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Father’s Day Hangover Pt. 2

One of the cards I received Sunday…

​Maybe one of my favorite all-time movie dads, King Jaffe Jofer was right when he said “There is a thin line between love and nausea.” I wake up with a hangover every Monday after Father’s Day. I wonder if I’m the only person who feels like this. It’s possible so much recognition causes my body to go into shock and it needs to recover.
The gifts, the BBQ’s, brunches, and what have you are all cool (I’m jealous of you rare dads that get to have alone time that weekend). The reason why Father’s Day means so much to us patriarchs is very simple: validation for our work.

In spite of some issues, Father’s Day was amazing. My daughter Cydney wanted to have a barbeque for me and my favorite people-unfortunately my dad couldn’t make it-in attendance. My nephew wanted to try lemon pepper wings; I made that happen and he loved them. I taught Cydney how to ride a two-wheel bike. I got cards with handwritten notes from my kids and my best friend…and I contributed to a video for Attn: that racked over 100k views. My work was working.

Over the past week, I have been giving the word validation a substantial amount of thought. My good friend, K-Star made a joke in our group chat and it resonated with me. After every clever quip he made, he followed with “Good one, K-Star.” I thought it was brilliant.

K went on to say that he had been giving himself hi-fives all week and it made him feel great. Somewhere between finding it funny and believing my friend, I gave it a shot. I first tried it in the group chat and it felt pretty good. I then tried it out in real life. While working at my desk at a job I’m not too enthralled about, I gave myself these little hi-fives after completing each task. 

K-Star pointed out the elusive obvious, or the thing that was right in front of us and we didn’t see it. How often do we validate ourselves? More often than not, people tend to let their insecurities drive them. Our brains are wired to unconsciously push us into circumstances for us to say “I knew I was _____! See?!” The balance to this is that people have a slightly exaggerated viewpoint of themselves as well. For as much as we try to coerce ourselves into thinking we aren’t good enough, we do the same to say “I am great.”

More often than not, we look outward for this validation. There is nothing wrong with that because we are human creatures. However, we tend to neglect the person who matters the most: us. 

An hour after K shared his epiphany, I felt amazing. As a very competitive person, I wanted to keep finding things to do to tell myself “Good one, Chad.” My mood changed. I began to ask better questions and finish tasks in record time at work. My writer’s block completely went away and I began to pen a fairly ambitious project. Something as simple as giving myself an inner hi-five was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

By the time Sunday came along, external validation had greater intrinsic value. Maybe I felt hungover because my body was in shock from all of the validation. Good one, Chad. Good one, K-Star.

I think all of you reading this should give this a shot. Do it for a day and let me know how it made you feel.

Little Women’s Intuition

To be six years old, Cydney Milner’s ability to read people is nothing short of Godlike. Underneath all of her quirks, clamors for attention, and always something to say is a keenly observant little girl who pays attention to everything.

My daughter is becoming a girl. I don’t mean in the sense she likes pink and princess-y things; she is beginning to think like a girl. To be honest, that freaks me out a little bit. As a twin, I witnessed the stages, thoughts, and behaviors girls go through in real-time. She has begun the cognitive evolution that will result in a disconnect in how she interprets information from me.

I guess the perfect phrase to describe what I am witnessing from the apple of my eye is little women’s intuition. As a guy, I wholly believe that such a thing exists; but I have witnessed so many adult women swear on this phenomena and be dead wrong (I’ll save this for another post because Lord knows I have lots to say). Nonetheless, Cydney seems to be very in-tune to nuances and behavioral patterns. Because she is an extroverted kindergartner, she completely lacks filter and needs to express herself or she’ll burst at the seams. 

Cydney’s “little women’s intuition” most often surfaces around my dating life. It makes perfect sense because the end result of whomever I choose affects her life as well. Cyd knows what she and I want, who I like and who likes me, and who is truly a platonic friend. Since she was two years old, my child has done things such as walk off to a table of women knowing I’d have to follow, told a girl “you’re flirting with my dad,” arranged meet-ups, and a litany of other ways to tell me “cut the shit, Daddy.” At four years old, my daughter told me what her mission was: I’m the bait, and you reel them in. I’m thankful Cydney knows nothing about sex; otherwise she’d call out tension, every time. 

