Life Ahead: Drive Safely

The alarm goes off at 6:20. I wake up only enough to snooze the sound away and fall back into a deeper sleep.

An hour and sixteen minutes later, I jump up frantically trying to fit undressing, showering, and getting back dressed all in the same motion. Instead of enjoying a quiet ride on the train to school, I now have to drive and fight through traffic in an attempt not to miss class my whole 8AM class. As I grab my bag and keys, my mom stops me and tells me to wait. She said, “Ain’t no need in rushing. You already late and if you go speeding off, you can end up with a ticket or in an accident.” My dad comes out of the bedroom and follows up with, “And the last thing you want on your conscience is being responsible for taking someone else’s life.”

They made me come inside, sit down and close the door. My mom went on to prepare for her day, while my dad continued the lecture. I was nineteen and completely irresponsible. I had started to make a habit of this morning rush routine, and it had caught the attention of my parents. “You need to start doing what you need to do, to get to where you need to be, at the time you need to be there. Speeding can get somebody hurt.”

Since then, I haven’t rushed to a destination. As I have gotten older, I have tried as hard as possible, to incorporate those same rules with life in general.

“Oh my goodness! I’ll be twenty-eight this month! Oh no! I don’t even own a house yet! Oh crap! Hopefully, I can finish my degree within the next year or so! Oh shoot! If don’t get married soon, I may not be able to have five kids! And what about my writing? Bestsellers don’t write themselves!”

Questions and worries like these will send you into a frenzy (also known as road rage). Keep in mind, that these panic-provoking questions only come in bundles of three or more. These are just a few of mine. What are yours? I’m sure you have a few goals that seem far away or out of sight.

When these panic attacks happen, I try to relate it back to traffic. “Okay, I may be running late, but I can still make it there.” The important thing is to realize that it is not the end of the world. I get up and prepare for work. The only difference is that I no longer have the pleasure of watching the news or stopping for coffee. I don’t look for shortcuts, because the route I take is already the quickest way. A shortcut could easily turn into unknown roads more wasted time. So I drive the speed limit to my job, and it is never as bad as I thought it was when I get there. When I get there, do you know what I get?
“Good morning, Reg.”
“Sup, bro.”
“Everything alright?”
“Tim brought Krispy Kreme.”

You know what I never get?
“Reggie! The CEO came down and asked for your third quarter reports from 2007!”

Now I am in no way condoning being late or not taking care of your responsibilities. I am only saying that we should not be so focused on our shortcomings that we rush into a traffic jam. Ask yourself, “Did I do what I was supposed to do today? Did I make good decisions? Did I waste time? What did I learn? Who helped me out? Who held me up?” If you can ask yourself questions like these to ensure you are on course, you will get to where you need to be. And when you get to where you need to be, you won’t remember the stop signs. You won’t remember the potholes. The roadblocks won’t mean anything, and the other crazy drivers will only be memories.

Realize that you have less time for mistakes and make the most of every opportunity. Don’t waste time, but don’t rush. Rushing comes with penalties and cause accidents; and accidents get people hurt. Shortcuts in life are called cheats. Cheats also get people hurt, and you have to pay with integrity. The thing about integrity is that it is something that you only have so much of; once it’s gone, it’s hard to get back.

Move steadily, quietly and humbly through life. Seek direction from God, because without Him, you’ll crash and burn anyway. Carpool. Pull someone along and help where you can. Enjoy the trip instead of stressing over the race, and everything will be okay.

Daniel and The Romantic (Part 1)

“So, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly did you learn from all of this?” The stubble-faced man had his eyes intently trained on his colleague as he awaited an answer. The two had been sitting here for a while; one obviously going through relationship problems, and the other just lending an ear. I was being entertained by their randomness and mood changes. They were two decent fellows, both kind of reserved but comically witty – even in their state of melancholy.

“What do you mean, Daniel?” He knew exactly what his colleague meant. He just wasn’t prepared to answer such a question. He also seemed to be a bit offended by the question and the look he gave him as he asked it. I had to admit though, he had a right to ask; he had been listening to him vent, ramble, and gripe for the last hour at least.

“I mean, like… None of this really means anything if you didn’t learn anything,” the guy named Daniel said. He seemed to be very reasonable and was making it his business to make sense of everything. “Like, you’re a really smart guy, and confusion doesn’t suit you well.”

“Hmm… What did I learn from it?” The romantic pondered on this question for a few seconds. Then he smiled and started with…

“I learned that night can be as bright as the day.” 

He then sipped from his glass and gave his friend a crooked smile.  Daniel grimaced at the romantic’s poetic tenderness. “Please just stop! Forget I asked!” Nonetheless, the romantic continued on.

