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Less Money, More Fat - A Look Back At The Decade

Unlike any other decade in my life this one has been the most memorable...

: I figured out who I was as a Man. Then I randomly met a woman during my lunch break. Within months we had fallen in love. Within a few more months I was introduced to her 5 year old son.

The dot-com I was working for imploded.

...I was on an American Airlines flight headed to Chicago on September 11th when the planes struck the towers.

2002: I can't remember much other than beginning the most amazing job I ever had, oh and going to Brazil for Carnival and having an amazing Valentine's Day upon my return.

2003: I moved in with my girlfriend and then endured a miserable break-up with her for reasons both reasonable and ridiculous. Even though we reconciled 6 months later, I'd spend the next 12 months in a furniture-less apartment of my own on an aerobed, immersed in the Bible, becoming financially sound and creating a good credit profile. I taught my future son how to swim and he evolved from a boy only willing to sit on the side of a pool to a boy who sprints full speed to plunge himself into the water.

2004: I made my first and only real-estate purchase, a fixer upper by everyone's standards. My first place taught me a lot about real estate and myself.

In January, I underwent major surgery to clear out benign polyps from my sinuses, straighten my nose bone so I could actually breathe through my right nostril, and remove my tonsils to cure my mild case of sleep apnea.

...slowly and surely I started going to church more infrequently.

...my daughter was conceived, or rather I/we conceived our daughter...I would spend most of the remainder of the year admonishing myself for dishonoring my faith, sinning against my Lord, and just generally being scared out of my mind as to how to raise a child even though I had already gotten much practice with my girlfriend's son.

...I joined a workout bootcamp, dropped 11 pounds, and became a sinewy, six-packed, health-nut who looked and acted like I had just fallen out of a Nike free running commercial.

...my girlfriend and I traveled all over the country and became better friends than we had ever been, baby-bump and all.

...on my birthday, I saw my daughter's side profile during my girlfriend's anatomical sonogram...and fell in love, instantly and forever.

...days before the end of the year I got down on bended knew and proposed to my girlfriend, although she had no idea what was going on (probably due to the hormones).

2006: My daughter came two weeks into the new year in 15 minutes, one month early on the day of my fiance's baby shower. We were all stunned. I was humbled and reduced to a blubbering, slobbering mess. I never looked at the placenta.

...the career I loved so much came to a crashing and embarrassing end. But I didn't get fired.

...I spent the rest of the year renovating my property with my father's help and waiting for the right renter to come along. He or she never came.

2007: I didn't find work until the fall. A buyer emerged rather than a renter for my property. Strangely after creating a modern, well-lit, renovated space complete with granite countertops for a two absolutely wonderful Japanese retirees, I moved into a dump a few minutes from my mother in law under the premise that it was a temporary stay (we would stay two years and go through the winters with spotty heat). I got married under the Bajan sun and to the sounds of the Atlantic beating against the shore. I lost a best friend in the process (I think he may have not have been in favor of the marriage - not sure - he never told me - he just didn't show up even though he was in it). Learned a tough lesson about real friendship and discovered I had little to none. But it was a good year.

2008: My new job quickly devolved into the Twilight Zone. I took an acting class and loved it.

...I started a blog.

...I began an Invisalign treatment and my lifelong insecurity with my crooked teeth and non-existent smile came to an end...then my obsession with my teeth began.

...I watched everyone I worked with quit and my wife and I decided it was time to leave New York.

...my beloved 401k lost half it's value.

...a man who looks like a family member was elected to the highest office of the land. My son would never have to dismiss the idea that he could President (nor my daughter) as I did years ago. The wife landed a job in Atlanta that would've taken care of all of us...or so I thought.

2009: Excited to do something new and lulled into a false sense of security based on the idea (put into my head by an incompetent agent) that I had a book deal just waiting to happen, I effectively moved forward without my job only to have my wife's job offer in Atlanta collapse. Suddenly, I was without a job, stranded in NYC with nowhere to go but I was optimistic about the future. Then the job market became the market it is today. Then the money I set aside ran out mid year. Then I had to tap into my savings...

