A Day In A Life

Yesterday, one of my awesome girlfriends and I went wherever the day took us… and it was quite an experience.

First, it took us to a diner downtown where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast while listening to songs from classic artists like Sam Cooke, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and wondered aloud if the hits of today will ever deserve the longevity of the songs they often sample from. We also agreed that Rihanna’s raunchy songs have nothing on Miss Ella’s sweetly sung dirty ditties.

Next, it took us to One Police Plaza, to join the throngs of people who battled the sweltering temperatures to listen to Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, as she choked back tears when she spoke of her son and her new fight to save the sons of others. Although she succeeded in fighting the tears from flowing through her speech, we were not so lucky.

Afterwards, it took us to the Shomburg in Harlem, where we viewed items documenting Nelson Mandela’s transformation from prisoner to president, and the works of Lois Mailou Jones — whose vibrant pieces influenced by African, Caribbean, post-Impression era Paris and African-American culture had us in awe.

Not finished with us, the day proceeded to carry us into a panel discussion around the corner at the Congee Library, where we listened intently as women discussed being single in America, and the rise of single people in comparison to those who chose to marry. Among the great insights was the observation that many factors have changed since the days when marriage was popular and, ostensibly, sacred (i.e. we died younger, met our spouses at school, and had more inventory and less online presence and options, etc.). By the end of the discussion, we all collectively agreed that there are no rules when it comes to relationships and marriage… only a requirement that you have to want to be in one and willing to put in the mutual work to get the mutual benefits. Afterwords, my friend an I were so determined to get the unspoken men’s perspective that we semi-cornered the lone man that sat in on the discussion, and spent another half hour standing in the hallway getting his take.

After a brief visit with another friend who was getting her jewelry hustle on at an outdoor festival, the day then ushered us down to Lincoln Square to see “Fruitvale Station“; the powerful film documenting the last hours of Oscar Grant’s life. Before Trayvon Martin, Grant was another young African-American man whose fleeting moments of bad judgement overshadowed his life struggle to be a good person and do the right thing — also with fatal results. More tears flowed. That the movie was released around the timing of the verdict was a mix of serendipity and shrewd marketing, and a strong reminder of just how blind the justice system can often be when it’s convenient.

Our final stop of the day was possibly the most endearing to me. During our day adventure, my girlfriend got a call from her mother informing her that there would be a feast of crabs at her home in Brooklyn. When we got there, the house was filled with family who gathered to eat seafood, talk, entertain the adorable newborn girl and make plans to meet for church and a birthday boy’s dinner the next day. While there is little that excites me more than the taste of crabmeat, the sight of a family gathering warms my heart to the highest level and gives me hope beyond any description I could give.

Yesterday, I witnessed life through the eyes of two African American sons whose lives were cut short, an outraged public, a mother who has unwittingly become the hope and voice of terrified mothers everywhere and one African-American woman raising her own son and grappling with what to say and do to protect him from becoming a statistic. As I spent the day absorbing how special it was, it didn’t escape my thoughts that the idea of bringing a male child into this word could conceivably be considered a dangerous thing in the future.

In a country where the victim’s character is often on trial more so than the person who ends or endangers their lives, it almost seems comical to expect drastic attitude adjustments. But history has shown us that persistence — and faith — can ultimately pay off in time.

Alas, that’s for another day… and if it’s going to be anything like yesterday (although I suspect it will be better), I don’t want to miss a minute.

Color Me Happy

A year ago, if anyone told me I’d run a 5K race, they’d be met with a strange, piercing look that would likely be accompanied by aggressive eyebrow arching (I can kind of give Steven Colbert a run for his money there).

Actually, If I’d been given a play by play of this year thus far — there would’ve been lots of eyebrow raising. People may have suspected I had a face-lift.

But here it is; one day after completing my very first race… although I didn’t do so much racing, as subject myself to getting pummeled with colored powder to the point of having it literally oozing from my pores and looking like I got “smurfed.” Aside from the slight leg and foot soreness associated with doing a 3-plus mile course (which has since been slightly alleviated by a much-needed pedicure), overall I feel amazing.

The credit goes to one of my incredible girlfriends — one my two great “how did you meet” stories, and herself an avid runner — who put a feeler out to form a team for The Color Run. Thus, the “Supersonics” were born.

