Tuesday, June 23, 2015

So late Saturday night, I had the house to myself, and I was watching a boxing match on my laptop (NBC-4 kept interrupting the match to discuss the stormy weather, so I opted for the uninterrupted online feed), while sipping on an IPA beer. I got up off the couch to order some pizza, when I dropped my phone on the floor. It was slightly cracked but still functional so I proceeded to order food, text my wife, etc. An hour later, I looked at the phone and it would not work at all. The little light would flash indicating that I had a text/email, but I couldn't see anything else on the phone. I turned it off, turned it back on, but nothing worked.

Now I was angry for two main reasons. One, the next day was Father's day, which meant without my phone I would miss out on all the wonderful Father's Day calls and texts that feed my fragile ego. Plus it would stop me from calling my dad, my brother, etc. But second and most importantly, I hate being without my phone even for a few hours. I text, I get on the Twitter, I play Words with Friends and Scrabble, I look up things on google to prove my wife wrong, and I take pictures of my son Nyles to share on Instagram and all that. Perhaps it isn't good for me to be that dependent on my phone, but hey, I'm conditioned to be that way. Even my condition is conditioned...

Sunday morning, I headed to the playground with my main man Nyles, and I noticed that I was much more attentive to him. I wasn't looking for a photo op depending on what he was doing, I didn't zone out and start fiddling with my phone when he starting playing with other kids. I halfway talked to other parents (ok not really), and I really didn't miss my phone at all. Still, that afternoon, I headed to the Sprint store by house to get a new one. They told me I had to wait until Wednesday, I said that was bull, and they said I could try my hand at the corporate store--in Silver Spring, just 15 minutes away. Mind you, I initially left the house without showering with a T-shirt, basketball shorts and no drawers on, thinking I'd run down the street, get a phone and go back home. No such luck.

So I got in the car, and drove to Silver Spring smelling like the outdoors with my junk swinging and bouncing around like kids in a moon bounce. I walked in the Silver Spring store, explained my issue, and they took my phone to see if they could repair it, and told me to come back in an hour. So now, I decided to venture to a bar down the street, and I was careful to sit alone so that I wouldn't call attention to my attire. I didn't have my phone, so I had no f**king clue when an hour had elapsed without asking the bartender what time it was. After 90 minutes, I went back to the Sprint store, only to have them tell me that my phone couldn't be repaired and I had to order another one, which wouldn't arrive until Wednesday--the same b.s. I heard at the store five minutes away from my house. I ordered the phone, and took my ass home.

When I got home I went on Facebook where most of my friends and family are, and wrote the following message:
I broke my phone and the new one won't be here until Wed. So if you contacted me to wish me a Happy Father's Day, if you called to say hello, or if you just called to moan and make suggestive sex noises in my ear, just hold out a few days.

For those not on Facebook, I emailed them, I used my wife's phone or I got on the iPad and used FaceTime. I was proud at my resourcefulness, but I was still hella pissed to be phoneless. The "inconvenience" continued on Monday when I couldn't use my Starbucks app to get me a Monday-morning beverage. The sad part is that now on Tuesday morning, I'm (almost) used to being phoneless--except I have family in town and trying to coordinate with them is a pain. I say all this to say that I am woefully dependent on my cellphone, and it is a sad sight to see...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

First off, please read the article my colleagues and I collaborated on to create. I realize basketball season is over now, but there are topics to be discussed. Check it out here.

Second, not in importance but rather the second thing I am choosing to mention, is that my son Carlton graduated with honors from high school last Saturday. In attendance was me, his mother, his mother's ex-boyfriend, his mother's ex-husband (who helped raise him), his aunt, his grandmother and his cousin. I was the only person there representing my side of the family, which was fine, because Carlton got to handpick who received one of the 10 tickets he was given. I did not want to pressure him by insisting I get more tickets, because I went through that during my college graduation ceremony. I thought it was going to be an awkward affair, but everyone--except Carlton's grandfather on his mother's side, who chose to go play golf rather than face me and his emotions about his grandson graduating--behaved like the adults they claim to be. This day was about Carlton walking across that stage with honors, and him seeing the people who love him.

I was emotional but surprisingly I did not cry. I took he and his mother to breakfast prior to graduation, and I explained to him how proud I was, and what my expectations of him are going forward. He decided against attending Old Dominion University and has opted to join the Marines, which I definitely have mixed feelings about. It is his choice and I support it, but in lieu of all that's gone in this country the past several months, I'd feel more comfortable if he went to college now, instead of after the military. That being said, he will be the best Marine that institution has ever seen. That's assuming my son doesn't get himself in trouble on Instagram.

