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This afternoon my baby will be leaving me to go to Chicago on what is developing into her annual summer Chicago escape with my parents.

Unlike last year, I'm not furious.
In fact, I encouraged it. The wife and I had plans to be relocating out of state right now. These plans didn't include my being unemployed and her struggling to find funding for the graduate program she was just accepted to. We are effectively grounded and instead of me feeling like I'm sending my daughter away so she wouldn't be in the way of our moving, I now feel like she's leaving us to do more with my folks (house, yard, her own little garden and her own bedroom - mine - redecorated with Dora the Explorer everywhere the eye can see) than we can do for her ourselves. My son could care less. He's in school-free, xBox Live heaven.

Since my son graduated last week I've lost my appetite, my stomach is in knots and I have an almost daily recurring headache. My nerves of steel are becoming a little soft. A blog post I read the other day stated: Be ye anxious for nothing. I'm not anxious, but I am tired of waiting.

But it could be worse.

My hat is off and my prayers are with those who are in a worse boat than I --- those who have less opportunity to bounce back and more kids to feed than I do.

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Graduation Day


Yesterday my son graduated from 8th grade. For a while we weren't sure it was going to happen, but he came through in the end and my wife and I are so very proud of him. This is my first time experiencing one of these things as a parent as opposed to a student (watching him graduate from 5th grade was more like watching a school Christmas program).

When he came out during the processional I teared up, overcome with pride in seeing my son by himself, getting one more step closer to manhood. My wife thanked me, but I didn't understand why, just as I don't when she thanks me for washing the dishes.

It's my job and I don't believe in receiving thanks for the things I'm SUPPOSED to be doing.

Congratulations, my son. And congratulations to all the parents and kids (no matter how young or old) out there who experienced the 2 hour wonderment-parking nightmare-drudgery-pomp and circumstance-silly adults behaving badly-holler and screamfest-video camera/point and shoot/dSLR (I had all three myself) extravaganza that a graduation is.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
Where Dads Are Blogging About It


Like the rest of the world, I was initially in denial when the word came over a sister-in-law's Blackberry that Michael Jackson had died. We were in the middle of my son's graduation dinner, actually waiting for dinner --- a good two hours after our appetizers came out --- and I just wasn't willing to accept it.

"He's died plenty of times before in the news," I said dismissively.

Then the news kept coming.

Then cell phones all over the restaurant started ringing. Since no one in the place was eating due to a party of 40 that completely shut down the kitchen, everyone started taking their calls.

From my end of the table I said, "T. graduated today and that's what we're here for." And the MJ chatter quieted quite a bit at my table, but it didn't stop.

Right now, I choose to neither mourn nor judge the man we ALL knew when the words, "Michael Jackson," were spoken. In my next post, after I've been able to absorb more of THIS, then I will honor him.

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Charity Begins With A Click

I've been nominated for another blogging award and the voting runs through July 25, 2009. After today you can click the icon at the bottom of the right column of this blog.

  • Vote because you feel compelled to let your voice be heard.
  • Vote because you like what you read here.
  • Vote because you don't have to register (only an email address is required).
  • Vote...because I'm begging you.

Click the icon below to vote, pleeaase!

My site was nominated for a Black Weblog Award!

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Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen

Like a thief in the night, it arrived.

I just soiled myself.

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Fatherhood - In My Own Words

Last year on Father's Day President Barack Obama gave a campaign speech (sorry, but it was) at my aunt's church in Chicago. He called for Black fathers to stand up and own up to their responsibilities.

I listened to a decent amount of it and even have it posted in the LINKS section of this blog, but I was very distracted --- not because his words weren't profound --- but because he wasn't talking about me.

Two Friday's ago, I got to sit down on a web panel with a couple of great fathers: Fred Goodall of MochaDad.com and Lamar Tyler of BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com. For an hour we discussed our experiences and our opinions on what this whole fatherhood thing entails.

Click the link below to actually hear us in our own words ---

Happy Father's Day!

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Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

And they're also a big help to men who are ready to pop the question to that special someone. But where do you begin? Who do you go to? How do you even know which diamonds are good? What's a good diamond, anyway?

You can find the answers to these questions and more along with a great selection of engagement rings at Blue Nile (or you can recommend the one who loves you to go there to get your ring). Blue Nile is the largest online retailer of certified diamonds. From the comfort of your home computer, you can find the right ring for the one you love that’s within your budget.