The force is strong with my little one. I let her filter-free forthrightness rock because feelings are abstract and the older we get, the more we keep them to ourselves. She knows when I am searching for an answer and can’t find it, so she blurts it out. To most, her words get written off as a kid saying the darndest thing; but I know she’s dead serious. Statements like “You’re not here for me, you’re here to see my dad” could easily be followed with a wink directed at me.

My daughter calls me out, also. She knows that I get in my own way and who better to assist? Moments like “You’re just happy you got to face time with [redacted]!” are her ways of telling me to not be so nonchalant and girls need to see that. That may be my biggest hurdle, playing things down. Without knowing all of the details of relationships, I get the feeling my kid wants to grab me, shake me, and say “DADDY BE THE WAY TO HER THAT YOU ARE WITH ME, DUH!” If I asked her, she would say “Yep.”

I ran into a friend from high school at a 7eleven a few weeks ago. As we caught up, the friend asked me how I have been. I gave my cliché answer “Just keeping busy and out of trouble.” Out of nowhere, my daughter chimed in “I like you being single, Daddy,” and gave me the biggest hug. The truth is she loves that she has me all to herself; but she doesn’t want it to be that way for much longer.

From One Single Father To Another: A Letter To Myself

​I didn’t remember what today was until Facebook reminded me. I have posted the same picture every morning and this year, it slipped my mind.
Five April 4th’s ago, I waltzed out of court with custody of my daughter. My mother-who had breast cancer-related surgery a week before-and I drove from New York to Virginia to disrupt the five months of Cydney living with her grandparents. That was the beginning of my happily ever after and the genesis of my adventures as a single dad.

It no longer feels like a big milestone; it’s been five years. A lot of the traumatic experiences and hardships that made 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 feel like a lifetime ago. Nonetheless, I do feel like it is healthy to acknowledge that time; but keep it moving. 

Hindsight is 20/20 for a reason. If we know where we are going, life would be no fun. However, it feels good to revisit old memories because one’s present is a culmination of past experiences. I’m sitting here asking myself if there was anything 31 year old Chad Milner could tell himself on April 4, 2012, what would that be? Fuck it…here goes nothing:

Ayo Chad,

If you could write me back, the first thing you should say is “Damn, you look good! Facial hair and all the weight off was the move.”

Anywho…You deserve how you’re feeling right now. While it is an uncertainty to us both, I believe Timile is smiling down on ya; shit, on both of us. Remember this feeling.
The reason I’m telling you to remember how you feel at this very moment is because the most important advice I can give you is to treat all victories-big and small-like right now. Not only will that keep you sane, it’ll become part of the charm that’ll continue to bring you good fortune. You attract what you currently are; so gratefulness will bear greatness.

All of these years of writing are finally going to pay off. You have spent almost all of your life writing music, only to feel lost, some resentment towards Timile for the decision, and all that shit, b. It will not be for naught. You have been developing a unique voice and people around the world will “Read it because I-we-wrote it.” Hell, all of that arguing with Timile and losing badly will turn into an asset because you will always stick to your point and back everything up.

You will spend a lot of time alone. Debt will rack up and you will be hustling continuously; but don’t let that stress you out. I know how you feel about being along, especially after we’ve been through. Look at it as well-spent time reflecting. I’m not going to tell you to not smoke because as backwards as it may sound, it’s a cathartic breathing exercise and many of your greatest ideas will come while exhaling poison. You’re going to quit, anyways.

For the first five years, December 9th -the day Timile died-won’t be a good day. Not because you will be sad; but that will be the day everyone will unconsciously deem “Let’s push Chad to his limits.” I’m not even going to tell you to shrug that shit off. Get mad and put that bass in your voice; people need to see that you’re human. As much as people will fuck with you that day, they will understand.

Do a better job at being human. Our experiences have toughened us; but you need to let people in a little more. Most of your articulating how you feel will be through text; but it will make you a better writer and readers will be able to feel you. Everything works out for a reason.

Life is going to get really interesting. What most people think is beyond crazy will just be another day for you. Nothing will ever be too hurtful that you can’t find the humor in it. You will find yourself getting closer to God through your shared twisted and ironic humor.

