in some capacity introduce myself.

One time, I was in Harlem with some of my college friends watching the Knicks game.  Towards the end of the third quarter, Cydney got tired of sitting on my lap and hanging with us.  She got up, walked over to the neighboring table where two pretty girls were sitting and started watching the game with them.  She introduced herself, and sat there as if she’d known them.  She started eating their food and they were talking to Cydney all while having a good time.  I apologized to the girls and they said it was alright.  I brought Cydney back to my table and she went right back over there.  Had I felt like it, I could have made that work for me.  But I wasn’t that interested.  Cydney has done this many times.

Not only is Cydney my wingman, she’s the gatekeeper.  She’s the boss who makes the approval on whom I hang around with and who I don’t.  I’ve taken Cydney out with me on dates and in a fairly passive way she will make her opinion on the person known.  Usually, she will pretend that she’s tired, lay her jacket or coat on the floor, and pretend to go to sleep.  That means she’s over it.  If we walk into a room and she’s never met anyone in there before, she knows who are the people I am close to, interested in, or dating.  I think it’s just her intuition being strong because she’s young and she just can pick up on a vibe.  Maybe she sees how I look at them, they look at me, or they say “Hi” to her very differently.

The same night Cydney introduced herself to the table of girls my friends and I walked across the street and went to another bar to watch the rest of the playoff games.  We sat at a table and throughout the evening many people-girls included-came and joined us.  Cydney gave everyone the same kind of attention. She let everyone hold her and take pictures with her as well.  Towards the end of the night when we were leaving this establishment another girl had come in there and joined us.  She definitely caught my eye because she was gorgeous.  Something about her looked familiar.  I asked her if she went to Spelman College, the historically black all girls college across the street from my alma mater.  She said that she did.  I asked her “What year did you graduate?”  She replied “2008.”  I told her that my girl graduated that same year.  She asked who was it and I said “Timile Brown,” knowing that as soon as I said that name to anyone at Spelman who graduated in 2008 they knew who she was—the girl who recently died from cancer.  She nodded her head and said she knew her.  She didn’t really hear me and I could tell from the body language.

As we all walked out I pulled up a picture and showed her.  She gasped and her jaw dropped.  She said “Oh my God!  I had classes with her.  The day she died I cried over the phone with a mutual friend of both of ours.  She realized that the little girl I had with me was the Cydney, Timile’s daughter.  She began to well up and said that she needed a moment with Cydney.  She picked Cydney up, walked off with her, and said something to her.  Maybe she didn’t say anything.  What I was paying attention to was how my daughter looked at her.  Cydney looked her dead in the eyes and they bonded.  It was as if she had imprinted on this girl she’d just met.  It was a look I hadn’t seen Cydney give anyone except Timile.  I was very taken aback and didn’t let it be known that I in fact was having my own moment watching this.

I offered to give her and one of my other friends a ride to their next location.  It was time for Cydney and me to go home.  I walked and talked with my friend the two or three block walk back to the car while the girl carried Cydney and their moment extended to minutes.  She and I talked in the car.  She said that if I ever needed someone to watch Cydney that she would be more than happy to do so.  I didn’t take that seriously because every girl I’ve met who has found out that I am a windowed father has offered that.  In fact, I almost write off anyone who says that the first time I’m out and they meet her.  I just said “okay,” we exchanged numbers, and became friends.  As we would go back and forth talking on the phone or through text message she would ask questions about Cydney.  I could tell that she was actually interested in my daughter and kept saying that she wanted to take her on a “girl date.”  I said “ok” halfway still writing it off.

After she and I had hung out a few times just the two of us I told her I would arrange for the two of them to meet so that she could get to know Cydney.  She lived in Manhattan, but coached children’s soccer not too far from where I live in Long Island.  The girl had suggested that Cydney and I meet here out there and I said that I couldn’t make it, or that I wouldn’t; one or the other.  I took the bus out there with Cydney in her stroller.  The girl said that she looked up at me and was thinking to herself “Who is this one black person out here?”  As we got closer she saw I had Cydney with me and she was too excited to meet her again.  This was how Cydney and Neighbour became friends.

Neighbour once said to me that we first became friends because of Cydney…Regardless of whether or not Cydney was there I was leaving that night with her number.

