Autumn is OFFICIALLY here, which means cooler temps, less outdoor activities (not that 2020 gave us many options to begin with) and more opportunities to open up a book (remember those?). I've purchased several over the last few years - maybe close to 10; shamefully, I've only completed ONE. I constantly tell myself to 'do better,' but as with most of society, I find myself getting caught up in the nuances of technology, memes and video clips. I'll try to do better. In the spirit of exercising the mind and learning new vocabulary, I fully intend on dusting off those purchases with an objective to read and COMPLETE a book per month - starting with the three shown in the pic above. I started Methodical Illusion a few weeks ago and I've been intrigued thus far (click on the link for a quick description). The other two; Sundown Towns and The 12th Planet are 400+ pages long (sheesh! I can barely get through a couple of paragraphs from news article these days). I'll be sure to give an update in the coming weeks/months (years???).
Social Distancing 101
Face it, most of you guys are struggling. This social distancing stuff is starting to eat away at your souls. Just when you THOUGHT you could adapt to the new norm, the walls started to cave in, beads of sweat produced on your forehead and you scurried out to the nearest grocery store - only to find out your guilty pleasure was out of stock:
Who in the hell bought all of the Mike and Ike's?!
I'm here to restore a sense of calmness to our quarantined lives (nevermind my fancy shirt and what the words read). Yes, I confess, my shirt defines me to a tee, but I still ask that you all remain strong, laugh, keep your mind sharp... and watch empty-arena wrestling tonight on the WWE Network (supposedly, a wrestler will 'fall' from the rooftop of WWE Headquarters). If you don't find those dramatics interesting, there's The Last Dance on ESPN airing episodes 7 & 8 (a fantastic documentary covering Michael Jordan and those dreaded Chicago Bulls' championship teams of the 90s - hey, I grew up a Knicks' fan). I'm sure I'll watch one of these shows for craps and giggles immediately after cooking up a new recipe I came across the other day. FYI - I handle my business in that kitchen!
Check me out on Instagram, where I'll post a few pics.
Two fingers up...
Fashion Statement... Sorta
Everything about this t-shirt is cool (minus the fact that he's tucking it into his jeans), but for all of you attention whores roaming the earth (or, for those of you who simply enjoy wearing t-shirts with cool expressions), here's a shirt that will really have all eyes on you!
I'll take an XL in EVERY color available, please...
I grew inspired by the recent news of an anonymous (smart move) Mega Millions winner in South Carolina who finally claimed his/her record-breaking $877 million dollar prize. Originally valued at 1.5 BILLION (before Uncle Sam feverishly started rubbing his hands together like someone trying to keep warm), it took the individual nearly 5 months to step forward, presumably getting their affairs in order (ie; retaining an attorney/multiple accountants, breaking down bill payments, possibly setting up college funds for kids/grandkids, charity donations, investments, business ventures, future vacation plans, purchases, and most important, how much to send MY way). Personally, I think the whole lottery system is a joke; I certainly have my suspicions and will usually not waste my time (especially when the jackpot reaches astronomical numbers), BUT, that doesn't stop me from occasionally buying a modest scratch-off ticket (I prefer realistic opportunities over nonsensical odds). Besides, why in the world would ANYONE need 877 million dollars?! Give me a chance at winning $5000/week with a 'Win for Life' scratch-off and I'd be over the moon! (it will eventually happen, you heard it here first).
In the meantime, I'll settle for my big $10 prize!🎉🎉 Nevermind that I broke even, spending exactly $10 on the damn ticket 😐. A win is a win. Glass half full.
AJ Walker Takes A Leap
Admittedly, I am not much of a 'news' guy; I'd finally decided to take a stand. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up watching the news - around the clock - eventually growing numb to the countless stories of random shootings and inaccurate weather reports. Enough was enough. Yes, it was tough parting ways with some of my favorite anchors, weather/traffic girls, but something had to give. Through the years, I'd question the appearance of many news personalities, wondering why so many looked young, yet appeared conservative in their head shots (clean shaven, side-parted hair, fades, etc). In recent years, anchors/reporters have branched out, with men growing 5 o'clock shadows, and women becoming more daring with their wardrobes. Yet, many of the hairstyles remained traditional. It's almost like a happy medium:
Hey, young world, look at me, I can wear cool clothes too - with a hairdo resembling a Brady Bunch character....