There will be women…lots of them. But hey, what’s the first word of your brand and site? Single. That shit is going to be lots of fun and a shit ton of drama. Believe it or not, you will learn the most about yourself in these five years through the ones you date. You will fall in love, you will have your heart broken, you will break hearts, you will piss a lot of people off and all of that. No matter what, remember this: whether it’s one date or a lifetime, do your best to treat them how you’d want someone to treat Cydney. In fact, they are all “Cydney” to someone.

Speaking of Cydney, that little girl right there is something else. She’s a wrecking ball. She is you and Timile if y’all had a baby and that’s entertainingly scary. She’s smart. She pays attention to every little thing you do because she will follow you everywhere you go. She’ll be your good luck charm.

Cydney will require a lot of patience. The amount of physical, mental, and spiritual endurance she will require will really make a man out of you. As much as you’re raising her, she’s raising you. Five years later, I’m still wondering what is God’s reason for the amount of fortitude this little girl requires. But you’ve been built and primed for it.

Also, your nephew is watching you. You are the day-to-day male role model for him. You’re going to be hard on him; almost too hard. But fuck it, everyone else is kind of soft and lets him get away with murder. Just keep him from being too smart for his own good. 

You have to let him win sometimes. Nah, fuck that. Actually, no you do. He’ll need that to boost his confidence because he is looking at you right now like “I want to be just like my uncle.” It’s kind of scary because you’re not used to dealing with kids that are his age. It’ll be all good, though. 

Get some words of wisdom from your grandmothers. They are going to understand you more than anyone else will. Stine won’t be around for much longer; but she’s gonna plant some seeds. Connie is still here and is about to be 90…she’s living proof of what life is all about. Talk to Donnell Tyler at least once a week. He’s going to hold you down until 2015. He goes, too; but goddamn it’ll be time well spent.

Live like tomorrow isn’t promised. That is no longer just some phrase to you; it is now applied knowledge. We have no regrets about Timile passing away because we let her know how we felt. Do that shit with everyone, yo. Everyone ain’t gonna do it back but that’s not why we do it.

Take joy in the little things. Annoy Cydney and Courtney because that shit is fun. Work on music with your dad. Your mother can’t take a joke; but keep teasing her. Clean up around the house a little more…that’s her love language. Don’t write your sister off; while you are twins, you have your own paths to walk and hers is glorious.

Don’t sweat the little shit because it’ll turn into big shit and because shit is real, we don’t need any more shit. Stop forgetting all of the little logistical things…

I think that’s all I got for you right now. Yep…no formal closing because you’re me and I’m you, so you know what it is.

There’s no need to right any wrongs; they’re all a part of the process.

Oh…things are going to get really interesting in about a year. Your greatest story begins April 2013. You’ll just know.

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Moses, Aaron, and Blinky Blink

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e. This week’s installment is a day late but never a dollar short.
“Now Angelica’s the one with all the exposure. Dil is the one who drop in the stroller. Tommy got the whole world on his shoulders. And Dil cries to sleep ’til his eyes get bleak. I couldn’t be Chuckie, Chuckie to petro[fied]. Chuckie get scared, Chuckie says “Let’s go.” If I was a Rugrat, it would’ve been so real. Me and my twin would’ve been just like Phil and Lil.”

By the fall of 1998, Mason Betha’s platform for had him sitting on top of the world. He even wrote a song about it (That’s for another devotional). Many top acts of the time solicited the good reverend and his ministry of self-love, self-awareness, and prosperity to magnify their own music.  

Somewhere between promoting his debut album and Harlem shaking the sophomore jinx with Double Up, Mase was going through a rough time. His first album had sold four million copies and his flame burned white hot. When mo’ money lead to mo’ problems, the Bad Boy found difficulty listening to his inner voice and preach.

In the middle of penning a piece about following man-made religions vs relationships with God called “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” Mason received a phone call that changed everything. Legendary producer Teddy Riley solicited Rev. Betha’s services on for a song on the soundtrack to Nickelodeon’s full-length biopic, Rugrats, the Movie. Unsure of his own capabilities, Mase agreed to participate under the condition that his childhood friend, Blinky Blink gets to share the spotlight.

As he drove a car shaped like Reptar the dinosaur, Betha dropped the loaded gem mentioned at the beginning of this post. On the surface, it seems as if he is rapping about the characters of the film; he is referring to himself and how we all are Rugrats.

