Web Toolbar by Wibiya


Day 3: The Little Things

My father gave me a can of shave cream last weekend while he was here. There are a few things I've learned directly from him and some I've copied. I taught myself how to shave the proper way by watching him for many years. Without going into all the boring details, it is a laborious, but rewarding activity that produces the perfect shave 9 times out of 10 (this isn't scientific by any means).

Since the baby was born I got out of the habit of shaving like this. I began to buy shaving cream in the aerosol can from Target and everywhere else and even put up a mirror in the shower to quicken the experience in order to get in and out the bathroom as quickly as possible. Never mind the fact that I was walking out of the house at 9 in the morning with a 5 o'clock shadow or racing stripes of hair on my cheeks, under my chin or by my neck. It became a chore, like everything else in my life.

Two days ago, I looked at the can of shaving cream sitting on my kitchen counter (where I left it when my father gave it to me) and took it into the bathroom, I found my shaving brush, pre-shave oil, aftershave, etc., etc., etc. and gave myself a nice, good old fashioned shave. My skin burned when I was done, but it was perfect, like they used to be when I gave a damn about myself. I've taken the time to shave this way every day since and I appear different to myself --- fresh faced and not haggard.

  • Take the time to do for you, because no one else will.
  • Don't dismiss the little things.
  • The little things define you just as much as the big ones.


Day 1: The War Cry

Before I begin...for those of you out there who watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta...what in the HELL was that episode about last night? There is so much material to rip regarding this show I'd have to dedicate this entire blog to it. I must shamefully admit, however, I find NeNe to be the most entertaining out of the bunch.


Today my quest for happiness began. I came into work with a chip on my shoulder, angered, but empowered by my desire to let no one steal my joy. Ensuring this involved honestly airing out my grievances to the top person on the food chain regarding a petty, but humiliating experience I endured in the office. My words were polite, but harsh in their certainty. And I had no fear or worry in expressing them. I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but I honestly don't care. I got to speak my mind, first. Since it's not wise to blog about work. I'll leave it at that.

The larger point is, why would I not expect my path not to fill up with land mines after I proclaimed to the world that I'm going to reclaim my joy? The second you decide you want better for yourself the only certainty that follows is that all hell breaks loose. This can take a variety of forms - a brazen, unexpected argument with a close friend or relative, the loss of a job, coming to your car and finding your windows shattered. Anything that can come along to steer you off course, keep you stuck at start, pissed off at yourself and the world --- will come along.

Be prepared for it, recognize it and cut it off at the knees before it has a chance to attack you. Or if you're not into violence, simply walk away and allow cooler heads to prevail.

Election day is 6 days away...


Going Nowhere Fast

How many times have you heard, "I'm just biding my time," or "When something better comes along, I'll..."?

Human beings are settlers in every sense of the word. We settle land, we settle down, and we settle for everything. Anyone who reads MMWH knows I make fun of the rut I'm in, but the truth is I am in a rut and I've been here for a while. A long string of harmless, but awful decisions have me living in a closet instead of a home and chained to a desk in Manhattan wasting away from 9 to 5. I'm not enjoying life the way I'd like to as a man who will be exiting his thirties in a few years.

But am I actually chained to my desk? Am I, are any of us, chained to anything?

Unless you're in jail we live in prisons of our own creation. Mine is the belief that I have to make sure everyone else in my life is taken care before I can take care of myself. This very common, harmless and selfless belief has been the bane of my existence for the past 4 years, if not longer.

There was a time when I cast care to the wind. There was a time when I had faith. There was a time when no matter what happened, I shrugged it off, because in the end I knew I would not fail.

It wasn't that I was young or stupid. I simply believed. And I was fierce in my belief.

