Tag Archives: work

A Product of the Recession

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It’s 5:33am and I’m on the Long Island Railroad headed to a new day job.

I have been putting off writing about this for six months. I was let go from my high paying job a little over a month into being hired. I was at my desk and was asked to come into the second-in-command along with the head of human resources on a Tuesday afternoon. My boss, the VP of the department was on vacation and I assumed it was a talk about bringing me on full time because that was the plan since I started.

Instead, I was being let go on the grounds that I wasn’t getting the job in which all parties knew this was false pretenses. They had too much pride to say “Hey, we are over budget. We’re sorry.” They knew they fucked up. They let go of the person who looked over the department’s budget; which was completely dumb.

I was loathing coming home that evening knowing I would be back to staying at home and hustling freelance work for a fourth of what I was working. That’s what I have been doing since I graduated from college in 2007: hustling.

My first job out of college was running the photo department at Walgreens. It sucked. It was menial and the manager had the nerve to tell me “In three years you could become a manager,” as if I didn’t have a college degree from a great school.

I left Walgreens to work at a mortgage loan company in October 2008. Who knew what was about to happen at the time. The real estate market had crashed and the company went bankrupt the day before I started. I had stints of selling cars during the “Cash for Clunkers” clusterfuck, bussed down motorcycles, sold insulation in homes, and some of everything else while living in Atlanta. Atlanta is the international headquarters of many corporations; but because of the Recession they all underwent hiring freezes. I took the test to become a science teacher and even applied to business school to get my MBA right before Timile got pregnant.

My twenties have been one big hustle. I chose Timile over the music business which was what I wanted to work in since I was eleven. While I didn’t regret the decision I was lost ever since. I had to make my own experience. I started doing project management for my father in 2009 on the side in 2009 and that has been the beginning of me figuring out something I’d like to do.

My student loans are in collections. In 2011, I had to make a choice: feed my new family of pay Sallie Mae $783 a month. That was a no-brainer. With that said, it’s pretty high on my criteria in selecting a wife that she have good credit because one of us have to (I say that jokingly but I kinda mean it).

In 2012 I started this blog as a means to let Timile and my friends and family see Cydney grow up in real time. A year and a half later I met a girl who was a professional writer and that pushed me. I had a nice little following and figured one day I’d write a book about my experiences…but somewhere between trying to be impressive, having something in common, my work ethic, and some other things I made this writing thing work out for me. I started getting paid to write about being a parent and all that comes along with it. The doors continued to open and I write for a few places now (the other reason I haven’t been able to get to writing on this blog as much as I wanted to since getting fired).

This new job is definitely a part of the hustle. It’s not a career and I’ll still need something with health benefits because of Cydney. I work 7-3:30, get home, do homework, raise Cydney and my nephew for a few hours, and writing about ten articles a week between this blog and other publications while looking for a project management position.

There are many twenty and now thirty somethings who were put into a situation like me. We’ve had to get creative and make a way out of no way.

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The Adjustment Process

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Last Friday I came home to Cydney pretending to be a cat and she laid in my lap.

My second week at my new job is coming to an end. My body is already used to twenty hour days with four hours of rest; however there’s an adjustment period anytime there’s a drastic change to one’s lifestyle.

The biggest adjustment in my life is Cydney. I wake up around 5:30 am, pretend I’m going to work out (read: lay in bed until 6:05), and I’m out the door by 6:45. Coming into Manhattan from Long Island I try to beat the morning rush. This means I’m out the door before Cydney wakes up. I get off of work at 6 pm and my train back home leaves at 6:45. I get home around 7:45 pm and my little girl is too happy to see me. Being that it’s summer she is awake for a few hours. By September when I get home it will be almost bedtime.

I’m super excited to see Cydney when I get home. She wants me to drop everything and just focus my attention on her. I’m tired. I help my mother out who has been watching grandkids all day and try to make sure she eats, do dishes, get her clothes ready for the next day, bathe her, and try to get her into bed.

Bedtime has almost always been stressful with Cydney. She fights sleep by crying up a storm in my ear. This has been multiplied by thirty since she’s been going through the “I don’t have a mom phase” and another twelve since I haven’t been home.  She passes out around midnight. I’ll still have writing to do and will get to sleep around 1:30 am.