While he confidently sang, danced, and refused to keep his eyes on the road, Mase felt like Chucky. He was scared and needed inspiration; a Tommy so to speak. He remembered the story of Moses who was afraid to face the Pharaoh and free his people on his own. To boost his confidence, God sent Moses’ brother as accompaniment and the rest is history. In that moment, Blinky Blink was the Tommy to Mase’s Chucky/the Aaron to his Moses.

Being a little transparent, I related to Mase’s words. Had life been a little different, he and his twin sister, Stason Betha. For those who are familiar with the Rugrats chronicles, fraternal twins Phil and Lil did everything together; but fought like cats and dogs. 

Being a twin can make for an interesting dynamic. The phrase “Born alone, die alone,” doesn’t apply to us (I too have a twin sister). Sometimes this can cause difficulty in one finding their own voice and ultimately having more “Chucky” moments than others. 

Mase was so overwhelmed by the sheer mention of the Lil to his Phil, Blinky Blink immediately jumped in to let him know “You’re my little brother that I’ll run wit’.” 

Whenever we step out on faith, God always sends a Blinky Blink. Who is your Blinky Blink?

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Book of Life After Death, Chapter 10

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.

“Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie.”

Prosperity preachers often get a bad rap. The public perceive them as pompous and pious people who pillage Peter to pay themselves. Most miss the undercurrent of humility and thankfulness in their message. Ma$e is an expert propagator of this narrative.

Rev. Betha grew tired of speaking as a gun-toting product of his environment. His contribution to 112’s ode to showing one’s woman love the way God loves us all, “Only You (Bad Boy Remix),” aka “Songs of Solomon, 1996,” garnered the young man a clear path to success.

Spending time with a different crowd, M-A-Dollar Sign-E felt compelled to explain the entrapment of success with the world on a song called “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” The newcomer felt obligated to expound on modesty and servant leadership.

Had Cuda not schooled Mase to the game, he would not have known his duty. At 19 years old, the good reverend was “mostly Dolce down to the tube socks” because God sent Cuda Love to guide him.

The most salient advice Mr. Love had for his protégé  was given in one incomplete sentence: Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie. The seven-word parable was layered with information. There was a fictional tale about a black man who made country and rock music named Darius Rucker from South Carolina.

In this tall tale, Rucker was the lead singer of a band called the Blowfish. They toured the southern states of America playing to audiences that loved his music; but wasn’t too fond of the pigment of his skin. The racist crowds disliked Darius but loved his music so much. To get under his skin, these audiences referred to him as “Hootie,” a derogatory term for disgraceful music that originated with Bell BivDeVoe’s second album, Hootie Mack.

Rucker took the high road by “staying low.” He already stood out like a sore thumb as the one black guy everywhere he went; but the music was most important. Instead of making a fuss, he quietly changed the name of the quartet to Hootie and the Blowfish. They sold millions of records and whenever they asked if Darius was Hootie, he’d say “That’s just a name for the band.” Once again, this is all folklore…Charlie Pride and Nelly were the only two black people that made country music.

Ma$e told the world he never would have made it without mentorship and humility. Yes, he danced in tunnels, threw his Rolex in the sky and waived it side to side; but he was still the same ol’ pimp with a changed limp. Scholars have argued the Harlemite’s limp was because he too wrestled with God like Jacob in the book of Genesis; but that’s for another devotional.

We all need and have Cuda’s in our lives. They are the proverbial villages that raise us, tell us right from wrong, and give us guidance we often miss when directly displayed from the divine. Nelly too listened to Cuda’s fable of Hootie and the Blowfish; it worked out very well for him.

 

Thinking B.I.G.


“Biggie got killed,” were my mother’s first words to me on the morning of March 9, 1997. Somewhere between shock and déjà vu, the moment felt surreal. 

The passing of both B.I.G. and Pac felt like the end of childhood innocence. My world was beginning to expand in sixth grade: I went to middle school on the other side of the planet—northeast Queens—and began taking the MTA on my own to basketball practices. My worldview was becoming larger than my parents’ sphere of influence. The onset of adolescence required a different soundtrack. 

Twenty years later, I am the father to a six year old girl and a father figure to my nephew who is in the fifth grade. I have become my parents because I never want to listen to the nonsense my boy is into. They’re stuck listening to as Cydney says “that old school stuff” when they’re rolling with me.