I understand there's a level of "professionalism" required for news types, but we're living in an age where gossip, the Kardashians, and the latest trends, have masked themselves into hard news. It would behoove us all to see news personality types... well, show a little personality! This is where CBS News 12 West Palm Beach news reporter AJ Walker, wins the award for 'News Reporters Who Get it!'
In what many will find courageous, AJ recently "pushed the envelope" wearing braids on air in honor of her late mother (Hi-five, AJ!). Does her act call for every on-air news personality to tap into their inner Janet Jackson? (e.g. Poetic Justice) Absolutely not. Perhaps this movement allows for more women of color to embrace natural looks instead of what we've grown accustomed to. I know their are many more like AJ who share a passion for news, looking to embrace their true self, yet, afraid of the backlash/blackballing from a group of people who wouldn't understand this movement. This is HUGE - not only for television, but culturally, and I wanted to take the time out to acknowledge AJ for her bravery!
A Hairy Situation
I was having a conversation with some weirdo in Cyberworld who promptly stated the following:
"Why TF this man got braids? He's not even mid-life and he's going through a mid-life crisis. Never had braids before and now he gets them when he's about to retire? Men should wear their hair short. He never finished his degree, so he knows nothing BUT basketball."
Uncertain if this was the response of a male or female, but it seemed a bit personal to me, wouldn't you agree?
As someone who has oftentimes experimented with a variety of hairstyles, naturally, I took offense, firing back vigorously. I expressed how Dwyane Wade's sudden choice of style was likely temporary (finding out he was simply paying homage to Allen Iverson, one of the originators of the cornrow style in the NBA, and one of Wade's basketball heroes), concluding with how foolish it was to make such a big deal over nothing - falling on deaf ears, of course. Which leads me to wonder: Why does such a narrative exist and who sets the expiration date on hairstyles?
Wade, who is expected to retire by season's end, just turned 37 years old (only considered old in basketball years), having made over 200 million dollars during his NBA career. Does his pay check make him some immortal completely shielded from criticism? No. But CLEARLY he's in a different league. When your occupation allows for you to regularly shoot hoops, taking summers off to vacation in the South of France - on a Yacht - you have liberty to wear whatever TF hairstyle you want. Traditionally, Wade has always worn a "professional" clean cut, so why would anyone be bothered by his new appearance? Most importantly, how does it affect YOU?
The same case can be made for Jay-Z, who after wearing a low-cut for well over 20 years, decided to finally grow it out for the long-haul (he toyed around with a short afro in recent years) now sporting freeform dreads. Jay-Z turned 49 last December. And you know what? I love it!
Enough of this perception about individuals needing a look of uniformity. That logic is completely asinine. In the words of Lil' Wayne - yup, I'm actually going to quote a rapper here - "long hair, don't care!" Could Lil' Wayne use a new do himself? Well, that goes without saying, but that's besides the point. If your hairline hasn't betrayed you and your mane still has a little oompfh in it, why is it a crime to grow it out? Why is long-hair on men considered 'childish and immature?' I find that once you've become comfortable in your own skin, the opinions of others really don't matter. Honestly! For those of you wanting to grow out your hair, please take heed: This decision doesn't permit you to walk around unkempt. You should absolutely do your best to not come off as a hobo. But neither should you be read the riot act for being open-minded enough to try a new hairstyle.
Are people entitled to feel how they feel? Absolutely. But to question a man's intelligence (and decision on wearing a new 'do) solely on the lack of obtaining a college degree is utter nonsense! There's simply no escaping critics these days, especially the almighty K eyboard Warriors of the internet. But kudos to both men for stepping out of their comfort zones. Women do it often and are commonly celebrated; why aren't the same freedoms given to men. Some will argue, 'it's only hair, what's the big deal?'... my point exactly.
Embracing 'Old Age'
Spotted a few grays recently?
Do you find yourself reminiscing about being 20?
Get over it!
Is your bedtime getting earlier and earlier?