Dubbed “the happiest 5K on the planet”, TCR lives up to its promise by providing runners with good music, good vibes and packets of colored powder that offers up an experience akin to putting kindergartners in a room with Kool-Aid packets after giving them an endless supply of sugar. In 80-plus degree heat. Hence, they spray you with colored water from a moving cart while you’re in motion.

Yeah… this was a good idea.

Truthfully, it was a great idea! Not only was it insanely liberating not thinking or stressing about winning anything, minding your time or appearance, it was all in the name of charity. Frankly, that’s worth getting my butt up off the couch any day!

Added bonus: the comradery and encouragement that my four fierce female teammates provided throughout our training leading to the event itself really made the difference in my choice to fully participate in anything that forces me to exert high levels of energy. Knowing someone believes in you, cheers you on and stays with you from start to finish gives you an incredible feeling… like you can do anything. Even when we found ourselves going at different paces, we would wait until the others caught up so we could reach our goal as a team.

Crossing that finish line with those women could not have been a more profound and defining moment for me.

While there have been many people who’ve come and gone throughout my existence who spoke words of encouragement and — according to their own intentions — attempted to “lift me up” by making suggestions regarding my life direction, I see now that I respond more to actions than words. It’s much the same when someone professes love to me.

It’s almost as if a culture of “drive by emotions” have replaced the art of getting your hands dirty — both literally and figuratively. “Liking”, “commenting” or “pinning” things on social networking sites have become our new support groups rather than simple forms of self-expression. (Or, for me, a cost-effective way of letting my friends and relatives who live far away know what I’m up to with a side of capsulated recommendations on good stuff to check out.)

This year has seen me build stronger friendships from existing ones, and making more of an effort to pick up a phone and talk for an hour or two and re-shift or scrap plans entirely when a friend needs an ear or shoulder. I’m still not done. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a man who said, “you and I would never work because you have too many friends”, that I realized just how incredibly fortunate I am to have so many incredible people in my life who support my choices authentically, serve up tough love when they don’t, and won’t leave me in the proverbial (or colored) dust when they see me lag behind. (Yes, I’m glazing over the comment, because anyone who genuinely feels threatened by a network of friends doesn’t have true ones — and if they can’t grasp the concept of having true friends, then they’ll have equal difficulty being a true friend — missing out on all the benefits that comes with such a connection.)

As we crossed the finish line yesterday, we felt no pain. We celebrated our triumph as a team, took some commemorative pictures, and headed to breakfast with the significant others of two of our teammates (and one adorable new puppy). As we ate, drank, laughed and got to know each other better, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment (interrupted only by Baxter’s puppy cuteness, and my feverish obsession with my ESPN app, so I could follow and share the Wimbledon Men’s Final results with the few who cared).

The fullness I feel in my heart for those women (and men) and that moment completely overwhelms the tightness in my shoulders and my faintly fatigued legs and feet.

I think that’s a feeling worth running across the world for…

Celebrity Skin (Reborn)

[The following is a “cleaned up” version of a post that required “tweaking”. Much like the subjects involved.]

After seven days, one harrowing family emergency, one pretty promising work week, two NBA Finals games, one emotional Amel Larrieux concert, one hour and a half walk, one Central Park run, one Yoga class, one appropriately titled dark comedy mocking celeb culture and hours of chanting/meditation… I finally cried.

But strangely, not for the reasons I used to.

While dating a celebrity is the dream of many, it’s never been my life goal. I’d spent years working around actors, models and entertainers in some capacity, and understood the caveats of that world. So much, in fact, that I ran screaming from it in pursuit of a “normal” life in the form of a retail career and a buttoned-up architect boyfriend.

Both lasted eight and five years, respectively… an eternity in my world, and the benchmarks that validate my ability to be committed to some-thing/one when I begin to wonder.

Alas, like the Mafia, the universe has always found a way to bring me back to that environment.

So when I met a cocky-but-charming actor last summer, I chalked it up to a fun encounter that wouldn’t amount to anything more. That he didn’t live in the same city made dating him even less of a possibility.

Nonetheless, we kept in touch, and a new friendship began.

Months of only speaking by way of the internet and mobile apps segued into hours-long phone conversations in which we’d get lost in thought and time while discovering striking similarities in our experiences and beliefs. Alas, we were so similar, that the conclusion to this story came as no surprise. In him, I found a kindred spirit who, like myself, found our “happy place” despite hardscrabble upbringings through spirituality. His passion and driven nature inspired me, and — slowly — I began to imagine a scenario that seemed initially absurd.

