Saturday, January 17, 2015

"So what do you do?"

I don't know why this question annoys me so damn much, but it does. I didn't like that question when I was dating, and the girl's friends/parents would ask me that question, and I don't like it when it comes up in happy hours, Christmas parties, and other functions.

It isn't like I'm ashamed of either one of my jobs. By day I'm a project supervisor for the 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund, and by night I write for the ESPN True Hoop blog, Truth About It. Both jobs spark plenty of conversation with someone I deem worthy to share it with, but I just resent that question being acceptable fodder for public settings. Plus half the time I think it is an excuse for someone to a)judge or b) barely pay attention to your answer, so they can hurry up and tell you what the hell they do.

For example, this past Thursday I attended a happy hour with co-workers, and some friends of some of my co-workers decided to show. Initially everything was going lovely. Drinks were consumed, hookah were smoked and meaningless conversation about sports, politics and the weather flowed as easily as the alcohol. Then one of the women asked the dreaded question and the following conversation went down:

Her: So Rashad what do you do?
Me: I'm a Project Supervisor and I'm a sportswriter
Her (pausing): Oh, so you're not an attorney (she was, and so are some of my co-workers)
Me: I am not
Her: Oh, well I'm an attorney
Me: So Whoopty Damn Do (I didn't really say that)

After she realized I was not an attorney, there was the most awkward of silences, and she abandoned me to talk to someone else, and I kept on imbibing and smoking. She didn't ask me more questions, or try to strike up some common ground banter, it just was awkward. Although if I'm being honest, even if she had started asking me legitimate, pointed questions about my professions, I probably would have shut her ass down and walked away. If I'm drinking and smoking, I want to have mindless time, not thing about work.

I told my wife that the next time we go out, and someone asks me that, I'm going to just tell everyone I'm a high school janitor, and just roll with that all night. That ought to go over great...or at the very least produce yet another exciting blog.

Monday, January 12, 2015

So last week I did this diet with my wife called, "The Military Diet". The wife lost 15-20 lbs last year doing this diet, and she looks fantastic, and she's been asking me to join in on the fun with her, but I had refused for the longest time. I respect the power of diets, but I much prefer to run, swim, skip rope and basically do a triathlon to get my excess weight off. I don't get too many chances to flex my athletic prowess anymore, so I rely on my workouts to fill that void. But last week I decided to give in and make the magic happen. The diet is all about depriving yourself with as little food as possible, and as a result of all this malnourishment, I was cranky as hell for the three days (ok two and a half) I had to the diet. The worst part of the diet was eating a grapefruit.

Now, I'm a huge fan of grapefruit juice. My late grandmother kept her some grapefruit juice in the fridge, and despite its occasionally bitter taste, I drank it like a champ because she did. I've also tasted the Ruby Red grapefruit juice, but that's cheating because they sweeten up way more than is necessary. Natural grapefruit juice does the trick as well. But in my 39 years of living on this Earth, I had never eaten a grapefruit, and now this diet was completely taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to tackle this unknown monster.

Before I left the house, I got a brief tutorial from the wife on how to eat it...the grapefruit that is. She said to take a knife and cut all the way to create about 7 or 8 different sections, and then to take that same knife and cut in a circle which would allow me to scoop up the pieces of grapefruit. It sounded easy enough, so I got to work and sat down, I tried this method and all hell broke loose. I cut the grapefruit in sections, and in the process, it squirted all over my good work clothes. Still, I thought that was just part of the risk involved when eating this fruit, so I pressed on and went to step two of the plan. I took a knife around the edges of the fruit, and more squirting went down. On top of that, I was unable to dislodge the grapefruit from the skin, so I started slicing and dicing everything in sight with the knife. All that resulted in was more squirting and frustration.

