There’s No Art Like Life

There comes a time when things just end. When  you walk into work and no matter how much overtime is or how much you like your co-workers, you just realize the job is no longer for you. That doesn’t mean you go in your bosses office and quit that day but it’s the day you know it’s over. Maybe you drag it out until you get another job, maybe you start using all your vacation days but on that day you mentally check out.

Relationships work the same way. At some point you just mentally check out. You might not leave, you might not pick fights but your heart is no longer in it. Friendships, attention from other people, outside starts to become more important.

What used to be hour long arguments become passive aggressive text messages.

What used to feel out of the ordinary becomes the norm.

It’s like having a balloon full of helium and everyday you see if floating towards the ground until one day you realize it’s still there and you throw it in the trash.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life writing about love, romance, writing fictional characters that people can relate to and the truth is no story is more entertaining than real life. No story you can create is more heartbreaking than real life.

But books end as does real life romances.

Rainy Day Atlanta Thoughts

I was at the airport last night waiting on my flight to board and there as a man next to me. I couldn’t tell his age because he was dressed young, like faded sweats, crocs, old tee shirt young but he was going bald; he was on the phone the entire time we were waiting. I mean like at least an hour. He was on Facetime and when someone is five feet away from you, it’s like you’re eavesdropping but you can’t help but hear. He was talking to a woman and they were “caking.” Google it if you don’t know what that is.

By coincidence he was sitting right next to me on the plane and do you know this man didn’t get off of that Facetime until we were about to take off. And even then he started texting like he was crazy. And even then he spent the hour flight from Charlette to Atlanta telling a woman next to him about his woman and his relationship.

At that moment it hit me. I can’t remember the last time I was on the phone like that. I can’t remember the last time someone picked me up from the airport and had that glow that said, “I’m so happy to see you.” Before I left yesterday my mom called and asked if I wanted her and Lennox to drop me off at the airport. I didn’t want to inconvenience her so I said no. But that entire evening into the night I realized just how quiet my life is. I’m always looking, “Not to inconvenience people.” Always sidestepping love or affection.

I have a big family, I’m married, I have a child but my life is still very much quiet. Outside of the couple hours after work I spend at home the majority of days are just me. There are no facetimes, no phone calls, no group chats. I’m not sure when it happened but at some point I cut everyone off. Unless it’s business or random personal things there’s very little casual conversation.

The majority of my life it’s never bothered me. I’m not even sure I like talking to people on most days but yesterday felt incredibly empty. I’m not sure I want to live like that anymore. DMX died at 50 and I barely hear anyone saying he died too soon because he didn’t. He started doing drugs at 14, he touched a million lives and his music will live forever. He loved, he made art, he was spiritual and passionate. He died young but he lived a full life. One where he danced at random weddings and washed dishes at Waffle Houses in the middle of the night. I think I’m too good for that sort of thing and that’s a problem I’m starting to realize.

If I died tomorrow would my family mourn me, of course, but what have I left in this world? I sat in airports half the evening thinking about that. What have I left? What will be my legacy? What are the friendships that I have impacted to the point of tears. What are the relationships that I had where a woman can never love again because of me?

I’m sitting in this hotel room in a city I’ve always wanted to visit as an adult, it’s raining hard and nothing is changed from when I’m at home. I have my laptop, I have my thoughts and I have my words. I didn’t even come in until last night because of work. When I’m on my deathbed, will I remember the moments I missed out on because of work?

There’s no one to call to say, “Hey, I’m in your city, come pick me up. I won’t be here long but I’ve love a good meal and to see a couple of spots before I have to be at this wedding.” The best I can do is call my job and they’ll send someone to show me construction projects. I can call a couple writers and publishers I know and they’ll try to sell me on some ideas. I let these friendships go, I never tried to make new ones or embrace people and here I am.

