Thursday, October 08, 2015

I walked into work this morning feeling pretty damn good, because my son and I--although we usually drive--took that 20 minute walk from our house to school. We talked about behaving, listening to his teachers, garbage trucks, dogs and squirrels. He was unusually cheery and I felt good about our conversation. That's almost enough to make me overlook how much of an ass he was acting last night when he complained about his blankets, the temperature of his room, and how he couldn't sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed. He's in the midst of this weird temper tantrum phase, and it testing my patience big time. But I digress.

I came into work looking forward to punishing the cantaloupe that has been looking so juicy and succulent, but while I'm in the kitchen, my co-worker traps me into having this conversation:

Her: Good morning
Me: Good morning
Her: Do you notice anything different about me?
Me (noticing the ridiculous-looking bouncy curls in her hair): Yes I see you got your hair done
Her: Do you like it?
Me: No
Her: Excuse me?
Me: No I don't like it, but I'm pretty sure you didn't have me in mind when you did it so...
Her: I can't you would be so rude

She walked out after her last sentence, and that conversation happened around 8:50am. It is now 9:29, and I have heard her tell that same story to two other women in this office, and they both have given me disapproving looks. I stand by my reaction.

This is why you don't go fishing for compliments especially with co-workers. I saw her hair before she saw me, and I instantly knew I didn't like, but I had planned on keeping that bit of information to myself. I get haircuts, I get new clothes, I grow a beard, then a goatee, or maybe an Artis Gilmore, and I don't expect compliments or ego-stroking. If I get love, I'm appreciative, but it is not a prerequisite from folks I work alongside.

Maybe she doesn't have a man or woman. Maybe she's having a bad day, or maybe she's just feeling supremely confident because of the fresh look. I don't know, but I cannot give out false compliments at age 40. Everyone else has complimented her, so maybe it's me. Or maybe they value keeping the peace and ego-stroking over telling the truth. I don't know, am I wrong here?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The home visit was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. By the time I got home from work and walked in the house, Nyles was hiding behind a wall, while his teachers and my wife sat in the living room. I thought I would be annoyed that I didn't have a chance to change clothes, sip wine, kiss my family and relax, but I was surprisingly pleasant and effusive. I walked in the door, and the teachers said hi, allowed me put my bag down, and then they fired away. His teachers asked my wife and me where we were from, where we went to school, and how long we have lived in the area. That was actually a smart disarming tactic on their part, because when it gets right down to it, who doesn't like to talk about themselves right?

After the introductory salutations, his teachers transitioned to what their expectations were of us as parents and of Nyles as a student, which was useful. Per the website that the teachers maintain, we are supposed to get Nyles so say certain words, discuss certain scenarios, and we basically have to be an extension of the lessons they teach in the classroom. Now, I'm no dummy, I did teach before and I know that parent participation is absolutely crucial to a child's success, but I'm also a sleepy-ass parent who is juggling many things, so this type of reinforcement was helpful. Meanwhile, during this entire conversation, Nyles refused to come out in the living room to join the rest of us. I went back to convince him to come out, but he basically told me to go f**k myself.

The wife and I asked if Nyles was behind at all considering he started two weeks late, and they marveled at how quickly he was able to close the gap, which was comforting. I gently made fun of both teachers are not giving Nyles a star outside of the classroom. All of the other students had stars labeled with their name, but young Nyles had neither a star nor a name. I let this slide for two weeks, but when I had the teachers in my house, I called them out, and they assured me it would be up soon, they had just been swamped. It is worth mentioning that it took them another week to put that damn star up on the wall, but it is there. The irony? This morning I picked Nyles up and showed him the star, and he "accidentally" kicked another star off the wall, which made me laugh.

As the teachers were leaving, they asked Nyles if it was weird for him to see his teachers in the house, and he said yes. They then asked if he was ready for them to go, and he said yes again. Of course, as soon as they left, he ran to the window, waved goodbye, and raved about them both. Typical kid.

The moral of the story? There is none. This visit may not have been as bad as I thought, but that won't stop me being a raging pessimist. That's my business, that's what I do.

This song has nothing to do with my blog, it was just in my head, and I loved it in high school. Little-known fact? The Bomb Squad, mostly known for producing the militant Public Enemy and the menacing Ice Cube, produced this silly song:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Today, as is the norm with some DC public schools, my son's teacher and co-teacher will be paying a visit to our home. I first learned of this on back-to-school night, and I cringed at the thought of strangers sitting and chatting in my home. I actually thought since my son started school late, that maybe they would forget or skip us, but not so much. They coordinated today's date with my wife, and then this morning as I dropped my son off, Ms. Donaldson(who wants to be called Ms. D) said loudly in front of other parents, "I'm coming to YOUR house tonight Rashad." I said ok and got the hell out of there as soon as I could.