I Wanna Be Where You Are: Michael Jackson and the Pursuit of What We Can’t Have

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Here’s another excerpt from the book that I have been working diligently on.  With today marking the five year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death I thought this would be a good one to post…

I Wanna Be Where You Are

“It’s not my thing trying to get back. But this time, let me tell you where I’m at.”-Michael Jackson

Until I was about seven years old you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going to be Michael Jackson. Singing on stages since a kid and being the world’s greatest entertainer was my mission in life. I wanted my parents to have three other kids so that we could be like the Jackson 5. I used to draw pictures of it all the time and I was the lead singer, of course.  What looks glamorous is almost always a façade. The things we covet only seem bright when light is reflecting off of it. Gold is just an element no different than the oxygen we breathe. We give the former so much value as something it literally is the foundation of all that we work for while the latter is what keeps us alive. We value what we can’t have. We put a premium on chasing something we make ideal and consider it the pursuit of happiness. We seek gold-or currency-relentlessly while taking advantage of the inhaling and exhaling that make this possible. We don’t even think about how important air is until it’s being taken away from us.

As much as Michael Jackson was and is loved not many ever considered the pain behind the singing voice. The boy, who became the breadwinner for his family, never grew up, and he died trying to find middle ground between the two. He gave so much that it literally killed him. And after all of the money made and the music we will always remember he never got the one thing he always wanted: a childhood.

Once Michael became an adult he would tell interviewers stories about how he would be stuck in studio sessions. He would look outside, seeing all of the kids play, and would cry because that’s what he wanted to do. Unlike his other brothers, all he knew what music because he had been working as hard as an adult since he was five. Meanwhile, his brothers were older and they got to spend those formative years scraping their knees, playing sports, and all of the above. Michael became obsessed with his childhood. Children became his life outside of working and since he had more money than any of us could imagine he spent it on doing kid stuff. He made his home an amusement park where children who were sick could have a moment in their life being happy doing the one thing he never could. The trade-off was that he got to live vicariously through them. His work ethic supported this.

His pursuit of happiness failed him as a few of those children betrayed the part of his mind that hadn’t developed-and became child-like naiveté-and he was labeled a freak. But everyone who was calling him that and treating him like one were all people who had a childhood. They didn’t understand being six years old going to school in the morning, rehearsals right after in which if you didn’t nail moves with precision you got whippings, walking off said whippings, just to perform at strip clubs, get home at 2 am, and do it all over again. The people the crucified him had the one thing Michael Joseph Jackson would have traded almost everything in the world to have.

I get it. Becoming a single father wasn’t the plan. It just happened. I can’t be mad because ultimately the road that I have traveled was made just for me. I’m twenty-eight years old; yet I have had life experiences that many do not until they are much older, and I am caught somewhere between rectifying and enjoying what is left of my youth and the responsibilities of being someone’s father. I don’t get to hang out much. Whenever I do, it requires a lot of planning and negotiation. By the time it happens I’m tired and it isn’t even worth it. Many of the times when I do get to go out and have a good time with adults I bring Cydney with me. This means I can’t stay out late because I have to get my little one home.

One of the last conversations that I had with my grandmother who recently passed away will always stick with me. As we watched Jersey Girl-a movie that just happened to be on about a single father to a little girl whose wife died-she said to me that she wants more out of life for me. “I want more for you than just taking care of children, [sick], and old people. You’re twenty-seven years old. These are the best years of your life.” She and all of her wisdom had hit the nail on the head of everything that I was feeling; yet I couldn’t explain to anyone in my inner circle because they couldn’t understand. My parents get it in theory; but they raised their children in a way and with a life that would be deemed “normal.”

That was the summer of 2013. I pretty much spent the whole summer doing family stuff, being home with the kids, helping my mother who was undergoing chemo for the second time because her cancer had come back, and wanting nothing more than to take Neighbour on a date. There is nothing like summer in New York City. Places to go, everyone is outside, parties on rooftops with an awesome view that don’t end until 4 am, and more skirts to chase than one who hasn’t been here could imagine (they liked being chased too). As I am at home, loving all of the aspects of being a father to my little girl, I’d look at my phone in the same way a young Michael Jackson would look out the window just wanting togo out and play. I would rather be at home raising my kid and doing all of the amazing dad stuff that I write about; but a few nights would have been nice.