Blue Nile the is place to shop for Engagement Rings.

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Happy Father's Day

Well today isn't the day, but it's only a couple days away. The piece below first appeared at Brookey's Cafe Blog and I encourage all of you (none of you who are faint of heart) to check her out. She's one of my biggest supporters, she has great topics and has one of the most rousing comment sections I've ever come across. So please check her out and check this out below.

More Man Than Ever Before

This past Mother’s Day, the plans were set weeks in advance. I made reservations at Brasserie Les Halles downtown in NYC’s Flatiron District for thirteen people. Were it not for the day, it definitely would’ve looked like we were in town for a Black people convention as we had the largest and definitely one of the loudest tables in the place. Gifts and kisses were doled out to all the moms in attendance and none of them paid for anything --- not the twenty-five dollar steaks, not the top shelf bourbon, not the rack of lamb, not the nine dollar deserts. And it was all good. Everyone left happy, well fed and tipsy.

Last week, Saturday, my mother-in-law asked me when Father’s Day was because she thought it had already come and gone. I laughed. In actuality my son’s birthday is the day before; his graduation from eighth grade is four days after and my mother is coming into town around the same time to take my daughter home with her to Chicago next month. Not one of those twelve people I ate with on Mother’s Day has even suggested the idea of eating anywhere this coming Sunday.

I’m preparing myself mentally in advance so I won’t be upset this weekend as I pop open the little white cardboard box containing my Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I really want my smile to be genuine when I take the wrapping paper off the gallon-sized box of Jovan Musk my wife and kids will most likely give me.

But it’s cool. It’s just the way things are sometimes when you’re Dad. Being misunderstood also comes with the territory and at least once in your life as a father, one if not all the members of your family just won’t get you. And unless you’re a card carrying member of the fatherhood club, you’ll never truly know or accept this with every fiber of your being.

Fatherhood is a process --- the movement from single to plural, from self to everybody but you. As a man without kids, I relished in my free time. As a father, I fight for quality time with my kids and become very agitated when I feel my time is being wasted by anyone other than my immediate family. As a man without kids, I entertained foolishness --- that of others and especially my own. Now, I simply don’t have the time and I have several fewer friends to show for it.

But that’s cool, too. Why? My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me because they require the best from me. I give it to them unthinkingly, and unflinchingly. This is something that as a man without kids, I would’ve considered ridiculous. No one had the right to demand anything of me back then other than God, Himself. But this was more tough talk than anything else.

As I child I had an idea cooking in my head of what ultimate manhood should be: courage under fire, bravery in the face of fear, and whoopin’ ass and taking names when necessary. All while having the decisiveness of a king, the compassion of a priest and the love of a god inside me to guide me. Looking back on things, I had the right notion, but not a clue as to how to get there. Reality taught me getting bitten by a radioactive spider would’ve most likely landed me in a hospital or a morgue and not swinging from skyscrapers and sticking to walls. And chasing skirts though most of my twenties most times had me chasing my own tail.

Happy Father's Day

People often learn who they are in places and situations they never, ever considered. I definitely did. Without my noticing, nine years into raising my overgrown, teenage son and three years into raising my very determined baby girl, I’ve become more the man of my dreams than I ever could’ve dreamed by simply being a father. All of the above and then some is required all of the time when it comes to giving your all to those you’ve given life to. And for me I get it all back through their love and laughter, watching them grow and learn, and hearing what I never dreamed would sound so good: “Daaaad!”

Have a Happy Father’s Day this weekend to all my fellow Dads and to the people who plan on celebrating them.

It’s this weekend, for real.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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The Gentleman

As we head into Father's Day some chatter about me has suddenly stirred. On Tuesday we had Women's eNews that featured a blurb on me and now my blogging hermana, Carol Cain Alvarez, a.k.a. NYCityMama has done a feature article about my family and I on her blog today. Make sure you check it out.

So for now, enough about fathers. It is POURING and dark in New York City. I've gotten so accustomed to blogging I sometimes forget that I write fiction. If you've visited here before you know I have a thing for the rain. It's relaxing, it provides a great opportunity to read and it can be the backdrop for romance.

With that said, I'd like to share a micro-fiction (very, very short) story that I wrote for Spindle Magazine back in February of last year. I think it's appropriate for a day like today.

