Panic and Fear or Peace and Quiet?
For some, 2020 has been one complete sh*t show. Don't fret... there's still eight months left! In recent weeks, the vast majority of the world has been introduced to face masks and social distancing due to the current pandemic. Some are losing their everlasting minds, others are embracing the sudden change with open arms.
It's a "new world," folks. A world of uncertainty and panic, blended with germaphobes, introverts, and self-proclaimed extroverts who are writing out their Living Will as we speak. Yes, some would rather die than to live in a world of...
*wait for it*
Dun, dun, dunnnnnn!
At the onset of the COVID-19 craze here in the States, never in a million years did I expect to see this:
Photos taken on the weekend of March 14th.
What you're witnessing are freezers without meat products, an aisle without toiletries, another without water, a.k.a. FEAR!
Not even the threat of a hurricane has caused such chaos - at least not around my parts - and this was about the only time I found myself filled with a little anxiety (why has the whole world gone toilet paper crazy?!). For starters, I've always been one to stock up on necessities, but this time I'd allow other shoppers to 'out shop' me.
Son of a ...
Aside from the minor hiccup, I've accepted our new norm (albeit temporary... or not). It's what I called a life "reset" moments after noticing a trickle down effect where a good portion of the country shut down within days (now in its 5th or 6th week if you're counting). The current generation has never seen anything remotely close to this.
Despite the circumstances, which sadly includes an influx in job losses, health issues and fatalities, I still found a silver lining through it all. The world now has a chance for a much needed break. If you were to ask me, society desperately needed it! Unfortunately, it came with a few casualties; I don't know how else we could've gotten around that. But here's the point:
People suck. More so, sh*tty people and their untrustworthy behaviors and disregard for the environment. They're the ones responsible for breeding introverts. Can you guess who's currently basking in all the glory as the nation experiences one of its darkest periods in history? That's right - Introverts!
Isolation is a walk in the park for us (I proudly consider myself an introvert; one who chooses when and where to be gregarious. Balance is key). Introverts have gracefully accepted social distancing. Quite frankly, we don't want you too close to us anyway! While the whole world has gone batty, we're sitting back with our feet up patiently waiting for the storm to pass. Many of us were rejected by our peers long ago; distancing is nothing to us. And if you think we're bothered by the notion of staying at home, try again. Staying inside for days at a time is almost like taking a trip to Bora Bora!
Sometimes ANYTHING is better than socializing with humans 🤣 This "new world" isn't new to us. We've lived it and many of us survived. You can too!
Down time is good. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage and focus on the things that truly matter: the well-being of loved ones, self-reflecting, reading, learning new crafts, doing some work around the house, decompressing, catching up on Rambo movies and playing countless hours of old SEGA GENESIS AND NINTENDO GAMES (I confess). Or, you can simply lurk the pages of Instagram models (double-posing as Certified Personal Trainers) who will provide enough eye-popping material (and workout tips) to get you into tip top shape!
It is time to rediscover YOU.
In all seriousness, I am certainly sensitive to those who have lost their jobs, struggling to make ends meet during this unprecedented time. However, the world we've grown accustomed to wasn't a normal one to say the least.
The hustle & bustle of that world was taxing on the mind, body and soul. Be honest with yourselves. We normalized it because we didn't know any better, foolishly thinking it was the way of life. We couldn't have be so wrong. The end result led to society (western culture, to be exact) losing sight of the essentials of existence. We forgot how to prioritize at home; enjoying the smaller things we've shamefully taken for granted. Now is the time to rediscover that.
For those of you currently losing your minds - breathe! Reassess your life before rushing back to the mass hysteria of the pre-quarantined world. If you find yourself struggling with this "new norm," don't worry, the old world will be back in due time.
