Saturday, November 20, 2010

Checking In

I just looked and saw that my last post was almost 3 weeks ago. It's not because I haven't had stuff to write about, it's the exact opposite. I have too much going on and no time to write. Luckily as the end of the year comes, some committments I have will be coming to an end (including my term as President of the local chapter of my alma maters alumni association). My schedule should clear up a little bit and I am resolving now to make more time for myself in 2011.

Tonight, I am throwing my cousin a surprise birthday party. She's been through a lot in the last year, and being a recently divorced, unemployed mother of three she has had more down days than up days in her life lately. Her children are already with their respective fathers and she has no idea what's in store for her. I just hope nobody ruins it for her before she gets to the restaurant.

I'll let you know how that goes in my next post. Until then, feel free to catch me up with what's going on in your world. I'll try to catch up on your blogs in my down time today and should be back to regular posting real soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Would You Do Wednesday: Starting Over

Last week, my job started their growth initiative. They brought in a new person to my department and even thought its only been a week, I can already tell she is going to be ideal for "What Would You Do Wednesday". She just got out of a 16 year marriage with her high school sweetheart and is re-entering the dating game. I already have 3 post in the hole because of her. Anyway, on to this weeks situation:

You started dating someone. Things are going slow but good. A few weeks into dating you are informed that your new interest informs you that they are going on a cruise. You're cool with it because you figure that it was something planned before the two of you started dating. Your concern is who are they going with. Do you ask? Do you wait to see if they tell you? Do you let it go, have fun while they're gone and catch up when they return?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Road Rules - Homecoming Edition

Since I graduated from college in 2001, I have made it a point to return to Baltimore at least 2 times a year; homecoming and graduation. In the last nine years, I've only missed 1 graduation and have yet to miss a homecoming. As this years homecoming came around, for a brief moment, I didn't think I was going to be able to go (blame it on the economy and bad budgeting). Fortunately, things opened up that allowed me to go, even though I did have to make some concessions (take the bus instead of the train and stay 2 nights instead of 3).

Going into the trip I wasn't as motivated as I usually am. Before I even left work, I knew I wasn't going to see the person I wanted to see the most. On top of that, I received the unfortunate news of the passing of the mother of a friend of mine due to a massive stroke (insert "life is short, live each day like its your last" reminder here). I accepted those realities and didn't let them put too much of a damper on my day/weekend. By the time I arrived at the bus station, I ran into a friend of mine and the fun began. We laughed and reminisced most of the trip, which brought my excitement level back up a little bit.

Once we arrived into town, I quickly checked into my hotel room and prepared to hit the streets. Unfortunately, my body had other plans. After eating dinner, my body all but shut down. No energy to do anything. After watching the Rangers beat the Yankees I dozed off, only to be awaken around 2 when all of the parties ended and everyone wanted to know what happened to me.

Saturday started early. Breakfast, followed by a phone call from one of my nearest and dearest friends who couldn't make it to Baltimore. After that, I met up with another friend and headed to campus. Yes, we won the football game, but this day was more about the memories and the friendships. Running into old friends and making new ones always makes the trip worth it. Reminiscing about old days and making new memories were great. After leaving campus, it was off to dinner at Red Brick Station in White Marsh (if you ever go, don't order Jake's Nacho's with chicken unless you plan on sharing with at least 2 other people . . . yes, its that big) and more alumni parties before resting up for the trip home.

The trip home was bittersweet. The whole time I wonder what life would be like had I never left after graduation and how things could be if I move back; a decision I've been thinking about for years. Would some things change for the better? Would some things change for the worse. I know thinking back won't change things, but who knows what the future home. Being a Maryland resident doesn't sound like such a bad idea to me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Music Makes Me High - The "Music Saved My Life Tour"

Anyone who knows me knows there are four things that I really get excited about; good music, good food, sports and women. Last night, the music lover in me was in a very good place. Mary J. Blige' brought her "Music Saved My Life" tour to Radio City Music Hall here in New York City. It was her second of two shows in New York (although the tickets for this one went on sale first - I hate when that happens) and she brought Miguel, Jazmine Sullivan, and El DeBarge . . . yes, EL DEBARGE, to open for her.

