“You need to have your physical body out there in the streets and let these people—and the rest of the world—know. When our antiwar movement led the world, it was because people could see us in the streets, see our faces, hear the protest music. You can’t do that shit blogging in a room.”—Samuel L. Jackson
I’m dating somebody and this is the first time in a while that I’m not talking to multiple women simultaneoulsy. Usually, one gets on my nerves so I go to the next one. Other times, none of them bother me and I go with whoever’s energy I’d wanna feel that day. This time, all of my energy is focused one person. But it doesn’t feel abnormal to me.
What hasn’t changed is that I’m not uppity about talking about this relationship to everybody. When I do though, I’ve noticed a reocurring theme. I was at this radio station a few weeks ago sitting in the corner while my friend was running her show. We talked about work mostly but the conversation shifted and I ended up showing her a picture of who I’m seeing:
"Awwwwwwwww she’s cute. When are y’all getting married?"
"I wish people would stop joking like that."
"I’m not joking."
There was this awkward silence for a few seconds but I wiggled my way out of that topic. Then it happened again last week with another friend:
"Soooooooo can you see yourself marrying her? What are her pros? The cons? Where does she work? What’s her money looking like? I mean there’s no point in dating if you don’t see marriage in the long run, right?"
I’m at the age where single people get paranoid about being single and not having any kids yet. I’m assuming that those factors are attached to the stigma of being lonely after you’re thirty. Lonely and unfulfilled. I don’t feel any pressure to do either one yet but it’s interesting seeing how many people believe in this unspoken timeline of high school, college, 9 to 5, marriage, kids, retirement, and death. And what’s even more interesting to me, is how some find complete happiness in just those things and nothing else. And the most interesting aspect, is how those that fit into that box can make you feel left out if you aren’t in that same category with them. I was listening to this TED talk podcast months ago and this woman described marriage as musical chairs. Everyone is circling the chairs while the music is playing but when the music cuts off, people race to the open seat. The married people are already sitting down by the time they hit a certain age. The single people are the ones still walking and looking for an available seat. But don’t we have a choice on if we want to play that game or not? What about the people that play this game and think homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to play? What if I don’t like the music? What if I think we should all have player names so everybody is more identifiable? What if I want my name to be Thotropolis?
“It’s not just being awake in the middle of the night and being anonymous. It’s being awake in the middle of the night with yourself. Without your support, without your buffers, as we call them. Your comfort things, you’re laying down. He didn’t even have his TV stations. He was trapped. He didn’t have his stuff, he didn’t have his bedroom, he didn’t have his booze, he didn’t have his stuff, [and] he didn’t have his world. It’s just a shock of consciousness where all of a sudden you’re stuck with yourself. You’re stuck with yourself. That’s sort of what Scarlett had, too. “I’m stuck with myself. I don’t have my husband. He’s off shooting this thing. I have my friends, I’m calling somebody on the phone here and they don’t get it. I’m stuck with myself. And there’s nobody here that knows me. There’s nobody here that cares about me. So who am I when I don’t have all my posse, my stuff with me?” That’s what it is. When you go to a foreign country, truly foreign, there is a major shock of consciousness that comes on you when you see that, “Oh God, it’s just me here.” There’s nobody, no neighbors, no friends, no phone calls - just room service.”—Bill Murray
About five months ago, I was reading an interview with Danny Brown on some fashion website and he was talking about what influenced his attire. The sentence that stuck out to me was, “I dress for who I want to attract.” And I never done that. Whoever I attracted, I attracted and we would work out our differences and enjoy our similarities. Subconsciously though, I began to do the same thing. Last year I was wearing this green and orange plaid peacoat because i was really into colors at the time. This winter, I wore mostly black. Black fitted coat that sat at my waist. Steve Madden shoes for work, which was new considering that I wore my Clarks prior to that, and fitted dress pants. Fitted jeans and higher quality button ups when I was going out. Without noticing, I started caring about how people viewed me and I desperately wanted to be recognized as a man.