Back to the noise
Back to traffic jams
Back to open coughs and sneezes in public
Back to a world where we chuckle at people wearing face masks
Back to your employer enforcing an 8-hr day/5 day a week rule sitting at an OFFICE desk instead of in the comfort of your own home (although its been proven most office work - excluding those who are face to face with clients - can be done from home)
Back to conversing with as many people as your little heart desires
Back to online dating and meeting randoms at neutral spots
Back to traveling, dining out and spending money
Back to having a substantial amount of toilet paper and hand sanitizers on the shelves
Just make sure you've learned a thing or two from our current sabbatical before THAT world rears its ugly head once more.
Kudos to all of those working on the front lines risking their lives every hour of the day. Time to reset their salaries and celebrate all that they do.
Rest in Paradise
On January 13th, 2020, I only had ONE thing in mind when posting about Kobe Bryant: pay homage to a man who played a significant role in my latter teen - early adulthood years. I wanted to sincerely poke fun at how I attempted to emulate him every chance I could. How I'd purchase (and save) every magazine where he and his once infamous afro were featured. How I'd watch every interview conducted; zeroing in on his mannerisms and the way he'd conduct himself. But what I wanted you to get most out of that piece was my overall enthusiasm once finding out Bryant was one of several names mentioned for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame. Little did I know on January 26th, a mere thirteen days from that post, Bryant, his thirteen year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other passengers would be involved in a horrific helicopter crash over the hills of Calabasas, CA, killing all on board, devastating families, the sports world, legions of fans, and anyone with a heart.
My eyes have poured out real tears for several days now. At times, I can't help myself. In fact, my vision is quite blurred as I type - aimlessly staring at the photo above, fighting through an overwhelming feeling of emotion. Just when I think I can overcome the sadness, my mind wanders back to that Sunday morning when I received the distressing text about the incident, or I catch myself going down that rabbit hole of watching clip after clip of Kobe's peers - grown men - pouring their eyes out uncontrollably. This f*cking hurts.
I thought long and hard on whether I should even touch this story. It has made me considerably uncomfortable and the turn of events have been extremely eerie. Just think, it was only a couple of weeks ago where I was singing Kobe's praises, now here I am talking about his death. What?! Can I Be Ernest? is supposed to be a feel good blog. The reader should arrive here with full anticipation of a laugh, reminisce about the good 'ol days, or sometimes both - not grieve. Was there some type of glitch in the matrix? This can't be happening. As a writer, it is my personal duty to TYPE: today, tomorrow, next week, so on and so forth. Whether this blog gets read by one set of eyes or thousands, it is imperative that I continue. Writing has proven to be therapeutic to many - a life saver to me. I need this outlet.
Yes, death is an intricate part of life and I completely get it. I lost my grandmother of 93 years back in September. There isn't a day that goes by where she isn't thought of. Admittedly, even at 93, I selfishly wanted her to live forever. But I understand 93 years is quite the accomplishment. Sadly, Bryant, 41, Gianna, 13 and the others on board were cheated at life. I don't think I can feel otherwise.
Both Bryant and his daughter were at the cusp of transitioning to that next level: Kobe, post-NBA as a devoted husband, father, entrepreneur, Academy Award winner, author, coach/mentor; Gianna, as a superb 8th grade basketball sensation who was possibly on the verge of becoming a highly sought after student-athlete. It is well documented how Gianna took on her father's 'Mamba Mentality' - perhaps she would've accomplished the unthinkable at all levels - H.S., college, pros - becoming one of the premier athletes of the country. Unfortunately, we will never find that out. The thought alone crushes me.
I can't fathom the pain Kobe's wife, Vanessa, is experiencing. Imagine losing your spouse AND child on the same day. She now bares the responsibility of explaining this to their three beautiful girls. Not to be forgotten, the unimaginable sting involving the remaining family members of the other victims on board). My goodness! This story is about as bad as it gets.
The NBA All-Star Weekend begins in a few weeks and undoubtedly, there will be a monumental ceremony commemorating Kobe Bryant's life. Over the years, I've watched less and less of the all-star festivities and I plan to continue that trend. No way will I allow myself to become a spectator of a packed arena in complete silence without a dry eye in sight. No thanks. After experiencing a few heartbreaks in 2019, I think my eyes, mind, heart and soul could use a much needed break.