I haven’t said this outloud in awhile but I feel such a sense of emptiness most days it scares me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel like I had something to do. Being a good man is cool, working, providing, trying to build something. Trying to leave a legacy and future for my son. But I can’t remember the last time I laughed. Every man close to me only talks to me about business or accolades because that’s all they think I care about. Every woman close to me walked away once I got married. Making me understand those were probably never real friendships.

I hide behind material things. I convince myself that if I get this home built or get this car or stay in this hotel that I can see the progress. It doesn’t matter what I don’t do, it only matters that I can see the progress.

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t build something dope or write something or come up with a new idea. But what’s the point off all that if eventually it’s just going to end up with me being alone? Even if I’m in a room full of people or lying next to someone that loves me. Being alone in your mind is far worst than being alone on an island with a beach ball and mailbag.

Stop Admiring the Green Grass Across the Street and Fertilize Your Own Lawn

One thing I see a lot of is people in relationships admiring other relationships from a distance. “Wow, I wish he treated me like her man treats her.” I see women in relationships envying their single friend.

“She gets to travel and do what she wants and date around. She’s got it good.” Meanwhile the single friend looks at her like, “Her man did what for her? She doesn’t even appreciate it, always complaining and feeling like she can do better.”

It’s a vicious cycle that boils down to one general consistent theme. Not appreciating what you have in front of you. We could blame it on social media but if you don’t think our parents and grandparents were going through the same thing you’re fooling yourself.

Fertilizer stinks, it’s messy, it’s heavy and it takes work. You need boots on, the dirt never gets out your nails and you’ll need to shower for an hour and pray for rain. But once you’ve done all that the Green Grass will come. When you’re busy admiring the grass across the street your grass is dying. They’ve put in work, they’ve gotten dirty to get their grass green. Meanwhile you’ve instagram’d a pic of your grass with a dozen filters. It looks amazing on that screen but in real life it’s more brown spots than you can imagine.

If there’s one thing I vowed to take with me into 2019 it’s knowing your value. I left a job with amazing people I’d been at for 15 years because they didn’t see my value. You can’t save dead grass. You have to rip it out and start over from the foundation. If you aren’t willing to do that, you don’t want the results.

Literally At Midlife

In twelve hours or so I’m going to be 34. That’s such an uneventful age when you think about it but it’s also the halfway point of your life. The average life span of a male is something like 64 so I’m almost literally at midlife.

It’s quiet in here, it’s usually always quiet here. Twelve hours before I turn 34 and the silence feels louder, I’m afraid I haven’t accomplished enough. I’m afraid that the silence is a foreshadow for what’s to come.

I saw online today this guy post that he was going downtown to see the Super Bowl festivities with his father. They were in matching Eagles clothes and I thought it was corny and then I realized I want that same corniness.

Not having a father didn’t force me to be a thug, it didn’t make me want to have a bunch of children I knew I wasn’t ready for. But it did something just as damaging. It made me angry and that anger led to this life of seclusion. For me everything is always black and white, you’re either for me or against me. Forgiveness is for weak people. Where has that gotten me 12 hours from 34?

My birthday is falling on Super Bowl weekend. I’m supposed to be out with friends and making memorable moments but instead I’m at my desk writing novels that could possibly suck. Drinking more than I used to because when words are your only friend you need some other form of comfort.

When I was younger I used to think that the only way I could be a successful writer was by being sad. I read so many books about talented, self-destructive people. Books about how that hurt is the motivation behind the story. Now I realize it’s not the only way but there’s a reason the darkest moments bring out such raw emotion.

I can’t live the second half of my life like I’ve lived the first. I won’t survive it if I do. I need more. Sometimes that means looking inside of yourself and realizing what you need to do to find the happiness that eludes you.

Men Don’t Have Biological Clocks That Tick But That Sense of Urgency A Week From Your Mid 30’s May Beat Here and There

I’m turniI feel young 34 in about a week and a half and though I don’t believe men have a biological clock I very much believe that men get to a point in their lives where they start to want to move forward. I used to write about wanting a son often in my earlier blogs years ago. I let social media bully and manipulate me into stopping.