So at this point, I picked up the fruit, and just sucked all the damn juice I could out of it. I literally treated the fruit like it was a juice box, turned it upside down, and drank that sh*t like a champ. Mind you, I had co-workers walking by my desk periodically, so I had to be as smooth and discreet as possible. I have a (work) image to uphold. So here I was, holding a juiceless grapefruit, trying to figure out how the hell to get the mangled pieces of grapefruit out without looking like a complete savage at my place of employment. Finally, I looked left, then right, picked up the grapefruit, and ate it like Little Black Sambo. It was pitiful, and I'm quite sure I set the race way back, but I conquered the grapefruit like a champ. Needless to say, I will not ever eat that thing again. The grapefruit I mean...


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Being a father has taken a little starch out of the militant stances I've taken in the past. My son (as all kids do), gravitates towards boys and girls of all colors and races, which means I have to interact with the parents of all these wonderful flavors of kids. I have no problems with interacting with parents of all races (which sounds just like "all my best friends are black"), but interacting with other adults leads to awkward pauses, extended silence and even more extended conversations about kid-related things which is not my deal. This is not why I am inserting race into this particular conversation.

After taking in a steady diet of kiddie movies and television shows, I am noticing that this line of kid programming---which shouldn't surprise me given what adult programming is looking like these days--is disproportionately white. I guess I don't notice it as much with my shows, because thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and other apps designed to compartmentalize my life, I'm able to play God with what I do and do not watch. But kiddie programming is much more limited, especially considering his dayc is multiracial and perhaps not as conscious of what a little black kid as I am. But from Toy Story, to Frozen, to Cars, Sprout TV all these movies and shows have lots of white people and white voices. Sesame Street, Madagascar and Shrek provide some relief, but even those contain voices and not young black faces on the television, that my little black kid can see and relate to on a daily basis.

The only two cartoons that young Nyles can view and feel like he's looking at someone who looks like him are Little Bill (not exactly the most popular of cartoons right now given Bill Cosby's clusterfuck of a personal life and Franklin from Charlie Brown. In fact when Nyles saw Franklin on tv during Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special, he walked right up to the television, pointed at Franklin, and said, "That's Nyles". It made me smile that he felt that way, but it also broke my heart, that he saw so few brown folks on television, that he enthusiastically gravitated towards the first one. It was bittersweet.

Again, I get that kids and adults need to interact with all races, because that's an important skill to perfect the older one gets. But damn if it isn't equally as rewarding for a brown kid to see some brown people as affirmation that his people matter. That was one of the great benefits of Obama being elected president. Whether he was good, bad or mediocre, every damn day of the week, there would be lovers, haters and everything in between, discussing this man on all kind of media outlets every damn day. And for the most part, he's always referenced as the President. While I'm at it, that's what made the Cosby Show so damn good in the 80s. Here was a black family who was rich, close, cultured and articulate. I want my son to have a President, a dad and a multitude of television characters to watch when I chose to let him look at the television

Monday, January 05, 2015

For the second consecutive day I have been called out to do something greater, although this time it was one of my co-workers. She explained that I seemed to have gotten complacent at work, and that she sees much greater things out of me given my intelligence, but my work ethic lately leaves much to be desired. She went on to add that she feels like we've worked together long enough for her to be able to say the things that she did. I didn't disagree with a single word she said, and given that my father basically did the same thing to me the day before, I get the point. I can do more, and I will.

My wife took what I consider to be a great, great picture of my son and I laying on the couch yesterday. I want this framed and put on my desk at work. It shows love, trust, love and a genuine closeness between father and son. It also demonstrates that I have a reason to get off my ass and do better in all aspects of my life.




Sunday, January 04, 2015

This morning I called my dad to talk about the sad and premature death of Stuart Scott, when he started running down the list of writing projects I started and never finished. He kept saying "whatever happen to this" and "where are you on that", and I just felt like a little kid who didn't turn in my homework. I gave him the tried and true company line about being overwhelmed with being a father and a husband and having to juggle my paying job, my Wizards job and everything in between. He told me he certainly understood how I could get bogged down with all of those things, and then he said something that justifiably game me pause:

Rashad, you have a unique voice and there are people who want to hear you

Now I know my father is unbelievably biased when it comes to his son, and he has to say things to pump, me up. But he is on to something, because I have not been very good in following through with any of my writing projects--including this blog. And my attempts to restart this blog are literally well-documented, but my father's words resonated with me, so I will try yet again. It reminds me of the words of the late, great Ralph Wiley who wrote in the first sentence of his last column before he died, "All a man has is the integrity of his work".