...I bought a new camera at the beginning of the year and my father liked my pictures so much that he sent me a REAL camera --- one with lenses and controls and dials and stuff. I didn't like it at first because I could barely figure out how to turn it on. And then I figured out how to turn it on. To this day it's a constantly learning process.

...Michael Jackson died on the same day my son graduated from 8th grade --- two incredible events.

...during the summer I found myself embroiled in absurd fights with my wife, fighting in a way I didn't believe married people fought...now I understand some of the stories I see on the news.

...I lost 16, but ate a good amount of it back.

...we moved out of our rat trap apartment to a deluxe one. We found a new home for that cat. I had to sue my former landlord because he never returned my security deposit (results pending).

...My son limped into the beginning of his high school career and is afflicted by what afflicts most teenagers: huge egos, raging hormones, egregious behavior and lack of self control...I'm trying to manage it all, but I'm not sure I did enough years ago to make his transition easier and I definitely am unsure if I'm doing enough now as I struggle with losing him to adulthood as my father lost (or happily handed) me. I want to be his friend, but know I must be his father. Hopefully we can delight in the good moments here and there and laugh at it all when he's grown as I do now with my own father, God willing.

...unknowingly and most definitely unwittingly, my three year old daughter became my primary motivation, my best friend and sometimes only friend during a year that was full of tricks and treachery and had me praying more than I have in recent years. No matter what, there wasn't a day that she unwittingly managed to make me smile and has shown me a simplicity in life and love that my old mind and heart had long ago forgotten. Like my son she will never have to imagine being a princess because now there's a princess that is by no means identical to her, but definitely relatable (father included). In 2009, my daughter taught me how to dance and sing once more as she herself learned to dance and sing. By the end of the next decade she'll be a teenager, God willing, and if I'm around (God willing) I don't know who she'll be, but no matter what I'll always have this year...we'll always have this year...and about 3,000 pictures to prove it.

...The movie, Precious, was receiving rave reviews nationwide and Shaniya Davis was killed in the same breath. Her death took a personal toll on me due to her striking resemblance to my daughter.

...I didn't love my wife the way I intended...I didn't receive love the way I expected...I'd like to think I'm a good Husband, but realistically, I'm not the one who gets to make that decision...I became a Dad in a way I never imagined I could be...I'm a tireless Dad...but the Man that I once was is no more and the Man that I currently am has grown weary, gotten fat and lost his shine...

...I'm leaving this decade with a full and rich life but unfamiliar with and sometimes not liking the man who looks back at me in the mirror. 2009 was a rough, tough year on all fronts.

But I'm filled with optimism and I hope those of you who read these words are as well in your lives. I'm not making resolutions. Just promises to do more, be more --- be more better and enjoy all of it while it's happening.

I'm gonna take a month off from Makes Me Wanna Holler to work on me for a little bit. I promise I'll be back in February 2010 kicking and screaming. And in the meantime, please, don't hesitate to pay a visit to my Flickr page, my Facebook Fan page, or my newest destination, Soul Portrait. If you're new here and this is the first post you're reading, please take next month to get caught up on the 400+ posts I've written since February 2008.

I hope to interact with you all once again on February 1, or 2, or 3, 2010.

Happy New Year! May you be blessed with bountiful peace and happiness.

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My Favorite Posts of 2009

I've given you the top viewed posts based on Google Analytics...

I've shown you the posts with the comments...

But what about my own favorites?

Here are my personal Top 10 favorites in descending order:

10. The Best Medicine
9. My Wife Is NOT My Friend (on Facebook)(my favorite post on my favorite lifestyle blog, Black And Married With Kids)
8. Have Fun At Picnic Trip
7. Because I'm Fly
6. Perspective
5. The Look She's Perfected...
4. Daddy Swagger
3. The Worst Sex Talk EVER
2. My Power Supply (my favorite accidental photos)
1. Princess & The Frog - NYC Style!

Of course I have more favorites than this. My actual list is probably closer to 25. But hands down my number one pick here is my number one pick period. It's NYC, it's family, it's marriage, it's culture, it's cultural breakthroughs, it was my wife and I being one...my son even joined in on the fun, although he joined in after we finished seeing the princesses.

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'Twas 2 Days After Chistmas

'Twas 2 days after Christmas and the house was a mess,

There was giftwrapping everywhere and my mother-in-law's dogs to add to the stress.