“You’re thirst trapping with the whole nice guy routine.”

“If you wanted a good woman you could have had one by now.”

The list goes on and on. So I stopped. I stopped writing about wanting a wife and a son and the house with the neighbors my age and good public schools. Just because I stopped writing about those things doesn’t mean I don’t still very much want them. It doesn’t mean that with each day that passes by I don’t come to realization that I won’t have four or five children. I literally sit at my desk at five am and think to myself, “Self, you’ll need to get married in the next year and you’ll need your wife to get pregnant every year so that she isn’t 40 plus popping out babies that have a 50% chance of having birth defects.”

Do I have a biological clock that pounds a little harder every time I see a picture of a cute baby or see someone that shouldn’t be having children having them with ease? I doubt it but I do have a sense of urgency creeping up on me just as fast as the number 34 is.

Men and women have been profiting for ages trying to tell people what husband or wife material means. Writing definitions and standards that will lead you to the promise land of the alter and a perfect life. The truth is it’s all a lie. What you want is what you want and if that’s shallow and materialistic then that’s what it is. And if it’s beautiful and passionate then that’s what it is. Someone can be the ideal image of perfection to 93% of the world and to you they aren’t. You have to let them go because no matter how hard you try and convince yourself otherwise; you can never make apple juice out of lemons.

I’m not good at being friends with women. At least I wasn’t in the past. Maybe I flirted too much, maybe I made them feel as though they were more than friends. It could just be that I wasn’t a good friend myself and didn’t realize it. Either way what I’ve realized is that I need my wife to be that friend. I need to like her, I need to want to share good news with her. I need who she is as a woman to make me smile. I need to trust her above all else. Things I didn’t think about when I turned 30 or even 32.

My writing has shifted over the years. I don’t really give my opinion anymore about relationships and dating. I simply write about what I’m feeling or going through. Maybe someone reading will relate and find their voice in my words.

The surreal thing about life is that no matter what you tell yourself, no matter what you tell other people, you know the truth. And as cliché as it sounds, the truth will always set you free.

Baylor, Rape and a Culture That Doesn’t Respect Women

baylor“Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”

The above statement is part of a statement released by Baylor. A school that just fired the most successful football coach in its history. There was a lot in the statement that made me cringe but the part I’m writing about today is the part that makes this almost unforgivable. It’s the part where Baylor not only told young women to not report the abuse but it’s the part where they retaliated against one of the women for reporting the abuse.

This wasn’t a football coach that told a player’s girlfriend to take it easy on him for cheating on her. This was a football coach that ignored his peers advice and brought football players into Waco, Texas that were nothing more than sexual predators. In one instance Art Briles said he’d never heard of off the field incidents with some of the transfer players he’d brought in. That was disputed by then Boise State head coach Chris Peterson who said he told Briles about the incident in which Sam Ukwuachu beat his girlfriend.

The same Sam Ukwuachu that while at Baylor was convicted of raping a female soccer player at the school. The same Sam Ukwuachu that was a known bad guy. He wasn’t one of those, “He needs a second chance” guys. It wasn’t until the guy was arrested that they finally decided to put him off the team.

Then we have Shawn Oakman. Maybe the most intimidating looking man in college football. Standing almost 6 feet 7 inches and muscles everywhere. He’s currently facing charges of sexual assault. According to reports he met a Baylor grad student out, took her to his apartment. Forcefully removed her clothes and raped her. Even before this case there were whispers out there about him and his past.

School officials, not football guys, but actual suit and tie academics decided to sweep all this under the rug. Why? Because for the first time in school history Baylor Football mattered. They were tired of getting stomped on by Texas and Oklahoma and they wanted it to continue. It continued alright, it continued at the expense of women all over campus.

It’s hard for me to call college girls women because most of them are coming straight from their parents protection and are still children. Baylor literally served them up on a platter for no reason other than wins.

4 Reasons Your Phone Is Stopping You From Finding Your Soulmate

TextingandDatingThe hierarchy of things I need to leave to the house.