Ripped straight from the Bible, or the Matrix (if you choose not to believe in God) you are defined by your beliefs. Mr. Obama believed he could be President, he concocted a plan, and no matter what happens on November 4th, the unthinkable has occured --- one of the most viable races ever for the highest office by an African American. He's almost on his way to do what I only thought I would see on shows like FOX's 24 (Dennis Haysbert as President of the U.S.). How many others though walk this path. Michael Jordan, Nobel scientists, your favorite musician, your pastor. Although very human they either busted out of their jails or never allowed shortsightedness to imprison them in the first place.

This past weekend I spent a lot of time searching my soul and I've decided I want more for myself. More than what I've been accepting in recent years. How many of us have drowned in awful relationships waiting for "something better" to come along. How many of us (in this situation) have admired that friend for kicking some jackass (male or female) to the curb and being single (and happy) until something better comes along. And because they get better, what happens? Someone better does come along.

Even in this economy, the same goes for jobs. Get yourself right and everything else will turn right. What does this mean? This is the solvable mystery each of us must unravel in the pursuit of happiness.

I'll be unraveling mine here in the coming days and weeks. If anyone reading this is standing still, I encourage you to get going with your life. Not because you could be gone tomorrow (although you can), but rather happiness, fulfillment and the joy these both bring is too important to not experience --- not even for even one day.



The Audacity to Switch Seats

The wife is out of town for a few days and my folks are in town for a few days. A perfect scenario for me to take my time coming and going. All of my normal stress that has me looking like I'm trying to relive those OJ/Samsonite commercials from the 70's has gone bye-bye for now.

Yesterday, I opted to take Metro North home and found an available seat on one of the rear cars of the train. It was on the 3-person bench, the one that allows for you to have a space between you and the person in the window seat because almost no one chooses to sit in the middle.

A well dressed middle-aged woman in a white wool coat was sitting in the window seat sporting a rather sizable Obama button. Before sitting down, we made eye contact and she gave me one of those half-smiles of acknowledgment that New Yorkers occasionally give each other. I sat down and resumed reading the paper in my hand. I was dressed pretty swank, if I must say so. I had on an off the rack wool car coat that fits like it was tailored, a pair of burgundy cordouroys (I was teased at work) and shirt and vest combo that along with my pageboy cap gave me a thirties look. My point is, I wasn't dressed like a security guard on his way home for the day, I didn't have on an oversized, ill fitting suit with my shirttails out, I didn't have my doorag hanging out of my back pocket, I wasn't wearing headphones, rapping out loud singing along with some song, yelling, "f-everyone, b, ho," and all the rest of it. Not that I do any of that stuff anyway.

I was chillin'.

As soon as I sat down, this Obama button-wearing woman closed her purse even though I was nowhere near it and not even looking her way. Needless to say, she wasn't black like me, and in all fairness I can't say a black woman wouldn't have done the same thing. And just because she wore a button supporting a black presidential candidate there was no real reason for me to think she wouldn't be wary of me, a completely harmless black man. Obama's that ideal on television making eloquent speeches. I'm just some dude on the train headed home to the skirts of the city.

It was the end of the day and I wasn't thinking about her at all. If I was thinking about anything it was my kids and watching this week's episode of the Office coming on later that evening.

I was hurt at first. Then I smiled. And then in an audacious move, I exercised my right of choice. I left that seat and walked to the other end of the car where I sat beside an Asian man who never even noticed I was there (or at least acted that way).

Election day is November 4th.

Whatever your preference.

Make sure you get out there and vote.


Everybody by Fonzworth Bentley

About a month ago, my wife put me on to Fonzworth Bentley's video, Everybody. Styled after the Doo-wop era, Bentley, Kanye West, Andre 3000 and some other dude aspire to "make it" on an Ed Sullivan-type show. Bentley and Dre rap and Kanye sings the hook. The song at best is so-so, but the video is happy almost to the point of being silly. It's very obvious these guys aren't taking themselves seriously --- yes, even my Chi-Town brother, Mr. West.