So here it is:

The Gentleman
by Eric Payne
Copyright 2008, Spindle Magazine - A New York State of Mind

The orange glow of a smoldering cigarette cast light on the smooth brown cheeks of the woman who stood, facing me.

"Smoking's bad for you," I said quietly outside her front door into the darkness that separated us.

"For all I know..." the woman said out of one side of her mouth while holding the cigarette in place with the other, "...you are too."

A few hours earlier we had been complete strangers sitting across from each other on the F Train from the City to Queens. I couldn't help but stare. She was gorgeous and I was nearly drunk after a night out with friends. Thirty years old and unconcerned with failure, it was easy to introduce myself. She told me her name was Jean, pronounced it the way the French do. From there I managed to talk her off the train at my stop to join me for a cup of coffee at a diner near my apartment. It got late quickly and she accepted my offer to drive her home.

"I only smoke outside every once in a while, but you're right, you know," Jean admitted with a sigh. "I actually quit a month ago...been holding onto this last pack...a crutch, I guess." She took two deep drags before letting the white stick fall from her fingers. We both watched the cloud of smoke rise and fade beneath the streetlights. She shrugged her shoulders and uttered a whimsical, "Oh well," then popped an Altoid.

"Maybe I make you nervous," I said smiling.

Jean gave me a sly smile as she bent down to collect her half-smoked cigarette. "Maybe," she admitted coyly.

She stood to open her door -- a heavy piece of oak attached to a well-manicured, brown brick Tudor on a treeless street in Laurelton. A bark sounding more like a question than a statement or a warning greeted us.

I peered over her shoulder.

"My boyfriend," Jean explained, smiling. "He doesn't like it when I'm out late."

"Big or small?"

"Medium...he's a mutt." Jean paused to glance up and down her block. "Well, what a pleasant surprise for a Thursday! I'm glad I didn't ignore you on the train...but it's getting late."

Before I could say anything, she grabbed the lapels of my jacket and pulled me close. Her funky, Flapper's bob tilted back as she gazed up at me. The full moon overhead floated as a reflection in her large brown eyes.

Jean stopped, seemingly suddenly aware of the mixed signal she was sending. She hastily let me go, leaving behind her prints in the black velvet of my jacket.

"Thanks for everything," she said in a restrained tone. "The conversation, the coffee, the ride home. And thanks for walking me to the door...you're truly a gentleman."

"Don't be a stranger," I said. "You have my number. Maybe we can get together for more coffee...or something."

"Or something. Goodnight, Elijah."

"Goodnight, Jean."

The door closed behind her. I stayed on the porch long enough to hear the lock click.

"Don't be a stranger," I muttered sarcastically to myself. Definitely not one of the smoothest things I've ever said to a woman. I took a deep breath, catching an unexpected soft whiff of her perfume on my jacket.

I descended the four gray stone steps of her porch headed for my car, cold and night nipping at me every step of the way. I appreciated Jean's self-restraint. I, myself, had given up one-night stands and all other kinds of meaningless sex at the beginning of the year.

But it was late and cold, and I was lonely. I would've taken her if she had taken me.

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Last Minute Father's Day Gifts

Image courtesy of Photobucket.

Just in case you haven't gotten Dad anything yet and you actually intend to, here's a little list of items to help you in your decision making.

Mrs. Fields Father's Day Bites Box with 2 FREE Cookies, only $29.99! Expires 6-19-2009

Juniper Bonsai Plant with Blue Pot, only $29.99! Expires 6-19-2009

Braided Money Tree with Terra Cotta Pot Included, only $29.99! Expires 6-19-2009

Or, if you believe flowers will do the trick:

Father's Day Savings – Save 10% on any purchase and 15% on orders $39.99+ at ProFlowers! Expires 6-19-2009

If you know a Father-To-Be or a very new father consider lending him a hand with one or both of the following books:

This book is, in my opinion, what The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be was not: funny as hell!

The author of Hapless Papa is donating 100% of the royalties from the first 500 books sold to Alex's Lemonade Stand, a foundation committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer.