I got home late last night because after work I had a meeting about putting together a book and then a work event to show my face at. I left early and got home by 11 pm hoping to see my baby for a minute before she fell asleep. In my travels I saw a man holding the hand of a little Spanish girl who was about five years old and I smiled thinking about how that would be us next year. That made me excited about getting home. When I got home Cydney jumped out of my mother’s bed and said she was staying with me. As we laid in the bed she said “You have to go to work to make a lot of money for me?” I replied “Yep!” She smiled, showed me her painting she made at school and fell asleep on my chest.

This morning I woke up and was getting dressed. Cydney woke up, looked at me, and asked me where was I going. I told her I was leaving for work. She began to cry. It was the heartbreak cry. Cydney began to say “No! Please don’t go!” I said “I have to.” I held her trying to get her to fall back asleep. She balled up in a fetal position, waved me off, and said “Go!” That hurt because she was hurting.

I continued getting dressed and she begged me to not go. I told her I would be back home this afternoon. As I got the rest of my things together to head out I heard her screaming as she ran into my mother’s room. I went in to give her a kiss on her forehead.

We’re both adjusting. I’ve known whenever I am no longer working from home that I would get very busy. This is part of the process, but it isn’t easy nonetheless. I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with just the two of us this weekend.

Time For Cydney and I To Go Our Separate Ways

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Cydney has been on the daddy daycare plan since she’s been back with me the last two years.  It’s the inexpensive route because with the peanuts that I make spending close to $800 a month just doesn’t cut it around here.

It’s time for Cydney and I to do something different.

I do the best that I can for my little girl within my parameters.  She wakes up late so that I can get up early, do a full day’s work before it’s time to do my dad duties for the day, then clean up the mess she makes around the house, and by the time she passes out after the bedtime struggle I’m beat even though I still have more work to do.  I’ve been getting more and and more tired since  2014 started.  I have more and more work to do, so work has significantly seeped into the time that I take care of her.  It also takes more time for me to do work because I’m sitting at my computer while someone wants to sit on my lap, type, and wants my attention.  I’ve been letting TV raise her a little more than I want to.  

I’ve been trying to make my circumstances work for me, but something’s gotta give and I’m the one suffering.  I’ve been running for the last four years without much of a moment to take a breath or get just do the things that I’d like to do.  I’ll get more into this maybe tomorrow or so, I have a post in mind for that.

On Saturday at my nephew’s baseball breakfast when all of the kids wanted to run around Cydney was more than happy to run around with them.  When it was time to go she grasped on to a little boy because she wasn’t ready to go.  The same thing happened about an hour later at Modell’s.  She just grabbed onto a little girl and said “No!”  Looking at her for a distance it pulled at my heart’s strings a little bit.  Cydney is often a loner around kids playing by herself at birthday parties and is more comfortable around adults.  That’s because she goes with me everywhere I go.  Now she’s ecstatic to be around people her age.

Because we’ve spent so much time at home the last couple of months (hence no Weekend in Pictures) she goes wild when she’s out the house.  At the mall she wants to run around everywhere.  As if the house that she spends all of her time in is confining.  I understand because I feel the same way.  She never wants to leave the store and get back into the car.  I think in January she spent nearly two weeks at home with leaving the house not once.  I didn’t really leave either but I would still run an errand or two.  I feel bad because there isn’t much that I can do about it at this time in life.  

  She’s happy to be around me and loves to have daddy’s attention all day and night.  I think we’ve both reached the point where we need more from our lives than what we currently have.  It’s time to put her into preschool.

Single Parenting: Taking My Daughter on a Job Interview

I’ve been going through a transition over the last few months.  I was let go from my last job about four months ago due to cutback(s).  I always thought of the job as temporary and had been applying to jobs in New York and DC for quite some time, but I got beat even though I saw the writing on the wall.  It’s hard to find a job nowadays and while there are plenty jobs here in New York, it’s very difficult to get one.  For every position you apply for, a few hundred are; not to mention that you’re competing with the rest of the country with all of the people who would love to relocate, and live the dream of in the media capital of the world.  That’s just one of the facets that makes the adage “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere” true.