Join the club!
Has someone playfully referred to you as "old?"
Shake that person's hand and thank them!
40 is the NEW 40; don't let anyone tell you otherwise (besides, why would you want to be in your twenties anyway?!). We live in an age where being 'young and dumb' trumps being 'old and gold,' 'seasoned, but pleasing,' 'wise... no dyes!' Okay, that last one was a stretch, but you get the point. Rather than vying for acceptance from an age group that will vehemently reject you anyway, why not embrace "old age?" It's a moment for celebration and not a reason to take a nose dive into the Fountain of Youth (or worse, heading to the club every week to keep up with the stupid dance trends of kids born in 1998). As we mature, there's an auspicious shifting of the brain; things become clearer, you prioritize a lot better, you'll find yourself wanting to do less of this and more of that, and most important, you'll learn how precious life is and why we shouldn't take it for granted.
Who wouldn't want to grow old?
Typically, I've never been a fan of large birthday gatherings, unless, of course, the celebration was for a milestone year. I get it, 'every year of life is worth celebrating,' but please spare me the old, tired cliches. Besides, is there any real reason for anyone to celebrate an age not ending in zero?! Aside from celebrating 21 with a few friends, I nearly crapped myself once 30 said hello (staying indoors most of the day reflecting on how terrible my 20s were, yet wishing I could turn back the hands of time), and I will absolutely do something special at 40. In fact, 40 is SO CLOSE I can almost taste it. But my goal isn't to rain on anyone's parade. If you enjoy big birthday bashes, have at it. I am simply here to spread good energy, helping those suffering from the "I need to fit in" crisis impacting an entire culture. For those of you who've read my book, you know exactly where I stand on that deceptive narrative (for those of you who haven't, it's not too late). Bottom line: don't snub 'old age' for the allure of being young! There are plenty of 40-somethings who look and feel better than in their younger years.
With that said, here are 5 things you can do to usher in the big 4-0!
No, this doesn't necessarily mean 'joining a gym' (although I am nowhere close to relinquishing my membership). There are plenty of activities you can participate in which don't include free weights and StairMaster machines:
• Taking daily walks (or perhaps entering several 5K Walk challenges throughout the year).
• Taking a weekend dance class (not my cup of tea, but whatever tickles your fancy and keeps your heartbeat pumping).
• Bicycle Riding (I absolutely plan on doing this... as soon as I get a bike 🤔).
• Joining a Men's Adult Basketball/Softball League or connecting with a group of people who share similar interests for a little weekly competition (absolutely on my 'to do list').
Time to step up your wardrobe. Does this mean maxing out your credit card on a bunch of unnecessary designer clothes? Don't be a fool! But it's time to accept your age and dress age appropriate. Add a little sophistication to your style, but remember to keep it simple. Be creative, unique, even fun; find your look, and not the look of a runway model (or a rapper in a music video). If you want to 'feel good,' one must look good!
Find New Hobbies
Perhaps you'd like to rediscover the things that once upon a time you thought you were "too cool" for:
• Attending a movie ALONE (I've only done this once, but have met quite a few people who swear by it and do it regularly).
• Photography (umm, this excludes selfies, thanks) - Photography is a long-lost passion of mine (you'll find out soon enough on this blog) and capturing life's moments is not only satisfying, but quite peaceful.
• Learn - Expand your mind; Learn how to cut hair, design nails or play a musical instrument (you can learn almost anything via the internet).
• Art & Crafts - Maybe you don't have a creative bone in your body, but there are plenty of DIY projects only a click away courtesy of your smart phone. Watch how others create magic. If a project piques your interest, give it a try! For those who wish to tap into their inner Picasso (or Bob Ross) find the time. Don't allow life to pass you by without doing some of the things that bring happiness.
Just Say No!
Nancy Reagan's infamous quote lives on in 2019, but the 'D-word' (which typically follows) stands for something completely different: DYE! Don't do it. Say goodbye to the dye and embrace your gray. Allow it to sprout! In fact, younger women are actually dyeing their hair gray these days - can you believe that? Gents, say goodbye to Just For Men products and give the boot to Bigen dye for beards (for the love of God!). Sporting a salt & pepper look adds a bit of elegance and sophistication to your look, distinguishing you for that 20-something crowd rocking lumberjack beards. Gray is OK.
