Wednesday, April 25, 2007

To My First Born Son On Your 16th Birthday

April 25th, 2024

My Firstborn Son,

You are turning 16 today, and there are some things you need to know now that you are a man. I'm sure that if you are anything like I was at this age, you are completely dreading this conversation, but I think it's necessary. There are some things that I have learned that in my years that can benefit you. Don't worry, this isn't one of those inspirational, sentimental letters like your mother writes; I just wanted to give you some practical advice. So just hear your old man out.

Let's talk about money. I know I raised you not to be a slave to material things, but the truth is, I want you to be better off than I am. I think all parents want a better life for their children and we don't want our children to have to struggle like we did. So the first thing that you need to learn is how to handle your money. I want you to learn the importance of saving and spending wisely. You need to know how to manage your credit. Your father didn't learn about this until it was too late and as result struggled for many years. I don't want that for you. Life comes at you quickly, and if you are not prepared for it, it can be hard. So, whether you like it or not, we are going to work on this together.

Next up is education. I want you to always feel like you are the smartest one in the room. I know you aren't very organized. You get that from me, but you also get your intelligence from me. I know it's hard when you feel that school is not a challenge, but I need you to apply yourself academically. You may not always be able to skate through life just on your brain power. Sometimes, you have to prove that you are willing to put in the hard work to get all A's. Plus, I'm not trying to pay for your college, boy. You better get a scholarship. Seriously though, just know that I place a high emphasis on academics, not only because it can help you get the career of your choice, but because Rashan don't raise no dummies.

Speaking of careers, I want you do to whatever makes you happy. If you are passionate about a job, it will make it that much more palatable. I'm not going to lie to you. You have many years of hard work ahead of you. There will be days, when you just want to say "fuck it" (don't tell your mother that I cursed) and just quit, but you can't do it. You have a responsibility to be a man, and a man works no matter how much he hates his job. It doesn't matter to me if you have a high paying job or a noble albeit low paying profession. Man makes the money, money doesn't make the man. I just want you to do something that will provide you with a modicum of satisfaction, a sense of self worth and the feeling of self respect in your work ethic. Start thinking about what you want to do for the rest of your life now. Before you know it, the time to choose a career will come and you don't want to be unprepared.

Women. What can I say about women? We've already had the birds and bees conversation, but I feel you are old enough that I can speak more freely about this subject. I don't know if you have started having sex yet. There are some things a son doesn't tell his father. But I want you to know that if you ever have any questions, no matter how embarrassing, I am here for you. I'm not going to tell you not to have sex, but what I will tell you is to always protect yourself. There are all kinds of diseases out there. I won't go into detail because I know you get this in Health class at school, but I just want to reiterate that you have to be careful. What I do want to elaborate on is this: What happens with you and a young lady is between you two. You probably hear a lot of locker room talk and braggadocio about sexual conquests at school. I'm an old man now and I still hear it. That's just not the right way to handle it. I want you to treat women with the respect they deserve.

As you get older, you are going to meet lots of women that you are attracted to. I want you to know that it's okay to date around. Just be upfront about your intentions. If you don't want to be tied down to one women, just say that, in a tactful way of course. Not every woman you date is going to be potential wifey material. Sometimes, it just is what it is. As long as you are honest with each other, you can still have a good time together. When you are dishonest or duplicitous, that's when feelings get hurt, and you run into trouble. It all comes back to being respectful.

Sex is an important part of a man's life. You're a good looking young man. Hell, you look just like your father. You are going to have sex with some of the women you date. I want to warn you about something that pretty much all men have gone through. It's called "the hoochie phase." It's similar to how women like bad boys, there are some women who will temporarily make you insane. How do they do it? Sex! There's going to be one or two women in your life that you don't necessarily want to take home to Mama. You may even find yourself becoming infatuated with these women and doing things that you wouldn't admit to your closest friend. I'm talking about getting her hair done, paying her rent, or buying diapers for her three kids that she had before she turned 18. I just want you to know that there may be a "hoochie" or two in your life, but that's okay. When that phase is over, I don't want you to feel bad because just about all of us have gone through that. Good sex will make us do crazy things. I wish I could tell you how to control that urge, but that would be an exercise in futility.

I have so much more to tell you, but right now your mother is bugging me to work on my "honey-do" list. Look out for my next letter.

Your Loving Father,

Rashan Jamal

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

I work for one of the largest corporations in America, scratch that in the world. If you have never done business with my company, you at least know someone who has. So can someone tell me why people who work for us can't spell? Here are a few examples of the horrendous spelling I see on a daily basis.

1. There was an email sent to the entire department announcing that someone got a promotion. It read as follows: "Please join us in congratulating Mike Jones on his promotion to Assistance Vice President." When I first read the email, I glanced over it, not noticing the typo. But then they printed the email and put a copy on every one's desks. Putting aside for a minute the fact that it was a monumental waste of paper, whoever wrote the email wrote Assistance when they meant Assistant.