I work from home. Up until two months ago, Cydney was at home with me all day. I wouldn’t-and still don’t-have much adult human interaction on a daily basis that doesn’t consist of being on my phone.  That is probably one of the worst things that could happen to a widower’s psyche than basically being by themselves for two years after their other half dies. The only two people who have “got me” fully since December 9, 2011 were my grandmothers. It’s great to have people that get you; it just sucks that what you have in common other than genetics is losing a spouse. They would both say “All you’re left with are memories” that you pretty much relive every day.  My grandmothers were able to smile saying that because in their old age they have lived. There is more past to reflect on than future to look forward to. With me it’s the opposite. Writing this at 6 am on Father’s Day is when it has just clicked why I have pretty much been on a downward spiral since one of them died in February: I lost one of two people who understood what I have been going through. While we didn’t talk very much because she knew that it was hard for me to sit around and see another person dying; she got it when we did.

While I am coveting and chasing some semblance of what is left of my free spirit fulfilled, I know many who are my age and want what I’ve had or currently have. There’s a price for this. Truthfully speaking they aren’t ready. For all of the writing and pictures that I post making parenting look awesome-which it is-means sacrificing of self and it isn’t easy. I’ve had conversations with a friend or have seen them visibly worn from working all of the time and have thought “I wish I had your problems. Solving the riddle of your life would be easy.” Of course I can say that because after going through what I’ve been through it is. Then again, my parents and older people could say the same about me too because I damn sure don’t have it all figured out. I say this to say that we all wish for what we don’t have. We want something different regardless of paying a price we couldn’t afford and if we really had the opportunity wouldn’t. Knowing how that movie played out, I wouldn’t want to be Michael Jackson anymore. Sure I may not really get to date or have the freedom to do as I please spur of the moment; but the life I’ve lived is by all means amazing.

One thing I thought about the night that Timile was diagnosed with cancer was “The hardest thing in life I am ever going to go through is happening while I am twenty-five years old. Things will only get better from here.” I told this to my grandmothers and they both said “You’re right!” When I’m their age I will see that my thirties and forties are still my youth. They may not be as wild as one’s twenties are but I’ll do my partying then. I’ll also make a killing off of giving my friends and their friends advice because they will have just started becoming parents.

First Book Excerpt: I Still Love You

As I stated last week I have been in the process of writing a book.  I just finished this essay and something in me is saying I should share this rough draft.  I don’t have a title just yet, but enjoy…

I Still Love You:

“I remember when we first fell in love.  I was too young to know what it was.  I couldn’t address what made me melt.  But quick to tell you how I felt.  That love was so real; and it still is.”-Kameelah Williams

When I first started writing this compilation of essays the magic number in my head was to write somewhere between ten and twenty of them.  The latter of those numbers stuck; and then I decided to make it twenty-five with a foreword.  Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I first started writing.  I have completed twenty-two and I have the concept behind the other three.  As I am beginning to revise edits and writing the first paragraph of “Rooftops,” 702’s ‘I Still Love You’ begins to play in my head and I have to write about it.

‘I Still Love You’ was released my senior year of high school.  It was the tail end of The Neptunes’ three year tear churning out pop hits for just about everyone.  Their trademark synth strings and the plucking of a guitar made a very simple melody.  The difference in this and just about every other track they had on albums and all over radio at the time were the drums.  It was a booming kick drum with lots of reverb and the clap one would recognize from Clipse’s ‘Grindin’.’  The track didn’t move around a lot and made for the melody of the words to stand out yet blend in nicely.  I was weeks away from graduation, and heading to Atlanta.  I was ready to leave everything I knew in New York not knowing-yet speculating-what was next for me.

Eleven years later I’m listening to the song while writing essays answering the questions that Chad Milner at seventeen may have had.  My three year old daughter is sitting to my left drinking a Capri Sun playing with the travel bag that houses her soccer goal.  Funny how that works.