Don't be that person who wears the same boring hairstyle for an entire lifetime. Men, I'm specifically talking to you! Try to LIVE a little if your hairline hasn't receded and you've yet to encounter severe thinning or balding. Am I saying enter your 40s with a fresh mohawk? Absolutely, positively not! However, if the Law of Genetics hasn't completely snatched up your wig, allow your hair to grow out for a few months (especially if you've worn a traditional low cut since elementary school!). If your hair no longer wishes to cooperate, try growing a little stubble on your face (if possible) or shoot for a temporary clean shaven look (if you've always worn facial hair). Something, ANYTHING! I find men are too conservative with their appearance, yet women make no qualms about switching up theirs. A nice transformation from time to time won't hurt.
My family and I mourned after experiencing a few impactful deaths, my favorite sports teams continued to suck, and I couldn't bring home a chip in my fantasy baseball league, yet 2018 still goes down as one of my most favorable years. Aside from launching a book, website, and podcast, I checked off more boxes on my bucket list, established relationships with some incredible people, traveled, discovered happiness (what a great feeling and I'll be damned if I give it back!), further embraced aging, and I finally accepted my reality; that not only am I okay with being an Average Joe (in a world obsessed with obtaining followers), but I love the sh*t out of lists! As we bid farewell to 2018, here are five things I'd like to see obliterated in 2019 (and beyond!):
5) MEN arching and shaping up their eyebrows:
The metrosexual male has run amok over the past decade; from skinny jeans, to (fill in the blank). Let's put an end to needling and threading our eyebrows and become f#ckin' men again for goodness sake!
4) Transwomen airing out celebrities:
The Transgender community and its murder rate has spiked over recent years, but airing out ones personal business can't be conducive to your well being (one would think). I understand people say and do things when they're emotionally scarred, but when does common sense ever factor in? Why must the general public know what goes on between two consenting adults? Let's do better when vying for acceptance. That goes for all of us.
3) Employers asking potential employees dumb questions on interviews:
How many of you have heard the follow:
When was the last time you went over and above for a co-worker? Can you name a time a customer was unhappy, and what did you do to rectify the matter? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Can I tell you how much I absolutely HATE these questions! After spending so much energy preparing for an interview; from what to wear, to just about everything else, you arrive to your destination all wide-eyed, giddy and full of anxiety. Suddenly, you're asked to summarize past job experiences, entering an extensive memory bank to include isolated moments in your professional career that have absolutely NO BEARING on whether the current job can be executed accordingly (how would an employer EVER know if you're telling the truth on those isolated events?).
How many people have b.s.'ed their way through interviews? (don't all raise your hands up at once).
2) Goodbye Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Love & Hip-Hop, Wildin' Out and any other annoying TV show:
Sayonara! The novelty has worn off, and there's simply NO REASON for Dancing with the Stars to have just completed its 27th season! That's insane considering the show only debuted in 2005 (I'm aware they've typically had two seasons per calendar year, but enough is enough!). Maybe some of us will be in for a treat come 2019.
1) Current state of music:
Any up-and-coming artist, I beg of you: PLEASE CREATE SOMETHING MAGICAL, OR STAY THE F#CK AWAY FROM THE MICROPHONE. Work on your craft, treat it as a job; as if your life depends on it, be original (yea, yea, no idea is truly original - so they say - but you get the point), and don't leave the studio until you've listened to your tunes ad nauseum - so, that would be at least 1,000,000,000 times in my book (listen to it until your ears permanently hate you). Don't be in a rush to flood the market with more garbage. It's oversaturated. Create something timeless and stay far way from following trends. That's all I ask. Wishful thinking, I know, but allow me to have this moment.
Goodbye 2018; it's been fun! As you all countdown the new year in a few hours, I'm sure to be in LA-LA land (unless my ignorant neighbors have plans on blasting music through the wee hours of the morning - which I highly expect), after puffing on a nice cigar purchased from the Dominican Republic. BTW, make sure to tune into the next podcast where I go in depth on that beautiful island!