I saw Miguel perform over the summer when he opened for Chrisette Michelle. I like his music and hope he continues to get the exposure that he deserves. His set was only 15 minutes long. Just enough for him to be introduced to those who didn't know him. If you haven't listened to anything other this "All I Want Is You" then look him up. If he stays true to himself, he will probably not get a lot of radio airplay like the Dweele's, Eric Roberson's and other artists who's music has been classified as neo-soul.

Jazmine Sullivan took the stage next. I didn't get how her intro related to her first song, but once she started singing "Bust Ya Windows" it didn't even matter. She went into her other hits, mixed in with some songs with some songs with her new album. The woman can sing . . . or should I say, she can sang. What surprised and impressed me was the fact that she has personality and good stage presence. She has definitely improved in that area since I last saw her. Besides the near wardrobe malfunction (or maybe I was just hoping for one), he set was good.

After Jazmine left that stage, I updated my Facebook status to say "[Organized Noise] is enjoyed the young cats but is ready for the veterans to hit the stage". Hit the stage they did. El DeBarge came on and put on a performance clinic. With no backup dancers and no fancy pyro, DeBarge came on stage like a "grown man". A man with a microphone, a piano and a live band is all he needed to command the stage as he took us on a musical journey that went as far back as an Earth, Wind & Fire cover and as recent as his new single, "Second Chance". By the time he finished his set with "Rhythm Of The Night" he could have pulled a Randy Watson and just drop the mic and walk off the stage. . . fortunately he didn't. He got the crowd warmed up just enough that the meer mention of Mary's name would have been enough to set the stage of fire.

Mary J. Blige took the stage and appropriately started her set with "MJB Da MVB". After that, she spent the rest of her set showing us why. showing us why that title is befitting the Queen that she is. Going through hit after hit, album after album after album taking us on a journey through her life, which most of us have seen played out since day one. She has so many hits that you could make a decent album with the songs that time did not permit her to perform (most notable to me was "Family Affair"). I don't know what can be said about Mary that hasn't already been said. If you've seen her already, you already know. If you haven't, what are you waiting for? Mary was the icing on the cake this night, and sometimes, the icing is the best part.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gone, But Not Forgotten

On Friday, October 2, 2009 will be a day I won't forget for many reasons. Unfortunately, the most notable of those reasons is a sad one. That afternoon, a young freshman at Campus Magnet High School in St. Albans, New York (Andrew Jackson High School for those of you who lived in Queens prior to the mid 1990's) was walking home and decided to stop at the McDonald's by the school on his way home. While he was approaching the store, a fight broke out at a car wash across the street. At some point during the fight, someone pulled out a gun and started shooting. As everyone ran for cover, this young freshman was hit by a stray bullet and was pronounced dead later that evening.

As irony would have it, I was in Sparrowbush, New York that day. It was day one of a 3 day retreat with other men from my church. We were just about to go into a workshop about being more effective in the community and keeping our kids off of the street when the phone calls started pouring in. Since I was scheduled to facilitate that particular workshop, I had to make the announcement. I didn't know the young man personally, but him mother is someone I grew up with so it did hit pretty close to home.

The death and week that followed drew a lot of media attention, especially since the young man went to the same school as Ed Lover & Kurt Flirt, who used their local radio show to keep the spotlight on the investigation and make sure that the death didn't become just another statistic. The wake and funeral packed the church as dignataries, church members and fellow classmates (classes were cancelled and students were bused to the funeral), transit workers, police officers and people just wanting to be there for support. Tears were flowing, but after the funeral the memory didn't die.

