I Can’t Wait To Teach You How To Be A Proud Black Man

Dear Lennox,

I Can’t Wait To Teach You How To Be A Proud Black Man

Since your mother walked into the kitchen on that January evening and told me about you I’ve been thinking of what I wanted for you, of how long I’ve been waiting on you to get here. This world, this world you’re about to be born into isn’t the kindest of places to little black boys that will grow up to be black men. We will do our best to protect you and shield you from that ugliness but that will be a time when we aren’t there. When you become aware of your skin tone, of the way you’re perceived.

It will be in that moment that you still hold your head up high, that you don’t respond with anger or violence or fear but respond with the confidence of knowing where you come from, who you come from and who you are.

Text books will tell you that slavery never existed.

Schools will tell you that the Civil War was over States Rights.

Teachers will want to silence you if you ask too many questions.

Slavery did exist.

The Civil War happened because they wanted to keep us in chains.

Ask all the questions you want and I will have your back.

I want you to grow up watching your mother laugh, watching us be affectionate. I want you to know that it’s cool to love a woman, to need a woman, that they are not easily replaced. I don’t want you to sexualize them before you even know what sex should be. I won’t tell you it’s cute when you grab a woman on her ass. I won’t smile when you sing words to songs you shouldn’t be listening to. I want you to understand that love is an amazing feeling and has nothing to do with your hormones.

I’ll never be your friend but I’ll always be someone that you can come to and talk to about any and everything. I won’t judge you or curse you out but I will tell you when you’re wrong. I will tell you when you have to live with the consequences of your actions. And then I’ll hug you, I’ll hug you because my father never hugged me and I grew up thinking that made me tough.

There’s nothing tough about hiding your emotions. Nothing tough about needing to cry, about wanting to cry but holding it in because you don’t want to be seen as weak. There’s nothing soft about hugging your mother or calling her when you’ve had a bad day. You won’t know what it feels like to have to do it on your own blindly. To have to search for answers. We will be here to give you the blueprint so that when you go into this world you won’t be blindsided the cruelty of it.

I’ve been a lot of places. Traveled and enjoyed their cultures, their food, their music but I’ve also collected books in each of these places. Books to teach you, books to make you want to explore the world one day. I read to you while you’re in there baking, I rub her stomach and tell you about the beaches of Belize. I kiss her belly and tell you about where Langston Hughes studied in Paris and where Eddie Murphy ate steak off a models back. I talk to you because I want you to know the sound of peace when you hear your father’s voice.

Your biggest responsibility as my son will be being yourself. I’d love for you to love reading and writing and boxing. But if you end up loving dance and painting, I’m going to support you.

The first time your mother heard your heartbeat on a monitor she cried. Not like one of those sweet teary eyed cries but an actual ugly cry. I didn’t cry, I didn’t shed a tear. I just closed my eyes and said a prayer that you make it into this world okay.

We Aren’t Our Grandparents; Not Sure If That’s A Good or Bad Thing

When I was growing up my bedroom was right next to the living room and there were so many nights I would hear my grandmother and grandfather sitting in the living room talking. It was their routine. My grandmother would sit and read her bible and my grandfather would wait until the news went off and join her while she fixed him something sweet to eat.

Most nights I’m not sure what they talked about but I know they had very few secrets if any and they were each other’s sounding board. The thing about their generation is that they understood at some point your family evolved. Your immediate family went from your mom and dad and brothers and sisters to your husband or wife and your children. Your secrets and concerns stopped being between bestfriends and siblings and started being with your husband or wife.

Our generation has moved away from that and I can’t tell anyone reading this whether or not that’s good or bad, what works for you and your relationship works for you and your relationship but I can tell you that it can’t help that we don’t have that same sense of closeness and loyalty anymore.

It also works on the opposite in. My grandparents and that generation, the women didn’t ask a lot of questions and in a lot of cases, they didn’t have a lot of options. If they found a man that had a good job and was a good provider they didn’t divorce him no matter his flaws. Our women are different, they have jobs and careers and in a lot of cases are more financially stable then the men they’re with. There isn’t that same sense of accepting whatever he brings.

How cannot that not be a good thing?

I wish I could work and not worry about my wife working but we don’t live in that world anymore. You need two incomes and when your woman has to work how often can you come home to a homecooked meal? It’s the last day of 2017 and I haven’t one time this year.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, there’s no right or wrong answer but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy medium.

In case I get the feeling to write at 10:00pm on my cell phone this will more than likely be my last blog of 2017. So let me leave anyone reading with this thought.