Hope this helps...
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Another Year & Counting


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Black Fathers Opening Up About All That Love

Upon entering this pre-Father's Day week, my recent creative block has subsided and I've been brimming with ideas. The new problem is that there have been so many in the past 48 hours that I don't know where to start. I was all set to write a piece this morning about a father I know when I received an email from Kimberly Allers of MochaManual.com about a piece she did that was published first at Women's eNews entitled Black Fathers Opening Up About All That Love. It features a blurb from this blogger and my brother-in-Daddy-Blogging, Mocha Dad. So I decided to share our good news with you.

The full article is below:

Run Date: 06/12/09
By Kimberly Allers
dir. Black Maternal Health

The percentage of black children living in fatherless homes--roughly 50 percent--has perpetuated a stereotype that black men are irresponsible and indifferent to fatherhood. Two Dads flip that notion on its head.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

Kimberly Allers on Black Maternal Health Project

(WOMENSENEWS)--Father's Day is coming up.

That's a good time to remember that when it comes to having healthy and happy moms and babies, Dads play an important part.

That's a message that we need to particularly emphasize when it comes to black fatherhood.

The percentage of black children living in fatherless homes--roughly 50 percent--has perpetuated a stereotype that black men are irresponsible and indifferent to fatherhood.

Yet, a new generation of caring, involved and highly vocal black fathers is emerging in communities and online, talking openly about their experiences being a black man and a father.

Two men share their views on stepping into fatherhood:

Unconditional Love

"When my daughter was born, I spent an hour crying hysterically after seeing my daughter for the first time. After composing myself, I began crying again. I was smitten, overcome by unconditional love. This new love quickly came in handy and gave me the strength to endure what was next: being up to my eyeballs in stinky diapers, bottling breast milk, losing all of my personal time, catching more colds in 18 months than I ever have had in my life, and losing nights of sleep to a screaming baby only to have to show up to work the next day. My life was forever changed. And I wouldn't have it any other way."

--Eric Payne lives with his wife and kids and writes about married life and fatherhood at http://www.MakesMeWannaHoller.com. He also writes a fatherhood column at MochaManual.com. He is the author of I See Through Eyes, a book of poetry and short stories, and his short fiction has appeared in Spindle and DiddleDog magazines.

'I Could Hear God Whispering'

"When my wife informed me that she was pregnant with our third child, I was apprehensive. Aside from the increased financial responsibility, I would be responsible for guiding two African-American boys to manhood, and that scared me. But when I held my beautiful son for the first time, I could hear God whispering all is well. Immediately, my fear turned to joy. In the past year, my son has developed into a rascal who keeps me on my toes. However, he knows that he only has to say "Dada" in his cute, little baby voice and everything is right in my world."

--Frederick J. Goodall is a devoted husband and father to three beautiful children. He has published work in the books "Paper Thin/Soul Deep" and "The African American Book of Values" and in magazines such as Essence, Upscale, and Emerge. He currently writes the blog, Mocha Dad--A Celebration of African American Fatherhood at http://www.mochadad.com.

Kimberly Seals Allers, editorial director of the Black Maternal Health project at Women's eNews, is author of The Mocha Manual series of books, founder and editor in chief of http://www.mochamanual.com, an online magazine and community for black moms, and producer of The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy DVD available at www.walmart.com and Acme Supermarkets.

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Home Alone

What a difference a year makes! I spent the past Wednesday through Sunday home alone with the kids. Just like last year my wife was away working at Bonaroo and I wasn't looking forward to her being away. But this time around Father's Day is a week off from her business trip and this time I'm not angry.

Wednesday: The wife left at the crack of dawn. I got the kids off for the day and ran the tons of errands I've created for myself to stay busy while looking for work/the opportunity of a lifetime. I picked up the baby early and we spent a better part of the late afternoon at the park. My sinister reasoning behind this was the longer she played the earlier she'd fall asleep. The son came home and just like his ill-fated Boy's Night Out attempt a couple of weeks ago, he tried to negotiate some sort of vacation with his grandfather. (He was spending the weekend with him anyway). My answer was no. I also bribed him with tacos for dinner on Thursday.

Thursday: The morning was pretty much the same as the day before. That evening I made tacos as promised and convinced my son that the meat was beef when it was actually well-seasoned turkey. Over the past few years he's developed some sort of weird vendetta against turkey. After dinner he caught a case of the runs (I'll spare the details) and we watched the Laker game until his bedtime. My daughter fell asleep in my arms after which I called a friend in Miami (one of my groomsmen) who was rooting for Orlando. Poor guy.