But, also like myself, that same upbringing which forced us to be so profoundly independent minded and welcoming of the unknown, harbors insecurities and defense mechanisms that can kill burgeoning romances. Especially ones with difficult and virtually impossible challenges at its inception.

So, what happened? Many things. A man whose words are softer than his touch and a woman whose touch is softer than her words equates to a lit match near kerosene. Accusations and assumptions based on previous experiences. (The majority of which surprisingly not coming from my camp. No, really, I’m shocked.) Mutual feelings of being taken for granted combined with scheduling challenges, unfulfilled personal goals that require more attention, fatigue, poor communication and unfortunate circumstances.

You know… the usual cocktail for disaster.

Which is sad, because in another life with less anxiety, we could have been a dynamic family… if people like us believed we could be a family, as opposed to broken people seeking redemption through blind faith and kind words we can’t (or won’t) support with action.

In spite of things, there are no regrets. Only love and admiration for him and what he has given me: a renewed value in my time, and appreciation for how little of it I have to spend giving up my own dreams and desires for someone who hasn’t made a vow to do the same, or at least share our loads equally as partners.

Yes, it is an absolutely selfish stance to take on. But at this point if I’m gonna be a failure at relationships, I should at least be successful in other aspects. If you can’t beat ’em… join ’em.

The only exception — natch — is if you’ve come out of my vagina. Then all bets are off.

Until then… it’s all good. Broken hearts lead to thicker skins.

Although he, by far, has the more superior moisturizer.

My Funny Valentine

Sunday, I picked up the most adorable designer Valentine’s day card and got it autographed by its lovely and talented artist, Bella Pilar.

I’m giving it to myself.

You’re welcome.

Whatever. To the outside world, it may appear a little sad, desperate, and perhaps even certifiable… but I promise it makes perfect sense.

For starters, the card was free… scored it at the Papyrus stand at Fashion Week. The marketing guy appreciated the genuine enthusiasm my friend and I have for custom stationery. What can I say? We’re traditional girls who like sparkly, decorated cards that pack a punch no text or email could ever give.

Next, I think I’ve been an awesome date to myself lately. I’ve taken me to a hot concert, the inauguration, a spa, the movies, a chocolate tour, and an aerial circus class; where I gracefully dangled in the air like that kid in the Dreamworks logo.

And finally… why shouldn’t I declare love for myself?

I gotta say that’s a nifty departure from what had steadily become the norm of waiting. And wanting. And hearing things like “I used to give my ex-wife flowers so I don’t do that anymore” or “I don’t do Valentine’s Day” by guys who probably would not have liked to hear me say “I used to do that , but I don’t do that anymore.”

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the concept of St. Valentine’s Day. The massacre part intrigues me more. I feel like it grabs us by our privates and forces us to declare affection for people whether we love them — or like them just a little — literally and figuratively at our own expense. For loving couples, it’s an adorable addition to their romantic routines. For the rest of us, it’s akin to being eight years old and having a relative command you to go hug the urine scented elder, when you’d rather be climbing trees or playing “hide and don’t seek” with said unsuspecting relatives.

Either you dread the idea of spending absurd amounts of money on dinners, fragrances, themed underwear that does not have pictures of Spiderman on them, jewelry and whatever you haven’t thought of, or worse… you dread acknowledging that you have no one to get or give anything.

As a result, you’re now confined to your home to avoid being that person in a theater or a restaurant without a plus one. You become that salty person who gets annoyed by the PDA of couples and (sometimes) quietly predict their demise. You contemplate going places where you know there’ll be heavy V-day activity because single people occasionally garner pity from the staff and you feel affirmed by their inquiry as to why you’re single and shower you with compliments to make you feel (and tip) better. You will yourself not to scream, or cry, or punch someone in the face because someone actually thought it was a good idea at the time to show them in the corniest… sweetest… most imaginative way… that the recipient of their “valentine” is ostensibly the owner of their heart.

So this year, I’m proud — no, excited — to say I am the sole owner of my heart… and as such, I feel the need to express it in the silliest, cutest way imaginable. And if that means I get a sparkly card… then dammit, it’s gonna be the BEST sparkly card EVER!!