Words have escaped me so I will cut this post short - R.I.P. Kobe & Gianna Bryant and the other victims lost on that tragic day 🙏🏾
Is It Worth It?
I REALLY try my hardest to make this a feel-good blog, ignoring the foolishness of society and staying clear of politics... but I couldn't resist this time around. While scouring the net, I came across a story that not only had me SMH (shaking my head - for those of you un-hip to texting slang) like an angry toddler refusing to eat their veggies, but actually questioning whether I should continue identifying myself as human. After all, humans shouldn't act this way.
The internet strikes again as yet another "challenge" reared its ugly head; triggering the minds of the youth with tantalizing thoughts of vast views, likes and of course the allure of going viral. Press play if:
1) You enjoy stupidity
2) You enjoy ice cream
3) You enjoy stupidity AND ice cream
Finally, I don't want to hear anything about "mental issues," "kids being kids" or "the punishment not fitting the crime." Spare me the bull. We've got to draw the hard line in the sand. Enough is enough.
Here's to hoping this young lady can now put her tongue to use in a nice 6x8 cell block.
Politics with a Twist
Just when I've given up on politics, Andrew Yang comes along. I went from not putting much stock into the 2020 presidential election, to possibly voting for someone who actually 'thinks outside of the box' (hallelujah!) and can truly transform America (that's IF he sticks to his ideas - but we all know how this usually plays out). Wang is looking to do away with our antiquated rigged financial system, among other things, proposing a few ideas that can potentially impact the lives of Americans in a way unseen before. I expect mainstream media and anyone afraid of change to rain on his parade, likely killing any momentum moving forward, but Wang's proposals are a breath of fresh air and his support is growing. Click on his name for more.
I Don't Think He Had This In Mind
Today, we pay respects to a legacy that has almost been tarnished some 55 years after his death. Some would argue that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the last great black leader, others say he was the last great leader of a generation. However you wish to spin it, I am truly saddened at how far away we've gotten from King's potent words of wisdom. Sure, I can go ahead and list a bunch of MLK quotables to honor his great name on the day we celebrate him as a nation, instead, I'd like to pinpoint a couple of recent isolated incidents involving young men leaving me angered and outright confused. When will some of us will ever get it?
I probably shouldn't expect much from those born into the 1990s and thereafter. If that comment bothers you, I suggest you remove your blinders and pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Unless you're a Type A Personality type who craves knowledge, history and over-standing the way of the world, Millennials (and others) are decades removed from an era where men like King paved the way for a better America. Many will never know the feeling of racial segregation, senseless hose spraying and vicious attacks by ruthless dogs. All we have left are images and stories from those who are old enough to remember that dark period of this country's history. Despite the sporadic heinous murders of brown men by those in law enforcement; paid to protect & serve, joined by the questionable behavior of those who continue to get a kick out of uttering the N-word and antagonizing people of color, our world today still doesn't compare to what many endured in the south during the civil rights era and before. As years progressed, regardless of how we feel in 2019, opportunity does exist for all (albeit it's broken down into tiers to avoid blatant prejudice experienced in years past). With that said, I expect better from anyone reaping the benefits of that same opportunity thousands died for. The same opportunity MLK put his life on the line for whenever he delivered a heart-felt message. Yet, when I watch the current generation's obsession with gang culture and everything else, I am blown away when that list includes multi-millionaires; the one-percentile, the people we'd expect to be above that.