My daughter has been dressed as Princess Tiana for two days straight,

And my son has been killing zombies, non-stop, living as an assassin in Italy and running Madden plays via video games.

My mother-in-law went on her smoke breaks and left open the front door,

And a Dancing Dora is sitting in the middle of my living room staring up at me from the floor.

The burners in my kitchen have been blackened to a crisp,

From cooking ribs, chicken, mac n' cheese, pies, hamburgers and even chips.

We've gone through at least 5 gallons of juice, wine, and coffee,

And personally, I've watched 10 to 12 good and bad movies [including R. Kelley's full, extended version of In The Closet on IFC],

I'm taking out the garbage once every four hours,

And I believe I'm the only one out of the bunch who's taking daily showers.

It's 2 days after Christmas and all bets are off,

I've eaten so much pie, ice cream and red meat my butt has turned soft.

But I'm not worried about the plaque clogging up my veins,

It's just a home full of joy and love at the House of E.Payne.

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holler Holidays!

From my family (the staff at Makes Me Wanna Holler) to yours...

There are too many names to name, both in the real world and the world of social networking...

And all of you are of many faiths, creed and ethnicities...

Thank you all, for the gift of visiting my blog, however often or infrequent you might visit...

May each and every one of you have a blessed and safe holiday season, filled with the love and warmth that arises out of the spirit of giving...

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Make Me Wanna Holler's Most Commented-On Posts of 2009

Below are the top posts in 2009 that you, the reader, have generously shared your 2 cents. If you want to add more to these great conversations then please feel free. The more the merrier...

1. The Best Medicine

2. The Worst Sex Talk EVER

3. 1-2 Buckle My Shoe

4. Honeymoon Quest 2009

5. Facebook Makes The Night Go Quickly

6. My Piano Keys --- Her Mom is NOT White (& Neither Is Her Dad)

7. The Porn Question

8. I'm Leaving My Wife

9. The Power of Laughter

10. Not Working

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Makes Me Wanna Holler's Top 10 Posts of 2009

It's that time of year again. I've been under the weather and swamped with family and it just dawned on me that Christmas if Friday and New Year's is just a week after that. The crew over at Black And Married With Kids stole my thunder by posting some of their Top 10s for the year, but that' okay because I'm on both lists they have up so far (besides I'd lose if we ever did compete). With no further delay I present to you my loyal readers, the most viewed posts of 2009. From the serious to the silly they're all here for your reading pleasure...

1. The Worst Sex Talk EVER

2. My Piano Keys --- Her Mom is NOT White (& Neither Is Her Dad)

3. 7 Things You Should NOT Say to Your Wife

4. Black History Minute Monday: Blacks in the Media

5. Frat Life

6. How To Love A Black Woman

7. The Power of Laughter

8. I'm Leaving My Wife

9. The Death of Fat Bastardé (pronounced Bas-tar-day)

10. Real Men Drive Minivans

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Iron Man 2: First Look (Approximately My 30th)

Robert Downey, Jr....

Don Cheadle...

Mickey Rourke...

Iron Man...

War Machine...


May 2010...

One word: "Yessssssssssssssssss......"

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Wish Upon A Star: Wordless Wednesday

Wish Upon A Star
The wife --- a princess in her own right.

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Little Black Boys & Basketball: Week 2

At the beginning of the school year, one of my cousins pulled her son off his high school football team because he wasn't "acting right." I wondered if her decision was wise as it was an extracurricular that would've kept him from getting into trouble, thinking an idle mind is the workshop for the devil.

Then I found out what he did to get yanked off the team and realized there was really nothing else she could do.