Since I started writing this blog and it’s taken off and opening up doors, I figured that transitioning from project management and music to public relations would make perfect sense.  Last week I got a call for an interview at a firm in the SoHo area of Manhattan.  It was on a Thursday at 11:30 AM.  Since Cydney stays at home with me and most individuals are working at this time of day I needed a babysitter.  I contacted a friend of mine who is a freelance writer if they could watch Cydney for an hour or so while I went on the interview.  They said they would be happy to do so.  Wednesday evening, they sent me a text saying that at the last minute they had to come in Thursday morning for a mandatory meeting.  This had put me in a bind because I didn’t have anyone I could call at the last minute.  They still tried to see what they could do and make it work.  By midnight, they were told that the meeting was moved from 12:30 to 10 AM and that they could not watch her at all.  I wasn’t upset.  It happens.  I just told them I’ll bring Cydney with me on the interview.  Yes, it’s a little unprofessional and could have adverse affects on the likeliness of me getting the position.  But I’m a gambling man and believe in taking calculated risks: it’s how I’ve received just about anything in life I’ve considered and coveted as special.

So Cydney and I walk into the office and Cydney is greeted with smiling faces who are engaging her.  I apologized for bringing her along to the office manager that I would be interviewing with.  She said it was okay and she unerstood because she has a two year old daughter.  Good sign.  I brought Cydney into the office with me where I was being interviewed.  I gave her a notepad and some crayola markers that my mother had supplied to keep her occupied and “do homework.”  A minute into drawing in her notepad, Cydney felt the urge to make the desk that we were sitting at her canvas.  The manager laughed and said “It’s okay.  Thank God for washable markers.”  We laughed and continued our meeting.  While speaking candidly about my qualifications, I was keeping an eye on my daughter.  Cydney is full of personality so if you don’t like her, there’s something wrong with you or you just don’t like kids so I think she added an extra charm to the interview.

When the interview ended, Cydney went with the office manager to meet everyone around the office as she went to get paper towels to clean off the desk.  By the time they returned, I already wiped off the desk with baby wipes and it looked like we were never there.  Cydney had a plush dog that she was playing with within those two minutes she was gone and the manager said she could have it.  Everyone said goodbye to her and she waved back.  An hour later, the manager sent me an email confirming a second interview and also put in there that it was a pleasure to meet Cydney.  I think it worked out pretty well.

With risk comes reward.  My experiences over the last three years have made me fearless.  My logic is that by the time I turned twenty-six, I’ve gone through what will probably be the hardest things I will endure in life.  Everything else: working, trying to make ends meet, relationships, family, you name it will not be as hard so fuck it.  Even if I fail, get fired, get my heart broken or whatever the laws of probability say it can’t be as bad as where I’ve been.  The people who are publicly considered successful have a similar lack of fear. 

For all of my friends and readers who are not parents: this is what being a parent is all about.  Strapping up your boots and making things happen.  For my readers who aren’t single parents: this is everyday.  People can or may flake out for many justified reasons and sometimes just because people suck; but that doesn’t stop the show.  You have to carry the load of two people.  Many times it can seem like a disadvantage and some people may be hesitant to be around you because of negative stigmas attached to being one.  Single moms have a harder job, but due to their wiring and social norms get a little more leeway in showing some emotion in general and in front of their children when things get sticky.  For me, there’s no time for any of that.  Just keep it moving with a smile and when my kid is old enough to understand let her know what I’ve had to do to make things happen. 

Walking Down Broadway

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Yesterday I took the long way home. As opposed to taking a cab or walking to the nearest train station, I walked from Chinatown to Penn Station.  From Delancey and Essex to 34th and 7th Ave.  The walk is a good fifty blocks, and I did it in about forty-five minutes, even with Cydney in her stroller.  It was a nice night and being that it’s about to get cold for real, I figured why not get one more good walk through part of the best city in the world.

Cydney and I had just got home from a family reunion in New Jersey.  They were
extended family of Timile’s.  Short version: The guy that Timile thought was her biological father who took a DNA test and it turned out it wasn’t him, so there’s a nother guy somewhere: him.  This was the third time I’ve gone.  The first was three years ago when Timile was pregnant, last year, and this past weekend.  I had a heavy heart once I left Scott and his family because the first time we went was the beginning of the end of Timile having a normal pregnancy among a myriad of other thoughts and feelings running around in my head.

Walking down Broadway, I reached 23rd street and I remembered where I was.  936 Broadway was Soundtrack Studios: where my father used to work for a few years.  Soundtrack was a famous recording studio where some of everything has been recorded there.  My father worked the night shift and it seemed like almost every morning he’d tell my sister and I of someone who was famous that was there that night.  The person who practically lived there: Busta Rhymes.  He recorded his first four albums up there and while he was holed up in the back, I never saw him when I would go to visit my dad.  He was almost mythical.  When I’d look in the album credits, it would say recorded at Soundtrack Studios, New York, NY but not once did I actually see him.  The down payment from our house that finally moved us out of Queens was a royalty check my father received from something he did off of Busta’s first album The Coming.