Did I mention it was Papyrus? Did I mention it was free? Do you KNOW how much those babies go for? It’s like the Tiffany’s of greeting cards!

As sociopathic as it may be to give oneself a card inscribed “XOXO from me to you”, it’s not as crazy as never having the kind of self adoration where you realize it’s okay to fly solo. It’s better than being with someone who makes you feel alone.

Love who you are. Love who you’re not. Celebrate your kindness. Your compassion. Your humor. Your intelligence. Your individuality. Your bravery. Your quirks. Your generosity.

And if you’re an asshole… celebrate your ability to not give a fuck.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Me

 

 

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…

These days, the art of reflection has become a constant source of amusement to me.

We’ve all had them… those “WTF?” moments where we questioned our judgement and motivation in retrospect post incident, or two… or fifty.

The night of tequila-based drinks that ended in the ruin of both your purse and dignity in the eyes of a unknowing cab driver.

The time you tried desperately to fit in and divulged your deepest personal secrets to a bunch of women with superiority complexes.

That guy you met outside The Strand.

That chunk of time fondly referred to as “my Twenties”.

Okay, those are my moments of reckoning, but as long as you were able to fill in your own blanks with equally humiliating and regrettable tidbits, then my work is done.

But the key is to recall them with a lightness of heart that can only be matched with the feeling of your feet dangling in the air — because you’ve fallen off your chair laughing at how stupid they are now.

There are so many things that hold such importance in our lives to the point where we feel lost without it; material things, status, relationships, appearances. If we lost any of these things tomorrow, would it really be that big of a deal?

Is it that important for you to have that lifestyle at the risk of breaking your bank?

Do you actually give a shit if people don’t accept you for who you are, or support what you do if they don’t consider you on “their level”?

Would life really end if that person didn’t love you back?

When we read it, it seems absurd to even contemplate any of these notions. But in the heat of a moment, when phrased differently in our minds, we answer a resounding “yes” more times than we care to admit.

If we didn’t, it would be a perfect world where people didn’t go deeply into debt, succumb to insecurities to be part of a group, or feel like a breakup is proof we don’t deserve loving and respectful partners and friends.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t take anything seriously. In fact, when we reflect on how badly we cocked up a situation in our past, it should ideally give us pause and perspective on how we can get it right in life the next time.

These days, I find reason to smile even when my thoughts turn to tragic things. If I’m unable to find a funny instance in the moment, then I find comfort in knowing that whatever it was… it’s over and I survived it.

This frame of thinking might have made high school and college significantly smoother transitions, but hey, better late than never.

Happily, my relationship with tequila has since improved… vastly.

Sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.

 

 

Assume the Position

In life, it would appear role play isn’t simply relegated to the bedroom.

This thought came to me as I considered the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. Normally, I detest this practice because it sets me up to make promises that I have zero intention of keeping, which then creates a domino effect of self-effacing for the remainder of the year; what begins as a noble introspective attempt at creating a better me suddenly morphed into an analysis of how and why we seek certain changes in our lives. I then began thinking about how in so many aspects of our being, people adjust or conform to whatever societal norm to either fit in or survive.

After it occurred to me that I’ve been steadily drinking my way through the month of December, I realized I was thinking way too much… but by then my mind locked onto the concept that — whether consciously or subconsciously — men and women desire “titles” or “positions” for status. Manager. Director. Boss. Girlfriend. Boyfriend. Wife. Husband. Mother. Father. Best Friend.

Which finally brings me to the point: It’s all well and good to be that person… if you really want to be that person. Unfortunately, we willingly demand these positions while being unwilling to do the work required of them.

Many of us have encountered a situation or two where our workplace has had less than effective management, so it’s easy to relate when we hear someone isn’t doing the job they pushed, pleaded and schemed to get (hell, politicians are providing some of the finest examples right now). But rarely do we acknowledge how we do that in relationships with people… and even ourselves.

Recently, it occurred to me just how dishonest I’d been with myself when it came to the “positions” I’ve (allegedly) wanted. For the majority of my years, I’ve accepted jobs, boyfriends, and other things simply based on the fact that they were options presented at that moment… instead of taking the time to assess whether mutual needs and desires were being met. I always hated disappointing people, and in my twisted logic felt compelled to remain in unpleasant situations despite the stress it would ultimately incur. Needless to say, I remain unfulfilled, but these days I’m more at peace with disappointments and find them to be fantastic lessons as I pursue my true position in this world.