***sidebar** I don't like calling her Ms. D. It's perverse and it lends itself to smartass, inappropriate jokes that I'm tempted mask in code words so I can tell them in front of the children. Who needs that kind of temptation every morning? And won't it teach the kids more letters and pronunciation if they have to say her entire name? I do give her credit for calling me "Rashad", and not "Dad" like the folks at daycare did. Adults should use proper names. Even at 3, Nyles knows my first name, but he also knows that we ain't the Jacksons, which means he is never to call me that. Gold star Ms. Donaldson. **sidebar off**

The purpose of these home visits is to help the kids and parents feel more comfortable. Nyles will get to see his teachers in his natural habitat, which means he may be more comfortable talking and sharing with his teachers. His teachers--even though the visit is approximately just 30 minutes--may pick up on some tiny nuances or eccentricities that Nyles has, which could assist them in relating with him in a more personalized way. And for the parents, having the teachers in the home is a way of getting personalized attention and uninterrupted questions and answers. God knows teachers can't really concentrate in the classroom with kids, parents and other teachers all up in their face. So basically I'm saying that the home visit is a win for all parties--but man does it offend my personal, hermit-like sensibilities.

The visit is at 6, I get off work at 5:30, which means all during my 10-15 minutes walk home, I can't think about relaxing, sipping on something and playing with my wife and child. Instead, as if I'm headed to a Wizards game, I have to be "on" and interview/attentive mode. I need to have material written down, I need to listen to the teachers' questions and be armed with follow up statements, and I need to make sure my kid doesn't act like a natural fool. I asked my wife if it would be ok for me to sip on wine, and she said absolutely not. I tried to say that sipping wine in the home was way more classy than beer, Hennessy, or Schlitz Malt Liquor, but she still shut me down.

Now I have to be uncomfortable in my own home with no libations after a long day of work, while suppressing my anger and my inclination to say, "The f**k y'all want?". I'm sure this will go better than I think, but right now, I'm expecting gloom and doom and I'm keeping expectations low. That's best for all parties involved.

Addendum: After reading my blog, the wife sent me this article, which gives additional reasoning for the home visit approach.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

So my big mouth got me in a bit of hot water this morning..

I was standing about a block from work waiting to cross the street, when a woman with a knee brace walked in front of me and attempted to jaywalk. Not only did the sign clearly say "Do Not Walk", but the timer indicated that she had a good 35-second wait time to sit (or stand) through before she could legally cross the street. I don't know about you, but if I had a brace on me, I would be painstakingly careful and detail-oriented to prevent anything from a) re-injuring my injured knee or b) causing my other knee any harm. But that's just me and my rigid value system I suppose. It wasn't even a subtle knee brace either, it was big bulky Bernard King knee brace. I digress.

So Bernard King gets about halfway across the street, realizes she doesn't have a shot in hell at making it across, so she comes back, while having to dodge yet another car in the process. When she got back to the curb with the rest of us sane, mere mortals, other people were saying, "Oh my god, are you alright", and "Please be careful". At first I wasn't going to say jack because I knew it would be smart and inappropriate, but as my curb-mates kept heaping on the sympathy, I just couldn't resist. So I quietly, but firmly said, "Where did you think you were going anyway, with your broke ass knee?"

Now, keep in mind when you have headphones on, you're never really quite sure just how far your voice can carry. I know this because when I go to Starbucks to order my drink and give them my name, the staff never seems to hear me until I remove my headphones and project my voice. So when I said my comment, I thought no one would really hear except Bernard, but of course my voice picked this occasion to be bionic, and everyone on the damn curb heard and gave me a dirty look. Bernard gave me a dirty look and decided to talk some jive to me:

Her: What the hell did you just say?

Now there were three ways to handle my retort. I could have:

1) Apologized for being smart, and started full backpedal mode

2) Say what I said in a less mean way, while capturing the sympathetic sentiment that everyone else on the damn curb had adopted

3) Repeat what I said with the exact same mean inflection.

Sadly, I chose to double down and say it again.

Me: I said where are you going with your broke ass knee, you know you can't run or move quickly

Her: I don't think that's any of your f**king business

Me: You're right, in the meantime, get on the curb with the rest of us

Her: Excuse me?

Now at this point the sign said "Walk", and I walked right by her, pointed at the "Walk" sign, and said, "It's showtime, tread lightly sweetie". I put my headphones back in, but not before I heard her say, "F**k you!" I can't even blame her, I should have shut up, minded my own business, and let it go. But seriously, she should have followed the law and waited, after all the Pope is here, show some respect.

I'm going to see this woman on Saturday, and I am pumped:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

No official entry. Just the original demo of Stevie singing "I Can't Help It" before he gave it to Michael. You don't need last names do you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

About a month ago my mother called me and said she was going to see Wynton Marsalis perform in Cleveland. As I have detailed in this blog many times before, my family and Wynton go way back to 1984. He was an up and coming trumpet player from New Orleans who learned the ways of the jazz Force via Art Blakey and the Messengers, and my brother and I were 9 and 6 years old respectively, just learning the ways and nuances of jazz. We took a picture, we bonded, and all was well.

Three years later my family moved to Maryland, and one Saturday four years after that, we went to Blues Alley in Georgetown and had a reunion with Wynton. He was there with his new and improved band, and I was a 15 year old trumpet player who played in both the jazz and marching bands. I brought my mouthpiece, Wynton let me play for him, we took more pictures, and he suggested that if I wanted to get better that I a) needed to practice every day and b) I needed to buy Bags Groove which was a Miles Davis album featuring Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and others. I practiced every day until I made the basketball team, at which point I promptly ditched the trumpet altogether (a decision I regret to this day). And I didn't buy Bags Groove until last summer, and it was damn good.