I used to love going there.  It seemed like the coolest thing.  It was a major part of the bedrock that made an eleven year old me want to be in the music business.  The ride from Queens to Manhattan was filled with so much anticipation, and the ride back always had me looking back at the city and was my motivation to be Puff Daddy one day.  It was why I started crafting mixtapes of other people’s songs  like they were albums I was producing and one of the reasons I started rapping and producing myself.  

After all of the years of looking up to that place thinking it was awesome, my father told me many of the real storied of what went down there.  Many of the artists I looked up to he told me were idiots.  All anyone did was get fucked up, and many of them never got anything done.  He told me about a particular act that I’ve written about on this blog who got high for a week, got nothing done, and he had to call the record company on them and they let that act have it.  As I became an adult he’d tell me about the sacrifices he’d made.  When he’d get going in his frustrated moments he would say “I turned down jobs on the road to work at Soundtrack.  They would have paid more, but I did it for the home.  You have no idea how many nights I’d have to clean up vomit and shit because people were getting fucked up.”  Something along those lines.  He’d say that the place was also a blessing because other doors have opened up from him being there, but it had many other kinds of moments as well.

That became a microcosm of what it is like to be a parent.  Lots of cleaning up literal and figurative shit.  We work hard to try to take care of our young and do it with a smile.  They never know what the smile is actually masking because when you do it right, they never see you actually fretting.  The place where my father worked and I thought was magical actually sucked.  What on the outside made him one of the coolest people was very blue collar and he never let me know it.  Maybe part of that was to keep the dream going; maybe part of is was to keep up the facade of being the superhero.  I don’t really know, but I have an idea.  Even now, just about all my daughter knows is the smile on daddy’s face.  When things become different for us financially and lifestyle-wise all she will know is looking up to her father who takes care of her.  She could have a step-mom by then and won’t remember any of this. But I’ll think to myself “You have no idea what I was going through all of those days I just was smiling at you.

Just like the night itself I was walking down Broadway.

Charity Starts At Home

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New Tigalllo, new Tigallo, new Tigallo…

I room and a microphone. And a family I ain’t seen in months/ And I played this record a million times just hoping that you’d play it once/” Phonte Coleman

Phonte was one third of the North Carolina rap group Little Brother.  To those that were super hip-hop heads, Little Brother was a fixture in your CD changer or discman.  Between 2003-2009, Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and producer 9th Wonder (for the first two albums) crafted a nearly flawless catalog.  Phonte was always the standout emcee.  While promoting their major-label debut The Minstrel Show, Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh stopped by Morehouse’s campus and had an autograph signing.  They attended North Carolina Central University, and that was Devin and my other roommate Walter’s alma mater for undergrad.  We asked him a few months prior had he ever heard of them and he said no.  I was taking an African American studies class that was all about the history of hip-hop at the time.  Some of my classmates went to the signing and asked Little Brother if they would come by our class and speak for a minute.  Devin called me and told me that he ran into Walter on campus and with a signed poster and once again asked if he’d ever seen this trio.  He said that he looked at the picture and said “That’s Thomas!  My roommate!”  He was referring to Rapper Big Pooh.  Little Brother had shown up to our class as promised.  Walter walked into the room and both Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh stopped mid-sentence.  Big Pooh said “That was my roommate my freshman year in college!”  They stopped and hugged for a quick moment and went back to speaking about the music business.

At the end of their lecture, one of the students asked if they would do an impromptu freestyle cypher with some of us.  They did and two of us jumped at the chance to rap for Phonte and Big Pooh.  I was knee deep in my being a rapper phase and spit a verse for them.  As they were about to leave, they told me that my verse was dope and that I was nice.  If I ever decided to quit rapping, that was my validation someone who was considered a rapper’s rapper told me I was nice.

I saw the clouds today and thought that it was time to say goodbye-Phonte Coleman

Phonte’s solo album Charity Starts At Home was released September 27, 2011.  It was a stellar album in which he rapped about every day stuff: taking care of his family, work, trying to stay faithful as well as some excellent rappity rap along the way.  I related to this album, because that was my life.  The title in itself was everything to me.  I was working for a company facilitating and negotiating short sales on homes with distressed mortgages ten hours a day, just to drive home to my fiance who was fighting for her life and taking care of our infant daughter.  They were my everything and if I were still rapping for real at the time, my album would have sounded very similar to his in topic.