Friday: Got my son to school, kept the daughter at home, passed out until noon. In the midst of all this I had received a steady stream of phone calls and texts about all the mud my wife was drowning in at Bonaroo. I was participating in a webinar that evening on the state of black fatherhood in America and also seeing my son off to a fundraising gala where he was an invited guest. My daughter's co-godmother was watching her for the day, but I had to drive 15 miles to deliver the goods. Needless to say, once my day started it never stopped. I managed to eat one meal, Thai takeout, just before my webinar, which was an amazing experience if I do say so myself.

Saturday: Rain, rain, go away, come again, some other day. There wasn't much to do. My son was with his grandfather and splitting his time between him and his little teen friends. Babygirl was attached to me like a barnacle for most of the day and I got to crack open an early Father's Day gift from my dad, a Canon DSLR. I snapped about 100 pictures of my assistant-daughter over the course of two hours. We went to visit my mother-in-law for the evening where I got to snag some free scrapple (look it up) and my daughter got to play with her grandmother and her two dogs. Before the day was over, I spoke to one friend long distance and lamented about the solitary confinement that comes with kids and a wife who's always on the go. She told me she understood, but I only think men (and women) in my shoes truly understand where I'm coming from.

Sunday: Mama returned spent, exhausted and sleep deprived from Tennessee and ready to go to the Big Apple Barbecue Festival downtown that was happening at the same time as the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I did my best to gently advise her against this, but as these things typically go she got angry with me anyway and then fell asleep on the couch, got up to go get ready and fell asleep on the bed. In the end we all ate at a pizza shop, spent the afternoon at the park and came home to watch the Lakers finish off the Magic.

A tiring, but well spent few days.

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MR Direct's Granite Kitchen Sinks

Father’s Day is one week away and I’m sure many wives, kids, etc. have no idea what to get the Dad in their lives. How about a kitchen sink? Believe it or not, you'd be surprised what a welcome gift (and basic necessity) this is. I spend a lot of time cleaning and disinfecting my own and can’t wait for the day when I get to hand pick what I want. When I do, I'll definitely check out the MR Direct, Inc. colorful line of Granite Sinks. They’re affordable, eco-friendly and anti-microbial up to 99.9%. The sinks are also highly scratch resistant and stain proof. With same day shipping available, you can get one just in time for next Sunday.

This post is sponsored by MR Direct, Inc.

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My Son is Lil' Dez

Buffoonery aside, I really enjoyed Nike's Lebron/Kobe puppet campaign. I'm sure it would've only gotten more ridiculous had they been competing against one another in the Finals. But in always being prepared for the inevitable and not wanting to be caught, pants-down, the people at Nike (the PR firm they hired) have this great piece featuring Lebron's neighbor's nephew/son. Not only is it funny, but if you have a child of any age besides grown this kid hits the nail right on the head, especially the dinnertime/allergy scene. I've had many nights like this with my son talking a hole in my head about some video game he wants and most of my life with my daughter has now become her yelling my name to tell me how many Dora the Explorer accessories (that don't even exist, such as Dora skateboards, Dora cars, Dora spaceships, Dora surface to air rocket launchers, Dora hot-air balloons, Dora computers, etc.) she wants me to buy for her.

Gotta love it! I do.


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Morning --- Wordless Wednesday

Complete with toothpaste splatter on the mirror.

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Slow Down, World!

If you're in NYC, the sky is dark gray, at least fifty or so thunderclaps have already sounded off and it's raining hard. I woke up this morning and took the boy to school. When I got back home I found my wife knocked out (she always oversleeps when it rains) and my dining room under a little bit of water because the window in there was wide open. She got it together and left wearing a pair of light colored pants and sandals in the rain (we'll see how that works), but not before milking me for $20. I thought I was the one who wasn't working?

Anyway, iIt's only 9 am but it feels like a couple hours into evening.

I've always believed rainy days are God's way of telling the world to slow down for a few moments. I'm not including rainstorms that create natural disasters in this description. Everything is what it is, but it has to go just a little slower in order to happen.