Last night, he posted a video of he and his friends drinking at some party, which infuriated me. 12 hours prior, I warned my son about the content he chose to post on a very public forum. I told him that nothing is private, and each post he puts up is a small part of the collage, which can be interpreted as a personal profile he could be judged upon. In the past week, he's posted explicit sex pics, profane videos and then yesterday's alcohol pic. I told him that his behavior could get him kicked out the Marines, arrested, and it could also prevent him from getting a job down the line. Billionaire Mark Cuban recently made this exact same point. I'm not saying I didn't do dumb shit when I was Carlton's age (17) but I did it away from the white hot lights of social media. That doesn't make it better, but it damn sure made it more private.

And finally, two of my favorite artists, Robert Glasper and Kurt Elling have new releases. Go buy them.

I promise I'm not as chubby in this picture as I look. In fact, just focus on my son...

Thursday, June 04, 2015

I have been walking around with my mother's will in my pocket for nine days now. Before she went to Black Images in Art Conference in Florence, Italy last week (and yes for now I'm going to bury the lead). My mother gets paranoid whenever she travels and that paranoia gets ramped up 1000 levels when she goes out of the country. Still, it caught me off guard when she re-did her will last week before she left out of town. I immediately asked her if she was hiding a terrible illness from me, and she said no.

After a little more prodding, she told me she had not re-done her will since her parents passed away in 2013 (her dad) and 2014 (her mom), and those deaths had her forced her to be face to face with her own mortality. I totally got that because when I looked at my grandparents in their respective caskets, all I could think about was death. I thought about how (un)prepared I was to deal with my parents' affairs should either one of them meet an untimely demise. Then I thought about whether my wife and I were prepared should either one of us leave this Earth in a premature fashion. Conversations like this are as uncomfortable as watching a sex scene with your parents, but they are so necessary (the conversation not the sex scenes).

Anyway, my mother came to visit me before she left for Italy, and I ended up leaving the house before she did. When I got back home from work, her new and improved will was right there on my kitchen table, and I was asked to give a copy to my brother and the executor. I made a mental note to do both of those things, and then I stuffed the will in my bag--and after that I forgot about it. I would remember whenever I removed my lunch or my book of rhymes from my work bag, but then I'd close the bag and forget, because I seem to have the memory of a man twice my age. Then today, while I was re-loading my bag with lunch and other various items, I took the will out and looked at it. I ignored the details, and oddly enough I focused on the level of detail my mother went to make sure everything was taken care of, and it made me smile. It is an odd way to receive yet another validation of my mother's love for me, but that's what happened. That could very well be a fleeting emotion that fades my lunch time (when I will re-open my will-less bag) but for now, I'm on the ninth cloud.

Monday, June 01, 2015

So I'm in the middle of teaching my three-year old son Nyles how to get dressed without my help. Either he will be starting school this Fall or he will graduate to the pre-school room at his current daycare--either way, he will need to be autonomous in the getting dressed department.

I started with the socks, and it took him a good three weeks to get completely comfortable. He refused to use two hands, which led to his shit constantly being lopsided, but eventually he powered through and mastered it. He still struggles with tighter socks, but it isn't his fault his parents are too packrat-ish to throw them all away in favor of the newer looser ones. Next we moved on to the underwear, pants/shorts and shirts. He breezed right through the underwear for the most part, although he still gives himself the occasionally accidental wedgie, which is as disgusting and troubling as it sounds. The putting on of the pants/shorts were mastered and conquered within a week, which brings us to the shirts.

Nyles chooses to watch me while he's putting his shirts on, which invariably leads to him putting his arms where his head should go, which is just one, big ass mess. I have put my shirts on in front of him so he'll get it, and I will even politely guide his arms in the proper direction, but he refuses to focus on his own. Right around the time his focus starts to fade is when I get loud, frustrated and borderline condescending towards him, and I don't need you to judge me, because I know good and goddamn well that type of behavior on my part is one big bag of wrong. But that's why I'm here confessing under the guise of a blogspot post.

My wife, god bless her heart, hears me berating our son when it comes time for the shirt portion of the morning/evening, and she does her best to stay the f**k out of my way. But today, after a particularly frustrating session with Nyles, I asked her if she thought I was being too harsh, and she very diplomatically said yes. Now I have to figure out a way to take my foot off the gas, without messing with the slight momentum we've made as of late. I want my son to be tough and to learn how to be self-sufficient, but nothing everything has to be hard-fought lesson I suppose. Plus when he looks at me with those sad ass Puss and Boots eyes, I can't maintain my anger. And I haven't even mentioned how maddening it is to watch him attempt to take this shirt off. But again, he's three years old, it isn't his fault his dad is a wanna-be tyrant.

This blog post has no real point except to say that my son and my lack of patience are winning this particular round of childhood. I will be back. In the meantime, listen to my latest song obsession called "Make A Smile For Me" by Mr. Bill Withers: