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It was simple.

Delete my account.  Click.

With that, went 100+ friends, 1000+ tweets, and a shitload of distraction and narcissism.  I joined twitter in 2006 as one of the first people to use this new and exciting app. 

It was the challenge of being witty and informative within 140 characters that attracted me.  My experience then was different, twitter wasn’t as known so

I became bored with tweeting into a void.  My latest experience however taught me something very valuable, twitter can be a very nasty place.  I chimed in on a conversation between two users, one of whom I actually had met and partied with before.  I thought my comment was innocent.  Silly Negro. 

The next thing I knew I was being insulted, told that I needed to mind my business; in short, I was given the what for  and the heave ho.   Needless to say, this experience  soured me and led to the deletion of my account.  Why so drastic?

Here’s why?

I require civility in my life.  I don’t like ghetto attitudes and ways.  Too many believe that being a bitch, evil and rude constitutes strength.  It does not.  It just makes you bitch, evil and rude.  Strength and maturity lie in one’s willingness to be patient and accepting.  You do not score points on twitter by being patient and accepting….you do however score them by making others feel small.  So I had a choice to make.  Contintue to follow the timelines (lies) of people who I found to be too full of themselves, out of touch with reality, or just plain boring.  Or I could delete them all and perhaps start with a new crop of tweeps.

I chose the latter.

My wife thinks I take all of this waaaay too seriously, and she’s probably right.  However, it is one of my principles not to share space with people I don’t care for.  Yeah, I could ignore them, but why be in the same room, party, gathering, etc, with someone you don’t like?  For me, it just ruins the experience.  Furthermore, a year ago, I knew none of these people and my life was pretty fulfilling so do I really need to see these moronic updates on why you are the hottest whatever in the hood?  Not really.

The title of this post is misleading.  I did not quit Twitter, just a particular account and already  the experience is better. 

Sometimes, we just need to purge.

IMG00126-20090510-1449 (2)

My mother left today for North Carolina.   She did not say goodbye, she didn’t give any notice, she just packed and left.  Her departure represents the end of nearly 40 years of abuse, neglect, and frustration.  She is HIV positive and 62 years old.   I’ve been told by many that I should not be as close to my mother as I am.  I have been told she is not worthy of my love and attention.  She drank for 26 years and in that time did more damage to her and our family than words can express.  I often hear people recount their lives and they say, “We were poor, but we didn’t know it….”  I knew we were poor.  The kids of Harlem made sure I knew just how poor we were.  They teased me without mercy.   Everything was fair game, her drinking, my “off the table” sneakers, the layers of dirt on my clothes and body, you name it.   It is why as a child, I’d play hooky, hustle all day, and end up in the library until it closed.  I once thought I’d write a book entitled “How to Destroy a Woman” using my mother as the principal character.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no one I know who has been more physically, emotionally, and systematically fucked over than my mother.

I suspect my mother left because she had finally had enough and wanted some measure of peace. She came here when she was 17  and a week in, she met my father. Nine years later, he would be struck by an oncoming D train (no one is sure if he was pushed or if he was noddin’ off heroin…I suspect the ladder) and she would be left alone with two boys and the ability to type.  That’s it.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  His death did not make her stronger, it made her self-destructive.  He was her everything.  He was the cool ass New York cat that could talk to executives and brothers on the corner.  He was comfortable anywhere and everywhere.  She was aloof, kinda scary-actin’ and unsophisticated, but she was loyal to the core and that was what he loved most about her.  If he was wrong, they were wrong together.  Together, they were black love in the ’60’s and 70’s…down for each other no matter what.  She would never experience that kind of love again for the rest of her life.  Ever.

If there is one single fact that angers me to no end and will probably do so for the rest of my life it is this: THERE WAS NOT ONE BLACK MAN WHO DID RIGHT BY MOTHER SINCE MY FATHER DIED…NOT ONE.  I mention this because I think it angers my mother as well.  Even the man she’s with now isn’t the goods.  He does provide her with companionship, and someone to sleep next to and I think for her, that’s enough. Her latest struggle was with housing.  She did not want to stay with me, she did not want to stay with my brother, she did not want to stay with my uncle…she wanted her own.  If anyone has ever tried to get an apartment with limited resources, they know just how daunting a task that can be.  She appealed to the city, agencies, and non-profit groups.  She called program after program and nothing.  My brother and I kept trying to get her to stay patient, and providing words of encouragement, but after a few weeks she had enough.  Like myself, my mother is fiercely independent.  She does not like to be fussed over, she can do it her damn self and she does not want to live with you, she wants her own.   She preached, “Anything you can do for yourself, do it, don’t rely on others.”  I’m so grateful for that, because it has served me well   She did not leave because she just couldn’t deal with it.  She did all she could, until she was just too sick to do anything. She was soft and the world was just too damn hard.

She was not the world’s greatest mom.  She did not bake cookies or tuck me in at night.  She did however give me a love that will never be replaced.  She was a product of her times and while she did not make all the right decisions, she didn’t make all the wrong ones either.  She loves everybody and gives freely of her time and resources no matter how limited she is with either.   She taught me my ABC’s on a slate while suffering with the shakes.  She gave herself away literally so I could eat; so never again will allow anyone to question WHY? I love my mother—I cannot account for how others feel about her or their own, but mine was and is special to me, very special.

I want her to know that I am not mad.  I want her to know that I am so sorry I could not give her the kind of support she clearly needed.  I want her to have the peace she has been seeking for over 40 years.  I want her to know that if she needs me for anything, nothing and no one is ever going to come between me getting it to her; no one.   I want her to know that I am so grateful for all that she has done for me and for the benefits of her wisdom, even when she was in pain.  I want her to know that her sons are no dummies…she did good.   I want her to know that the bond between is unbreakable.  I want her to know that I support her and that she never has to flee to be free.

What The Girly Did

I love my daughters.  No, they are not mine by birth and I am not ashamed of this.  But make no mistake…they are mine.  I am a step father.  I’ve been one for years now.  It has been the most wonderful experience in my life (no, really, it has been).  If you ask my wife, I’d bet she’d tell you I married her because she had daughters.  So untrue.  I married her because she had twin daughters.  Total difference.  

When I met the girls they really were babies……OMG!  They were so quiet and polite when they were in your face.  Behind closed doors?…forget it.  yak, yak, yak, yak, crash, boom….MAAAAA!….yak, yak, yak,  “that’s mine!”, “I’m tellin'”, “Ooooooh…you broke it” yak, yak, yak…     Our first real outing together was to Dorney Park.  The original plan was to go to this ghetto ass carnival outside of Yankee Stadium.  I woke up that day and was like “Oh, hell no. We goin to Dorney”.  This day sticks out, because it was the first time we took a photo as a  family.   Pictures are powerful things, and this one made us look like we had been a family for decades.  I think it was the first day the kids starting looking at me as more than just “Mommy’s friend”.     

Two days ago, they came home briefly before jetting off to Memphis for the rest of the summer with their aunt and grandmother.  What struck me during this brief trip was how much of the “baby” in them was gone.  Gosh, they act so adult now.  What’s with all this appropriateness?  Where are the girls that tried to fry the cat?  Where are the girls that used to collect chicken bones behind the bed?  Or the little ones that used to ask for PB & J “because it tastes better when you make it.”?   My wife went through this awhile back…I am late on this anxiety trip…my babies are growing up and there’s nothing I can or want to do about it.   

The girls call me by my first name as I instructed.  I did this because I felt the title:  “daddy”, “dad”, “Pop”, “Pa”, “Father” , should be earned.  You get the sperm provider or mother”lover” (ha) title until you do.   I also did this because at no time did I want them to think I was there to take the place of their “birth” father.  

Recently, they went on a trip to see the birth father and it didn’t work out so well.  Without mentioning particulars, they came home early and clearly did not have a good time.  I was disappointed.  Not so much for him, but for them.  I feel sorry him mostly.  Having been around them for this time, I could not imagine leaving them or their mother for anything or anyone in the world.  I was disappointed for them because before they left they were enamored with the idea of being with him for the summer.   I understood it too…this was their FATHER you know?   It was all they talked about to me.  Of course, all of this made me a bit insecure, but my resolve to be supportive was unflinching.   A real father does what is best for his child and I thought it was best to step back and be supportive.  What I believe happened is that they found out that in our home, they are #1.  Everywhere else?  Maybe, maybe not.  I believe also that they are growing to see the bullshit for what it is.  It happened to me as a child.  After awhile, I knew why things weren’t right…cause motherfuckers was gettin high that’s why.  People said that to me as a child, but it wasn’t until I saw it that I understood. 

Two days ago, one of them drew the picture above.   I’ve gotten dozens of drawings like this over the years from them and they all go like this: Mommy, Twin#1, Twin#2, and (insert government name). 

I looked at this drawing and immediately knew I had arrived.   What I think the girls finally understand is that I could not love them any more if they were my birth daughters.  They get 100% from me and nothing less. 

So to them, I say enjoy your Summer, play in the sun, climb trees, get dirty, and drink mightily from soda cans and juice boxes.  Scrape your knees, skateboard, play freeze tag, eat heartily from Hostess packages and Now and Later wrappers… for when you return…

Daddy will be here and he’s keepin’ the title.

langstonhughe_25I sent this poem to my wife this morning.  If you knew anything about my life then you’d know why this is so fitting.   I was lying in bed awake and I thought of all the experiences I had been through in Harlem.  I gave away my “virgin-hood” on 147th, attended P.S. 200 on 150th and Colonial Day Camp on 144th (closed).  I hung out in Shorty’s pool hall on 146th (closed), and bought 5 cent gums from Joes Candy store on 148th(..damn closed).  Harlem is in me, all in me.  I love Harlem, I love Langston Hughes, and I love my wife.  So this works  Enjoy. 

 

Harlem Night by Langston Hughes

I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,

Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
Taxis, subways,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem’s heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day–
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

Reality Check.

I have found real is alot different from how alot of people around me define it. For the last year and a half I have worked my ass off. I’ve pushed myself in ways unimaginable. For people who have known me for more than ten years this is indeed a change. I look outward sometimes and see the fruits of what I have borne. I have not only pushed myself, but I’ve pushed those around me. I’ve bitched, moaned, yelled, been passive-agressive, overtly-agressive, because in truth it was necessary. I want my family to be strong, smart, active, and able. It is not my desire to drive the people I love away from me, but rather to keep them driven. When I find that this is not the case, I seek change.

To me, that’s real.

I do this, because I believe that it is the duty of a husband, father, and son to better his family. I do this because it was not a principle upheld in my childhood. I do this because I chased my first wife never realizing that she was not making time for me, using me for her own convenience, and criticizing me for wanting to her to love and treat me as a husband. I do this because my mother was disrespected and abused. I do this because my brother was disrespected and jailed. My beliefs do not come out of nowhere. They come from years of trying to reconcile the pain in my life. They come from years of watching family struggle. They come from years of my own struggle. So I am clear that the mistakes of my past and the mistakes of my family’s past will not repeat themselves in my family’s present.

To me, that’s real.

I am however human. Striking a healthy balance between work, family, and myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I know where my heart was/is. I know it was/is in the right place and I know was/am fighting for the right things. When the people in your life change, it is often hard to make the adjustment. There is denial, fear, anger, and confusion. What I felt was that I had to forsake myself for the other two. This works for months, a year even, but then it becomes unsustainable. Clothes get old, weight drops, the message you are trying to get across gets mixed, the family gets tired of your bitching and moaning, you start feeling taken for granted and misjudged and suddenly you find yourself feeling stressed and alone.

I do not regret giving so much of myself to work and family. My family is whole again. My wife is back to her partying/do you/socializing self after the death of her father, my children are honor students, and I just made a year at my job. It was worth it. I am though tired and a bit weathered. Working so long with no real relaxation has been in a word…taxing. I have not partied for real in months and have shunned most invitations to do so. I have not treated myself to anything. It’s something I can never do again. I have to be better to myself if I want to be better for others. The process began today. I’m in the Hamptons (big shout to my brother Eric!) and loving it.

To me, that’s real.

When I get home I’m going to find the woman I married (who you can catch spinning dopeness at http://www.themixtress.com) , give her the most passionate kiss I can muster and tell her I love her. I’m going to call my daughters and tell them both just how much I love them. Then, I’m going to relax, because its okay to do so, and because its necessary, and because

to me, that’s real.

Oh yeah, Welcome to my blog