Cydney and Courtney respond differently to my music. My nephew could care less; he’ll opt to blare Drake or something from his headphones. In my head, I still feel youthful; so if I play something like “Unbelievable” and he doesn’t nod his head appropriately, I feel old. He can’t relate and that’s fine…I did the same thing in 1995.

My nephew and I have talked about the difference between our musical preferences. He feels a similar way 10 year old Chad did about Earth, Wind, and Fire. I will tell him “See, B.I.G. was the greatest of all time. The way Hot 97 plays Drake all day, every day, is how they did with B.I.G.’s records.” My nephew will never understand how essential it is to live and die by the “Machine Gun Funk.”

Cydney on the other hand is her father’s child. Whenever I wear my t-shirt with Ready to Die album cover on it, she says “That’s Biggie Smalls, right? That’s the Notorious B.I.G., right daddy?!” 

If I play [edited versions] of the Brooklyn emcee’s songs, she begins to roll her neck to the beat and jam. She loves “One More Chance” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” But “Hypnotize” is her favorite. 

“Daddy, can you play “Hipmitize?” You rap the boy parts and I do the girl parts.” I’ll cue it up and she mimics that hefty “Uh…Uhh!” that let us all know the King of New York was about to say some shit in ’97.
Cyd wants to be in and a part of everything I do. She at the age in which I can do no wrong in her book. If I like it, she loves it, and she wants me to notice. In spite of being over my “old school stuff,” my daughter wants to be a part of it with me. She knows that music-especially hip hop-is a very large part of who I am. It’s in my walk, talk, attitude, and how I raise her. She wants to rap to instrumentals and play rhyming games.

Biggie Smalls died at 24 years old; he was just a kid. In my thirties, I have had a very hard time taking most things people in their mid-twenties say with seriousness (not you guys, of course). The concept “applied knowledge is power” is a brand new one because life is consistently kicking your ass. 

Listen to B.I.G. or a ‘Pac interview. They sound like kids who think they know more about life than they actually do. If that was your 23 year old cousin, you would listen intently and say in the back of your mind “Shut up! You don’t know shit!” However, reckless abandonment made that time in our lives so much fun.

For some reason, our generation doesn’t see B.I.G. as a kid we would ignore. His words still sound profound because it takes us back to that time in life when we looked at him as our big brother. The generation before us think of him as one of their homies who shared a similar struggle. We all have surpassed him in age and experience; but that’s the power of music. 

While “Blunts and broads, titties in bras, menage a trois, sex in expensive cars,” still sounds like a hell of a time, I’m listening that shit in an office thinking to myself “Once I get off work, I have fifth and sixth graders to coach, my daughter wants attention, and the other day I had an awesome ass date where we did laundry.” But there’s a brief moment I picture the week when “Hypnotize” went from the new song everyone tried to memorize to learning the words in memoriam.

Twenty years from now, Cydney and Courtney will hear “Juicy” somewhere. At 26 and 30, they’ll recall being the kids in the back of the car that looked up to me.

The Mason Betha Devotional: Book of Harlem World, Chapter Six


Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.

“If you got a girl, don’t be real committed. ‘Cause Ma$e will hit it. You got-ta deal with it.” 

In 1997, the Player Hater’s Parable, also known as “Lookin’ At Me,” was considered groundbreaking. While dancing around a convertible, his name in lights, and next to a woman buried in sand, Betha revealed several life lessons from a first-person perspective. Without faith and following P. Diddy who made him pretty, the rapper of the cloth never would have had to ask a hater “Why you don’t like me? Because I’m mad fly and icey?”

Contrary to Genius’ claims, Rev’s last two lines of the second verse were not a tale of his ability to take “your” girl and get to know her in a biblical sense. The message was one of self-awareness and one’s place within the universe. It was the Harlem way of saying “Faith without works is dead.”

Whether we believe in a benevolent and omnipresent supreme being or the spirit of the cosmos, something and someone out there is guiding us all. No ideas are our own; the Universe puts ideas into the air and it is up to us to complete them. 

You ever have that million dollar idea and for one reason or another sat on it for too long? Shortly after, someone always makes a ton of money-or acquires success-with the same vision as yours. Well, the answer is simple, you didn’t commit. 

