Monday, February 23, 2015

So my wife has this woman she has worked with (we'll call her Amy), the past few years. They became close because Amy has a son who is around the same age of our son Nyles. Nyles and her son have played together, my wife and Amy have had extended play dates, and I even got in on the action, when they hosted a couples play date at some point last year*

*Sidebar*: That play date was the most awkward sh*t I've ever attended and that's saying a lot. The women and children got along just fine, as was to be expected. The guys were not put in a position to succeed at all. There was a TV in the living room, but it stayed off, which meant there was no basketball, no ESPN, no soccer, no nothing. Just crazy kids running around and meaningless chatter about b.s. (the weather, the what-do-you-do-for-a-living question, etc). The only thing that kept this event from being an absolute disaster was the presence of alcohol. I downed one mimosa and 5 beers in a 10 minute span hoping it would set things off, but it was still awkward. When you throw in the fact that I was the only black guy there, it just made for a weird time. I will never allow my wife to convince me to attend such an event. Not on those terms at least **sidebar over***

Anyway I have been in Amy's home, I've talked to Amy while she was with my wife at work, and I have had at least 5-10 face-to-face conversations with her. Not to mention, my son looks exactly like me, so she's played with and been exposed to mini-me as well. I also should mention here that Amy, my wife and I all work on the same block (different buildings).

I have walked by Amy at least 20 times since we've worked near each other. When this happens my wife is not around and neither is Nyles, it is just me and Amy, and she walks RIGHT by me. I say good morning to her, and she looks at me, then she keeps walking like she doesn't know who the hell I am. Just this morning, she and I stood next to each other in Starbucks for seven minutes (I timed it). I said good morning, and she gave me the I-don't-know-you-but-I'm-speaking-anyway greeting, but she had no clue it was me. I'm not exactly the most socially-adjusted dude on the face of the Earth, and God knows I hate small-talk, but I put all that aside where my wife's friends are concerned. Plus, this woman has spent quality time with me and my son, so I'm almost obligated to speak. Apparently that's a one-way street.

Now in fairness, my wife tells me that Amy has endured some serious personal tragedies over the last year, which means she is prone to random periods of zoning out and not paying attention to her surroundings. I do understand that, but I'm not asking for a full-on conversation. I just want some acknowledgement that we know each other, our kids play, and how the hell are you?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this has been happening to me for years with white people I work with. While I'm at the job, they speak, they talk to me, we share playful jokes, but then outside of work, they treat me like I do not exist. Just a few months back I saw one of my co-workers--a woman who sits right next to me--at the Safeway. I said hello Alyssa, and she looked at me, took her headphones off, and said, "I'm sorry, have we met?". I thought she was joking, and when I realized she wasn't I had to tell her my name, where I worked, and where I sat, and then she said, "Oh hey Rashad, OMG I didn't recognize you!". I was not wearing a hat, a fake beard, or a disguise. I wasn't in work attire at all, but damn. Variations of that same scenario have happened several times during my 20 year work career. I don't understand it. It doesn't happen with all of white co-workers, but it never happens with any of my black ones.

God bless the life of Clark Terry

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The creation of this blog hasn't really gotten me laid, it hasn't made me any money, and while it basically allowed me to be in a position to cover the NBA, it hasn't brought me a sustained amount of notoriety which is fine. I simply started this blog to remove the thoughts from my head, and put them on paper, or online.

However, one of the best parts of this blog is connecting with people who I may have otherwise never had the pleasure of meeting. One of those people is my main man jazzbrew aka Eric Brewington. He doesn't blog as much as he used to (and frankly neither do I) but he has his hands full with marriage, a kid, a step-kid, a new instrument (hello bass, goodbye trumpet) and his 9-to-5. He's a jazz head (probably even moreso than I am) like me, and I have had the pleasure of trading emails with him about jazz, family, Tiger Woods, and other subjects that shall remain confidential.

My main man Jamal--who I met in 1999 via the wonderful site Okayplayer, has started a podcast dedicated to fatherhood entitled, Your Mark - A Series About All Things Fatherhood and jazzbrew is the first featured guest. I highly recommend to listen to this episode to learn more about jazzbrew, and keep listening going forward, because eventually I will be featured on here as well.

Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Right now I have four books that are currently laughing and staring at me, wondering when I will stop procrastinating and finally find the time to give them the attention they deserve. They books are as follows:

Bob Ryan - Scribe

Al Michaels - You Can't Make This Up

Jim Boeheim and Jack McCallum - Bleeding Orange

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Streeball Crew 2 Stealing The Game

All four books are advances I got from various publishing companies, with the expectation that I would read, review them and prepare to interview the authors. Realistically speaking, I was not going to finish the first three books in time to be able to talk to the authors (they give you a tight turnaround period with which to finish the book) but for the Kareem book, I was determined to finish so I could interview him a second time.

I didn't finish reading the book, but I skimmed it with purpose, so I could get the main idea of the book. The key for me was to know enough about the book so he'd respect me and talk freely about the the writing process and the contents of the book, but I also wanted to ask him some sports and social related questions, because I know he's a versatile dude. I tried to get an interview through the publisher and through Kareem's PR folks since I've had dealings with them before. I traded emails, promises were made but nothing tangible has happened yet, which is disappointing. Not to be totally morbid or depressing, but Kareem will be 68 this year, and who knows how much time he has left. Selfishly speaking, I want a lucid Kareem at my disposal...I digress.

I used to be able to rip through books like it was nothing--at least one a month. Now I start books, and then I leave them on the side of the road (bookcase) not knowing when the hell they will be picked up again. My walk to work is 5 minutes, so its not like I can be on the train reading, and at home there are demands on my time. Perhaps I should join or start a book club, but that's not realistic time-wise..

I guess I need to improve on my time management...

Monday, January 26, 2015

I was passed over for a promotion today at my job, because the person in charge of hiring felt that I lacked the ability to motivate and inspire. The person who got the job--who I respect tremendously--is an outgoing woman with an outgoing personality, and it is much easier to see results with someone with a learning style like that. My managerial style, actually my entire style, is all about being understated, subtle, but equally as effective and my results were and are just as impactful as hers (well not JUST as impactful otherwise I would have gotten the fucking job). But just as closed mouths don't get fed, I suppose the same can be said for reserved ones, so this is my fault. It certainly doesn't lessen the hurt and irritation. I'll come up with a Plan B in a couple of days. But to get dealt that type of a blow not even a week after my 40th birthday definitely makes a mark on my psyche. I have to do better.

Speaking of birthdays, my mother turns 63 today, and she celebrated by asking a male friend of hers (she claims they are not dating) to accompany her to dinner. My mother and this class act of a gentleman have dinner together, and when the bill comes, he not only does not offer to pay, but he makes it his business to tell my mother, "I don't have any money, if you wanted me to pay, you should have given me a heads up". And no I'm not fabricating this story.

First off, I have plenty of female friends who I'm not interested in, who I would willingly come out of my pocket for on their birthday. It is just the honorable and polite thing to do for someone on their birthday, and it speaks volumes about one's character when the type of gesture is extended, just like it speaks volumes about one's lack of character when those actions are not taken. Second what grown man comes out of the house with no money, eats a full mean like this is a scene out of the movie Soul Food, and the boldly makes a declaration of poverty on a full stomach. To quote one of my favorite ushers at the Wizards' games, "Where they do that at?"

I hear stories from women my age and younger, about how some dudes are lazy and don't want to properly woo a woman, but I've never heard a 60-plus year old man do something that egregious. My mother (and other ladies) deserves better on her birthday.

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