I was writing about Timile, Cydney, and I first moving to Buffalo.  I pictured Timile chopping all of her hair off and styling it one last time before chemo made it fall out.  The short haircut made her feel good in spite of the fact that there was a feeding tube protruding out of her abdomen which six weeks earlier was poking out because a baby was in there.  The brief moment of feeling like she looked good was because most of the time Timile looked at me and wondered what I thought of her.  All I ever saw was the twenty-one year old girl with hair all the way down her back and bangs.  That moment in a black robe while holding Cydney is what made me think about that moment.  Not sure how things were going to go during this next leg of our journey I don’t know if I was any more in love with her than in that moment.  Just when she felt the least attractive was when I was craziest about her.

*Takes break from writing to clean off said child who at three still doesn’t want to be potty trained and has gone number two in her underwear.  Not diapers…underwear.*

Okay, where was I…Every once in a while Timile would say something to me inferring how I felt about her.  She would show some glimpse of insecurity in her words.  Reading behind the lines I could she wanted to know if my eyes wandered and even if this was all she’d be for fifty years would looking at what she thought was hideous was enough.  She just wanted to know that I found her desirable.  I did.  She was the mother of my child and while we weren’t married, she was my wife.  Timile would even slip dilaudid-which is stronger than morphine-into my drinks because I guess that’s the only way she assumed I would have sex with her.  Bald headed and weighing eighty-eight pounds she was still my dream girl.

One of the moments when I felt the saddest was one September evening.  Timile was staying at the hospital for a few days because that happened every three weeks or so.  One day after work I was sitting by the bed and we were watching something on TV.  A commercial came on that had something to do with children.  Timile paused and said very casually “You know, at this point I wouldn’t mind having a second child.” Shit.  I’ve had my heart broken quite a few times in my life; but nothing had ever crushed me like that one sentence.  I was hurt because since Timile had undergone chemo, even if she were to survive her bout with cancer she would never be able to have another child.  That was the moment when shit got real.  That was the moment it really hit me that Timile wasn’t making it out of this.

While I died several deaths, and visited all seven layers of hell in Dante’s Inferno within seconds; I looked at Timile Brown with a smile on my face and said “I told you you’d be ready to do it again!  I gave you eighteen months.  Cydney isn’t even a year yet and you got baby fever!”  She laughed and said “You’re right.”  The moment was over and the conversation shifted immediately.

 

I took the long way home that night.  I took Timile’s weed; smoked two pretty huge blunts back to back, and lapped around the whole city of Buffalo before I went home and passed out when I got home.  It weighed so heavily on my spirit I didn’t know what else to do.

 

What may come off as a weakness is almost often a strength.  Had I shown that what Timile had said crushed me our evening would have been morbid and filled with tears and long-term lingering thoughts.   I made a joke, let the moment end with a smile, and while she never mentioned it again it played in my head repeatedly.  She didn’t need to know that, though.

In physics one of the first things you learn is that energy cannot be created or destroyed; they are just transferred or converted or something like that (it’s been a while but that sounds accurate).  If a ton of bricks fall from the sky and hit the ground that energy gets absorbed and it vibrates.  That vibration turns into something that I would have learned in Physics 102 but I was a business major so whatever (an earthquake?).  Emotions work the same exact way.  Some people absorb others’ hurt and pain by internalizing it; and it manifests itself in other outlets.  Whatever is receiving force does not externally show any signs of stress or affect whether it be the ground getting pounded by bricks or a person listening to another’s inner most thoughts.  With that said, at this point in life I’m okay with my role in people’s lives.

With all that was going on around me was it easy to love Timile and not take care of myself?  Yes.  I made a choice.  There was no looking back.  For those who mix love up with a bunch of other things I will say it again: it’s an action.  You make a decision to love someone.  “Falling” in love is bullshit.  Maybe you “fall” into it because one unconsciously makes a choice.  Once one puts their mind to doing something, it’s pretty easy.  It may be difficult to make it a habit at first, but eventually it becomes second nature.

Timile and I had fought many times during our time together.  When we broke up and she started a relationship with someone else in Virginia I could have said to myself “This is gonna hurt for a second but I can’t do this anymore.”  By that time, I was on autopilot.  Timile wasn’t quite sold on us working out many times.  She had even convinced herself that I wasn’t someone she would marry.  Me?  I was making shit happen regardless of what she thought or wasn’t sure of.  There aren’t many things that I think can’t accomplish.  I believe in myself that much and I am arrogant enough to say my track record backs this up.