2. There is a dry erase board by the front door of my floor that management uses to write motivational messages. Last month, the board said "Push It Too Tha Limit" I didn't know which one bothered me more; the fact that they wrote "tha" instead of "the" intentionally or that they didn't know that "too" means also. It took everything in me not to just correct the spelling myself.

3. There is a sign on a manager's desk that reads "Quite please, I am on a call" I'm pretty sure they mean quiet, but she always looks so stressed out, I don't think I will ask.

4. Our internal internet sites are full of typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. My favorite one was the high priority alert that informed us that "over-time avilable until farther notice"

5. And finally, the email we received from the Unit Manager, asking us to use spell check and double check our grammar before sending emails. She ended the email by saying "Please see you manger if you have any questions. "

I guess this is the English major in me being picky. Lord knows I can't spell worth a damn either. Maybe most people don't even notice this kind of stuff. I know I probably have a gang of misspelled words on my blog, but for something that's work related, they could at least take a second to proof read or use spell check. Is this isolated to my job or do you see these spelling and grammatical errors in your jobs as well?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Whatever Happened to Truth Hurts?

Whatever happened to Truth Hurts? Remember she had that song "Addictive" and was on Dr. Dre's record label, then released another album with Raphael Saadiq? Where the hell has she been? Before you start thinking that was just another random question left over from my last post, I mention "Truth Hurts" for a reason. That's one of those over used cliches, but it's really applicable when it comes to my life. So, in the interest of (semi) full disclosure, here is the truth... I don't know how to relate on a friendship level. I've had several conversations in the past week about friendship, and I've drawn the conclusion that I am a terrible friend sometimes, and I probably will always be. I say that because although I can see that my words and/or actions are hurting people's feelings, I don't have any desire to change.

First Conversation: I don't want to share all my personal shit with other people. I think it's partly because I am a private person (BTW, I know that is a contradiction for someone who blogs). It's also partly because I don't like to be in a vulnerable position. Consequently, I don't always share when I'm going through something. Finally, I think I just don't trust people to handle it properly. If I need to talk about something, it's really just to get it out of my system, it's not because I need you to fix it, or that I'm going to ask you for a favor. The times when I've shared my inner most personal problems in the past, I've been burned. Either I wasn't taken seriously, or people weren't there for me like they said they would be, or even worse. I have adopted a fool me once, shame on you, fool me five times, shame on me philosophy. If it makes it any better, I am an excellent listener, even if I don't talk.

Second Conversation: My blog gets me into trouble. I have to walk a fine line between revealing my feelings and self censoring to avoid hurting other peoples feelings. Friends seem to like it when I tell it all, unless they recognize themselves in something I write. Then its "I can't believe you told them that." Or if I take the other approach and leave information out, then they don't feel important. I can't please them all either way, so I just have to do me and say what I want to say, and not say what I don't want to say. Which leads me to my point: I have alienated two friends with one post. In my last post, I had a sentence with a edited thought. It was just one of many sentences in the post, but the one that both of these women chose to key in on. They wanted to know what I was talking about, but I didn't want to tell them. It was a private thought that was not for public consumption, otherwise I would have just typed it out and not gone through the trouble of disguising it. Apparently, that's not something that friends do. Friends are supposed to tell each other everything. Well, I can't do it. If that makes me a bad friend, then so be it. Never mind that each of these women have secrets of their own that I'm sure they don't go around telling all their friends and family. If I wanted to tell you, then I would have. It's as simple as that.

Third Conversation: I have a slick mouth. Everybody knows that. I also am a stubborn person. Everybody knows that too. It maybe a cop out, but it is what is. I am who I am. In the face of ultimatums, I'm not going to respond the way you want me to. I don't have that compromise gene in me. I mean, I'll compromise for my woman, but if you aren't that, then you don't get that side of me. Remember, I'm always right even when I'm wrong. While I can understand where other people come from, ultimately, I am going to do me. Even when I try my damnedest not to say something, it eventually will come out. I will bring up old shit or make the smart comment to illustrate my point, I will tell you that this is the way its gonna be, and if you don't like it, then you need to not call me anymore. I can acknowledge that that is not the best way to sustain a friendship, but that is the way that it is, the truth.

Even as I type this, I already can predict what's going to happen. Let me get my Miss Cleo on for a minute: I'll get 3 or 4 text messages asking who I'm talking about. I'll get a hurt phone call at around 10:30 AM telling me not to do it like that. I'll get an angry phone call around 12:30 pm calling me a mean fucker. And I won't be remorseful or sorry that I wrote this. It was necessary. Because the truth hurts... and the truth is I'm an asshole sometimes, and there's nothing any of us can do about it. If you can look past that, I'll be the best friend you'll ever have.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Questions I Asked Myself

On my old blog, I used to ask myself a question before each post, but I haven't done that over here, so I got a bunch of questions built up. Time to let them out. Here are my extra random questions I asked myself over the last couple of weeks.

Why are so many black women dying their hair orange recently and why is it strangely attractive in a Ronald McDonald meets Gabrielle Union kinda way?

Have I ever seen a white person driving an Escalade? Do they really just make those for us?