Fast forward to October 1, 2010. The beginning of the weekend acknowlegding the 1 year anniversary of this unfortunate crime. A candlelight vigial was held in his honor and a permanent plaque was placed in front of the car wash where he died. It was a bittersweet night (those of you who are friends with me on Facebook can see the pictures I posted this weekend). There was laughter, there was singing, there was inspiration and there were definitely tears. Contrary to popular belief, time does not heal all wounds. There is still a mother who lost her oldest child, a young man who lost his big brother, and another teenager who lost a cousing who was more like a brother to him. Not to mention friends and classmates who had to learn about death a whole lot earlier than they should have.

This post isn't so much a tribute as it is another reminder that life is short. I once heard someone say that we don't control the dates on our tombstone, but we do control what happens in the dash. In other words, we don't control when we are born or when we die, but we do control what we make of the time in between. Every time I hear a story like this, I am always inspired to live my life and that's exactly what I intend to continue to do. I don't know how much more time I have left, but I'm going to try my best to do as much as I can for as long as I am allowed to do so. What about you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Operation 60: Support System

One of the main reasons I came back to the blogosphere was to find a support system for this endeavor that I'm about to take on. Many of us have tried to lose weight on our own. Just last year, I lost 25 pounds pretty much on my own because I didn't even want to talk about it with anyone. I walked, ran, exercised, watched my diet (the best I could - lack of willpower, when it comes to food, is no joke) and anything else I could to make it happen. Sadly, when there were those days that I got discouraged (and trust me, being unemployed provided a lot of discouraging days), I couldn't pull myself out. Discouraging moments because days, days became weeks and weeks became months. It was at that point when I realized that I can't do it alone.

I spoke to a friend of mine who is also working hard (and successfully, I might add) to improve her health. Little does she know it was those conversation that really lead me to coming back to the blogosphere. At first I started writing about everyday stuff like I did in previous incarnations of my blog. It wasn't until two weeks ago that I decided to go in. I wrote one of the most personal posts I have written in a long time. I wrote about something I've never written about before, my health. It was a taboo subject for me until recently when I decided that talking about it might just encourage me to do something about it. With no responses for almost 2 weeks, I was starting to feel discouraged again (and a trip to Old Country Buffet over the weekend didn't help matters). It wasn't until last night that I finally received feedback. Not in a comment, but in a message on facebook from a friend/fellow blogger. With her permission, I'll post her message here:

Just read your September 8 blog entry and while I'm still ashamed to share how much I weigh with ANYBODY I will say I feel where you are coming from. If you will allow it, I would love to be a member of your support system. And maybe you can return the favor. Our paths to fitness might be a little different but we can definitely help each other. We can share tips and check in daily (if possible) to see what the other is up to. And in 9 months we can celebrate our success! We can only be successful (I'm claiming it!). Let me know what you think . . ."


That message meant a lot to me. It's nice to know I'm not alone and I was actually encouraged for the first time in a long time. Knowing that I am not alone means a lot to me and I hope having someone to be accountable to will make a difference. Even though we are in different states, knowing someone is checking on me should keep me in check. I'd love to have a bigger support system and I'm sure that will come in due time, but it definitely takes a spark to start a fire and I now have my spark.

I know the journey ahead is a long one, but I'm glad I'm not alone in it. As if finding a support system wasn't good enough, I got another surprise earlier tonight. As a big (no pun intended) fan of "The Biggest Loser", I was patiently waiting this new season. The contestants stories are so emotional and their eventual successes are all inspiring. No more than 20 minutes into the show, I see a familiar face. One of the contestants this season turns out to be someone I went to school with. A young lady who's weight has gone all the way up to 272 pounds. If that's not inspiration enough, I don't know what is. I will not lose, but I can take all of the help I can get.

Monday, September 13, 2010

O Brother Where Art Thou

My aunt died of breast cancer in 1994. I went down to North Carolina for the funeral, but didn't want to see my aunt like that so I didn't go to the funeral; neither did my brother. Instead, we stayed at my grandmother's house and threw batting practice to each other. That was the last memory I had of my brother. It was also the last time I saw him and the last time I spoke to him. Between his committments to the state of Virginia and his desire to disassociate himself with his family, I didn't care and definitely didn't notice how much time had passed. That all changed Saturday afternoon.