Most importantly… I also take less shit.

As this year — with all its trials, tribulations, tragedies and transitions — comes to a close, my hope is that 2013 brings about an awakening of our minds, bodies and souls… allowing people to become more accepting of themselves and others for who they are. The tolerance of intolerance has produced disastrous results in the form of racism, bullying, homophobia, political unrest, and overall disparity between genders, class and even the mental and physically disabled. The new year requires a new perspective, to say the least.

It all starts with being true to ourselves and others… because the simple truth is, what we receive in this life is intrinsically connected to the effort we put into it. And if we’re not giving our best in any role — be it in work, play, and general existence — we set ourselves up to not just fail as an individual, but also those we affect through our actions.

Besides, there isn’t a more gratifying feeling than a job well done.

 

Stormy Weathered

“In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire… hurricanes hardly happen!” – Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle in “My Fair Lady”

Yesterday at work, I found myself wishing I was in one of those places… but instead I was catering to the needs and calming the nerves of displaced hotel guests who were either stranded by a cancelled flight, evacuated from their homes or having their luxury experience interrupted by mother nature’s wrath in the form of Sandy.

It all began innocently enough. Throughout most of the day it was just windy with a little rain. Locals spent the day typing productively away on their laptops, playing board and card games, and indulging in a cocktail or four. As the day progressed, the energy took a very different direction. The jovial, yet cautious vibe soon became more frustrated and frightened.

This is of course when things truly got interesting…

All the disaster movies and TV dramas in the world don’t prepare you for the range of emotions you go through when you’re in a situation where you are completely powerless. When you have to turn away frantic people who need a place for the night because they can’t stay in their own homes because you have no room. When you are expected to remain calm and overall pleasant when a demanding mother makes numerous outrageous requests. When you find yourself sleeping in a room full of strangers, and someone who shared theirs with one they know asks for their room to be cleaned. When you must find a way to keep children entertained and calm and unaware of the destruction and chaos occurring outside. When you find yourself walking through a hallway and staircase that’s pitch black and using the last of your battery life to illuminate your path. When you must endure an increasingly unpleasant odor that you can still detect in spite of blowing your nose until the skin is raw. When you watch someone attempt to plug an iPad into a generator, as a number of people just want to charge their phones enough to make or take a phone call once service resumes… It makes you wonder.

There came a point in the night — amongst the emergency generated light and candles — when an impromptu piano performance by one of the servers made me unexpectedly weepy. (It could have also been the two and a half hours of sleep I’d gotten prior to working twelve hours with almost no break.)

In any event, I began thinking of the reality of the moment more than the severity; I’d once again found myself working in an industry where myself and my colleagues forgo normal existences where we could be passing those stressful hours in the company of loved ones, to essentially babysit the privileged. Hearing one housekeeper use her colleague’s phone to assure her family in Mandarin that she was fine, and another get an early morning call from her relatives updating her on the news she couldn’t access while the power was out (I need their service carriers) — it was all too clear what sacrifices were made for the needs to support their families. That there were people who took that for granted with absurd requests made me march to the bar, request a “Dark and Stormy”, and retire straight to bed.

It is in moments like those you realize just how fleeting life is. How lonely you are. How important it is to have people who appreciate and enrich you instead of use and take advantage of you.

If you’re anything like me (God help you), you find yourself wishing for someone to weather the storm with. A plus one for all occasions. Someone willing to fight for you like they would their own spawn when you can’t stand up for yourself.

…You also find yourself thinking you’re in a scene out of “Titanic”, which may have precipitated your hasty exit more than the drink and disgust fueled by anxiety and exhaustion.

In a matter of hours… trees and buildings fell, homes and possessions were submerged under water, and people sat in darkness literally and figuratively waiting to learn their fates.

As the daylight began to clear the dark skies and thoughts, I found myself aching to make a call I couldn’t. In the midst of attempting to place guests in other hotels that had power and hot water, my desire to go to my own home grew stronger. When the clouds finally provided an opportunity, I made my escape with pained eyelids, an unforgiving sinus headache, and overworked legs to begin a very long walk home to rest, recover — and start over.

Of course, in that moment of clarity, it struck me around mile three of the six required of my journey, that my African/Native/Scottish migrant lineage was too far removed for me to complete that walk with two bags on my shoulders… and immediately hailed a cab. On my way home, I chatted with the driver — who assured me he was going to be home by nightfall, and made sure to tip him extra.