It worked. Until I started having problems at my job. On one random Wednesday, my boss gave me an assignment that was due in an hour and I couldn’t get it done. Then she started scheduling one on one meetings with me to talk about my performance and my workload. Beginning from January 2014, each week got worse and worse. Stress was giving me these headaches where the pain would be on both sides of my head and in the front as opposed to the normal headaches in the back of my head. My hair was disappearing fast. I got fat in the face. My mother noticed my spirits were down and cornered me into a conversation one Sunday. Another conversation I initiated with my mentor after work one other day. They both said I lost my confidence and it’s something I never experienced up until that point. Sometime in February, my boss accused me of dropping the ball with another big situation. She yelled and cussed at me this time. A couple days later, I scheduled a one on one with her and told her she was wrong for speaking to me that way whether i dropped the ball or not, even though I really didn’t. She didn’t want to take responsibility and didn’t apologize so we agreed to disagree. But I felt like a giant because I knew in my heart that I wasn’t wrong and i had the evidence to back it up. My confidence was back but I was still wearing mostly black.
A few weeks after that, I went to the mall to pick up some dress shirts and I noticed a lot of white women flirting with me. More than usual. I was confused because they never give me any kind of attention. Plus, my fascination with being romantically involved with white women died a couple years ago (for no real reason). Here and there since that month, it kept happening and it’s still happening more frequently than I’m used to. Like yesterday. I went to Noodles and Company and the manager handed me my food with the biggest smile and that ‘damn, where you come from?’ eye contact. It’s a fucking mystery to me. However, I do remember telling my little cousins years ago when dealing with women, it’s never about what you’re wearing. It’s all about your confidence. Believing in yourself and believing that nobody is better for the person you want to go after. And making sure that person knows that too.
“We’re hungrier than ever. We feel like we’re the hungriest team playing in the NBA. I want a ring. I want a ring so bad. And I know that one day our time will come.”—Joakim Noah (via derrickmartellrose)
There’s this blog I follow that posts nothing but women with curves. And it’s one particular woman that’s posted all the time with thick legs, big booty, and the smallest waist you’ll probably see. It’s odd because it’s the tiniest part of her body and I’m sure this is due to her wearing a corset, which she sells on Instagram. It’s nothing that bothers me either way but it is noticeable.
I won’t say who specifically, in case she happens to read this, but a woman that I’m close to came to me the other day and asked me to help her tie a corset around her torso. We attached the first of probably 20 hooks and she was struggling to breathe. She had to take deep breaths for every hook and it was painful to listen to since she doesn’t have a flat stomach. It bothered me, trying to squeeze this contraption around her. And if she was planning on wearing it all day or all week or all month, it’ll be torture. I wanted to say, “Whoever you’re doing this for, they don’t deserve you.” Instead we tried to attach this Jigsaw puzzle to her body for 15 minutes. But the most torture that we, men, put ourselves through for women is washing our ass. And sometimes we don’t even do that. For me specifically, in the past few years I dated a woman with an overbite, a woman with a very big nose, a barely chubby woman who thought she was obese, a skinny woman who thought she was fat, and I never considered any of these things a problem when I was with them. Honestly, I think we’re all missing the bigger picture when it comes to attracting the opposite sex. It’s not about appearance or weight or even personality. It’s about hygiene. And if you ever learn anything from reading my posts, I hope you learn to always wash your ass. No days off. Pretty please.
I was at a mexican restaurant last month paying for my food at the register. It’s a small place with brick interior walls and tiny wooden tables. There’s only one cook, a man, and two waitresses, two women. All three of them rotate with working the register and they speak english just good enough for you to understand them. I gave one of the women my debit card, which has my full name on it including the “II” after my last name. She said, “Ohhh you’re a second? That’s so nice. Are you going to name your son the third?” “Yeah probably.” I laughed a little bit because she seemed like one of those people that love kids. I’m not one of those people. I like kids and kids love me but I don’t like the idea of having my own. Not yet.