Last week I posted Little Black Boys & Basketball. It was my account of having no choice but to pull my son off his Freshman basketball team after bringing home a bunch of abysmal grades. I received the following comment over the weekend:

I am the mother of a girl who is attending college on an academic scholarship and boy who is attending college on a basketball scholarship. While in high school, my son struggled to no end with grades.I spent more time talking to teachers for him than when I was in school. There was even one season he couldn't play half the season because his grades were so bad. He spent every summer in summer school and up to the last day there was still a chance he wouldn't graduate on time. He had to go to prep school for a year to qualify for the scholarship. Everyone around me said I was misguided by allowing him to continue to play when it was apparent he was not doing well in school. I saw in him what no one else did. I knew my son was smart and could accomplish anything. I also knew that the basketball scholarship was a means to an end. Not a basketball career but a degree, free of charge! Now my son has the 2nd highest GPA on his team and he has expressed interest in pursuing a master's degree. I give alot of credit to all of his coaches who told him to keep his eyes on the prize. As a mother who has been there, done that, you will NEVER punish a kid into getting better grades. You have to find what they are passionate about and use it to help you.

I don't profess to know anything about raising anyone else's children on this blog. This is simply my story. So this one caught my eye. And I responded with the following:

I'm glad that worked out for you, but I hope that you didn't take from this post that I was punishing my child because that's the hardly the case. My son is a freshman and his true love is football, basketball is just something he likes to do. As his dad it's my job to keep his priorities on track if he can't himself. My son's grades actually made him ineligible to: 1) play or practice; 2) participate in any other extracurriculars for that matter. Of course I had to step in and do what was not being done according to the rules on record that the coaches were willing to overlook until it was brought to their attention by the academic side via me. Had my son been older and the stakes been higher (scholarships) then maybe I would've pressed harder for both to coexist but that's not the case. As I said, glad it worked out for you but in my house it's not gonna happen. We didn't take away his privileges or his tv or xBox. And there's no sour grapes for me or his mother. In fact his in class performance and homework has already shown marked improvement and he's now actively participating in the after school program that he was on the verge of being expelled from. So from my perspective and his results there was no punishment, just readjustment.

Something I left out of my original post was that while my son was playing basketball, he was sleeping in his classes. Something else I completely shied away from in my post of last week, but I'm willing to state now is that the athletic department at my son's school, comprised primarily of Caucasian men, did not seem to overtly concerned that my son was failing as a Freshman. Conversely, the coaches and staff of color who were alerted to my son's performance were appalled. And they expressed nothing but embarrassment over the fact that I was sent the very clear message that his standing as a student didn't seem to matter. My son is almost 6 feet at the age of 14 and shows no signs of slowing down. However, this will never make an F and 2 Ds, one of them in swimming, excusable.

Since my post of last week, my son clearly understands his grades are what prevented him from playing. His mood is upbeat. He's actually friendlier around the house. He hasn't expressed an ounce of regret or anger. He's staying awake in his classes. And...his in-class performance and expressed commitment to doing well in school has improved. Now he has next year as a goal to work towards and he plays with his friends on the weekends.

The day after my meeting at his school, I attended my son's football dinner. A graduate of the school who is a former New York Giant was the keynote speaker. He received both an academic and sports scholarship to college. His speech was short and sweet (Thank God) and he drove home some critical key points to the boys:

  • "Do the right thing."
  • "If you see a friend going down the wrong path, let him know he's wrong."
  • "Commit yourself to your academics because you're students first."
  • "Find a mentor, an advocate to help you on your journey. You might not like how they deal with you, but you'll appreciate it in the long run."
  • "Have fun now, because sooner or later you're going to get a wake up call. Many of my friends are no longer here because they didn't heed that call."

It's only been a week, but I think the message is beginning to sink in.

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The Princess & The Frog - NYC Style!

In every little girl there is a princess.

In every father's heart should be the desire to love her with every fiber of his being.

The Princess & The Frog, starring Anika Noni Rose, is Disney's latest addition to their princess mythology set to the grand ole southern charm of New Orleans. They played it up in grand style with a limited engagement showing at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan followed up by the Ultimate Disney Experience at the Roseland Ballroom. We purchased our tickets at the beginning of last week for this past Saturday. The anticipation leading up to it began building over the course of the week until by Friday night, it was fever pitch --- for all of us, except my son, who wanted to see the movie but had no desire to meet any princesses. On the morning of, I was the first up at 7 am to get the party started. The movie's hand-drawn animation was outstanding; the story is as enchanting as any Disney pic. And the songs? In a word, infectious.

14 hours later, when we returned home, my back was shot, my wallet was bare and I was so tired I went to sleep in my clothes with no complaints from the wife. If I could, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

And I had my camera with me the whole time... Oh, and turn your speakers up.

