The Words Get In The Way

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying to branch out and be a bit unconventional in my dating choices.  Yesterday I get a message from a guy in Connecticut, and although I’m generally against long distance relationships, I’m not jaded enough to end this experiment just yet.

So I look at Mr. Connecticut’s profile, and we’re at a 90% match, he’s wearing a suit, and he seems to be able to write in complete sentences.  So far, so good.  I respond, and we chit chat about where we grew up, divorce, and kids.  He asks what I do for a living, and after responding, I ask him.  And this is a direct quote…”I own a company that builds houses, roads, and company.”  Now, I’ll admit that I had a glass of wine and was tired, so I figured I must’ve read it wrong, or maybe sentence structure wasn’t his strong point.  I write back, “That sounds interesting.  Tell me more about this company.”  As I wait for his response, I’m thinking that he’s going to give me some sort of context clues I can use to piece together what his job entails.  My phone beeps and I look at the message, which reads…”I don’t really have much to say about my company than we build houses, roads and company and I have like 20 staff working for me.”

I put the glass down, reread the message, and figured that surely I must be missing something, and made a note to not buy this brand of wine anymore.  I figure I’ll ask him for a link to his website and I’ll figure this out on my own.  And wouldn’t you know it, he tells me there’s a problem with the site and is trying to get it fixed.

Needless to say, I didn’t respond to any more of his messages, and I think I’m just going to have to charge this one to the game.


Smells Like Teen Spirit


In an effort to not only get out more, but to actually have something other than random Sting songs to write about, I’m embarking on a new endeavor to date men that I would normally swipe past and see what happens.  I figure it’ll get me out of my comfort zone, and maybe have someone to go with to some restaurants that I’ve been wanting to try. Hopefully at the end of this experiment I will still have my sanity and continued hope for the human race.  We shall see.

The first of these outings happened today.  He reached out to me first on an undisclosed dating site, and admittedly was cute.  He works close to where I work, and seemed smart enough.  Here’s the catch…he’s 29.  For those of you who are unaware, I will be 42 later this year.  That’s a age difference of 13 years.  Like, I’ve lived an entire decade and reached puberty by the time this guy was born, and I have questions.  Does he know what a rotary phone is?  Has he heard of a floppy disc?  What about a walkman?  Does he realize that television channels used to actually go off air at midnight?

Anyway, we go to lunch, and he’s well dressed, and the conversation was good.  He was funny, personable, and seems to have goals.  He paid for lunch before I could even offer to pay for my half, and at the end he gave me a hug.  Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gone out with men that don’t seem to wear cologne or because I enjoyed his company, but he smelled so good y’all.  The kind of good where I’m still sniffing my scarf and I’m tempted to text him to ask the name of the fragrance.  It’s some sort of manly “I chop wood and build houses” scent.  Whatever the reason, this just reinforces that I need to get out more.  And possibly get samples of cologne from Sephora.

This Feeling

It all started with some chickens.  No really….my last break up really did start with a discussion about chickens.  I consider myself to be somewhat of a good cook, and when I think about homemade, I tend to take things to the next level.  I have been known to make my own butter, for heaven’s sake.  So one night I was having a conversation with…let’s call him Max, where I said I wanted to maybe have a few chickens so I could use their eggs for cooking.

Apparently, I must’ve come off like Gordon Ramsay during one of his epic rants (i.e., “You’ve now just confirmed in my mind you’re not trustworthy.  So fuck you.”, “You fucking donkey!”, and “My gran could do better; and she’s dead!”), because that conversation prompted nearly a week of silence, followed by a phone call which laid out how Max never had gotten push back before, so he wasn’t ready to continue to commit to a relationship because he would have to compromise.  There was also a touch of “I still have unresolved feelings for someone I dated for four months last year, and even though she’s in a relationship and we have fundamental religious differences and I can’t be with her” and a dash of “it’s not you…it’s me.”

Now up until this point, Max and I had a great time together; long conversations at night about everything and nothing simultaneously, a shared love of music, and pancakes.  As this was a long distance relationship, we even had the talk about who would relocate and when.  Hell, he even met my daughter.

I wish I could say I saw this coming; I didn’t.  It hit me in my chest; a feeling that I’ve come all too familiar with.  And it’s funny, no matter how many times a heart is broken, it still feels like the first time.  Disappointment and loss is a sobering end to the day.  But maybe this time I will be able to heal better; I’ll let you know.

Hot, Sicker Than Your Average


Today is the anniversary of Biggie’s death and I’ve never written about it, even though I regard him as highly as Prince, Sting, or Wynton Marsalis.

And I’ve just realized that Biggie is pretty much the template for the kind of guy I’m typically attracted to-ones with a sense of bravado, witty, and smart.  All of this comes through in his lyricism.  But I digress.

Biggie was only 22 when his debut album, Ready to Die, came out, but his talent far surpassed many rappers who were twice his age.  Not to mention he could write rhymes in his head…he didn’t have to write anything down.  I consider myself a wordsmith, but I’m hard pressed to rhyme anything above cat/mat/hat.

He’s widely considered as one of the best rappers ever…but why?  Some credit goes to Puff Daddy and his production team (shout out to The Hitmen, by the way), certainly…I mean, who was flipping a sample of “I Put A Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (which became “Kick in the Door”) or Isaac Hayes’ “Walk on By” (which became the bassline for “Warning”)?  I’ll answer for you…no one was touching Bad Boy at that point.

But Biggie had something other than a great team producing beats…he had charisma, wordplay, and a way of drawing you into the song.  You’re not just going to bob your head when you hear a Biggie song, you’re actually listening to the gems he’s dropping.

For example…

“Excellence is my presence, never tense
Never hesitant, leave a n**** bent real quick
Real sick, brawl nights, I perform like Mike
Anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson
action, pack guns, ridiculous”

Or how about this one…

“Woe! Oh is me – that’s what I get for trickin’
Pay my own bail, commence to ass-kickin’
Kick in the door, waving the .44
All you heard was “Poppa don’t hit me no more!”
Disrespect my clique, my shit’s imperial”

Or this one..

“My flow, detrimental to your health
Usually roll for self, I have son ridin shotgun
My mind’s my nine, my pen’s my Mac-10”

And my personal favorite (which he wrote for Lil’ Kim)…

“Check it, I write a rhyme, melt in your mouth like M&M’s
Roll with the M.A.F.I.A. remember them?
Tell em when I used to mess with gentlemen
Straight up apostles, now strictly n**** that jostle”

All of these lines represent his brilliance, his ego, his ability to choose words that are more likely to be found on a SAT test rather than in a rap song, and his flow (he was tutored by a jazz musician in his early days who taught him how to listen for the nuances in the beat)…he took an art form that he clearly loved and respected and turned it upside down. And everyone has been chasing him ever since.  I mean, lyrically, he’s supposed to represent…he’s not only the client, he’s the player president.



It’s pretty obvious that I haven’t written in awhile.  Quite frankly, I didn’t know if I had anything to say.  At my core, I’m a writer.  I want to be able to turn music on and sit at a computer and create strings of words that move my soul.  But I haven’t been moved.  To be honest, for a very long time I’ve been going through the motions.  Getting up, going to work, cooking dinner, sitting in traffic…same stuff, different day.  I’ve been waiting to feel inspired.

But I can’t wait for something to happen to me; rather, I have to make things happen. And make a concentrated effort to focus on my writing and my craft so that I don’t look back in five years and wonder what happened, how time passed me by, how my life exactly the same.  I think all of us are meant for something more, although we have to define that “more” for ourselves.  For me, my “more” is getting off my behind and actually turning this blog into a book.  I’m going to have to commit to writing more often, even if I feel like it’s not particularly inspired.  So I’m giving it a go…and being serious about it.

Which is the perfect segue to “Shining”…Can we talk about DJ Khaled for a bit?  He can be polarizing; people tend to think he’s corny or awesome, and there’s no inbetween.  I happen to love him-if you need a reminder on talking your s***, I highly recommend a Khaled playlist; if he doesn’t motivate you, I’m not sure you have a soul (other notable mentions for “talk yo’ s***” playlists include  Rick Ross, Michael Jackson, and Prince).  “Shining” dropped the day after the Grammys, and was actually recorded the day before, with vocals provided by Beyonce and Jay-Z.    And the lyrics don’t disappoint (not to mention the references to their unborn twins)-

I’ve been winnin’ so long it’s like alchemy
I’ve been playin’ cards with the house money
21 Grammys, I’m a savage n****
21 Grammys, I’m a savage n****
I shouldn’t even worry, backward n****
12 solo albums, all Platinum, n****
I know you ain’t out here talkin’ numbers, right?
I know you ain’t out here talkin’ summers, right?
I know you ain’t walkin’ ’round talkin’ down
Sayin’ boss s*** when you a runner, right?

So if you needed a pep talk (like I did this morning), are headed into a meeting and you need some extra confidence, or if you just left the salon and look extra good-this song is for you.




I’m Not About That Life

You wouldn’t look at me and know this, but sometimes I listen to music that makes me want to put on a ski mask and…well, I don’t exactly know what I would do after putting the mask on, but I feel like that’s the first step once you listen to M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” or Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Pt. II” (particularly the remix with Lil’ Kim).

So when a guy emailed me on the afore mentioned dating website that I’m on who seemed a little…rough around the edges, I figured why not? Everyone I’ve ever dated has been clean cut and owned at least three pairs of khakis in their closet. I’ve never gone out with a stereotypical bad boy…you know, the ones that are attractive in that “romance you and then might rob your house later” kind of way. (The perfect example of this would be Rick Ross…there’s something about the level of bravado that allows him to say “I’m not the type of n**** that you bump into at a 7-11 and just pull your pistol on him/And do what the f*** you want to do”).

Anyway, the guy and I agree to meet at one of those trendy bars where there’s a hundred types of German beer, and he asked why there wasn’t Bud Light (that probably should’ve been my hint to walk out), and for a second I thought the waiter was going to run to the store to personally pick up a six-pack for him. The conversation wasn’t bad, and dark skinned Suge Knight seemed pretty smart and savvy. I started thinking this wasn’t going so bad when he decided to casually say that when he was younger he was in gang (although you never really leave a gang, you just become inactive; apparently this is like “once a Marine, always a Marine”), and that if we were together, I shouldn’t ever worry about being protected because at any point things could be handled. At this point, I’m not even sure what else we talked about because my mind immediately went to scenes from Boyz in the Hood, New Jack City, and Training Day.

The date came to an end, and on the drive home, it was obvious people have preferences for a reason and although I’d like to think I’m “ride or die”, it’s probably more accurate to say I’m “ride or die with the exception of potential litigious activity.” There’s no way I can get caught up in some madness and have to go into witness protection in a place where there aren’t any Whole Foods nearby. So I’m back to the drawing board; and this time I’ll ask if they prefer Banana Republic or Ralph Lauren khakis.


So I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past few weeks; my daughter is on vacation with her dad, and the house has been rather quiet lately. On top of that, I’ve been sick with an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis, and I lost my voice nearly a week ago. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time in my head in between watching episodes of Lost on Netflix (if they don’t start answering questions about this damn island soon…) and drinking copious amounts of soup, and then this happened…

I’ve been emailing with a guy on an online dating website, and all was going pretty well, so we progressed to text messages. That went pretty well until I asked him if he liked to travel. He responded that he liked road trips, and I joked that I liked short ones, but drew the line at driving to the west coast (I’ve driven cross country twice, and I’m going to do everything possible to never have to do that again), and driving to Europe wasn’t an option, unfortunately. His reply kind of shocked me…he said he “didn’t really mess with other countries like that.” After probing further, it came out that he felt that there wasn’t any other country that had what’s in America, wasn’t open to even finding out, that I needed a baller, and unless I was paying for his trip, he had no incentive to travel.

In that moment, it really occurred to me that there was no real reason for me to continue talking to him. Not because he hadn’t traveled abroad, but because he wasn’t open to even seeing what was out in the world; I haven’t traveled as extensively as I would like to at this point, but even in my limited travels abroad, I know that there is so much more to experience and understand about the world other than what’s in your backyard.

But what I realized is that I am finally becoming very clear on what I want in my life (or more to the point, who I want in my life), and I would rather be alone and enjoy my own company rather than compromise on what is best for me. Because that really isn’t living; I’m at a point where I want to enjoy and experience life, and I no longer have time for things that do not bring me absolute joy. And for the first time, in that moment, I put myself first. And it felt pretty damn good to have that clarity.

A Little Light Supper Music


Y’all know how excited I get when I hear new artists, and this one gives me the same feeling I had when I heard Amy Winehouse for the first time.  Jamie Woon is a fairly new discovery of mine; he’s a pretty interesting hybrid of Maxwell/Pharrell/Jamiroquai, but uses his lower vocal register more.  It’s not quite r&b by the 2016 definition; he’s categorized as alternative, which I think is ridiculous, but I’m not sure what you would call it either.  Soul?  Pop with more thoughtful lyrics?

At any rate, his father is Chinese and his mother is the Scottish singer Mae McKenna, grew up in London, and has released two albums, Mirrorwriting and Making Time.  I’ve been pretty obsessed with Making Time (which was released last year), so I can’t comment on his debut just yet.  I’ve been listening to this at work a lot, but what it’s even better for is setting the stage for cooking for someone for the first time, when the sun is just starting to set, so the the light is just right, and you’ve poured that first glass of pinot grigio.  Trust me on this one, folks.

The Low End Theory Was My Gateway Drug


As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Phife Dawg from the trailblazing rap group A Tribe Called Quest passed away last week.  I had to take a few days and really think about what I wanted to say because this really hit home for me.  Growing up, I didn’t really listen to hip-hop; I  listened to pop music and watched Soul Train in grade school, and in high school I went through a really odd Daria from MTV/emo/grunge with a splash of preppy thrown in period; I even wore a watch with no hands because “time was meaningless.”  Don’t ask.  Anyway, I knew some rap songs, but it wasn’t really on my radar.