“I learned that great pain is only a loss of great gain.

I learned that simply holding hands can change lifelong plans. 

Shadows only lie where her smile doesn’t shine,

And sleep is merely to be with her in another place and time.

I learned that love travels on the winds that carry her scent,

And that there is much more love than time to be spent.” 

I laughed a bit as the love-sick patron annoyed his friend. He then put his arm around the shoulder of his buddy and asked, “You know the feeling, right?” and laughed at his discomfort.

“C’mon, just stop! Go and tell her! Just get off of me!” He threw the arm off of him as he jumped from his stool. “I don’t even want my last wings.” His friendly time of lending an ear had come to an end. His trust in the Guy Code had failed him as he was forced to listen to free versed poetry from who I could now tell was his best friend; and that’s why he wouldn’t leave him. They were close, and one was in need of the other right now.

“I learned that arguing doesn’t fix as well as a kiss,

and apologies are necessities when hearts are at risk.”

As Daniel turned and walked toward the exit, the poetic reject burst into laughter and followed after him. They grabbed their coats from the hangers and continued out into the night.

“The first time I saw her, I knew love was at hand…”

I cleared the tables where they were sitting and wiped the area clean. As I poured the liquid from their abandoned glasses, it occurred to me that they had only drank soda. I said a prayer for their continued sobriety, and went on to wait the next table.

Southern Sundays

Monday through Saturday is just about the same all over the United States. You start the week waiting to get to Wednesday, or as we like to call it, Hump Day. Thursday is the preview to Friday. When we wake up on Friday, we are normally already on a countdown until five o’clock. Then it’s the weekend.

Saturday is the day we shop and relax and do all the things that we did not have the time to do during the week. If you have children, you have probably planned something with them to that they can unwind from their progressively intensive school curriculums. For the single people, they probably spend Saturday morning recovering from partying Friday night only to do it again in a few hours. Couples have the day planned to spend time together. They have had to suffer all week without doing all of the mushy things that make single people sick and married people laugh; pet names and picnics and the like. Generally speaking though, Saturday is an overall pretty good day. I think even the people who work on Saturday find a way to enjoy some of the activities and company of the Monday through Friday people.

However, when it comes to Sunday, I cannot help but think southerners do it best. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday may be the same, but not Sunday.

On Sundays, I remember waking up to old-school choir music on the radio while the smell of breakfast encouraged you to get out of the bed. The rules were to wash up and get dressed, but don’t put on your shirt. That was because before leaving home, you were going to spill something; so wore your t-shirt until right before walking out of the house. Mom and dad got the family together and we made our way to church.

At church we listened to the sermon because someone was going to ask you what did the Pastor preached about, and you had better be able to give an answer. They don’t call this the Bible Belt for nothing. I’d go as far as to say that the moral state of the entire country is based in the South. This is because generations and generations back and countless of people like me can recall Sunday mornings like these. This is where we learned respect, discipline, friendship and love. It was the other family.

Now I am in no way saying that Sundays are only like this in the South, but I just find it hard to believe that they would be as good. Is it a biased view? Definitely! I’m a fan and the South is my team.

After church, the boys would tear off their clothes and get together to play. The little girls would prance around in their dresses and do whatever little girls did together. The women would talk about whatever woman talked about, usually the kids and such. The men would stand together and talk while facing the churchyard of women and children as if watching their accomplishments. Slowly we would all break away a family at a time, only to meet at each others’ houses for dinner.

Southern Sunday dinner was the glue that brought it all together. The people, the food, the love; what we like to call fellowship. The hosting house may be small, but there would always be enough food and that was pretty much all that mattered. The women would take the living room and do what women did. The men took the living room and watch sports, and the boys and girls played in separate rooms with the parents taking turns checking on everything.

I like thinking of Sundays in a reminiscence because it was so fun and innocent then. I was unaware that there were actually bills to be paid. Sometimes the dinners were to help out another family. I’m older now and I still enjoy my Sundays, but not with that same innocent view; it’s just a part of growing up. When I look at my younger siblings and their friends, it makes me remember what I felt like going all week without seeing my brothers and then getting to spend all day Sunday with them. Every Sunday was a mini-holiday.

Again, the rest of the country may be able to attest to having Sundays like this too. I’m only saying that church probably wasn’t as good. The people probably weren’t as nice and hospitable either. The tea wasn’t as sweet; the girls’ hair wasn’t as pressed and the mens’ shoes weren’t as polished. I honestly believe everything that anyone would encounter on a Sunday, would just be better in the South. Biased? Definitely!