By the time Timile was who I described her to be at the beginning of this essay I was prepared to love our family through it.  I had been given tests of patience and adversity with this one person.

I’m going to end this right here….I can’t really think of a way to end this.  Confirming that this essay needs to end here is that Cydney who is in her high heel slippers and a Cinderella dress is holding her hand out and asking for me to dance with her.  I may even leave this one unedited and publish the rough draft.

MommyNoire: Helping My Daughter Find Someone As Good As Her Dad

MommyNoire: Helping My Daughter Find Someone As Good As Her Dad

I’ve delved into this a little bit here on my blog.  Here’s an article I wrote for MommyNoire’s DaddySpeaks page based on a recent interaction I had.

Father’s Day

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The last week has been pretty hectic.  Between writing and participating in a few projects for Father’s Day, continuing my efforts in looking for a new career, some novel writing, and of course Cydney; I have been going to sleep at 5AM and waking up at 8AM every day.  I didn’t even get around to writing my post that I had in mind on Friday.  I’ll save the idea for next year.

About two weeks ago, I was contacted by a journalist at TheRoot.com about possibly doing a profile piece on their page for father’s day.  She had been following the blog for some time.  Since then, we’ve had phone and in person interviews with myself and observations of Cydney and I in our element; lots of going through old paperwork, and many gchat conversations going good and into dusk verifying information to make her story as compelling and objective as possible.  She made attempts to get in touch with Timile’s parents, but spoke to other friends and family for insight were around for the whole ordeal.   I didn’t tell too many people about it because I didn’t want to get our hopes up because from previous experiences I know that not all articles make publications.

My plans on Saturday didn’t work out as I thought they would.  As I sat outside of Penn Station in Manhattan waiting for my 12:39AM train and a little over an hour to go, Diana send me a text saying “We’re LIVE!!!!! I hope you like it!”  Before that, to say I was irate is an understatement.  For the moment, my mood changed instantly.  I read the article that we both work hard on was on the front page of a major publication owned by the Washington Post.  Wow.

I read the article twice and called Diana back.  I told her I loved it and really appreciated her not only caring enough to write about Cydney and I, but for getting it.  That made being able to rest and spend the unofficial “Dads do nothing all day except receive a tie and barbecue day” much sweeter.  As much as that meant, the highlight of my Father’s Day: Cydney told me three times she had to go to the bathroom before having an accident (Two number ones and one number two!).  Minutes after I tweeted how excited I was that she only had one accident, she had another one.  That was a symbol.  Take a moment to enjoy this and then its back to work!

…btw, I will delve into detail about that last paragraph in Watch the Throne: Potty Training  pt. 9 on Wednesday.

Here is a link to the article.  Written by Diana Ozembhoya Eromosele, editorial fellow at TheRoot.com and owner of and the creator and executive producer of a web show that examines pop culture called Lectures to Beats:www.lecturestobeats.com.

Podcast of Earnest Womack Show

Hey everyone! While on my extended vacation in Atlanta I had the opportunity to get on my good friend E-Dub’s (as we call him) radio show. We talked about the blog and answered questions about parenting and fatherhood in general. Here is a link to the podcast. It’s the 10/30 one, and I come on at about the halfway mark. Earnest Womack Show You can also catch the show every Tuesday from 7-9pm at www.sensationstationnetwork.com Enjoy and please let me know what you think.

Ay yo, Be a Father

One of the things that’s happened by me entering the realm of blogging, and specifically fatherhood blogging, is that I’ve sought out other blogs. I have the “reader” section of WordPress set to grab all blog posts categorized with “fatherhood”, and I’ve signed up to follow a number of fatherhood blogs. I’ve enjoyed this just as much as writing my own blog…I’ve gotten to connect with some good folks and learn some things along the way as well.

I think we all have our little twists to how we do it, but in general many of the fatherhood blogs are similar in nature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Part of connecting with other fathers is to see how they describe and react to situations we all go through as fathers/parents – the toilet training stories, going to the ballgame, the funny things our kids say, and the shenanigans…

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