I don't answer calls from numbers that I don't recognize so I didn't think twice when I saw the number on the caller ID. A few minutes when I was told that the call was for me, I was definitely caught off guard. Of course I didn't know who it was, but once I found out, all kinds of emotions went through my head, but I decided to keep my cool. With the exception of one smart remark about him not being around I decided to just listen. We ended up talking for a half an hour. We agreed on a few things and I got a better idea of what's been going on with him. Now the real fun begins.

There's no way that one conversation could make up for 16 years, but this definitely has the potential to be a good start. He made some promises, but anyone who knows me knows that I don't care too much for promises. Actions speak louder than words so lets see how long it is before he comes through. He asked me for a favor, and I did it with no hesitation. Sort of an olive branch. The ball is in his court now. We will soon see if I can get one of my brothers back or if this was a cameo appearance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Operation 60: The Beginning of the End

Most . . . no, all of my life I have stood out. If it wasn't for being the tallest person in the crowd, then it would be for being the biggest. When I graduated from high school, I weighed 275 pounds and at my worst, I went up to 340. Because I was 6'6", most people didn't really believe me when I told them. I guess the height masked the weight, but I remember the day that I saw that scale hit 340 I knew I had to do something. As I type this, I am nowhere near 340, at the same time I do realize that I am nowhere near where I need to/want to be. Last year, I made a concious effort to lose weight and was successful. Lost 21 pounds and have kept it off (save a pound or two around the holidays) Now its time to go hard, and that, I realize, I can't do alone.

One of the main reasons I returned to blogging is to get a support system and a sense of accountability. Posting my progress forces me to be honest with myself, admit my weakness and discover strengths that I didn't even know I had. It also provides me an opportunity to get tips and recommendations from those of you out there who've been in my shoes before. Whether you've tried to lose 5 pounds or 50, any help and support you give would be greatly appreciated.

I decided to start my journey today, September 8, 2010, because its the first day of school here in New York City. It's a day of new beginnings and today is definitely a new beginning for me. As I start this journey, I invite you to inspire, encourage and motivate me to get into the best shape of my life. During the next 9 months I want you to be there for the successes and failure and see me at the end when I intend on being a whole lot better than I am at the beginning. Thank you in advance.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday's Top 10

On Friday, I was in the house catching up on blogs that I haven't read in a while. I came across a post done by BluJewel where she listed 10 Things She Likes About Sex. I found the post to be interesting and decided to do my own list. Without further adieu . . . here's this weeks, Top 10:

10 THINGS I LIKE ABOUT SEX


10. The intoxicating afterglow - There is nothing more satisfying than good sex and the feeling that comes the first few minutes after you've finished is priceless.

9. The anticipation - the moments leading up to an encounter, whether you know its coming days in advance or minutes in advance, are exciting. The build-up itself is a turn on. Sort of like that 11:45pm on Christmas Eve feeling when you know you can open one present at midnight.

8. The simultaneous satisfaction off all five senses - Unless I'm missing something, sex is the only thing that allows you to satisfy all five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight) at the same time.

7. The trust factor - Next to a child and her hand in marriage, her body is the best gift a woman can give and the trust that comes with her giving you that is not to be betrayed (at least by me).

6. The vulnerability - Sex seems to be the only time that we don't care what we look like naked. Some of us don't like to look at ourselves naked in the mirror, but when we have sex, we allow someone else to see us and all of our inperfections.

5. Feeling comfortable in my own skin. - having someone who accepts you as is is another turn on and increases the comfort level that I have, not just with myself being naked, but with my partner as well.

4. The ability to satisfy a woman - anyone who has done it knows why this is so high.

3. The foreplay - Going back to a womans body being a gift, having the privilege of exploring a womans body and showing her how much you appreciate it is a rush, especially if you're someone who puts his partners satisfaction ahead of his own.

2. The escape from reality - whether its 5 minutes, an hour or an all night encounter with multiple episodes, when you're having sex, nothing else really matters. You are in your own private world with your partner. There are no cares and no problems. It's a temporary utopia.

1. The connection I have with my partner. - The physical enjoyment of sex is intensified multiple times for me when I have an emotional connection with my partner. Doesn't necessarily mean we have to be in a relationship, but it does mean that it has to be someone that I care for and who I have meaningful feelings for. Sex for the sake of having sex is a waste of time in my book.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Facebook Fridays: Don't Make It More Than What It Is

This weeks facebook status comes from a woman I went to high school with. On Wednesday afternoon, she simple put the following as her facebook status:

SEX PLEASE . . . LEAVE YOUR FEELINGS AT THE DOOR

This caught my attention for several reasons. Besides the obvious buzzword, her status made me think of two things - first, the state of casual sex and second, the lack of honesty in male-female dynamic.

For a long time, when you spoke of casual sex, it was always about men and their attempts to sleep with as many women as they can. It was taboo to even think about, let alone talk about a woman having casual sex. As time has moved on and society has become more acceptable of women exploring their sexual freedom you hear just as many, if not more women have one-night stands, FB's (and we aren't referring to facebook here), side pieces and friends with benefits than men. Both marriages and relationships are on the decline while men and women are entering into these "situations" because they are easier and less stressful or they dont want to be bothered with a relationship.

If that's your thing I am definitely in no position to judge you. I've had my moments and if given the opportunity . . . never mind. That's an entirely different post. My problem with these "situations" is that most people don't end up in them willingly. Men still feel like they have to lie their way into a woman's pants. Half the time, all they have to do is be honesty. I really close friend of mine is going through it right now with someone who ran the "I want a relationship" game on her. They started sleeping together for a few weeks and now she goes days and in one case weeks without hearing from him.

Even in these "situations", honesty is the best policy. They may not always get what or who they want, but being respected for honesty is probably a whole lot better than the things he'd get called acting like he wants a relationship when all he wanted was sex, then gets the sex and disappears (I'm sure a few you of have been in that situation before). I'm sure there are women, and I KNOW there are men, who would be receptive to "I'm not really looking for anything serious right now, but I just want to have a little fun".

People are going to do what they want to do regardless, but I for one think honesty is the best policy. Don't lie to me and tell me you love me because you think that's what I want to hear. Be honest with yourself about what you want and who you want it from and all parties involved will be better for it. Don't overanalyze anything. Live you life and please . . . PLEASE . . . don't make it more than what it is.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Central Park Summer Stage - August 21, 2010

Yesterday was a great day to be a music lover in New York City. Especially if you're a fan of contemporary R&B and neo-soul music played by real musicians and sung by people who can actually sing like I am. The Central Park Summerstage put on a show that had all of that and them some. Mario, Tamia and Chrisette Michelle on one stage. There isn't more you could ask for. A music lovers paridise in the middle of the greatest city in the world.

The show opened up with Miguel, an up and coming artist, who, from what I could tell is another artist that combines the lines of funk, metal and R&B. He plays electric guitar and his band has a Mint Condition-ese sound to it. As far as the singing goes, he sounds pretty decent. After his set, I kind of regretted passing on the free CD single they were distributed when we were on line to get in.

Tamia took the stage next. All I can say is DAMN. She came out in this white dress that hugged her in all the right places. I could only imagine what Grant Hill was thinking as he watched her set from the crowd. The woman is fine and the second she opens her mouth you know she is a gifted singer. Her set started with "So Into You" and "Imagination". She followed those two songs with her other hits "Spend My Life", "You Put A Move On My Heart", "Still", "Me" and "Officially Missing You". Her set ended with "Stranger In My House". I'm already looking forward to her next album and it's not even coming out until next year.

Mario was next. I don't know what to make of his performance. It was good to hear his old hits "Just A Friend" and "You Should Let Me Love You", "How Do I Breathe" and "Cryin' Out For You" but the rest of his set left a lot to be desired. Gyrating across the stage with children in attendance outside at 4 o'clock in the afternoon might not have been the best decision he made yesterday. Especially when the rest of the lineup used their God-given abilities to entertain the crowd. I'm sure there were some people who were impressed with his performance, but I can't count myself as one of them.

Chrisette Michelle headlined the show. Dressed in a simple black dress and a denim jacket, she stepped on stage and made up for not showing up at last year's concert when she was scheduled to be on a lineup that also included Jazmine Sullivan and Jon. B. She started her set with "Epiphany". From there, she went into her other hits "All I Ever Think About", "Like A Dream", "Golden", "Love Is You" and "If I Had My Way". Her set ended with a gospel inspired version of "Blame It On Me". Who would think that with only two albums out Chrisette is already at a point in her career where she can do a show and not perform songs that would be considered hits. She could have easily done another half an hour or so because she didn't do "Be OK" or my personal favorite "In This For You". Guess I'll actually have to spend money to hear her sing those.

Overall, it was a beautiful day in the park. Good music and a good time had by those in attendance. I almost neglected to mention that "Salt" from Salt N Pepa performed and the DJ kept the party going between sets. Too bad we can't get more than one R&B day in the park each summer. It's always a memorable event.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Restaurant Review - Agave

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat (no, this is not a continuation from my last post ;-) ). Luckily for me, I live in New York where there's practically a restaurant on every corner and I'm not scared to make a reservation and put on a pair of slacks and a button up to enjoy a meal (the times of taking a woman to Applebee's, Friday's or Uno's and calling it a date left with my teens). Sometimes you'll stumble on a new gem, and other times, you'll leave looking for the nearest McDonald's because the food sucked. Either way, the new experience is something you'll remember. From time to time, as I experience new things I'll share them with you here. Sharing is caring.

The Greenwich Village section of New York City has a reputation that might scare some people away, but one thing that it does have going for it is some good restaurants and lounges. Two of my favorite restaurants (Burrito Loco and Caliente Cab Company) and one of my favorite lounges (Fat Black Pussycat) are down there as is the latest restaurant I have gone to for the first time this weekend.

Agave is a southwestern inspired restaurant located convienently on 7th Avenue South between West 10th Street & Charles Street. It's has a spacious enclosed eating area in the front for those who want to enjoy the bright sunshine and the lively scene on 7th Avenue South, a decent sized bar area for those who just want to stop by really quick for a drink or appetizers or the after-work crowd, then a quiet dining area for those who desire an eating experience that is a little bit more intimate.

The staff is quick and friendly. Our food was prepared in record time (as if they knew what I was having before I ordered it). I had grilled tuna with tomato chutney and my companion for the evening had steak tortilla. The portion sizes were idea and the food was splendid. No need to add salt, pepper or hot sauce. The dessert menu looked tempting, but I passed on it. I might have to indulge in it next time. . . YES, there will be a next time.

Agave gets more than a passing grade from me and will definitely be added to the list of restaurants on the regular rotation. Quick service, good food, reasonable prices, nice atmosphere. What more could you ask for? . . . next on the list of new restaurants to try, hopefully, will be Negril Village. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Facebook Fridays: The New Goodnight Kiss

If you are reading this, there's a pretty good chance that you also have a facebook account. Even if you are one of those few people who don't have an account, I'm confident in the assumption that you know someone who does (hell, you're reading my blog and I have one, so that's that). Most of us who have accounts check it at least once daily, either to update the world on what's going on with you, or to find out what's going on with the rest of the world. Whether its a status update, a new friend request, a new group or just to stalk other people, we can't avoid getting on Facebook. Thanks to smartphones and iPods, its gotten to the point that people even update their status while they are on vacation (something I vow not to do if I ever take a vacation, especially one that requires an airplane or a passport). From time to time, I'll come across an interesting status update that might spark a conversation or debate. The status may come from me, but more than likely it'll come from one of my friends (I'll save my controversial stuff for the blog). Either way, if its interesting enough, I'll share it here with you for your take on the topic.

This weeks topic comes from a former college classmates post on Sunday night. It simply stated the following:
ORAL SEX IS THE NEW GOOD NIGHT KISS

That comment alone isn't what prompted the discussion. What prompted the discussion was the fact that one of his friends commented that she doesn't perform oral sex, although she is a very willing receipient of it. I know everyone is entitled to their opinions and I don't know her reasonings for the opinion that she has, but it is definitely rare. In the sexual society that we live in its rare to find men or women who choose not to perform oral sex. In certain instances people will be satisfied with just being allowed to perform or receive oral sex.

I do agree with her in one regard. In regards to oral sex, or anything sexual for that matter, I have always felt that it would be more enjoyable for all parties involved if you do whatever you do because you want to do it and not because the other parties want to do it. Life is short, do (or don't do) what you want and don't worry about being judged about it. That piece of advice can apply to any aspect of your life, not just sex. If someone asked you to bake them a cake, do it because you want to, not because they asked you to. That was a stretch considering the original topic, but I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from (no pun intended).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Evolution of Friendships

I have always been a firm believer in the addage that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Recent events in my life have definitely supported that belief. The only thing about it was that up until recently, I tried to control who stayed in my life, how long they stayed in my life AND what role they played in my life. I am just starting to understand the fact that those decisions are not in my control. I have friends that I have known almost all of my life (two of my friends I have knows for 27 years) and I have friends who have come into my life in the last couple of years who I couldn't imagine life without. In between, there have been others who have come and gone. Although they are gone, they aren't forgotten because they left footprints and lessons that will be cherished forever. Their reason or season in my life was not in vain.

This summer, my church started having 2 services on Sundays. They moved the regular 11am service up to 10:30am and added an early morning service at 7:30am (a service that I hope sticks around at least through football season). I attend the 7:30 services because 1) they are casual and 2) it gives me the rest of the day to myself. Lately, I have been given a third reason to enjoy the 7:30 services. A group of us, which includes three of my mentors, have started going to breakfast after church. This is nothing different than when they used to take us out when they were my age and I was a teenager. Only difference is that instead of the mentee/mentor type conversations, we have evolved into friends. We joke together, hang out together, talk on the same level. I couldn't have imagined this type of friendship developing when I first met them way back when.

My mentors have been in my life for over 20 years now. They have seen some of my highs and have been there at all of my lows. They've done things for me that my family hasn't even done and stepped into situations for me in which my family wouldn't. I appreciated them for what they've done for me as part of my growing up and becoming the man I am today. Never did I think that they'd still have a major role in my life once I became an adult. Thankfully, those decisions aren't made by me. I'm glad that our friendships have evolved to the point that they are now. Like I often tell one particular friend of mine, sometimes its better to to get what you need instead of what you want. My mentors have become just as close as some of my friends, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The (Crazy) Ex-Files: Birthday Present

Those of you out there who know me know I have a funny philosphy on receiving gifts. In particular, I have a hard time answering the question "what do you want for (birthday/christmas/etc). I have and will always be of the opinion that if you want to give me something, go ahead and do it. At the same time, make it something meaningful. Different things have different meanings to me depending on who they come from. On the flip side, if I do get up enough guts to tell someone what I want (from them) I need some kind of assurance that they'd actually be willing to make it happen for me. That brings me to today.

Today is the birthday of one of my ex-girlfriends, "Chicago". How do I know? Partly because it's written down in my birthday book and partly because she reminded me. Not only did she remind me, she told me she wanted to see me today. What makes this even more interesting is that she's in Maryland and I'm in New York. I received an e-mail yesterday asking me if I was available this evening for a few hours. Mind you, this is woman who I haven't dated since the late 90's and haven't seen since a New Year's weekend trip to Philly in 2005. I wonder what makes her think I'd want to see her after all these years. I don't even know why I bothered to respond to the e-mail, but I am glad I forgot that I was actually free tonight.

As I sit here typing this there's a part of me who wonders what keeps her going after all these years. I've seen movies start out like this. I don't want to be the star of a Lifetime movie. I wouldn't even dare stroke my own ego because I know I'm a better man now than I was when we dated so she can't say she misses this version of me. I hope that this situation doesn't linger on past today. She went after what she wanted for her birthday and didn't get it. Let's hope I don't here from her or any other ex's for a very, VERY long time . . . Then again, my ex-fiance's birthday is Thursday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Want That Kind of Love

Three years ago, I started becoming an active member of the Men's Ministry at my church. With the exception of the two years that I played semi-pro football, this was the first time in my life that I have been around a bunch of men on a regular basis. The major difference is that this group of men is a bit more like minded than my former teammates. The only thing I had in common with my teammates was our desire to win a championship. The men in the men's ministry bring a little bit more to the table that I can benifit from. Today provided another example.

I was walking to church this morning, when one of the guys from the church, we will call him The Hammer, drove by and offered me a ride. He asked me if I minded if he drove by McDonald's and get a cup of coffee. Of course I didn't, he was giving me a ride. Anyway, during the ride, we started talking, or should I say he started talking and I just started listening. He was telling me how he just brought himself and his daughter matching 2010 GMC Terrain's and how he finished buying the summer house that he and his wife had planned on buying in South Carolina before his wife lost her fight with cancer last year. During the conversation, you could tell in his voice that he still loved and missed his wife. He also said one thing that stuck with me. When talking about the summer house, he said "I'm going to finish the dream that Chris(tine) and I had.".

I am far from being married, let alone being in a position where I have to bury my wife, but to know this man loved his wife so much that he's still going to finish what they started tells me a lot about what kind of love they had for each other. I'm thankful for a glimpse of real love and hopeful that it will come my way one day as well.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Avoiding A Demon

Growing up, my mother worked two jobs. While I was in elementary school, I lived with my aunt, who raised me right along with her 5 children. During the school year, in the mornings, I'd get dressed then go down the street to Ms. Clay's house. Ms. Clay was the babysitter and the rock that held my aunts block together. She had 7 children of her own (all boys) as well as 3 foster children that she raised. In the mornings she'd give me breakfast and drop myself and her youngest son off to school. She's also pick me up from school and watch me until my aunt or one of my older cousins came home. The situation worked for everyone . . . until that one day where she forgot something one afternoon and had to run out to the store (those of you who were around for my original blog knows what happened that day so there's no need to rehash it). Ever since THAT day, I had been iry about going to Ms. Clay's house for fear of running into her son again.

Fast forward to last week. After a long fight with cancer combined with an undiagnosed leg infection, Ms. Clay passed away. I'll be the first to say that I didn't deal with my situation very well. I kept it to myself until I got to college and besides the people who read a particular blog post a few years ago, the only other people who know are the 4 women I have been in serious relationships with since I graduated from college. So now I was faced with the possibility of having a can of worms reopened.

Fast forward to today. I tried to make it early to lessen the chance of running into him and causing a scene. Fortunately for me, I was able to pay my respects in peace. From what I hear, he didn't show up. I'm glad. Didn't really want to make a scene. Especially since the day was about celebrating the life of his mother. At the same time, I know I still have to face my demons, but I'll save that battle for another day.

Good-Bye and Good Riddance

I know, it's not the best title for my first post in almost two years, but that is exactly how I feel about the month of July. I've had almost as many losses this month as the Baltimore Orioles. This month has definitely been one of the more bittersweet months I have had in a long time. I went to my best friends wedding, then was subsequently told that her husband didn't want her to speak to me again. Two weeks later, I went to a going-away party for one of my better friends, who is moving to North Carolina. Then just this week, I lost one of the women who was part of the village that raised me. She lost her fight with cancer, but she definitely gave it a run for its money before she left. As a matter of fact, I'm about to get ready to go to her viewing in a little bit. Just wanted to put a little something up here to mark my return to the blogosphere. I don't know how often I'll post or what I'll post about (knowing me, it'll be random, much like I am), but one thing is for sure, ORGANIZED NOISE IS BACK.