Two of my male cousins are having babies. One is having twins, a boy and a girl, and the other is having a boy. The boy’s name will be Blake Daniel Sanders. Blake is expected to be born this week and I honestly won’t believe that he exists until I hold him for the first time. It’s the first baby in our family that I’ll consider my nephew because me and his father have been around each other so much. You know that cousin that you’re forced to take a bath with when you’re a baby? And some jackass ends up taking a picture of you two and showing them to you your whole life to remind you of it? Yeah, he’s that cousin. I’m low key more freaked out than anybody. I keep picturing that random call I’ll get while I’m work that the mother is in labor. The lobby where they make you wait and how much pain she’ll be in. Looking at him for the first time and experiencing his hand gripping one of my fingers. And how much he’ll probably look like my cousin in that picture of us in that bathtub. The older you get, the more you see your friends and family members around your age have babies and get married and secure better jobs and progress and grow and evolve. There are people that actually take steps back the older they get but you never notice them really. You want to keep up with the ones you consider successful. Or at least have something going on. So some days you’ll feel like you’re in a rut. Other days are little different.
for your story about wearing your hoodie at the airport.. i don't get why you feel you're legitimatizing yourself when "her daughter loves you". Why not boast about making money & successful in America? why do a lot of black men feel inadequate or unworthy until they're loved by a white woman? i don't get how that's your conclusion from the whole story? sounds insecure
Boy, would I love to throw some hot grease on you.
Kaytranada performed in Chicago at The Mid, a medium sized club downtown, and I found a nice spot in the crowd where I could see him and enjoy my beer. It was close to the VIP section but close enough to the bar in case I needed a refill. Midway through the second song, a mentally handicapped man wearing blue jeans and a leather jacket walked up to me and shook my hand. Three white kids were standing a little to my left and I noticed them laughing. Almost cheering him on, I thought. I mouthed the words, “Are y’all together?” Because they were laughing as if this man was their friend. But as they got closer, I realized they were laughing at him. “Dude, that guy has been fucking with people since we got here! Dancing and grabbing on our clothes and shit.” The man wasn’t bothering me and I ain’t with laughing at handicapped people so I kinda eased my way away from them.
Soon after, an Israeli man, who looked around my age, stood next to me and said, “Hey man, who is this performing?” "It’s Kaytranada." We somehow started talking about neighborhoods in north Chicago and how expensive it is to live downtown. The conversation wasn’t long though because his whole point of talking to me was to sell me molly. But before I could even answer, an asian girl that was dancing by herself in front of us, spun around, leaped into the air, and landed on his foot. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Your foot is important!” There’s a video on my phone of Kaytranada’s set and you can hear this whole exchange. How she’s apologetic but drunk. He’s nonchalant and flirtacious. She starts giggling and flirts back. That awkward moment when they run out of things to say for a quick second and they try to decide if they want to take things further. You can’t see them but the microphone recorded everything loud and clear. He switched his focus to her and left me alone. A few minutes later, as I’m trying to send this video to my friend, I noticed a girl with big, curly light brown hair stand next to me. She looked like a college freshman if I had to guess. Everybody that stood next to me that night said something. This girl didn’t. In fact, she waited for about 60 seconds and because I didn’t jump down her throat with pickup lines, she went into the crowd and found somebody to dance with. I finished my beers and left after he was done spinning but I made the mistake of not going to the bathroom first. Not even halfway home, I’m stomping on the floor of my car and bouncing my leg up and down uncontrollably. I’m also on the phone as I’m driving. My friend says, “Pull over and piss on the side of the road.” But I didn’t want to get harassed by police that night if they happened to drive by. “Do you have a water bottle? Use that.” So I pulled over on the expressway and found an empty water bottle in my backseat. I decided sometime last year that if I write a book, it wouldn’t be a memoir or a non-fiction novel. It would be a collection of short stories, similar to how I run this blog. If I ever write that book, I’ll explain what happened exactly. But anyway, there’s a quote floating around that says you don’t really know how intoxicated you are until you try to urinate.
The last full weekend I spent with her wasn’t that great. Something was telling me I should’ve been elsewhere but I forced myself to see her anyway and spend the weekend downtown. When I saw her in a black and white dress the first night, I gave her a halfway hug and I didn’t want the hug to last too long. It wasn’t her. It was me. But I didn’t know why the urge to be away from her was so strong when we’ve been on the same page since we met. A lot of my interactions with her felt forced. I promise, it wasn’t her. Maybe my mind was on work or my mother being sick still or music or the future or how much money I could’ve saved if we didn’t spend it on a hotel or stressing about if she was truly interested in me or not. I don’t know.