Thanks to Princess Tiana, my daughter will never have to stretch her childhood imagination beyond her own image to wonder what it might be to "look" like a princess. Nor will she ever grow disenchanted over the fact that there isn't a princess that doesn't speak to her and the women of her family.

No matter the shape, color, or creed, every little girl is a princess.

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Parents, Students and Educators Disagree on Role of High School - 2009 Deloitte Education Survey

Given the week I had last week and the Monday I had this week concerning my son and basketball I found the following Deloitte 2009 Education Survey findings, released on November 30th of this year, to be quite interesting, but not exactly surprising.

  • Only 9% of high school teachers think that preparing students for college is their primary mission.
  • Only 10% of high school teachers think that ensuring students graduate is their primary mission.
  • But nearly half of all parents and students believe that college preparation is their high school’s primary mission.
NEW YORK, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- As the competitiveness of the U.S. economy depends on increasing the college-educated workforce, the Deloitte 2009 Education Survey shows a major disconnect between what students and parents want from high school and what educators believe is their charge.

When asked about the primary mission of high school, low-income parents and students rank preparing students for college the highest, with 42 percent of parents and 48 percent of high school students agreeing with the statement. Yet only nine percent of educators think preparing students for college is their most important mission. Further, only 12 percent of teachers feel that they are most responsible for building a college-going culture. The Deloitte 2009 Education Survey was conducted among high school teachers and low-income parents and students.

"What the parents and students surveyed want from high school is at odds with what we've been asking our high schools to do for close to 100 years," said Barry Salzberg, CEO, Deloitte LLP and newly appointed Chairman of College Summit. "Redefining the mission of high school is an important next step for building a 21st Century workforce."


According to the findings of the survey, close to three quarters (70 percent) of students say they "definitely" will attend college, however, only about a quarter (27 percent) feel very prepared to handle college courses and less than a quarter (22 percent) rate the job their high school has done in preparing them to attend college as excellent. Moreover, half of the students responding to the survey say that they are not "very confident" they have the necessary knowledge about how to best prepare for college (i.e., how to engage in volunteer and extracurricular activities, or understanding the performance requirements for college entry).

In order for students to experience high school as a launch pad for college and career success, educators will require training. While teachers personally feel it is important for students to attend college, only 59 percent are very confident that they have the knowledge about what students need to be prepared for college.

"Based on these stats, a significant portion of those students surveyed with aspirations to finish college are not likely to reach their goal because they are not adequately prepared for college," continued Salzberg. "We need to create a strong college-going culture which ensures high school is viewed not as the end game, but as preparation for post-secondary education and career success."

More and more with each passing day I am inspired to become a teacher despite my inbred hatred for the position thanks to my two-parent, two-educator household (school was school and home was school too). After reading studies like these and seeing similar outcomes beginning to manifest in the lives of my son, his peers and eventually my daughter are quickly turning this inspiration to teach (or somehow be involved in the educational process) into a compulsion/obligation.

For starters, at the very least folks, get your kids involved in some level of volunteerism this holiday season. This tops the list of things to do with and for my son. As it states in the study this is a prerequisite for college admission in many instances. Just like building college savings,this is something that can be done now and will make the road that much easier for you and your kid(s).

For the full results please click here: Deloitte 2009 Education Survey.

My friends, fellow parents, followers, readers, husbands, wives, academics, educators and administrators...what are your thoughts and feelings on these findings?

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As The Drip Drops

Rainy on umbrellaIf you're in NYC or the surrounding areas you were hit by an overnight snow that has now turned to rain. I love rainy days for a variety of reasons. In 1998 I wrote the following poem about a day just like today. It's quite ironic how fitting it is 11 years later...

As The Drip Drops
by Eric Payne

I rush out into the madness,
That soul stirring sadness,
We call the world today,
…and I found it raining.

I maintain a steady beat
To the patter that pitters
Away all the senseless chatter
That scatters the illuminations and dreams
That make men kings,
Over large and small things.
I think back, and I tarry on,
Down the street where the corner’s all wrong,
With its soot and its ashes, everything clashes.
There’s no harmony of green,
Or melody of blue or any other hue
--- for that matter.
The patter simply scatters the soot
Collected there, right there, over there…
By the donut shop, where the coffee’s hot
And nice…most times.