M-A-Dollar-Sign-E knew this from a first-hand experience. He knew that his life’s work would be to deliver souls with a powerful message the youth could dance to. However, as a member of the Children of the Corn[er], he fashioned himself as the baby-faced gangsta, Murda Mase. A chance meeting with prophet Sean “Puffy” Combs changed everything. Hip Hop’s landscape was changing and Puff needed a messenger more palatable-and less hideous looking-than Craig Mack to balance Biggie Smalls.

At first, Mase was hesitant of changing his image and needed convincing. Had he not bought into the program, Puff would have found someone else to preach the truth and the light while frolicking in shiny leather suits. Without acting on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Mason Betha could have been in his apartment on 140th St and Lenox Ave, seeing someone else saving souls on in Las Vegas on BET. With or without the good reverend, “Feel So Good” was coming to fruition. 

While there are many lessons to learn from “Lookin’ At Me” aka The Sermon by the Bentley, its overall message is one of self-awareness. Even if a player hater is over there looking at you while ya girl-or man-is standing there, you have been correctly following the path that the divine has set for you. If not, someone else-Mase-will and you’ve got to deal with it.

Be blessed.

The First 10 Days of 2017


​If I could use one word to describe the first 10 days of 2017, it would be “fuckery.”

Yep…Fuckery.

Call it a dark and twisted sense of humor; nonetheless, I find beyond-belief ridiculousness amusing. Chris Brown and Soulja Boy opt to turn their social media squabbling into a celebrity boxing match? My only question is “Who is throwing the fight party?!” Shirley Caesar’s support of Kim Burrell’s “sermon” makes a gospel legend the new Ken Bone? Y’all ain’t know who she is until the end of “Hold My Mule” became “beans, greens, and KFC fixins.” Hell, as I am typing this, there are think pieces being entitled “Who Are Migos?” because of the Golden Globes. Someone has literally been assigned the task of deciphering “Rain drops drop tops. Smokin’ on cookie in the hot box.” (Note: At first, I thought Lil Uzi Vert’s verse was Kevin Hart as Chocolate Droppa).

You know your life is fuckery-filled when your friends refer to ludicrous happenings as “Chad stories.” I like to think that my circle comes to me because while there is lots of laughter-often at someone else’s expense-I give insight in navigating through otherwise troubling waters. I am more than okay with this.

I don’t make resolutions that begin January 1. It sounds like a lot of overthinking to me. Somehow, this year I am doing so. A text message sent to the wrong person, a funny story and inside jokes on Snapchat, and [redacted] made me finally embrace the fuckery. 

Why am I doing so? Honestly, I love that my life plays out like a well-written sitcom. While staying calm and collected, I facilitate hurricane after hurricane because it’s adventurous. Last week, my supervisor gave me an apology for being thrust into a department adjusting to a new paradigm. With a look of sincerity and shrug-off, I let her in on one of my finest attributes: I thrive in chaos.

While I do need to work on processing emotions and wanting to “feel” more, that’s not who I currently am. If there is one person on the planet my friends and family can put their money on that will not lose their cool, it’s me. I am the cause of all of the foolishness that seems to find me. I attract who I currently am which is someone currently looking to sharpen themselves for the sake of helping others around me.

While there were others, 2016 is when I fully embraced being single. My drama-free life got dull in February. It feels as if saying to myself “Man, I am in a great space. There is no ridiculousness!” was enough for the universe to say “Say no more.” Said universe heard my statement, combined Paulo Cohelo’s famous quote from “The Alchemist” with Murphy’s Law and needless to say, life has been nothing short of a hoot. There is never a dull day, over here.

When in doubt, I am always in control. I may not have much governance over others and what they do; but I rule and run me. With that said, bring on the fuckery, 2017. I can’t wait to write about you next January.

Assorted Thoughts On January 4th

This morning started like many others: my 6:45am nap on the Long Island Railroad to a soulful soundtrack. As I waited for the A train, I looked at my Facebook account and saw a memory. It was a video of Cydney. It prompted me to shut off DMX’s folk ballad “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” and press play. 

Three years ago, my daughter wished her mother a happy birthday and blew a kiss. A smirk crept out of the corner of my mouth as I remembered it was January 4.

Five years ago, I was getting dressed to go to court. It would be the first of several hearings in two states over the course of two years. I knew my in-laws would not drive from Virginia to New York to attend that day. 