A month later she kissed somebody else. The night she did it I was making her a personal Christmas present. This happened the week of Thanksgiving, two days after I stood in the Black Friday line, twice, for the PS4. I wanted to end whatever we had going on between us. I didn’t need to think about it. But my cousin reminded me of how happy I was when I first met her and how much we complimented each other. She said she never heard me be excited about anybody like that and she deserved a second chance. My other friend echoed the same thing. “You know…she could’ve just lied about it and not told you at all.” She didn’t cheat because we wasn’t together. It was still the same feeling though. Like somebody stabbed me in the stomach with a knife and dragged it further and further down the more I thought about it and the more she described what happened. A sharp, twisting pain that I can’t stand and that I feel anytime we talk about it. Before this, we was thinking about possibly planning a future together. But all I’m trying to do now is forgive her. It’s hard because she’s a free spirit. Free spirits are attractive and they’re attracted to moments. And I have a fear I guess of being a moment. So that makes me a little detached on one hand. On the other hand, another part of me wants to cling on to her. Not to drag down her spirit but almost, with my actions, say, “Our spirits work well together. Fly next to mines for a while. I know I sound like an idiot and I know you like being spontaneous but believe in me. You won’t regret it. Trust me.” However, I can’t tell her to trust me when I can’t even trust her, right? I told her on the phone last night that I need to double check and triple check that I want to move forward with her. She didn’t say anything. Just the occasional loud sigh into my ear. Then today I asked her a question regarding our future and she said “If I didn’t think about the future, I wouldn’t be here.” Free spirits don’t think about the future, do they? Maybe I was wrong about her. Maybe I don’t even know her.
“We celebrate small victories. When you’re accustomed to wealth, you don’t show it, right? That’s why the white kids in school could wear bummy sneakers; it’s almost like, Don’t show wealth—that’s crass. But the other way around, for us, we were broke, and we wanted to pretend we weren’t.”—Jay-Z
After I used the bathroom, I caught myself staring in the mirror longer than usual because I noticed that I lost another section of hair. It seems like it’s starting to happen every single day now with stress being the main reason why it’s happening at a faster pace. That and age I guess. I’m not balding. Not yet. It’s more like my hair is fading away very slowly. First, the left corner of my hair started fading. And after years and months of remaining intact, the right side is doing the same thing.
Most of my friends that’s older than me decided to run from fading and balding and just cut off their hair altogether. My head is too odd of a shape to do that so I’ma ride it out. It’s really just me being sensitive about my hair loss but I accepted it was gon’ happen already. Even though some days I obsess over it more than I should. When it truly gets bad, I’ma grow my beard out completely.
“My generation pampered the next generation. We felt a certain way because we never got shit so we felt like by giving the next generation a bunch of shit, that they would appreciate it but we didn’t give them a sense of why we didn’t have shit in the first place. So they’re so far removed from it now. And now there’s no frame of reference for them. And we send them out in this world uneducated of who they are. So now they’re just young men out here trying to figure out who they are on the fly.”—Bun B
This Indian girl walked up to me, while I was looking out the window with my headphones on, asking if she could sit next to me on the bus. She resembled somebody I follow on here. That was my first thought before shaking my head to say yes and making sure she had enough room to sit down. I was listening to Bill Simmons’ podcast and distracted by her perfume at the same time. If Jesus planted flowers in heaven, they would smell like her perfume. I’m sure of this.
I fell asleep then woke up when I felt something on my shoulder. It was her head. She jumped up and scooted to the edge of her seat. I fell asleep again. Then her head found her way back on my shoulder. This time, I woke up but I didn’t move. And I waited her for to notice that she was doing it again. Like clockwork, she swung her head the opposite direction and went back to sleep. I wasn’t sleepy anymore so this time I was wide awake. Her head fell on my shoulder again but now, more of her jaw and her cheek was touching me. She was getting closer and more comfortable.
What shocked me was that my crazy ass wanted her to rest on my shoulder. Because, 1, something told me she needed it, 2, she was pretty, and 3, she smelled like flowers. I was coming from Toronto so when the bus got to London, Ontario, she got off without either of us speaking. As she was getting her bag from underneath the bus, I got to see what she looked like from head to toe. Curly hair wrapped in a bun. No makeup. She was frowning. Arms crossed. Black dress shirt. Grey dress pants. Black flats.
“I look around, pretty much 100% of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”—Louis C.K.