The hiss of the brush of leaves against
The patter is a wonderful beat
To set my stomp, as I romp
Through the playthings of my daydreams
Brought upon the noble saints,
That set pen to ink
Causing the whole world think,
About far off places
Not confined by small men’s spaces.
Freezing moments in time to reflect
On the prospect of respect for self and others.
As the world washes down will we ever discover,
How beautiful this place really could be?
If you’d just be you, and I’d simply be me?

The mute brought on by the hush of the patter,
Soothes the concerns that don’t really matter.
This moment is mine, not soon to shatter,
As I’m blessed by the caress of the pitter patter.

Copyright© 2001, excerpted from i see through eyes. Available everywhere.

Photo Credit: mookio
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Wordless Wednesday - Mommy, Oouuuwch!

Mommy, Oouuuwch!

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Little Black Boys And Basketball

Basketball Sky
Photo Credit: laffy4k

I've documented my son's love of football to no end on this blog.

He also has a love for basketball. Last year he played for his middle school and had a winless season. It was awful to watch but I was at every game.

This year he tried out and made the freshman team. Based on his height and growing athleticism I wouldn't expect him not to.

His 1st report card arrived in the mail last week. It looked like one of my daughter's tracing exercises for the letters, "D" and "F".

My wife was aghast. Our son had assured us he was doing fine. Clearly he was mistaken. My son does have a slight attention deficit that prevents him from focusing as he should or could in the classroom, but focus had little to do with his grades. He also expressed some freshman angst, which is completely understandable. Effort however, or the lack thereof, made up 85% of the problem.

Instead of getting mad, I looked forward to my son learning a great lesson in consequences. With his current set of grades he'd be cut from the team basketball team as per the school's rules and he'd have no one to blame but himself.

But he kept going to practice...

Perplexed, I emailed the athletic staff to alert them to his grades. They said they'd look into it and stay on top of him.

[What was there to look into, his grades weren't speculation.]

I marinated on this for a day or two, then asked what program(s) they had in place to manage their fledgling athletes if they were going to allow him to continue practicing.

They said they'd have to find out. [But how do they not know?]

Last Friday, my son's team had a scrimmage. And I just knew he'd get benched. Instead not only did he play and score a few baskets (the team lost) he received his shorts and jersey with the coveted Number 23.

I was furious. By night's end my wife and I had yanked him off the team and he went to bed in tears. Never did it dawn on him that he had an F he needed to get his act together in his classes. He actually had the audacity to argue that it was only 1 F and he played down the D's. This is a kid's logic of course, but it was being reinforced by the team that allowed him to play in spite of himself. [Side note: if I had ever gotten an F while under my parents' roof I would've joined the circus and never come home.] It's not my job to dispel his hoop dreams, or NFL aspirations, but it's my duty as his father to stop him dead in his tracks when he begins traveling down a road to nowhere.

After two meetings at his school, at least 15 emails exchanged between his counselor, after school program director, teachers and myself, my son seems to be on course to do better, with new strategies in place and without the distraction of daily 3-hour practices and a demonstrated philosophy of being more interested in what a child can do than what's in his/her head. His counselor apologized profusely for letting this slip through the cracks so that I had to do my job at home and the job they were supposed to do at his school. I still haven't heard from his former coach directly despite my efforts to contact him.

I took it personally and am still upset that I had to enforce the rules that his school did not. But I'm not surprised. I can only imagine how many other kids are on teams who are academically ineligible but playing anyway because they may have some skill in their sport of choice --- waiting for their big break into the world of professional sports with no back up plan at all.

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Ten Dollars

Brother, can you spare me a ten?
by cobalt123

What can ten dollars pay for?