Since downloading the video on my iPod I've watched it every morning on my way into work and I watch on my way home. It completely takes the edge off and puts a smile on my face. That's the beautiful thing about musicians and the music they make. Their creativity is such that it can touch individuals in various walks of life and can mean so many different things to so many different people at the same time.

That's a beautiful thing.


Four Ways To Argue With Your Wife Over Absolutely Nothing

After an exciting weekend of butting heads with the wife I've nailed down four sure-fire ways for men to make themselves miserable for absolutely no reason:

  1. Sit in the passenger seat of your car while she drives.
  2. In the name of spending time together, go shopping with her, and have nothing to buy for yourself.
  3. When she starts talking under her breath, don't ignore it. Find out exactly what she said.
  4. Tell her she's being dramatic. Especially when she's being dramatic.
I've become so practiced at this, if it were an Olympic event, I'd have a gold medal in self-torture.


Sleeper Hold

Over the past couple of weeks I've developed the Midas Touch when it comes to putting my daughter to sleep. It's a combination of rocking, bouncing and swaying a 36-pound 2 year-old. The longest it's taken me to put her down is 15 minutes. The shortest is about 90 seconds. I've gotten so good at it that she now requests my services when she is ready to knock off for the night, but is too crazed to do so on her own. This shouldn't be confused with what is commonly referred to as a sleeper hold --- the offensive move commonly and illegally used by some cops and wrestlers to make someone pass out.

Now, if I can only perfect my method so that it takes maybe 30-seconds or less and doesn't require any lifting...I'd use it on my wife when we argue and then I'd create an instruction manual and sell it to men worldwide.


My Goatee is Turning Gray

My wife is very concerned that the kitchen and bathroom stay clean...but that's about it.

My son, who is apparently blind in both eyes, is the type of child who will pick up a box of spaghetti, thinking it's aluminum foil, spill the entire box in the cabinet, on the floor and somehow on the dining room table and is perfectly okay with leaving most of it behind claiming, "I didn't see it!" and "It wasn't my fault!" I've explained to him as clearly and calmly as possible that if I back my truck into a tree, even if I didn't see the tree, it's not the tree's fault. He's a teenager, I understand, I've been there myself. But his level of clutzdom and follow-up excuse-making is venturing into the completely ridiculous.

My daughter, given her level of alertness or boredom will wreak havoc within a twelve foot radius of her surroundings. Cleaning up after her is like stepping in fresh doggy doo doo --- no matter how hard you try you just can't clean it all up.

I was off on Monday for the holiday and I did my best to clean up the place so when the wife came home she could relax after a long day's work. My wife took off on Wednesday and when I got home I felt I stepped into National Wholesale Liquidators or Caldor's twenty minutes before closing on a Saturday. And if I dared ask why the house was a mess I would've had hell to pay. I also noticed that roughly a hundred miles had been tacked onto the mileage on her day off.

I looked in the mirror this morning to see the usual 2 gray hairs in my goatee have been joined by six more.

I sighed.


I Am da Driver

As of three weeks ago, the dynamic of my morning commute changed drastically. My son's usual transport to school in the mornings let us know he just can't do it anymore, five days a week every week. So now I share the effort with this person. The problem is that my son's school is 25 minutes north of where I live, which is just north of the Bronx, and forever to Chelsea where I work.

What's a dad to do? My son has to be at school very early so if I time it just perfectly I can get him to school, get back home to my neighborhood, catch whatever bus or train is there when I get there and then get to work fifteen to twenty minutes late.

At first, this worked perfectly. Not so much anymore. My son's diligence in waking up on time to get to school has deteriorated now that he's full into his football season and refuses to go to bed just as any kid his age does. So where does this leave me? Going nowhere slowly.