If you have a moment, take one to really enjoy that morning coffee or the scene outside your window as you drive or train it to work. Instead of being pisssed that it's cold and rainy, realize that all the pollen that had your car covered with green dust is now making its way down a sewer drain. If a meeting gets canceled or delayed take the time to catch up on something that has been sitting on your desk for entirely too long. There's plenty to do on a rainy day other than the cliche --- sleeping in and making love (not a bad option by any means whatsoever). All you have to do is take the time to figure out what that is.

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Because I'm Fly

Pimp Chihuahua

I'm fly.


When I wake up each morning around 6 am the first thing I usually see is Dora the Explorer sitting on the nightstand next to me. The birds are at it with their chirping. I rub my eyes, take a deep breath and begin to stir.

As soon as I hit the hallway I hear the awful, wretched screech of a cat left out on the couch overnight. A cat that 3 out of 4 of us are allergic to. A cat that no one will take because they are allergic, too. A cat that leaves furballs, fur and presents around the house for Daddy to clean up because Mama's never around when the dirty deeds are done.

Four steps in and I'm at my son's door. The first thing I see are his size 12 feet shooting out at the end of his bed like crossed swords. The smell of onions, cocoa butter, hair gel and Lagerfeld fill my lungs and my eyes roll back involuntarily. I tell him to get up and he uncoils the five spindly fingers on his left hand --- a hand sign since all of us can remember that means "five more minutes."

I close his door, take in all the cat dander in the air and decrease my capacity for oxygen intake that much more than the breath before it. Then I fart so loud the floor rumbles beneath my feet.


Because I'm fly.

That's right I'm King Payne of my house and no one told me so. Was someone supposed to? I just emanates from my essence. As Minister of Household Affairs I rule the fridge with an iron fist and before anyone gets home you can't find a speck of dirt or lint anywhere. Then once everyone is home all the dishes, every single cup we own and all the silverware --- even serving spoons, somehow end up dirty and in the sink. But it's okay.


Because I'm fly.

As I sit at home in the evening while a 13 year old and a 3 year old beat all over each other, kicking and screaming the whole time; as I sit at the dinner table with a boy who thinks all of his food is finger food and somehow manages to spill something no matter how contained it is; as I sit at the head of the table with a girl who has recently taken up throwing food (mostly at her brother) and my spotless dining room devolves into a kindergarten cafeteria, I sit back, put my hands behind my head and wink at my wife.


Because I'm fly.

After the kids are down for the night I spend time with my wife watching Law & Order reruns, catching up on the latest dish on the Internet or watching a movie on cable. I tell myself every night the key to a good day is a good night's rest and I promise myself to go to bed at midnight, at the latest, each night. And almost every night I black out on the couch in front of the television contorted in some way so that when I stand up my left knee feels like it's been hit with a sledgehammer. I wipe the cat fur off my clothes, switch into my pjs and keep it moving stumbling off to bed where I lay down and let off a few thunderous farts. My wife tells me I'm disgusting and depending on how bad they smell she may actually sit up and start punching me as I lay half conscious laughing hysterically.


You know why...

And then as I spend the night dreaming of beating up the bad guys, I'm interrupted at least three or four times when my wife knees me in my stomach, spinal cord, and/or butt to tell me I'm taking up too much of the bed. I come to and see that I'm lying along the far edge of my side of the mattress with no sheets covering me, scrunched up, doing my best not to fall to the floor and crack my head wide open on the nightstand on the way down. The cat hears movement and begins screaming and clawing at the door. But it's cool...just like it is every night.


Because I'm fly (Imagine all this with the music for the new Quiznos commercials playing in the background).

How could you not vote (click the button below) for a hot daddy blogger like me? How could you not vote for a person willing to take this photo (see below)? How could you not vote for someone so cool, calm and collected, even though he's crying inside? No one told me I'm fly. But no one told me I wasn't.


Because I'm fly.

Doof My site was nominated for Hottest Daddy Blogger!

Just jokes folks. But maybe not.

Make sure to visit Dad-Blogs.com the place where fathers go to spill their guts about what makes us tick and sometimes what ticks us off. Happy Fatherhood Friday.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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Wordless Wednesday


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The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

One evening last week before my trip to Atlanta, my kids were beating on each other as usual...

My son told my daughter, "That's why you've got boogers in your nose!"

[Both of them are currently being battered by seasonal allergies.]