I wanted them to know I meant business. Timile hadn’t been buried three weeks. For her first birthday in heaven since 1986, the Browns had to deal with me…and I didn’t give a fuck. January 4, 2012 was the day I became fearless.
My time with Timile Brown taught me how to love with no limits and that made me a dangerous person. FDR’s famous quote “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” became reality. If I continuously strived to get out of my own way, what was the worst that could happen? They died of cancer and custody hearings for my child before the body gets cold? Shit, everything else in life was light work.

I was more than prepared to go toe-to-toe with Timile’s parents five January’s ago. Two months prior, my father in-law’s intimidating tactics scared the fuck out of me and I rolled over for the sake of peace. It wouldn’t have happened that day in court. Hell, it wouldn’t have happened today, either. That morning, I decided rarely would I ever lie down in passivity again unless I absolutely had to. If I did, it damn sure wasn’t going to be because I was scared.

How do I currently feel about Timile’s parents? I still don’t like them. I still have trust issues because of them. I absolutely hate that they only call Cydney on her birthday, Easter, and Christmas; that shit really irks me. However, they’re the ones who are missing out. Cydney is an amazing little girl who is happy. I would tell them everything I have written here to their face, as well. 

I have no malice in my heart for Cydney’s maternal grandparents. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean that I don’t love them (I accidentally said it to them last Christmas). Forgiving them set me free from a lot and it might be my biggest act in fearlessness. Forgiveness just might be the most courageous action in all of our lives.

Nowadays I rarely refer to Timile by name. It isn’t because she has become a ghost that I am afraid of or anything like that. It has become a habit. Most of the people I associate with didn’t know her, so to many she is “Cydney’s mother,” or “my daughter’s mother.” 

The main reason I have this habit of not saying “Timile” is because of Cydney. As a Kindergartner, her classmates all live in her neighborhood. She sees all of the kids and their moms; there is a heightened awareness that something is different for her. 

Cyd seems to get put off-guard when Timile is mentioned around her. It triggers something and she begins to feel sad. One day, while driving home, Cydney says to me “Daddy, I don’t want people to mention my mom. Why do they?” Time and time again, I tell her “Because she meant something to many of us that knew her.” It’s the only thing I can think of to say.

Last week, I was in the midst of my morning ritual mentioned in the first paragraph. A creature of habit, I pulled out my phone and opened up Facebook as Dark Man X growled and yelled “Is y’all muthafuckas ready or what?!” A picture of a very pregnant Timile and I showed up in my memory cue. I immediately pulled up a picture of Cydney from Christmas day and thought to myself “Man, Cydney is a perfect blend of the two of us.”

When Cydney was first born, all I could see is Timile. As my daughter has matured, Cydney Moriah Milner has become a miniature version of me but with no filter. 

In writing all of this, I have come to a realization. I’m kind of “over” this. I am-and have for years-been more interested in the future. As soon as I post this, I still have work to do. People turn their past experiences into demigods and elephants in the room. Fuck that. I don’t subscribe to that mindset. Just acknowledge, let the assorted thoughts come, and move on.

Tweet Through It: A Parent’s Thoughts During Their Child’s Christmas Show Pt. 2

 

25 years ago, I was that kid in kindergarten who loved to perform. I was Michael Jackson 2.0 in my head (I wore a silver, glittered hat that got thrown all over our apartment as I spun in the mirror and recited the words to my hit song “Ridiculous Girl.”). Elementary school shows were my time to shine and I had to let the whole world know what they needed to get the first glimpse of. One couldn’t tell me that every show I was in wasn’t entertaining.

Now on the other side of that coin, sitting through these shows is horrendous. They’re actually adorable; but there are many other things I would rather do than sit through that. However, it is endearing to see my child evolve from infant to rehearsing for weeks to sing songs of yuletide merriment.

With that said, here is this year’s Christmas tweets. With Cyd the Kid being in elementary school, I have to retire the crier count. Enjoy!

I decided not to sign Cydney out of school. There was a long line of parents, it was 2:30, and school gets out at 3. By the time I would have made it to the front of the line, the bell would have went off and she would be leaving anyway.

If you enjoyed this, here are the links to last year’s shows: Cydney’s Christmas concert, Courtney’s Christmas concert, Cydney’s Spring concert, Courtney’s spring concert.