  • 2 number 3 combos at Dunkin Donuts.
  • 2 small specialty drinks at Starbucks.
  • A combo at McDonalds that’ll make you sick.
  • Half a swallow of gas for your car.
  • Round-trip passage on a NYC toll bridge.
  • Wings at Applebees, Unos or Buffalo Wild Wings
  • A great burger and fries at a great diner.
  • Half a burger at a good burger spot.
  • 2 bottom shelf drinks at a NYC happy.
  • No drinks at any other time of the day.
  • 3 2-liter bottles of soda.
  • Half a lap dance at a strip club in Hunts Point, Bx.
  • No lap dances anywhere else in the U.S.A.
  • 4.25 rides on a NYC subway.
  • 1 one-way peak-hour ticket on New York’s Metro North.
  • 2 slices of Sicilian pizza.
  • 1.5 slices of pizza from Chicago’s Gino’s East or Giordano’s.
  • 1/20 to 1/18 of a NYC parking ticket.
  • Nothing, if you’re towed in NYC.
  • A large box of Belgian Frites at Citi Field.
  • 2-3 magazines.
  • 2 small custard shakes at the Shake Shack.
  • 2 cupcakes at Crumbs.
  • 2 tubs of strawberries at your local grocery store.
  • 2 pounds of green grapes.
  • 1 value pack of AA batteries.
  • 1 value pack of AAA batteries.
  • Anything that costs 5 British pounds.
  • A small flask of Thunderbird.
  • ¾ of an open faced sandwich at Katz’s Deli.
  • A monthly membership at Netflix.
  • A senior’s discount for the movies.
  • 8 songs on iTunes.
  • 5 minutes on your cell phone after you’ve burned through all your free minutes.
  • 30 seconds of Internet usage on a cell phone without a data plan.
  • The clasp on a piece of jewelry.
  • 1 heel repair on a stiletto shoe.
  • 1,000 brand new pennies.
  • A child’s haircut (only if you know the barber/hairdresser).
  • 2 pairs of toddler’s socks.
  • 2 $5 bills.
  • A tube of lipstick (maybe).
  • Chinese food for 1.
  • Your wife leaving the house without bitching about how you never give her any money.
  • 2 beef patties, coco bread and 1 bottle of Ting.
  • A hearty, meatless salad at a restaurant.
...or a young boy’s and/or a young family’s happiness this holiday season…

Please support my holiday fundraising drive to donate $3,000 to the Children’s Village of Dobbs Ferry (hopefully by Christmas). This is ambitious, but I'm proud to say I have in excess 1,500 followers/subscribers. If just 300 of you donated $10 before Christmas this goal will be met in the blink of an eye. I will donate $1 for every $10 donated which means I’ll be donating 10% of the total raised.

Today is payday for many of you (with paydays) so donating $10 going to a great cause should be painless. Please visit my fundraising widget entitled, "Make A Donation To the Children's Village," in the right-hand column of this blog visiting the section in the right hand column of this blog and to learn more about the Children’s Village please visit www.childrensvillage.org.

Thank you, so much. Happy Friday.

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Not Working

I love my life. I truly do. No matter how good, bad or confusing it gets. I'm blessed beyond measure and only run into problems when my wants begin to overpower my needs. However there is one particularly painful part of my day that I experience every other day when my daughter goes to pre-school...

With Mom stomping around the house in her heels getting herself together for the day my daughter ALWAYS asks me, "Daddy, is Mommy going to work?"

"Yes, baby," I answer.

"I don't want Mommy to go to work. I want her to stay here with me."

"But you're going to school, boo boo."

"And where are you going?"

And like every time she asks, a sharp pain cuts down the middle of my chest. I pause and speak with all the confidence I can muster.

"Errands and stuff and then I'm coming to pick you up."

"I love you, Daddy."

"I love you, too."

I was speaking to a former coworker yesterday and casually said something about not working and she cut me off in mid-sentence.

"You are working, Eric. And you have been working...all year. You've been grinding with your blog, your writing, taking the classes you take and your photography. I wish people would realize work is not all about getting paid. You've been changing directions from that corporate thing to an artist. You are an ARTIST now, Eric! YOU ARE!"

I was quiet for a few moments thinking of all the things I could say to provide a rebuttal until finally I just said, "Thank you."

For all of you out there not doing what you think you should be doing, look at what you are doing. Are you giving it your all? Are you being blessed by it? Is it opening new doors for you? Are you happy? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, then rest assured your actions aren't in vain.

Well...what say you?

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