We don’t all have the power to save trees, buildings or lives — nor can we make people behave in such a way that there’s never disparity toward their fellow human being. But we can control what we build or break with our own words and actions. While observing the hotel manager calmly diffuse an irate guest, that gem of a life lesson was my final takeaway after a very introspective experience.

Some people just get cabin fever. I get philosophical and a fever.

Would rather have Nyquil or Mucinex.

Parental Guidance Suggested

Some people have all the luck, in which they never experience or understand a desire to have what constitutes in society as a “normal” life.

They grow up in loving homes — not necessarily nuclear ones — with families that support them and teach them valuable life lessons to prepare them to be thriving and successful adults in society. They live life fearlessly and ready to take on the world because they were told throughout their lives that they could do and be anything they wanted to be. Their complaints vary from having the option of two family homes and not getting what they wanted for Christmas. Or something of that nature.

But then, there are the other people… the ones whose innocence and youth were lost very early in life through various methods ranging emotional, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment and just overall circumstances. They grew up afraid to speak their minds and hearts, mistrusting of adults — especially whichever gender caused the most trauma — and resentful or very angry with anyone they felt had a better deal. They have difficulties in relationships friendly and romantic, and often hurt people both intentionally in retaliation or unintentionally through subconsciousness.

Unfortunately, if the media reports and case studies are correct, there are a lot of the latter in the world. As scary as the reality of abuse cases are, scarier still are the ones that never see the light of day. These days the commonality of people (many high-profile) revealing their ordeals have sparked more discussions and openness about the subject, which allows the possibility of healing and coming from a place of despair, to one of hope. But the truth is these people function in our society and in one form or another, their demons affect how they do so. Our understanding, or lack thereof, can sometimes put us in uncomfortable and presumably unfair life or death situations.

Why am I going down this slippery and awkward slope… again?

Yesterday, I read a story about a father in Texas who discovered someone sexually assaulting his four year-old daughter and punched him continuously in the head until he died. As tragic as the death of someone by the hands of another may be, shamefully in retrospect, the emotion that came over me was anything but grief.

My first thought was that the father should not be charged with a crime. My second thought was about what that little girl is going to have to endure emotionally. Surprisingly, my third thought was that I envied her future.

For the rest of her life, that little girl will always know that her dad literally killed someone to protect her. He will most likely never let her out of his sight for the rest of his life. She will never have to live with a soul-crushing secret, or believe that somehow she was responsible for what happened to her, because her family will give her all the support she needs to be a strong, confident woman.

When people become parents, they sometimes forget there’s more to having a child than feeding, changing and clothing them. They’re not accessories to be paraded like the latest “It” bag, and you can’t give them away if you grow tired or bored with maintaining them. Some people have children for many reasons that don’t include the most important reason: having a legacy.

Adults forget that children are the ones who build on the foundations we create. When we break everything in their paths, they go through life thinking everything should be broken. When we neglect them, they neglect others — and worse — seek the acceptance of those who don’t have their best interests at heart. When we create entertainment such as music, movies, books and video games that glorify sex and violence, they embrace them in place of love and compassion. When we speak and act disrespectfully to and around them, they replicate the same behavior. Everything we do impacts their futures… and ours.

But I’m no expert.

My own story is not a new one, so I don’t need to elaborate. But when one has spent the last six-plus years in long-term relationships with men so similar to her absentee father that she could only tell them apart physically… you can gauge someone dropped the ball during my formative years. With that, I’m taking a much-needed break from it all for a while to re-draft that blueprint.

You don’t need to be a parent to determine the future of a child, but it helps to be a parent to your child for the sake of their future. This especially rings true now that we can no longer rely on teachers, nor the church — or even our communities — to protect them.

Perhaps the moral of the story is if you choose to bring a child into this world, be prepared to have a watchful eye, impeccable time management skills, the willingness to sacrifice some of your life’s comforts for them… and potentially take a life for them.

Only the last one I don’t advocate, but if the “stand your ground” law can enable psychotic provocateurs to murder innocent people, one would think exceptions can be made for the most innocent of all.

Take Me Out of the Ball Game

I’ve always been amused by men and sports.