Just about every day between late September to the end of October when I left Buffalo to live in Virginia I listened to that album on the way home.  My favorite song was the last song called “Who Loves You More.”  I that chorus spoke to me. “I saw the clouds and thought that it was time to say goodbye.”  It always made me think about my girl that I was going home to.  Timile was beginning to get sicker and sicker.  She was eighty-eight pounds and spent a lot of time in bed at that time.  She would doubt that I was still attracted to her since she felt like she was no longer the youthful girl that I spent a good portion of our relationship side-eyeing all of the men who wanted what I had.  One grayish day outside as I drove home, I looked up and thought to myself “Maybe it will be time to say goodbye soon.”  I hated that I thought that, but I was being realistic with myself.  Things weren’t looking great and I believed in miracles, but I had to prepare my mind, heart, spirit, and little girl for the possibility that Timile may not be with us much longer or one day.  Even if her cancer did go into remission, she could have shaven many years off of her life just due to the aggressive treatments she underwent at twenty-five.

Praying that the ends justify the means. Cause most of my heroes had fucked up lives/ Coked up kids and three or four wives
Hoes in every city, enough side bitches for three or four tribes/From Marvin to Basquiat, it comes with a cavat. And that’s the gospel like three or four choirs/-Phonte Coleman

That’s incredibly true.  Growing up, my hero was my father.  He still is.  He’s the man to me.  My father is a musician by trade.  He’s played all over the world and worked with some of everyone over the last thirty years.  One of these days, I will delve more into detail about him and our relationship.  As a musician on the road, he lived the life that many do.  It took a toll on our family dynamic in many ways.  My father is hard on me because he saw me going down the road that he did.  I think sometimes there’s an inner conflict with him, because he wants me to do what he didn’t in the sense of being a musician as well as to learn from his mistakes.  I know he lives with quite a few regrets about how things have panned out in his life and as his son, I am his chance to do the things that he didn’t.  I wouldn’t say that his life is fucked up, but he may feel that way himself.  I can see it in our late conversations via text message and in his eyes depending on the subject matter.

When I was trying to be in the music business, I let it all go for Timile.  I looked at how I was raised as a product of it.  While I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing, it wasn’t the life that she wanted.  Making a living or having a life, I had to choose.  No matter what I wanted, she came first.  I didn’t have any regrets on whether or not I could make it or if I was any good.  Hell, Phonte and Big Pooh’s compliment told me otherwise.  I’m not upset about it to this day.  Knowing how things would play out, I made the right decision.  With that said, The last two bars of “Who Loves You More” and the album sum everything up:

And always take care of home. Because home is where charity starts-Phonte Coleman

Playing Catch Up

Last week was an incredibly long week. While I felt like I was sleeping on a fairly consistent and decent sleep schedule, my body is now feeling the effects of Cydney being sick last week. I have a slight cough, but the fatigue is something serious. I guess all of that holding Cydney took a lot out of me. I know by Sunday I was so tired and just downright irritated and this week has been the manifestation of that.

Its Thursday, and I still owe a couple of mixes to people, did no writing, and other personal work. Its not even that I can so much anymore. Cydney is over being in the studio when I work and while I set three alarms in the morning I haven’t heard one of them since before Memorial Day Weekend. Needless to say, I probably will not be sleeping much until the weekend.

With all of that said, its time for things to change. Daddy Daycare must come to an end shortly because I can’t get much done anymore. Also, since my mother is back at work I no longer need to be home so its time to go corporate again.

Things happen the way they do for a reason. No matter how much people try, other than your partner people don’t understand why you’re going through what you are. Seven months ago I had the same mindset with regards to Cydney being in daycare and going corporate. My computer broke and it slowed things down. When I bought a new one, I was looking to move to Washington DC. I hadn’t applied to not one position in New York. When January came around and we found out my mother had to have surgery again, I slowed down the grind so that I could be home. Had my computer not broken, no one would have been able to do the day to day things around here when she was beside or taken my nephew to school. Yes, its had financial repercussions but sometimes taking care of your family means more than money. Hell, its taken a toll on me in all aspects but it was needed.

Some don’t understand that, but I’ve been doing this for some years now. Its that time of season when my body says “Yo chill.” I know I have things that I’d like to do, but God’s timing is much greater than my plans. With that said, I have about thirty minutes to be productive before Cydney wakes up and my nephew is off from school today.