Generations may change, cost of living and eras may change but the bond that a man and woman share will never change. If you find yourself questioning the priorities you share with a person you need to talk to them, make sure you’re on the same page. Often times we spend so much time analyzing that we forget to put down the cell phones and laptops and talk.

Do more of that in 2018.DSC_0341(1)

Random Thoughts to End 2017

Drake has this line in one of his songs where he says, “Sometimes I wish I can go back in time, not to change anything but to experience the feeling of those moments just one more time.” I’ll be thirty five in a month or so and 2018 will more than likely be one of the most life altering years of my life. It’ll also be the year where I become the man that stops believing in happiness and starts believing in obligation. What I mean by that is at some point in every adult’s life you have to stop chasing what you think will make you happy and start pursuing what will make you successful and provide a foundation for your family’s future.

2017 was a good year for me. I achieved some goals, fell short on some other ones but overall I kept pushing, kept going in the direction I needed to go in. That was professionally. Personally a part of me feels as though I took a step back. I’ve went days and weeks without talking to anyone. I’m not sure I have any meaningful friendships and mentally I worry that I’m giving up on the idea that life always balances out.

I breathe words and this is my first time writing in weeks if not months. I used to wake up and do it every morning. I used to feel like not writing was like not brushing my teeth or drinking water. There are moments where I’m driving or sitting at my desk and I worry that this is how it starts. That one day I’ll walk past a bookstore and linger for a second, wondering what happened to my aspirations of being on those shelves.

In 2017 I’ve been to Cuba, Paris and Belize. They all had their own charms about them and they all the things that were not so great about them but I understand one fundamental thing. I was blessed to be able to be there. I was blessed to make it back home from each and every one of those locations. Not everyone can say that.

I try my best for each of my blogs or articles to have a theme, a point that I build on and wrap up all tight and neat in a bow. I’m not sure this one will. I guess these past couple weeks everyone keeps asking me, “How have your Holidays been?” And I respond with, “They’ve been good.” I think I just wanted to come somewhere and say out loud, “They’ve actually been sort of crappy.”

I miss my grandmother. I miss coming home from work and being able to walk into a house that smells of freshly cooked food and warmth. This is the first Christmas I’ve ever had where I didn’t receive a gift and it’s weird because it’s not so much about getting anything as it is about the feeling or exchanging something with someone and that…. I can’t explain it.

On social media and to my family I have to be upbeat and glass half full. Because it’s about more than me, it’s about those around you not having to feel as though they need to save you from yourself. But sometimes you just need to tell your truth even if it’s to a couple strangers on a blog you haven’t written on since Thanksgiving.

Be safe out there this weekend and Happy Holidays.IMG_3740

Holidays, Social Anxiety and Being An Introvert; the Gift That Keeps On Giving

Do you know anyone with dyslexia? It’s not that they can’t read or write it’s that they literally see the words differently than we see them? They learn differently, interpret differently. If no one takes the time to diagnose them they could spend their entire life feeling like they can’t read or that they’re dumb.

That’s what being an introvert is like, it’s being in a room where everyone is reading and writing and you want to learn, you want to read but you see the words differently. Whether it’s being around people or hating crowds or noise you never get comfortable.

I’ve been a loner most of my life. I remember turning eighteen and my mom bought all this food and a DJ and when no one showed up to the party she looked sad for me and I felt so bad telling her that I didn’t tell anyone. The two friends I had that showed up looked at me like I was crazy, “Why didn’t you tell us? Everyone would have come.” Even then I just liked being alone, at least that’s what I thought it was.

Now here I am years removed from that moment and it hasn’t gotten any better. I don’t really maintain friendships well, my body language is horrible and even when I have to talk to people I can come off as cold or uncaring.

 

Something I rarely write or talk about is the perception people have of me. Since I was a child I’ve been called everything from gay to arrogant to mean to stuck up to anti-social, even crazy; the list goes on. I usually ignore most of it or use humor or insults to push back. The truth is though, often times all I wanted was to fit in. To not be the guy that walks into a room and doesn’t talk to anyone or tries to start conversations and people feel as though you’re mocking them or uninterested.

It’s as if you’re locked inside of your own mind. You know the right things to say and do but your hands and face and energy give off this vibe that betrays what you meant. I’ve spoken to people for hours at a time and even with that I can tell they aren’t comfortable around me.

What makes it worse is that I’m smart and funny. I don’t say those things in an arrogant way, I say them because it’s confusing to people. How can you be an introvert when you don’t have a problem talking to women or making a crowd laugh if you’re talking about your book or giving an interview? How do you explain to people that you have to force yourself to do those things? That your heart is beating out of your chest and you find solace in the quiet after the storm.