Here's the math: It takes me roughly an hour to take my son to school and get back home to drop off my car to my wife so she can take the baby to the sitter at her leisure (she doesn't have to be at her desk until 10). It takes me anywhere from another 60 to 90 minutes to get to work. By 9:30 am, I've been up since 6 am (or earlier on nights I can't sleep) and spent two and half hours commuting into work. In the evening, I'm bolting out of my job to get to the sitter before she closes for the night to then drive to pick up my son from football practice. Tack on another two and a half hours during crushing, cursing, stinking, miserable rush hour and I'm home most nights just before 8 pm.

Here's a question: WHAT IN GOD'S NAME AM I DOING?

When do I have time to work out? When do I have time to eat breakfast. When do I have time to think? I have been late to work for 13 days straight. I don't even humbly walk through the door anymore. I'm just as indignant and angry as I want to be by the time I collapse into my seat.

Curiously enough I lost my appetite three weeks ago. This occurred around the same time I encountered a slight case of strep throat. Initially, I dismissed it as having to do with the strep. But three weeks and a bunch of antibiotics later and I still have little to no desire to eat. My body isn't a fan of mine right now. I'm living my life in the brief shades of day and night.

At work, one of the only other men on the premises talks to me about how his mother picks up his nieces and nephews after school. Another colleague is a grandmother and talks constantly about her "baby" and makes sure she's home before she gets home. Back in the day my own grandpa used to take me to school and drop me home when my mom was taking a crosstown bus to her teaching gig. Sometimes why I wonder why I don't have this kind of support --- the kind I don't have to ask for because the family elders are fighting to spend time with the kiddies. My own folks appear to be this type, but they are in Chicago. I guess it's a sign of the times and the economy, like everything else. A whole lot of people have less than I do and the kids at my non-profit don't have anything at all. So I have no choice but to count myself blessed. But that doesn't stop my situation from being crazy.

Is anyone else out there wasting away for hours at a time on a daily basis, commuting and transporting little people?

Why (Some) Men Cheat

I have a friend, who told me, very matter-of-factly, "I get p___y every chance I get."

I have another friend who used to throw away thousands of dollars in Atlantic City every chance he got.

I can think of several men I know who get sloppy drunk anytime a bottle of alcohol is in the same room with them.

All of these men are married men. All of them have different poisons, but each provides the same result --- escape.

Last Wednesday, it took me three hours to get to work. After dropping my son off at school, I missed my train into the city because he was running late. I quickly switched gears and decided to take the bus part of the way in. But no more than five minutes and roughly five blocks into my ride I had to jump off because my wife couldn't find her set of car keys and she needed to drop the baby off at the sitter. She insisted I had both sets. Because I was pissed I walked home much faster than I would've been able to had it been any other time. I found the car keys 30 seconds after I walked through the door on the dining room table next to the fruit bowl. I left the house again, this time completely punctual for the train that would get me to work sometime around ten o'clock --- a full hour after I needed to be there. My intern comes in at ten. What kind of example am I?

The fact that I had been up since 5:45 that morning only made me angrier.

As I stood on the platform I felt so weighed down by my unnecessarily complicated life hustling my kids back and forth for the sake of a long commute to a job that doesn't even slightly fulfill or appreciate me.

A thought crossed my mind:

I can't take this. This is killing me...I just need somebody to f^%! me unconscious.

I didn't have my wife in mind. I didn't have anyone in mind at all. It was an outburst based purely in my desire to escape momentarily into something else.

My friend, the gambler, was always working, always getting home late, always fighting with his wife for working late and getting home late. He gambled to deal with what he couldn't control, until he got counseling.

That other guy who told me he gets some every chance he gets still isn't sure he should be married, but he's picked the worst way in the world to find out if he's right.

I'm not defending anyone's behavior --- most men don't need a reason to cheat. I also know that once you get a taste of your poison escaping gradually gets replaced by the chase for the high that comes with the escape. Personally, I prefer not to be addicted to anything so I choose to ignore thoughts like these when they enter my mind. But I'm not going to righteously pontificate either. From the biggest bums to the most stand up guy, depending on how hard a man's day, week, life might be, fleeing is probably mixed up somewhere in all his options.