Sunday in the Bible Belt surrounded by southern hospitality is going to be a hard experience to beat.

Choose One: Life, Liberty or The Pursuit of Happiness?

As of October 2014, it would not be farfetched to declare that civil tensions in America are reaching highs past diplomatic control. While most of the world looks to the United States to play pivotal roles in resolving global issues like the ISIS regime and the Ebola outbreak, little do they know that we may be destroying ourselves from the inside out.

The city of Ferguson, Missouri is on the brink of mayhem following the death of Michael Brown. Brown was an unarmed black teenager shot to death by a white police officer. Though the details are unclear of what actually happened, the number of shots fired is enough to show that something is amiss with the officer’s story. (I will attempt to be as unbiased as possible while getting to my point, but the evidence is overwhelming.) The death of Michael Brown comes right after the country was starting to settle after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Young Martin was unarmed; Zimmerman, an out-of-control wannabe vigilante. (I apologize if I sound a bit partial to the victim, but I have a soft spot for innocent children.) And then, there is the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Davis was killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white man with a history of domestic abuse from multiple wives. This woman beater thought that Davis and his friends were playing their music too loud in their SUV. See, the only problem with that is public volume regulations are monitored for a particular jurisdiction and NOT an individual. Therefore, the individual being discomforted, should bear the discomfort until the traffic light turns green. (Whatever… There is no unbiased view I can hold being an unarmed black male myself.) The point that I’m making is that the White vs. Black problem – that has never really gone anywhere – is being magnified with the deaths of these boys. There are other cases like these and the cumulative stress that they are putting on the nation is coming to a boil. This is for a whole different post though; I could go on forever.

While a majority of the nation is teetering on the edge of a race war, another group is trying to get their pieces of pie from the rich that keep getting richer. The middle class is being methodically squeezed towards the bottom of the money pile by the rich who wants to keep everyone beneath them. The banking industry is stealing money; corporations are sending business and actual employment overseas; and politicians are stealing and laundering taxpayer money like it can’t be used. When we talk about the issue of rich and poor, there is no color except green; the dollar and who has it is all that matters. The economy has been trying to rebound for nearly a decade. However, millions of lives have been destroyed since the beginning of the recession. While we all wait for progress to be made, prices of everyday necessities continue to rise, while wages stay about the same – at least for those who can actually find employment. Foreclosures, unemployment, and a complete loss of everything can cause a man to take extreme measures. People who wouldn’t normally steal may have to resort to crime just to survive. Have you watched Fun with Dick and Jane? Well imagine that attitude being taken on by tens of thousands of families, but with real desperation. If the gap between the rich and the poor continue to grow, that scenario will not be much of a stretch. The bad thing is that the poor and the middle class outnumber the rich by a long shot. So if the economy were to take another heavy hit, I doubt that people will quietly sit by again while corporations are bailed out, and the blame is shifted to a single Bernie Madoff to be the fall guy for billions of missing dollars. Another bout of financial instability like that and the common man may rise give the government more than they are equipped to deal with.

Unless…

The government consist of a network of police forces who have been equipped with military weaponry used to terrorize international enemies. The real division is not between blacks and whites. That is not to say that race is not issue. Race is definitely an issue, but when looking at the current state and progression of issues in the country, blacks and whites alike will soon realize that the upper class does not see a difference in poor people. The sooner we realize that we are all being victimized, the sooner we can come to a solution without reaching any type of civil war. I may sound extreme by considering a civil war, but why is it that small towns are having to fight against the use of armored tanks provided by the government? If this equipment was issued by the government in case of terrorist emergencies, why do we see it so often? It seems to me that the police are very much prepared for civil unrest. At the slightest sound of a protest, full S.W.A.T., riot gear and armored vehicles show up out of nowhere. Remember Occupy Wall Street?

The United States Constitution has given citizens the rights to defend those rights which were granted by the Declaration of Independence. In other words, I have the freedom of speech to speak out against the infringement of my pursuit of happiness. I can honestly say, African-Americans will be better equipped to deal with the reality of a complete government-controlled society simply because of our history. I am not proud of the fact that, generally, we have been conditioned to obey laws and its enforcers through centuries of slavery, to segregation, to where we are now, even if it’s just simple discrimination. The media has made a point to prove that black youths are targeted in some way, shape, form or fashion. It seems that the rest of the United States was under the impression that this wave of unjustified killing is a revamp of 1991, when in fact, it never ceased. If push comes to shove, young black men who can possibly be mistaken as thugs will not be the only ones being gunned down. These testosterone-jacked hired guns will do what they must to protect their investors from anyone who may pose a threat.

While the ignorance of racism runs rampant and kills innocent people, we as  Americans should come together as a people and realize we are slowly being deprived of our “unalienable rights”. We are at the point where life obviously does not count for much anymore. Liberty will be lost in the exchange for the illusion of being free. The pursuit of happiness will be replaced with the pursuit to survive. Death, imprisonment and the pursuit of survival is how our Declaration of Independence is being rewritten before our very eyes. There may not be a paper trail for it, but we all know that actions speak louder than words.

On a final note, I do realize that The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution were not originally written to include African-Americans, neither have we been treated as such, even though amendments have been made to accommodate us. There has always been a skewed societal scale on which we live everyday that you would have to be of our race to understand; therefore, I will not defend this any further. Nonetheless, I speak as we are all completely equal, because if militia versus civilian actually takes shape, whites or blacks don’t stand a frozen chance in hell of overcoming that without countless casualties. We stand a much better chance united as a nation and not as an ethnicity.

I do not want to have to choose between life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness… I want all three.

Welcome to Social Media!

My time of living outside of the virtual world has come to an end. It was a slow transition, but I was still astounded when the realization completely set in. It was the means by which it happened though. I knew it was coming; I just had not anticipated how it was coming. I am having to learn to use and incorporate social media in my day-to-day living.

Background

I am a reader/writer. I like my books with paper, not on screens. I prefer to buy them from stores, not online. My DVDs are on a shelf, not in a cloud. I will admit to purchasing most of my music from iTunes, but that is because I am not much of a music person. I usually text, but that’s because I like to speak on the phone alone and not in grocery stores or riding with friends or among any other people all together. I feel that the person in my physical presence takes precedence over a line of communication happening via a tech device (this is generally; there are exceptions). I usually hold on to conversational topics if I know I’m going to see a person, rather than call or text them at that moment. I am highly inquisitive and have to get to the bottom of any questions that gives the slightest tug at my curiosity. I drive to random places to witness random things. If an interesting story breaks the local news, I’m going to see. I’ll make a purchase on one solid word-of-mouth over five consumer reviews. I will take GPS getting somewhere, but I usually get lost on the way back. I enjoy legwork.

So when I started blogging a month ago, I felt as though I had finally found a social media platform for me. I discovered WordPress was offering writers a place to meet, greet and share all types of writings; some who are very well known; like my favorite, Writemeg! and a lot of beginners, like myself. I should have started years ago, but because of my old-school way of thinking, I just kept putting it off to the side.

The writing has definitely put me on tiny quests throughout my beautiful city of Atlanta, finding and meeting people that I never would have otherwise; and I’m loving it! However, this is when I realized that the means of sharing and spreading your writing has to expand outside of WordPress. You have to have some means of getting readers to your blog. So I reluctantly created a Twitter account. After a coupe days, it started to pay off, a few visitors here and a couple views there. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So I stuck with it.

One Saturday morning, I was walking through Cabbagetown, a quaint liberal neighborhood network hidden within East Atlanta, and covered in graffiti. There I met @laurenpallotta, @joekingatl, and @stephenstumberg88. I was surprised and excited to actually meet the artists in the beginning stages of their work. They welcomed questions, suggested ideas, and were very very cool laid back people. (I guess that’s to be expected from graffiti artists, but I hadn’t ever met any. As far as I was concerned, you go to sleep and wake up to a painted city while the everyone tries to figure out when the did the Paint Fairies come.) Anyway, things got real when we started to trade contact information. “What’s the name of your blog?” Stephen asked. I told him and asked if I could follow any of them on Twitter and keep up with the progression of their work having seen it in its infancy.

“TWITTER?!? Welcome to 2014! INSTAGRAM, SUCKA!!!”

It actually happened nothing like that, but that’s how I heard it. They all gave me their Instagram names. I had only just created one the night before, not knowing I would be confronted with it in a little less that eight hours.

I have come to the place where I see that in networking, social media has become just as important as legwork and face-to-face interaction. I mean, this may sound ridiculous coming from a city dweller in his mid-twenties who has spent the last nine years working in IT, but I didn’t know it applied all over. I thought Skype has replaced a small percentage of business meetings… But that’s about it.

The fact of the matter is that I just had not found a good enough reason to connect through the social media world. Now that I have, I look forward to using my computer for things besides working and gaming. I can tweet and follow and share now. I know how to do it from my previous Facebook usage; which is basically the other internet. Everyone uses Facebook. I just have to learn what is post worthy, make sure it’s relevant to my topics and all of that good stuff. I’ll iron out those details as I continue learning how to cope with integrating with the modern world.