My daughter paused to assess herself then walked out of the kitchen into the living room to wipe her nose on the arm of the couch across from me. My left eyebrow cocked (a telltale sign of my fury) and I leaned forward to lash out. But then I stopped to look at the couch, which happens to be dirty as hell thanks to the two of them.

I relaxed my forehead and sat back against the cushion, making a mental note to wipe down the couch arm later (which I forgot to do).

Luckily, my wife wasn't around. I fully expect her to be horrified once she reads this.

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Coming Clean, Part 2 - Ordinary People

Ordinary People - John Legend

I ran across a funny quote last week. I don't recall who said it but the gist was: "Most average people think they aren't."

The reason they probably don't is because who wants to wake up and face the day believing they're average? Especially in our society where the term average has come to be associated with marginal. 9 is the average size for men's shoes. 65 is the average age most Americans die. Households average 2.5 kids. But to actually be average? You might as well not get out of bed.

In the workplace and in society no one is rewarded for being average even though the average everyday person who anonymously clocks a 9-5 each day is what makes the world go round. Lebron James is all over the media now for having an "average" moment: he got pissed off after losing and walked off the court. Unsportsmanlike? Definitely. A very human effort to avoid saying or doing something he'd really live to regret? Most likely. Believing he was more than what he actually was (a 1-man basketball team) because his yes-men, Nike, Vitamin Water, the NBA and the world told him so? Yup. That's about as average a reaction you can get from a human being. And as the Bible says, "Pride precedes the fall." But because he's not your average ball handler (he's actually the closest thing to Jordan I've seen) the world (or at least us Americans) expects more. That's pretty average too.

Average, not negative.

I am a man who was raised to believe average was unacceptable. Reared by a braniac and extremely handy father, it wasn't even a consideration. I powered through school with straight A's and an occassional B. I wasn't the best athlete, but I was a machine when it came to practicing to be so. I excelled in the creative: piano, writing, acting and even singing (before my voice dropped) but somewhere the average germ got into my system and convinced me that I needed to get a "real job" and all that other stuff was just a hobby. An extracurricular to round out my character.

What a crock of shit. If I could go back in time (Terminator style) I would find me, probably outside my 6th grade locker, and beat myself senseless. Then drag me, kicking and screaming, everywhere I needed to go to get on the right track.

Everyone around me, including myself, with the exception of my mother, had it backwards. But because my mother was "average" in comparison to my father, sadly, I discounted her saying, "Hey baby, why don't you pursue piano as far as you can. You never know..."

"Aww, mom..." was always my response. She saw more in me than I did or even could. This is an average flaw most kids used to suffer. (Nowadays many kids are suped up to believe they are way better than they actually are and have meltdowns when they're smacked with reality.)

Hindsight is always 20/20 and I have no desire to place blame anyone because as far as I know my life isn't over. For some (like my wife) it's easy to know what you want, to be adamant about it and to switch gears --- going left to eventually go straight. The biggest problem I had at my job wasn't with my boss or the place where I worked. It was with the man in the mirror --- the heart versus the mind. I used to get dressed everyday, put on my "face the world" mask and venture out. My soul was disgusted with me for playing out my daily farce and in 2007-2008 waged an incredible war against me. Not because I was being average. But because I wasn't being me.

I'm not crazy, folks. I'm just being honest.

If there is a pejorative that's associated with being average it's taking the you out of the equation to fall in line with what society suggests. Lebron James is basketball, just like Jordan is. Musicians, athletes, politicians, actors (legitimate), the Jack Welch's, the Jobe Paynes (my father) and John Paynes (my artistic uncle - see previous post), and so on of the world are 100% who they are, uncompromisingly. That doesn't mean there wasn't a struggle to get there. It just means they tapped their essence. Are they are above average in the eyes of the world? That's up to some PR machine to decide. Behind the keyboard of my laptop, behind the smiles, behind the kisses I give my wife and kids, behind it all except for my nakedness before my God, this is the cross I bear --- figuring out how to be me, 100%.

How about you?

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Where There is a Challenge There is an Opportunity...

Check out the following:

Ross Oscar Knight Photography | Destination Wedding Photographers: Where There is a Challenge There is an Opportunity...