With the week we had on Wall Street and with EVERYONE scrambling to make ends meet, I imagine escapism for both sexes will rise. I pray it doesn't escalate much. Poison destroys both the person taking it and their families.


Nice to See You Again

I was at the Westchester Country Club on Monday to run my organization's Annual Golf Invitational, our major fall fundraiser. Over the course of the day I met several people I've only had conversations with over the phone in the weeks and days leading up to the event and some people I've never interacted with at all. More than once upon introducing myself I was greeted with, "Nice to see you again."

I've never seen these people before in my life. And they've never seen me. This may be one of the only pet peeves I have.

It drives me crazy because there is absolutely no reason to say this. It's not about being nervous, or caught off guard. It's an absolutely pointless niceity, especially if it isn't true.

In the same vein and equally irritating is bumping into someone who you've met several times and having them either: a) introduce themselves as if they've never seen you before, or b) say, "Nice to meet you," when you've already met them.

Now the kicker to all this is that in being the only spot in the country club that wasn't a caddy or on the wait staff, it only made sense that no one would understand my presence on the grounds. Blacks and Latinos have never not recognized me after meeting me and definitely not so after meeting two or three times. But in all honesty, why should I expect to be recognized by people who feel they have no reason to acknowledge me in the first place, let alone remember me?

I don't, but it's still annoying.


We Made It!

Here I am in real time, 2:35 am. I have somewhere to be in less than 3 hours and I can't sleep. I'm alone in a room with my God contemplating everything.

I was doing the exact same thing at nearly the exact same time exactly 365 days ago. The only difference between now and then was that then I was in paradise listening to the beat of Atlantic against the shore outside my open-air terrace. I was wondering why only 3 of my friends came out to Barbados for my wedding when I had been to nearly every wedding I'd ever been invited to, no matter how far away. I was wondering how I was even going to make it to 4 pm (when the ceremony began) based on the night before. Fights had broken out everywhere between everyone and everyone else --- Bridezillas could've taped an entire season off the night before my wedding. It was embarrassing and infuriating. I wasn't even related to anyone fighting. The whole thing was so ridiculous that by the time I cleared the smoke (emptying my wallet to put everyone in cabs back to their hotel rooms) there was no one to talk to, no one to host my bachelor party, no one to even give me any advice about the path I was getting ready to walk (my father included). The steps leading up to my marriage were probably the loneliest I've ever taken and a small part of me still hates the former friends who showed their true colors and went AWOL on me. One friend who was in the party never booked his flight, and a former best friend (also in the party) left me a note via the front desk of my resort that he wasn't showing up 2 days before the ceremony. I mean really, WTF? I was up very late talking to my God and woke up with the sun. I went for a swim in the Atlantic and with no one on the beach and virtually no waves I was able to float. I looked up into the heavens and began to cry. Not because I was scared, but because I didn't know what to do.

In the end I didn't have to know anything. Everything that led up to the wedding had been in our hands, but the wedding and the festivities that followed had God's Hands all over them.

I won't be able to spend much time with my wife today because I have to work a 14-hour day. Because I had to work 10-hour days all last week, I didn't have the chance to get the gift I wanted to give to her. Work has become a psychosomatic event for me. The thought of it literally turns my stomach. And like last year, a recent fight between my wife and a family member has threatened to derail the happiness and reflection we should be indulging in.

But I'm brushing all that dirt off my shoulder and casting all my worry to the side.

I'm leaving it in God's Hands. Just like I did last year.

To my wife: I love you! We made it 12-months and haven't killed each other (or even tried)!

To my kids: I love you, I love you, I love you. Period!

To all my family who was in Barbados on October 6th 2007: You own part of my heart.

I have no friends to address because although I was only related to three people in attendance by the time it was all over everyone was family. Even my photographer.

Speaking of photographs...take a few minutes right now and soak up some paradise.