My responsibilities will continue to increase, and it will continue to be a chore for me to blog, write meaningful articles about the Wizards, and do other things, but I have to do it. After all, I will turn 40 on January 20th, and I need to start cementing my legacy. There's no time like the present right?


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I just read an insanely long Facebook post by my good friend Janelle, and I commented that she should consider putting those thoughts in a blog. Then I realized, hey I have a blog too, and I've neglected it like D'Angelo did his fans until two weeks ago. So on this the final day of 2014, I won't attempt to make any grand proclamations about the resuscitation of this blog. I also won't attempt to write any New Year's resolutions or 2014 in review posts. For now, I'm just going to talk.

I bought the aforementioned D'Angelo album/cd/download a couple of weeks ago, and I enjoy it immensely. I won't declare him as the second coming of Prince, and I won't let his 15 year absence cause me to inflate the importance or quality of this album. But what I DO appreciate is his attention to detail on this album. Once you sift through his mumbled vocals, you can hear deep lyrics, funky baselines, chord changes, orchestral arrangements, etc. Most R&B singers shun live instruments, and just put out a packaged, artificial product. D'Angelo, god bless his hesitant-to-pull-the-trigger soul, took his sweet time and it was worth the wait. Go buy the album.

Happy New Year everyone. Listen to this song, reflect on the past and upcoming years, drink responsibly, and most importantly, get laid.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Earlier in the summer, I stated that I wanted to ride cross-country with my son as a father-son team building exercise. I ran the idea by my son, and he complained that the drive was a bit too long, and he really wasn't interested (aka, it would keep me away from my girlfriend much too long for my liking). Luckily for me, I had a plan B in my pocket, and I proposed to my son that he and I should run the 5k race to prevent cancer. I did the race in 2013, and I thought my son would enjoy it, since he's an avid runner. To sweeten the deal, I told him his girlfriend could run too, and he agreed in a heartbeat.

Not only was this race important because I could spend time with my son and his girl, but cancer prevention is something that remains important to me. My father had a brief bout with prostate cancer, and I had a bit of a brain cancer scare myself last summer, so I am conscious of how important cancer prevention will be for the rest of my life. Granted, I'm not the only one in the world who shares that sentiment, but before those two factors affected my life, I can't say cancer was at the forefront or even the back of my mind. Plus, my son's grandfather (on his mother's side) was just diagnosed with cancer, so I know the disease was floating around in his mind as well. Everything about our participation in this event felt right, and the morning of the event, the perfect weather (60 degrees and sunny) pretty much confirmed that statement.

My goal was to finish under 30 minutes and to defeat my son (17 and an avid runner) and his girl (16 and a member of the track team). I ran the 5k in 25 minutes, and I defeated the both of them by 5 minutes..I did not let them forget that for a good hour after the race. But in the same token as John Thompson says, we laughed, we talked, we ate a healthy post-race meal, we got post-race blood pressure readings, and it was just an overall fulfilling time. I continue to be a proud dad.

Speaking of fathers..Common's dad, Lonnie Lynn (aka Pops) recently passed away. He didn't know me, and I didn't know him, but I did appreciate the appearances he made on his son's recordings. One particular recording--the one I attached below--is especially important to me. The song is called Fatherhood, and I played it in August of 1997 when my son Carlton was born, and I played it again in 2011 when I sent Nyles home. My wife doesn't even like for me to play this song, because it makes me cry every damn time. The words aren't all that moving, although they are poignant, but the thoughts it invokes are powerful to me. My favorite part is at the 2:57 mark:

"You've been a teacher to me, like I have supposed to have been a teacher to you. A lot of people think that parenting and raising a child is a one way street, but you taught me continuous, numerous lessons...and I love you my son"