Holidays just amplify it, even family look at you as though you think you’re better than them. They wonder why you don’t come around or leave early. Everyone takes you so seriously that even when you joke it’s taken as sarcasm or being an asshole.

I’ll end this with a story. It was a couple years ago, my grandfather passed away that January and I took it hard. There wasn’t anyone to talk to or grieve with, everyone just sort of assumed I would be okay. A couple months later my aunt died and after the funeral I just didn’t want to be alone. I went over my cousin’s house because I knew that’s where a lot of my family would be and literally everyone there was surprised to see me. People I’d grown up with and had sleepovers with acted as though it was the weirdest thing ever. I listened to inside jokes from years of them hanging out, I watched people speak to me as though I was their neighbor that went to college and was coming by to give my condolences. How do you make a situation more awkward? You tell people, “Hey! I’m right here! I’m trying!” I wasn’t going to do that. That’s what my world is like.

That ladies and gentlemen is a rare glimpse into unfiltered Demez. It’s wanting to stop by a friend’s house on a Sunday afternoon and not, it’s looking at your phone all Thanksgiving and realizing not one person text you to say ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ It’s calling someone to say “I’m sorry for your loss” and they laugh at how uncomfortable you are. It’s knowing there’s a good chance most of your relationships will fail because your tormented by the need for affection and the curse of isolation. It’s seeing people enjoy life and wondering why you weren’t invited knowing that if you were there, they wouldn’t be having the fun they’re having.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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Dreams Are Just Reality Waiting to Happen

My actual writing career started with Facebook notes. I would write them every morning before work. I literally mean every morning. I had this whole routine where I couldn’t sleep so I would just lie in bed and look at the TV on mute; then I would get up, go to my computer and write a story.

The first six or seven months no one really read them and I would tag people and talk about it but nothing and then something really cool happened. I was at work and my phone started to blow up and one of the stories I’d written was getting shared. Now I would wake up and write and people would look forward to my words.

I could literally see them sitting in traffic or at their desk, drinking their coffee or orange juice and reading my words, my words. I would live and die with every like, share and comment.

Those Facebook notes at the crack of dawn got me a book deal, a blog that does good numbers and changed my life. If I’m being honest I have no idea if I would be writing on the level I am if it wasn’t for that.

I didn’t take any literature or English classes. I still confuse sentence structure and tenses to this day. I never loved writing because I thought it would be cool to have my name on a book or it might get me cute shy girls. I loved writing because it always came so easy to me and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Don’t ever give up on your dreams.

The Week Houston Stood Still

I was born the year Hurricane Alicia hit Houston. My grandmother would tell me stories about us not having lights and being flooded in for a week or so. I was only around six months old so I don’t remember any of it but I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for them. The stress, the fear, the anxiety, the nervousness.

On Thursday night I came to work for a 6:00pm to 6:00am shift. I haven’t been home sense. I have no idea if my house is underwater, I have no idea if it’s perfectly fine. What I have come to accept is that I’m going to survive either way. What I’ve come to accept is that my city will be bigger and better than before either way.

I feel like I haven’t felt the warmth of my woman in months and it’s only been a weekend. I feel as though I haven’t seen my mother’s smile in years or heard my God Children’s laughter. I’m constantly cold because we’re all constantly wet. I’m constantly checking my phone to make sure no one I love is stranded or hurt. I’m constantly looking out of windows and doors hoping to see sunlight or clear skies. I say these things not to complain but to say that we’re all feeling the same emotions. The same sense of helplessness, of loss, of uncertainty.

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I’m working with a Hispanic guy who’s father and sister are trapped in Monterrey, Mexico. A Kenyan who now lives in Katy, a Ethiopian that lives down the street from where I grew up but in the gentrification section. I Mexican guy that doesn’t speak Spanish and loves comic books and tattoos. These are the five men I’ve shared food with, walked in waist deep water with, told everything would be alright when they’re worried about their families. There have been no conversations about elections, about race or about status in life.

Everyone ten minutes or so I hear helicopters flying overhead. I see alerts on my phone for flash flooding. Every time I look out the backdoor I see that the water has risen just a tad bit more. None of this scares me, none of me makes me second guess coming to work or not leaving when I had a chance. I think about the roads we closed and what would have happened had we not and someone drove into that water. I think about responsibility and sacrifice.

We all have a role to play, be safe out there.