How come its so funny to me when people I think are racist turn out to be racist? Yeah, I'm talking about Don Imus. I always thought there was something off about him.

Speaking of racism, I've been trying to write a piece called "Fun With Racism" but why can't I finish it?

Why did I miss the Nas concert last night, but I'm gonna catch De La Soul next Thursday?

How come every time I listen to the radio, I realize that Hip Hop is Dead?

Why have I been listening to the classic R&B station all the time, and realize that I should have been born a decade earlier?

Why do I cringe every time I hear someone say grown and sexy? We seriously need to ban that phrase.

Why do people who betray your trust not understand why you don't trust easily?

Why don't people believe me when I say I have social anxiety disorder? Perfect example, last night I didn't go to the grocery store because there were too many people there, so I rode 10 minutes out of my way to go to a less crowded store.

If I was a smart ass from the moment you met me, why would you expect me to be any different later?

Is she seriously still sending me MySpace friends requests? How many times do I have to deny you before you get the message?

Do they have rehab for sarcasm?

Would I get fired if I punched someone? Do you think I could claim self defense?

Why is it so hard not to say the first thing that pops in my mind? I'm doing a good job hiding my true thoughts, but every now and then I just wanna say "I ** o*** *u**i** **t* *** **t** I *** ** **a***r ***k "

How come every time I think about quitting smoking, Black and Mild comes out with a new flavor of cigar? The wine joints reeled me back in.

Why was it raining inside my car last week?

Why did I go to a strip club for the first time since I started my first blog and not write about it?

Why is there a Papa Smurf, but no Mama Smurf?

Someone told me I was vain b/c I posted all those pictures of myself. Is that true?

Why is understanding is a good thing when it comes to one person, but a fault when it comes to another?

Why is someone gonna think I'm biting her post, when she so obviously bit my style a long time ago? LOL

Why is this post getting extra long?

Although my mini OCD is telling me that I should come up with a few more so I can have 25 questions, I'm gonna fight it and stop here. Everyone have a great weekend, mine has already started.

Monday, April 9, 2007

1000 Words AKA The Picture Post

Last Friday in Pictures

This is me right after I got my haircut by a barber who was under the influence of marijuana. I didn't realize he was high until he was half finished.

This is me outside my nephew's soccer game, only he wasn't there because they didn't have enough kids his age to play.

Since there was no game, I decided to take up my ex coworker's invitation to go get some drinks. This is me on my way to Dave and Buster's in Marietta for happy hour.

These are a few of the people I used to work with. I had been incognegro for a while, so they were glad to see me.

We drank and laughed

And drank some more...

This girl is preparing for the Girls Gone Wild pose. I have the other picture, but didn't think it would be appropriate to post, at least without paying her. LOL

6 drinks later...The bartender hooked us up majorly. 3 shots of Jack, 2 Henn and cokes and some shot called a Lethal Weapon for $20 and my eyes are about closed

That's about it, I'll try to write something else tomorrow or the next day. Be easy!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Spring Cleaning

This is not a metaphor. I'm really talking about Spring Cleaning. I am a pack rat. There's no two ways about it. I have some stuff that I've had for years that I can't bring myself to to get rid of. For instance, look at the jersey I'm wearing in this picture (WARNING - EXCUSE TO POST PICTURES OF MYSELF LOL). I've had this since 1998. This picture was taken sometime last year, but I still have it. It's FUBU, and when is the last time you have seen FUBU, except on crackheads and the homeless? But I still wear this jersey when I'm loungin' around the crib on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I also have a bright yellow FUBU hoodie from 1999 that I wear around the house when it's cold. I have no explanation other than it's comfortable.

I also still have old letters and pictures from high school. I have a bag of pictures of people I haven't spoken to since I graduated high school 15 years ago. You know those wallet size senior pictures that you gave out to anyone who would take them? Yep, I got those. I imagine that I wouldn't recognize these people if they were sitting in the same room as me, but for some reason I hold on to the photographic evidence that at one time in my life, I wasn't a total and complete recluse. I think the really sad part is that whenever I have company, I bore them to tears by pulling out the old high school flicks like I'm trying to relive my glory days or something. That doesn't really make too much sense, because high school was far from an exciting experience for me. People didn't really get me until I went to college. I was just a nerd back then, before being a nerd was acceptable.

I'm an electronic pack rat too. I have remotes for TVs and VCRs I haven't had in years. I have Playstation 1 games that I keep for some reason, like I'm gonna actually play them again. I just got rid of my non working Atari last year. This morning I was looking through my computer at some of the files I have downloaded and realized that I have mp3's that I have not listened to in a couple of years and movies that I will never get around to watching. I already started deleting some of these files to make more space on my hard drive.

Since it's spring, as evidenced by the waves of yellow pollen covering my car, I think its time to do some Spring cleaning. Time to get rid of the past and move forward. Time to delete those inactive files and replace them with something that will actually be useful. Time to let go of those old pictures and create some new memories. Time to get rid of the old clothes and find something else to make me comfortable.

Maybe this is a metaphor for my life after all...