My keys.

My cell phone.

My cell phone charger.

I’m not going to be the writer that gets online and pretends my phone isn’t my lifeline to the outside world. It’s my calculator, my therapist, my calendar, my house phone, work phone, entertainment, news and phone. However, what I’ve realized is that sometimes I just have to step away from it.

We’ve conditioned ourselves to think, “What if it’s an emergency?” When the truth is the majority of our times spent on our phones are on social media. Social media is an amazing invention. Dictators have been overthrown because of social media. Laws have been passed because of pressure from social media. We have our first black President because of social media but social media also has a downside.

That downside is why you need to put that phone down and learn to enjoy life.

Unreasonable Expectations– Too much time on social media will start having you believe you deserve or want something when the truth is you aren’t actually working to get it. I see guys share pictures of models every day and they start to believe they’re going to find that woman. Ignoring beautiful women they know or work with in hopes of running into that Instagram model. When the truth is you’re 32 making 32 grand a year and you have a belly. You’re just a like to that chick on Instagram but you follow her on your phone like she’s your woman. Stop it and go on a date with a woman that might actually respond to you if you messaged her.

Social Media Induced Depression– I saw a True Life episode about married couples that couldn’t have babies. You know the number one thing all the couples had in common besides infertility? They all had to get off Facebook because the post about babies was making them severely depressed. Social media can do that to you even if you’re a strong person. You see people that have things you want and you start to say things like, “I was smarter than her in high school, why does she have a degree and I don’t.” “I’m more attractive than him, why is she with him and not me.” Don’t become jealous over people whose lives you don’t know intimately. Put the phone down and make your own memories.

Human Interaction– Talking to people is good for the soul. You can’t spend all day surrounding yourself around the same people and think that you’re growing. It’s okay to talk to a stranger while you’re waiting in line or at the doctor’s office. Your co-workers might actually have interesting lives if you give them a chance. This interaction will lead to random conversations with women that may turn out to be who you’re looking for.

Actual Memories vs. Perceived Ones– You know the weirdest thing to me? It’s when I’m at a concert or basketball game and someone is literally watching the entire event through their phone. Not dancing, not singing, not yelling at the refs but getting recordings just to put online. I’m not talking once or maybe even twice but the entire night. You’re on a beautiful beach on vacation and the sun is bright, the water clear, your girl is tipsy and looking good in her bikini and you’re looking at all of it through a phone? Some moments are meant to be shared with the world and some moments are meant to be shared with each other.

Start making memories with your heart and not your phone.

Strive for Relationship Realities Not Relationship Goals

blog pic10It’s amazing how women can become so invested in television. Or books or movies, you name it. There have been times where we have sat and watched The Walking Dead and she got teary eyed over a zombie tearing away at someone. Making fun of her, calling her a baby. Her laughing, wiping tears, telling you to shut up. Relationship Realities.

blog pic8Couples have silly fights right? Well we had two recently that lead to WW3 and you know what they started over? Me watching the first episode of House of Cards without her and me getting her a tuna sub from Subway. This is going to add to me sucking as a boyfriend but I had no idea she watched House of Cards or didn’t eat tuna. After we yelled and threatened to disable Netflix we laughed about it. Now I know and knowing is half the battle. It’s dope learning new things about someone you adore.

blog pic7I may have one of the worst immune systems known to mankind. When I get sick I stay sick forever! I’ve been to the doctor to make sure there’s not a bigger problem going on but I guess I’m just a sucker for runny noses and scratchy throats. Romantic dates, holding hands on Christmas Eve in the mall. Those are all cool. You never reach that level of trust until you see someone sick. Warm vomit hitting your hand because you’re late with the trash can.Dirty tissues, chapped lips. It’s not for the faint of hearts but it’s growth and it’s reality.

blog pic6Dumb fights are the staple of most relationships. You are literally huffing and puffing and vowing to go to war and two hours later you can’t even remember what you were fighting over. Two hours later she’s lying under you on the couch when there’s furniture everywhere else in the house but she’s only trying to be where you are.

blog pic4Laughing is good for the soul. That’s all.