Fast forward to college, and in the student center, there was a used cd/tape store (yeah…I’m dating myself here), and I remember buying The Low End Theory on cassette, mainly because of the artwork.  Now, this album was released in 1991, but I didn’t get around to listening to it until maybe 1994 or so.  So I was WAY behind the curve.  I get home, put in the tape, and the first track, Excursions, came through the speakers.  Even now I’m not exactly sure what to say about it…first came the bass line, followed by Q-Tip’s voice.  It wasn’t like anything I had heard before; it was stripped down with drums, bass, and rhymes.  I started nodding my head to the beat, listened to the next few tracks, and thought, “yeah, this is good stuff.”  But then “Check the Rhime” came on.  I stopped reading whatever random book I was trying to take notes on, closed my eyes, and really listened to the lyrics.  Phife comes in and says:

Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am.
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram.
I’m like an energizer ’cause, you see, I last long.
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong.

Taken out of context, this sounds pretty simple, right?  But the way he was just in the pocket, and made it sound so effortless…it was brilliant.  I must’ve rewound that song ten times in a row, and I thought that was the apex of the album.  And in some ways, I suppose it could be…but then I heard “Jazz (We’ve Got)”, which for me, is THE ultimate Tribe song.

Stern firm and young with a laid-back tongue
The aim is to succeed and achieve at 21
Just like Ringling Brothers, I’ll daze and astound
Captivate the mass, cause the prose is profound

Do it for the strong, we do it for the meek
Boom it in your boom it in your boom it in your Jeep
Or your Honda or your Beemer or your Legend or your Benz
The rave of the town to your foes and your friends

So push it, along, trails, we blaze
Don’t deserve the gong, don’t deserve the praise
The tranquility will make ya unball your fist
For we put hip-hop on a brand new twist

A brand new twist with the homie-alistic
So low-key that ya probably missed it
And yet it’s so loud that it stands in the crowd
When the guy takes the beat, they bowed

So raise up squire, address your attire
We have no time to wallow in the mire
If you’re on a foreign path, then let me do the lead
Join in the essence of the cool-out breed

That’s just part of the first verse…the word play and the rhythm of how Q-Tip and Phife rhyme is beyond reproach.  And I would put this song against almost any hip hop song out now (hell, “Can I Kick It?”, “Award Tour”, and “Electric Relaxation” fits that bill as well).

This album turned me on to so many other groups, and opened up a whole world of music that quickly became a mainstay.  Queen Latifah, N.W.A., Biggie, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, MC Lyte…these were just a few rappers that I have become lifelong fans of, and because of Tribe, I discovered passionate lyricists who painted vivid images and made me appreciate wordplay on a level that was unexpected.  The $5 I paid for this cassette has provided me a wealth of memories over the past twenty years, and as Phife put it, “I take off my hat to other crews that intend to rock/But the Low End Theory’s here/ it’s time to wreck shop.”  And wreck shop they did.



When We Were Young



The full video of Adele’s “When We Were Young” came online today, and when listening to it, the very first thing I thought about was my daughter. This past weekend we did a college day at the University of Virginia, and as she walked away from me to do a tour, it hit me that in about two years, she’s going to be away from home for the first time.  I was flooded with the most random thoughts; seeing her for the first time, sending her off to kindergarten, watching her tiny seven year old frame swim to the deep end alone for the first time in the pool, holding her hand during her first airplane ride…and for a moment, I teared up.  Of course logically I know she’s getting older and I’m excited about her future, but there is a fairly massive part of me that just wants to go back in time and relive those moments with her.  But I realize I have to force myself to take off the glasses I wear that makes me still see her in pigtails and a lunchbox.

I had a c-section, so I don’t really remember the first few days of my daughter’s life very well; between the pain and the medication, much of it is a blur.  But one moment I remember vividly is one night I was nursing her, and the nurse came in to remove my staples.  No one else was in the room, and I recall looking down at her tiny brown face and just repeating over and over again in my head, “We will get through this.  Everything will be fine.  We will get through this.”  Of course those words were more for me than for her because I was scared of how much it was going to hurt, but she looked directly into my eyes while it was happening, and barely blinked.  It could’ve been two minutes that passed or it could have been ten, but during that entire time, I felt that if I focused on her, it didn’t matter what was happening to me or around me, I would get through it.

Fast forward fifteen years, and she and I have gone through divorce, moving to another state, and losing the matriarch of our family, who was truly a touchstone for both of us.  And through all of it, I have learned that by focusing on her, things really will be okay.  Not easy, not necessarily happy all the time, but okay.

So to bring it back to Adele, listening to this song clearly took me right back to this weekend and how I feel about her.  And the lyrics are right…

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
I’m so mad I’m getting old
It makes me reckless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
When we were young