I fell out of contact with Wynton until 2009, when I noticed he was coming to the Kennedy Center. I reached out to his people, let them know my connection to Wynton, and they told me that I could come backstage after the show. Of course, the night he was scheduled to perform, I was also scheduled to cover a Wizards game. At that point, I was in my first season covering the team, and I was paranoid about missing any games, so I ditched Wynton (a decision I do NOT regret), and respectfully sent a email explaining my absence. His people reached out to me and said that my invitation was an open one, and I could come back the next time. I haven't been able to go to a show yet, but I will...hopefully.

So when my mom told me she was going to see Wynton in Cleveland, she asked me to put her in contact with the same folks I had contacted. It worked like a charm, and she got a chance to go backstage and she even took a picture:

While she was backstage she showed Wynton pictures of me, my family, my brother and his family etc. Wynton remembered that I played the trumpet, and my mother promptly told him that I had quit, but Wynton still wanted to talk to me. He took my mother's phone, sent me a text that said "Man, call me tomorrow". I didn't understand the text when I first got it, because it was from my mom's number, but she promptly called me and told me what I had happened. I was pumped.

Now, much like that scene from the movie Swingers, when the fellas were debating how long to call a woman after you get her number, I didn't know whether to call Wynton the very next day or wait. An immediate call would seem pressed, but waiting was just as dicey, because he meets 4000 people daily and he could forget about me and the conversation he had with moms. I called the next day around 4pm and the convo went like this:

Him: Hello?
Me: May I speak to Mr. Marsalis
Him: Yeah, who's this?
Me (slightly stuttering): This is Rashad Mobley, you met my mom last night
Him: Yeah I texted you last night on her phone, what's up man? Hey can you call me back?
Me: No problem when?
Him: Later today is cool
Me: no problem

He didn't hear me say no problem, because he had already hung up the phone. Maybe he had a lady in the room, but why would he answer the phone? I was slightly intimidated and disappointed, but I pressed on and called him around 5pm, but he didn't answer, so I left a brief message. A week later my mom suggested I call again because he's a busy man, but when I did, he answered, acknowledged that he knew me, and asked me to call back again. I called back and got voicemail. I sent a text last Monday as my final attempt, but to no avail. I ain't contacting that mfer again, and yes I'm salty.

I told my mother that Wynton was probably caught in the moment, and decided to text me that night because my mother is nice and persistent. But left to his own devices, Wynton probably doesn't give a good goddamn about me, unless he sees me at a show, and we can talk face to face. So the next time he comes to DC, I will commence to semi-stalking him once again. In the meantime, I still like his music, I'm still annoyed he hates hip hop, and I'm even more annoyed (but not surprised) about the cold shoulder. These things happen right?

Friday, September 11, 2015

I used to be mildly apologetic for my lapses in blog productivity, but that shit is now over and done with. Life has been happening since last I wrote, and for the most part there have been a series of fortunate events.

First off, my wife and I were fortunate enough to get Nyles into one of the schools we chose for him in DC's crazy game of Charter School Lottery. At first, we thought we were going to have to endure yet another year of $800 a month daycare, and then last Friday, we received an email indicating that young Nyles had been selected. It was not as if the daycare where Nyles had been attending was bad or substandard in any way, but it was a church daycare that didn't have the academic structure we wanted. That's not a knock on church daycare in general, and I definitely wasn't knocking the great job the daycare did with Nyles from 3 months to 3 years. But it was time to leave and he did.

The wife and I hyped the new school experience all through Labor Day weekend so that Nyles would be locked in and ready to go on his first day, rather than being super-emotional and whiny as youngsters are wont to do on their first day. Nyles was already going to be starting a week later than the other kids, so it was important that he hit the ground running as much as possible, and he did just that. He didn't cry, he wasn't clingy, and he immediately took a shine to both the teacher and the teacher's aide. His first day was Tuesday, today is Friday, and he STILL has more energy than the 14 other kids in that class. Thank God the teachers have to deal with him all day and not me.

Last night was Back to School Night, and for the first time since my older son's high school graduation in June, I felt old. Me, the wife and Nyles were sitting in the school auditorium with parents, teachers and administrators, listening to upcoming school year events, and it just felt surreal. There's a certain youthfulness that kids bring to their parents, and that's all well and good. But in some respects while I was sitting there, I realized that I'm not a little boy or a young man anymore, I'm a full grown adult with a kid in the military and a younger kid whose life I have to help shape and mold. It isn't a scary thought or one I plan on backing down from, but man I felt every bit of 40 last night. So I drank a healthy dose of wine while I watched football..

Tomorrow, I will tell my Wynton Marsalis story. That's a little something we like to call a tease.

I recently re-bought this on tape for nostalgia's sake, and when it wasn't properly rewound, I realized why I left the tape genre altogether. The music is still great as is this song: