Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Post Won't Do You Justice

I don't do tributes, but I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment out to pay my respects to a good friend and former blogger.

When I first started blogging, bloggers were more than just screen names. They became a part of your life. You looked forward to meeting the ones who were local (and at the time, the NYC Bloggers that I had met were the best) and hoped to meet the ones from out of town that you liked reading about. Most of my blog reads when I first started were from New York and Baltimore (the city I lived in and the city I travel to the most), with a few other spread out in Detroit, Boston and Philly. Then there was that one girl from Georgia who had a style all her own. Going simply by "Nikki" her posts captivated all of us who were on her blog roll. She wasn't scared to write about anything, even the illness that would ultimately take her life.

I remember the day I heard about her passing like it was yesterday. It was a Monday morning. I had just finished breakfast with a friend of mine at the Val-Brook Diner. On my way home I was checking my messages and Facebook. That's when I found out that she was gone. The status updates and the tribute posts kept coming. And that's when you started to realize how special she was and how much she meant to so many.

Anika Harris, who simply went by "Nikki" in the blogosphere, was more than just a good read. I was fortunate enough to be cool with her offline. We would exchange emails where we talked about everything from big city v/s country living, to the latest music to her beloved Dallas Cowboys. She even talked about moving to New York one day and proceeded to challenge me to a game of pool when she got here. I rmemeber, leaving her a message on the virtual obituary telling her I'm going to hold her to that game. I just hope she is keeping the table warm until we meet again.

Her blog wasHere Stop by and see why we all loved her.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Would You Do Wednesday: Options

So, one of my co-workers is a divorcee and I can only assume that she's in her mid to late 40's. She's currently dating two individuals. She was dating the first one exclusively (and by exclusively, I mean they were not in a relationship by title, but she wasn't checking for anyone else), until the requirements of his job had him on the road too much for her liking. The conversations on the phone were good, but it wasn't enough because you still need to go out every so often. Enter guy #2. A local guy who also has good conversation and keeps her entertained. When guy #1 returned from his last business trip, he noticed my co-worker acting different towards him. He sent her a text, which she shared with us, asking her straight out if she was seeing someone else (which she is well within her right to do since there are no committments). If you were her, would you:

A - Tell guy #1 that you were seeing someone else and cut things off with him entirely

B - Tell guy #1 that you were seeing someone else but let him know that he is still in the picture since you aren't committed to either one of them

C - Tell guy #1 that you aren't seeing anyone else and still continue to see both

D - Tell guy #2 about guy #1 and cut things off with guy #2

Monday, August 27, 2012

Money Monday: Get You $~!* In Order

"Never a lender or borrower be." - Shakespeare

Like many people, I'm in a relationship with Sallie Mae. Unlike many people I also had Visa sponsor my junior year of college, Discover sponsor a relationship I had while in college and MasterCard buy a few trips up and down I-95 over the years. When I started working, I took full responsibility for my actions and did everything I could do to start handling the situation. 11 years after graduating, 4 credit cards have been paid off and closed and my relationship with Sallie Mae is scheduled to end on December 10, 2014 if not sooner. When I got married I made it a point to let my wife to be know where I stood financially. I made the assumption that she did the same. Fast forward to the other night.

We are in Wally World (Wal-Mart) when she gets a text from her bank stating that there's a hold on her account. She calls her bank and they proceed to tell her that one of her creditors has placed a hold on her account and she can't access it until she pays off the balance she has with them. She claims she told me about this, but I don't recall ever hearing that she was on the verge of collections. This leaves me in a vacarious position. We are in the process of moving and as part of the application process, they need to see a credit report from both of us. Now I see why she's been stalling on providing hers. I'm scared to see what else is on it. Also, since we are in New York, if it comes to the point where she has to file for bancruptcy, I have limited liability on her debt which means they can come after me for some of what she owes. I know all about that "richer or poorer" vow, but I already had 1 woman fuck up my credit. I don't need or want it to happen again.

I say all that to say this, make sure your financial situation is in order. It is one of the best things you could do for yourself. You don't know how much you can miss out on by having bad credit and you don't know how many doors can be opened for you if you have good credit. Take your credit report and credit score serious. A whole lot of other people already do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tell'em How You Feel Thursday: Shoe Game

Let me start by saying, in no form or fashion do I consider myself a sneaker junkie. I have never had a pair of Jordan's. I didn't get my first pair of Air Force One's until earlier this year, and the only pair of sneakers I have at the house now are the beforementioned Air Force One's, a pair of Reebok Classic's and a pair of Nike's that I probably paid $60 for. That being said, hearing the asking price for the new LeBron James sneakers just makes me shake my head.

I have been spending most of the day trying to figure out what would justify me spending $315 on a pair of sneakers. Don't give me the crap about the technology in the sneaker makes it worth it. Your target market can't afford it, which mean that the potential for store robberies, muggings and assults just to get the shoe has increased (I apologize for not having fiath in my people on this one). Let me give you an idea of what I could do with $315 right now:

May 2 months worth of student loan payments and get a $75 pair of sneakers
Pay my phone bill (i pay for 3 lines) get a $75 pair of sneakers and take advantage of the 2 for $20 of TGIF
Pay for my hotel room in Baltimore homecoming weekend and a ticket to the homecoming game October 13th

I'm sure they aren't going to miss my $315 and the sneaker is going to do well, but something has to be done. I applaud what Stephan Marbury tried to do with his Starbury line even more after hearing about this mess right here. All I can say is that I hope it's worth it to those who decide to purchase the shoe. Swag has never been worth that much to me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Something to Think About: Brian's Rules of Attraction

Consider the feelings you have when someone makes you feel special. Did you feel that way before they came into your life? Do you allow others to validate your being special? It's wonderful to have someone show you that you are, but it's best when they are reflecting what you already know.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Recap: Gone Fishin'

"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Saturday morning, I was up early and headed to Oceanside, New York with a few good friends. Our mission was to bring back enough fish to feed our respective families. Leaving from the Bay Park Fishing Station, we were optimistic that we would all catch something. Our first catch of the day let us know that the day was going to be interesting if nothing else as my friend pulled in a 2 foot shark. From there, we started catching smaller, more edible fish (flounder and sea bass). By the end of our 5 hour excursion, we had enough fish to feed a small village. We divided everything up equally and headed home. There was only one problem. Outside of bluefish, I had never cooked fish before. I hit up the internet and found a recipe I thought was simple enough. I headed to the supermarket to get what I didn't have and Sunday afternoon, I did my best impression of a television chef. I ended up making grilled sea bass in a sauce made of pinot grigio, lemon, butter and garlic. I didn't burn down the house and my mother approved so I might have to add it to me catalog. I might just have to get the fish from the fish market next time.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Melodies From Heaven: Are You Worthy?

I went on a midnight boatride last Saturday night. After getting off the boat and making a stop at the Georgia Diner (best diner in Queens, if not all of New York City), I went to the early service at my church. After being up for some 28 consecutive hours by the time the sermon started, I wasn't as focused as I usually am, so it's only now that I'm am getting a chance the process the parts of the sermon that I remember, which wasn't much. But what I remember, left me with a lot to process.

The title of the sermon was "Are You Worthy?" and the minister posed one very thought provoking question; are you worthy of being followed? He went on to talk about how now everyone is quick to friend someone on facebook or follow someone on twitter, but do we really pay attention to who we are following and what image and message they are putting out. How does that image or message influence decisions we make in our lives. On the flipside, what messages are we putting out to those who think that we are worth following? Are they following us because we are inspiring, uplifting and motivating them, or are they living vicariously through us and our vulgar lifestyles. Do we even realize or care about how much influence others allow us to have on them?

I don't look to be a role model or anything (except for my son), but I have always been cautious about what I put into the atmosphere, whether it be social media or real life. I try to be positive and only put out positive or humorous messages. I have a very small circle of friends that I'll allow to see me down, depressed or in a funk. I know that life has put me in a position in which people are going to follow me whether I want them to or not and I don't want to give them anything negative to talk about. Television media does enough of that as it is. How mindful are you? Or do you even care? Just something for you to think about.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Wonder . . .

Talk about irony. Anita Baker's "Giving You The Best That I've Got" comes on Pandora as I prepare to write this post. Guess it's only right considering what this post is about.

At one time or another in out lives we are all guilty of taking little things for granted. So busy looking for the big bang or grand gesture that we miss the silent whistle and small details. By the time we finally realize how important something was, it's often too late to do anything about it. All you can do is chalk it up to things happening for a reason. This has happened to me several times in particular and (at least) one of those times altered the course of my history.

About two months after breaking up with Guyana, I went on what I would consider my first real post engagement date. Anita Baker was on her "An Evening With Anita Baker" Tour and the original leg of the tour did not include a stop in New York. To my pleasant surprise, it did include a stop in my second home, Baltimore, Maryland. I was quick to get tickets and was fortunate when my date for the evening said she was available (since she is probably the busiest person I know).

So the night finally arrives. Playing superman, like I often do, I worked a half-day, leaving New York City at 12 for my favorite 12:40pm train to Baltimore. I arrived in Baltimore a little after 3, which gave me just enough time to shower and change since I was meeting my date at 5 and we had 5:30 reservations at the Blue Sea Grill (which closed about a year later) in the Power Plant section of Downtown Baltimore. Dinner was great (or at least so I thought at the time) and we made it to the concert in plenty of time.

The night was going well and Anita Baker put on a GREAT show (if you haven't seen her in concert, please add it to your bucket list). After the show was over we were heading back to the hotel room when she started having an allergic reaction to something she ate. Fortunately she was prepared for such a turn of events, but we both agreed that it was best that the night end there. No nightcap, no Washington Nationals game the next day, nothing.

Fortunately she's ok, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened; not just that night, but in the years that have passed since then. Sometimes, it's easier to chalk things up to things happening for a reason. Sometimes, couriousity kills the cat. If there ever was a time I'd like to revisit, it would definitely be that Friday night in August of 2008.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Would You Do Wednesday: Secrets

For those of you who don't know, I work in a medical clinic. Not just any medical clinic, but the same medical clinic that most of my in-laws go to, including my brother-in-law and his children. The other day, one of his children come in the see the doctor. My first indication that something was up was the fact that she came with her little sister and not her mother. She sees the doctor, and after her visit, she comes up to the front desk and asks to administrator if she can mark the visit as confidential, meaning her mother cannot know about it. I've been working in the clinic long enough to know that a minor who gets a confidential visit has either taken a pregnancy test or an Aids test. Considering the fact that I know she was raped about a year ago, the thought of her taking an Aids test does concern me. My question is, should I tell anyone, knowing that breaking confidentiality is a violation of HIPPA and could cost me my job. What do you say?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Men Can Cook

Those who know me know that baking is one of my hobbies. Generally, I only do it when I have the taste for something or want to try something new, but as time went on, people started getting a taste of what your boy can do and the word got out. Next thing you know I'm being asked to bake something for events and special occassions. A few times, I even packed some stuff up and shipped it to friends in other parts of the country. That being said, what was asked of me earlier this week was unprecedented.

Every year, my boy "Sigma" and his wife through the cookout to end all cookouts complete with DJ, bartender, spades tournaments, fun bus for the kids and a sporting event projecting on the side of his house. The food ranges from your basic burgers and hot dogs, to shirmp salad and collard greens. This year, there will be something else on the menu. I saw "Sigma" the other day, and he asked me to make 200 brownies for the cookout.

I've never made that much of anything at one time before (made 150 snickerdoodles for an event last year, but it didn't take anywhere near as much time as its going to take me to fill this order) but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'll keep you posted on how they turn out and how they go over at the cookout next month.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Driving While Black

There are things in life that you hear about, but since they don't happen to you, you question whether they actually exist or not. The existence of one of those things was confirmed to me this afternoon. I had just finished visiting a client and was on my way home. I was standing at the bus stop in a neighborhood I'd rather not have been in, even in the middle of the day. On opposite corners of the intersection were New York City's Finest. A nice, shiny, 2012 BMW with tinted windows was crusing up the street. The police officer quickly flagged it down as the other officer crossed the street to assist. Officers pulled up on both sides of the vehicle and the driver rolled down the windows. I was close enough to hear the conversation. The officer asked for the driver's license, it was provided with no questions asked. The officer checked it, gave it back and sent the driver on his way. The second the driver pulled off, you could see the frustration on his face over what had just happened. To be honest, the event left a sour taste in my mouth as well.

Fool Me Once . . .

"If you left a pair of spanx at my house on Sunday, please let me know, otherwise my husband's a dead man"

That was the text message that my wife received from one of our friends this morning. Fortunately for her she had her phone otherwise I'd probably be attending a funeral in the next few days, because our friend almost certainly would have killed her husband.

They say you never know what you'll do in a situation until you are actually faced with that situation. Unfortunately for a friend of ours, having her husband cheat on her is a situation that she has already dealt with and come to terms with. After a long period of questions, answers and prayers, she decided to forgive him and take him back, but the thought stays in the back of her mind. I can only imagine the things that were going through her head when she woke up this morning and finding a pair of spanx in her house that were a few sizes bigger than hers. Glad she decided to check first before accusing her husband, but it does make me pose a question; can a person truly get past knowing the person they are with cheated on them? Can we truly forgive if we can't forget? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Would You Do Wednesday: Have On A Baby

I'm taking this weeks questiosn directly from a status a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently: What would you do if a close friend of yours asked you to have a baby with them?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Friend Or Foe - Part I: The Set Up

People will only do to you what you allow them to do you. If people take advantage of you and you don't check them on it, they will chew you up, spit you out and move on to the next victim . . . I mean friend. When people show you who they are, believe them, and if you don't like who they are, act accordingly. #ijs

That was my facebook status this morning. It didn't have anything to do with me, at least not directly. I had more to do with my wife and her relationship with my cousin . . . yes, THAT cousin. They have been friends since the 80's, but didn't really become close until they both had children and started working a block away from one another. During this time, they became close as did their children. A few years ago, two things happened that led to the beginning of the end of their relationship. First, my wife and I started dating, and second, my cousin lost her job.

I am a firm believer in full disclosure, especially when it comes to someone I'm dating. At the same time, I don't like altering anyone's opinion about another person. That being the case, I still decided to tell my wife my problems with my cousin at the beginning of my relationship, but being the woman she is, my wife still put on a smile and tried to encourage me to forgive and work towards a resolution. I let her know that wasn't going to happen, but don't let my relationship with her interfere with your friendship with her.

When my cousin lost her job (damn bank mergers), she started leaning on my wife more and more. Someone to talk to, someone to hang out with, someone to watch her kids. My wife didn't mind because she is big-hearted like that. Not too long after that, my cousin started hanging with a new crew. She didn't neglect my wife, but definitely started acting differently. They only spoke when my cousin needed something (babysitting) and the favors she'd offer before, only came when it benefited her (lending out her car only when she knew the person she lent it too would have to put gas in it).

Even though I knew the pattern and saw what was happening, I didn't get involved because I didn't want to say I told you so. Fortunately for me, my cousins recent actions have become so obvious that even my big-hearted wife can see the writing on the wall. Most recently, a mutual friend gave my cousin 7 tickets to Great Adventure and told her to take my wife, her son and I. Of course, not only did my cousin not even ask us to go (she took her new friends instead), she also had the nerve to call my wife and ask her to babysit her kids, meaning she wasn't even taking them. Little did my cousin know was that my wife and the person who offered the tickets in the first place were going to have a meeting that would change the course of my cousins friendship with at least 3 people.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Early Morning Meditation

Most people like to sleep in on the weekends. Fortunately, I'm not most people. If there's one thing I've learned in the last 10 months of being married, it's this; you have to find and take your alone time when you get it. My alone time just happens to be Saturday mornings between 5am and 8am. While everyone else sleeps, I get up and enjoy time with myself. Whether it's plugging into Pandora mobile and clearing my head on the track or going to do laundry before most other people start showing up, I use these 3 hours to think, and in some cases overthink things that are going on in my world. I plot, plan and motivate myself to make something happen. During these three hours, I keep myself sane and inspire myself. When this time is over, I am a better person for myself, my family and those I encounter on a daily basis. As my wife tells me from time to time, I'm not a nice person when I don't get my time. How much personal time do you give yourself each week?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Soda Free Summer: Halfway Point

At approximately 6:42pm on June 30th I drank a 20oz Mountain Dew Voltage. In the 32 days that have followed, I have not had a single, solitary ounce of a carbonated beverage. Inspired by a friend of mine who decided to undergo this challenge alone, I joined the "Soda Free Summer" challenge and convinced 8 of my friends and family members to do it as well. Going in, I thought it was going to be difficult, but it was definitely something I wanted to do. To my surprise, as I reach the halfway point of the challenge, I can honestly say that it hasn't been as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I haven't had the desire to drink a soda, not even at the July 4th cookout I went to. I find myself reading labels more carefully and finding decent alternatives. With one month left to go, (in the challenge) I think that if nothing else, I have learned a lot about myself and I am starting to pay more attention to what I am putting in my body. Will I have a soda when it's over? Definitely. I'm curious to see if I would even still enjoy the taste, or if it will become like hard liquor where I don't even care for it too much. Do I think I can make a lifestyle change to healthier options? Definitely. And long-term, that's better for me anyway.