We've learned over the years about rappers/entertainers and their affiliations with gangs. Oftentimes, when you've become a product of your environment, there's really no escaping it - rich or not. But what about when you're far removed from that environment (or haven't grown in that environment at all), basking in the limelight, enjoying a healthy bank account and luxurious lifestyle? Why then would there be a need to become an "overnight gangster?" I felt my ire rise after watching rappers Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Cardi B (the lone female of my ire), along with NBA player, Marcus Smart, announce their gang ties to the world. That's correct, Bow Wow! I had mixed emotions listening to Bow Wow (real name: Shad Moss) yell "On Piru!" (a well-known set from the L.A. Bloods gang) at the 0:09 mark. Part of me wanted to laugh, thinking I'd just finish watching a comedy sketch, the other half felt like I'd just watch a dramatic plea for help.
Most of us remember Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow) as the cute kid who took the music industry by storm after his 2000 debut hit album, "Beware of Dog" captivated children, catapulting him to mainstream success. Many of you us were too old for his music, yet we witnessed Bow Wow influence a generation of kids and watched him grow into a man. Now 31, Bow Wow should be held accountable for his recent attempt to insult our intelligence (declaring his gang affiliation) and it shouldn't be tolerated by OG's - in this case, the older generation. Someone in his camp desperately needs to pull him aside.
Can just about anyone join a gang these days? Sure. The question I have for Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Marcus Smart and others is: since when? and why?! Why come into millions of dollars, fame - the stuff Average Joe's and Jane's dream about - only to renounce it in an effort for street cred? Why not use this platform to your advantage instead of risking it all, dealing with questions of authenticity and becoming a punchline for jokes from people like me? Who in their right mind would be intimidated by Bow Wow, Cardi B, Soulja Boy or a player throwing up gang signs - someone who attended college, currently earning a 7-figure income? (watch 1:03 mark). Does the latter sound like a gang banger to you? If anything, these same individuals have made a mockery of gang culture and that upsets me. Why? Because they have choices. Their income and lifestyle enables them to escape the hardships of street life. They can stay far away from the hood. Furthermore, their paycheck allows them to keep their affiliations to themselves (the way others have; see D.L. Hughley) because the general public really doesn't need to know. No one cares! In the age of social media, it has become everyone's job to share everything. Even senseless acts. But something to keep in mind when you're attempting to become an overnight gangster - think about those who are less fortunate. Think about those who join street gangs because they don't know of another way to survive. Think about those who have never traveled outside of their city or state. Think about the ones who were born into gang culture because it was an essential part of their lineage, ingrained in their DNA. Think about the men and women who have actually traded bullets in the streets. Why mimic a lifestyle many everyday people can't escape? Why wait until you've become an established brand, someone who has sat in board rooms with high-level execs signing major contract deals to suddenly announce your gang ties? Why wait until you've become a platinum-selling artist, having traveled the world? Why wait until you've made a couple of bucks to confidently throw up hand gestures in an all out rage on national TV? If entertainers are so desperate in becoming street soldiers, unwilling to separate these contrasting lifestyles, why not relinquish your riches and live the life you truly desire to live? Who's stopping you? What's stopping you?! In the words of the great Big Daddy Kane, 'Ain't No Half Steppin.' Why have one foot in the door of entertainment, the other in the streets? Pick one. Your move.
The fact that this subject matter isn't discussed on a broader platform is concerning enough. Perhaps, people really don't care (or have chosen not to take these entertainers seriously). Clearly, MLK's "Free at Last" message was lost in translation from a group of misguided lost souls; lost souls who derived from a generation of little leadership - parental or public. The individuals I've named aren't free, in fact, they're trapped in a sorry state of mind, oblivious to their privileged lives, unbothered by their acts of unexplained behaviors, unmoved by an iconic figure's impact to the world. This is more than a "day off" or a "holiday," it's a day of reflecting, as we remember a world we used to live in and a man who took a bullet striving to make it a better place. Why wouldn't we want to do better?
The Story of Mr. Toles and the Overzealous Tenant
I wonder which topic will receive longer news coverage: Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson's break up or the black gentleman who was denied entry into his home by an overzealous tenant in St. Louis? I'm sure newscasters nationwide are scrambling to figure out the more newsworthy story...