The raw emotion they display when their teams are doing exceptionally well or abysmal. The animated expressions when points are scored or a bad play is made. The way they know the stats of the entire roster of a team as far back as each player’s pre-pro days. The way an injury affects them personally, and sends them scrambling to make sense of how the team will recover. The way they create “fantasy” teams. The way grown men actually cry when their team is eliminated from competition. The loyalty they show their favorite teams and players… even when they fail them…

It’s all fascinating to behold.

What’s even more intriguing is how they have all this wealth of information and feelings, but most of them reserve it for game time. When it comes to actual interactions and relationships with people, it turns into a different ball game.

The other day, one of my girlfriends took me to my first Yankee game. Admittedly, I’m not as diehard about baseball as I am about basketball, but I’ve always respected the Yankees, and an opportunity to visit the new stadium and view Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano’s butts up close and personal were an added bonus.

During the game, I witnessed so many men gesticulating and verbally expressing either displeasure with the pitcher’s performance or elation at a home run, I momentarily mistook it for a Jerry Springer episode. When one man proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the sixth inning, my eyes darted to see where the cameras were rolling (they were actually right behind us).

The thrill of attending a sporting event suddenly took a turn into a world where men expressed themselves freely, honestly and occasionally in a bizarre fashion. They have their best girl by their sides in the stands, and they belt out tunes in unison and brotherhood — each of them understanding they are members of an exclusive club where the devoted are welcome, and rivals and fair-weather spectators get shunned and ostracized.

I marveled at the level of commitment and involvement it takes to be a sports fan. Not just because of the intensity and pageantry that is often associated with it (tailgaters and face and body painters — I’m looking at you), but because it indicates the amount of passion a man is capable of having for something that he truly loves. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever see genuine disappointment at the thought of a person being traded for someone new. But they adapt very quickly to change when the team performs better… something we can all appreciate. We can also appreciate when someone is cut for poor performance and unwilling to be coached.

It’s common knowledge that almost every team in every league has a marquee player. One particular athlete that stands out above the rest with exceptional skills, endorsement earning looks, and crowd pleasing bankability.  I’ve often considered that the best teams are the ones that have a culmination of good players who each have specific abilities that collectively make them unstoppable. They complement each other, and work together to achieve mutual victories as opposed to individual grandstanding.

It’s the difference between Kobe Bryant and the Dallas Mavericks. (There’s my basketball reference.)

…It also happens to be the foundation of a strong relationship. Ironic, since lots of athletes have commitment and fidelity difficulties — and women whose boyfriends or husbands are serious sports fans are often referred to as widows.

Clearly, there are different rules depending on the balls you play with.

Go figure.

 

2012: And So It Begins…

Only one day in, and it’s already been an awesome year.

After a night that included champagne wishes and caviar dreams in the most literal sense, I woke up in the peaceful Connecticut countryside with a resigned calm about the year that was, and a determination burning just as brightly as the sun interrupting my sleep that this year is ripe with possibilities.

Last year at this exact time, my outlook on life was such a juxtaposition to the current one.  My 35th birthday had set the tone for what would come to be the worst holiday season on record (which is a fairly extreme statement when you’ve worked in retail for years).  Already disheartened by lack of employment or a home of my own, I’d experience additional struggles and uncertainty with family, finances, friendships and love which would continue in the months that followed.  Although life has yet to reach the level where I can finally exhale, today I am at least hopeful that the moment will arrive very soon.

Two and a half weeks ago, I celebrated my 36th birthday surrounded by an amazing group of people.  Some have been in my life for years, and others only a few weeks.  As we all ate, drank and laughed… it hit me.  For the first time in my lifetime, I entered a new year on this earth realizing that everything will be okay, and excited about what was to come and reveling in the fact that I got to share the moment with such an extraordinary mix of people who represent the many pieces of me — all coming together that night so beautifully and giving me a feeling of completion I’ve never known before.  If I’d needed further convincing of how blessed I was, all I had to do was consider that it was the middle of December, and not only was it an unseasonably warm night, the rain that was expected in various forecasts never happened.  That night was a game changer.

So here’s to a new year of new discoveries…  Of working harder… Of making better choices… Of pushing boundaries… Of refusing to settle for anything less than what is deserved…  Of opening my heart and mind to more people, places and experiences that challenge, enlighten, humor and maybe even spoil me a little… And most importantly… Of getting what I want.

Cheers…