The above blog post falls right in line with the can of worms I opened yesterday. After seeing the photo in the link above I'm now convinced that my wedding photographer (who I had drinks with 4 days ago) is operating on a completely different level of creativity...like Neo did in The Matrix. I come from a family of creative producers, in particular an uncle who was nationally and maybe even internationally renowned for his artwork (sculpting in metal, oil painting and photography), and even my father, although an academic, completely creative in his approaches and a lover of photography himself. I'm really not in the business of sweating people, but I must say, I've never seen a photo like the one in the link above. Maybe I don't browse enough photography magazines or maybe dude is just an awesome talent.

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Coming Clean, Part 1

Photo Courtesy of Photobucket.

I'm back from Atlanta after spending Friday playing chaperon to my wife while an Emory University admission officers showed us around. That evening we had an early dinner at an outdoor pub on Peachtreee Street and drank apple and peach Belgian beer. Then we had a couple of drinks with KNIGHT and his wife. And finally, I watched the Lakers finish off the Nuggets from the 23rd floor of the W Midtown while my wife was out with a friend she's known since birth. On Saturday, we looked at at least 12 houses which by the end of the day, left me nauseous. Yesterday, I was at Citi Field roasting like a peanut in the sun as I sat along the third base foul line. The Mets beat the Marlins 3-2. My son ate from the time he got there until about the top of the eighth inning.

And now I'm sitting in my dining room first thing in the morning tapping these words on my laptop. Today is June 1, 2009. Today (maybe not tomorrow) I don't have a job, I don't have any job prospects, and I don't have a viable source of income other than my savings (a big no-no for me).

June is shaping out to be a pivotal month for me, historically. Last year I was embarking on a fruitless war with my wife. The year before that our living situation with the in-laws collapsed and fell to about the 7th ring of Hell. And now in a month that we're supposed to be leaving our apartment, putting down on a home or at least deciding which one we want, watching our son graduate from 8th grade, and not to mention have a good time on Father's Day, I find myself being backed into a corner and walled in by my circumstances.

The employment thing didn't just happen. I choose not to speak about the negative and prefer to focus mostly on the positive. Not because I'm some great human being but because, if I begin to acknowledge the negative it grows taller and stronger than me, loses one eye and begins to breathe fire. In no time I'm not contending with a problem, but rather an one-eyed, fire breathing juggernaut that wants to eat me.

May was difficult for me because I was steps away (or so I thought) from closing a book deal. Instead the person who was my agent went from being completely communicative, to short and distant via email and left me flapping in the wind like a jilted lover. Immediately I didn't want to do anything since the thought of starting over from scratch was worse than death. An immense amount of disdain for this blog erupted in me as a result of needing validation or some kind of return on investment. Suddenly I wanted money from this thing other than the $143 I've made off of it since 2/08. Every day was exactly the same as the day before it. Here for the first time I felt pressured to keep it light and fresh and different, when it really, truly wasn't.

I actually don't mind not having the job I had. I believe it stopped the tidal wave of my taking jobs I believe I can do well, versus doing what I truly want to do. I worked for a women's non-profit and although the work we did for the young girls toward pregnancy prevention was out of this world, the office culture (which myself included, totaled 4 men) was less than pleasant. It was like being a human in Planet of the Apes. We were second class, marginalized in meetings, spoken down to and when push came to shove, most of us were let go. My boss in particular suffered from the overwhelming desire to speak to me like I was in kindergarten. And although she knew I was a family man, I don't believe she knew how old I was, nor remembered from my resume that I have a Master's Degree and have managed staffs before. I spent most of my time there making phone calls on her behalf, writing letters for her, sending out emails for her and not being allowed to make a single, effin' decision on my own, ever. She wouldn't sign off on any career development classes for me and occasionally insisted that I work late in the wee hours of the night with my coworkers who without a doubt, worked very hard, but worked long because they spent so much time talking throughout the day. It was a very big step backwards for me. One I hope I don't have to suffer for other than time served.

And now here I am, free and confined all at the same time. I'm now an At-Home Dad who loves writing, photography, graphic design and almost all things music but I was raised to get a job and didn't know the things I loved could ever be worthwhile jobs. So the things I love --- I have no work history and the things I hate --- well...

I have a family and they deserve the best from me. Isn't the best from me the best of me? I don't want to merely be a superhero in the hearts and minds of my kids who are programmed to believe so anyway. I want to be a man of impact for many. Now's my chance, but right now the playing field looks more like a minefield.

Check back tomorrow for more.

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