You Can’t Be the Source of Her Tears and Wonder Why You Aren’t the Source of Her Happiness

FB-Ring.jpg You Can’t Be the Source of Her Tears and Wonder Why You Aren’t the Source of Her Happiness

Have you ever seen a woman cry? Have you ever seen her not be able to control her tears because she loves you that much and she’s hurting just that badly?

As men we have to be leaders and protectors and that’s not hard to do. You hear a strange noise outside, you tell her to lock the door and you grab the bat or gun and go see what it is. You see a mouse, you don’t jump on a chair, you kill it. You see it’s been raining all week and now it’s a beautiful Saturday; wash her car. What we seem to be failing to protect more than anything is hearts.

A lot of men look at tears as weakness or heartbreak. That’s not true. If a woman still loves you, she’ll cry for you and fuss at you and hate that she loves you. Her tears aren’t tears of, “I can’t do this anymore.” They’re tears of, “Why can’t this man just realize I love him like I’ve never loved another?” You can’t ask her to stop crying when you’re the reason she’s crying. You can’t ask her to be happy and forget about that argument last night because you’re the reason you argued.

You can take her to her favorite restaurant and buy her something to wear with shoes to match. You can book plane tickets to Egypt or Belize and take a dozen pictures of her soaking in the sites, sounds and people. You can try and do everything to make her smile, to make her laugh. The ironic thing is, all you need to do is be the man she’s crying over.

Texting the most inappropriate and flirty things as soon as you leave the driveway for work. Recording her singing in the kitchen or snoring, when she swears she doesn’t, and sending it to her in the middle of the day with a caption like… “If you don’t go out with me tonight I’m going to let the world know you snore.” Getting her to understand and feel as though you’re her bestfriend and loving her, hearing about her day, laughing at her corny jokes. That all those things, all those small things, add up to her not crying and being happy.

Why Can’t Your Man Do It? Friendships Change When You’re In A Relationship; As They Should

IMG_0701 Why Can’t Your Man Do It? Friendships Change When You’re In A Relationship; As They Should

It’s a valid question. “Why can’t your man do it? It may seem awkward coming from a man you’ve been friends with for years but it’s a legit question. You need your inspection sticker, you need your car washed, you need a ride to the airport at 5am? The guy you could have called at any time to be there for you is now asking you, “Why can’t your man do it?” You look at the phone like, “You’ve done it a million times before, I didn’t think I needed to give you an explanation.”

If you’re over 25 reading this you’ve been at the point in your life where you were single and you have that seriously cool friend of the opposite sex. You want to go to LA for your birthday, you call your friend. There’s no awkward “we almost kissed moments.” There’s no, “I know we’re just friends but…” It’s strictly platonic and you two just genuinely like each other’s company. Concerts, lunch’s, 2am conversations about life and disappointments and dreams that don’t end with you asking them “So what are you wearing right now?”

Men aren’t selfish or territorial; don’t mistake your guy friend that no longer wants to be there for being any of those things. Men are just logical. Somewhere in the picture there’s a guy she’s cooking for, smiling for, kissing, getting jealous over. That’s the man that should be doing the things he used to do and he’s right.

Relationships are inherently selfish. You start to blow off friends and family you’ve spent years with because you fall in love. You stop wanting to go to happy hours with your friends and go to happy hour with your man or woman. A “Hungover” type night in Vegas with your people gets replaced with some Bed and Breakfast in Rhode Island or North Carolina you saw on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. It isn’t personal, it isn’t you acting funny, it’s just the evolution of life. So if you’re doing all this, when you have a problem, your man should be the one you go to. Your man should be the one that is your shoulder to cry on. He should be the one that helps you when the bank freezes your account because of suspicious behavior. Don’t be mad at your guy friend for telling you that. Respect the fact he gets that your priorities have changed and he just wants you to be with a man that can take care of you.