My cousin dragged me to a Black Friday Walmart sale this past Thursday for a PS4. I wanted one but I didn’t pre order it. I searched the internet and different stores for a week without any luck so it made me not care about it anymore. We had to stand in line for these wristbands first. Four people was in front of us. Five minutes into it, he disappeared and came back with two black beanbags. It was three women in charge of the line and one laughed and said “Whatever it takes!” A manager walked up to us so quick soon after though. “I’m sorry, you can’t use those unless you plan on buying them.” She took them away and we waited an hour.
This older woman put my wristband on. I told her, “Make it tight!” And of course, she didn’t. I found some tape in the store and wrapped it over my wrist. Everybody was laughing. Heading back to my car, two managers stopped me and questioned where I got my wristband from. They said a bunch of bullshit to me and I slowly went from a playful mood to a defensive mindset. One carefully held up my wrist and I thought she was joking at first. “You trying to run a scam or something? We didn’t start giving out wristbands yet. This says aisle 5 and aisle 5 is on the other side of the store. It’s not even 4pm yet.” It was 4:07pm. Aisle 5 was right next to us. And everybody that was in line with me told her they just gave me my wristband. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t know it was 4 o’clock already!” I snatched my wrist back and on the way out I told my cousin, “Something gon’ happen when we come back later. They gon’ give me shit about the tape on this wristband. Watch.” We went to eat at my other cousin’s house and told everybody what happened. This prompted some of my relatives wanting to go with us to pick up the PS4s. The parking lot was packed this time but that was nothing compared to what we saw when we walked in. Shit was like Jumanji. In both the book and the movie, the warning message is, “Do not begin unless you intend to finish.”
I had this english class back when I was in community college a long time ago. Me and two of my friends used to sit all the way in the back and never said too much but I always used to get an A on every test and homework assignment because it used to be all essay questions. Plus, there was this girl that sat to the far right and she used to slouch in her chair so her boobs sat firmly on her desk. She did it on purpose and it was my perverted highlight of the day. About a month into the semester, my professor was reading a short story out loud in front of the class. I wasn’t paying too much attention so this is the only thing I heard. “Blah blah blah. Something something something nigga.” This man was white by the way.
My eyebrows raised up instantly. One of my friends, who served in the military, looked at me and whispered, “Did he just say what I think he said?” The professor continued reading. “Yada yada yada wham bam thank you ma’am nigga” My friend interrupted him and said “Excuse me but you using that word is very offensive to me and every black person in this class.” The professor replied, “I’m not trying to offend anybody, I’m just reading the story.” My friend shot back at him, “It doesn’t matter if it’s in the story. That doesn’t mean you have to say it.” Nobody said anything while they went back and forth. After about five minutes of them having this awkward exchange, my professor went back to reading. He didn’t say nigga again but at this point, my friend was saying to me, “I’m about to walk outta this fucking class. I ain’t letting nobody say the n word to my face like that. You walking out too right?” I looked at the professor sitting on one of the desks still reading and everybody staring at him like nothing just happened. At the time, I honestly wasn’t offended but I didn’t wanna leave my friend to fend for himself. It was one of those quick, this-can-alter-your-immediate-future decisions. My friend was 24 years old and extremely opinionated. At 19 years old, I wasn’t as easy to offend but this kind of stuff did matter. So I looked at him and said “Fuck it.” And we walked out. With every student’s mouth on the floor for some reason. We met with the dean of the school twice that following week. By the weekend, I was at his apartment with one of his other friends and some girl that worked at the Walmart gas station close by. Drinking and freestyling all night. The girl and his homeboy disappeared for about twenty minutes in another room. My friend walked in there. Then right back out. He said to me, ”We about to run a train on this bitch. You down?” You know those empty lots in certain neighborhoods where a house used to be? And sometimes those lots will have that random, neglected, struggling to survive bush nearby with the colorless leaves barely hanging on it? That’s what this girl’s weave reminded me of.
“According to a study from the University of Washington, the rift between healthy grub and junk food is wider than it’s ever been. Researchers were able to buy 2,000 calories of junk food for $3.52 — that’s an entire day’s caloric intake — where nutritious foods cost them a whopping $36 for the same 2,000 calories.”—10 Things You Didn’t Know About Food In The USA (via grandparemington)
I was in the shower this morning thinking about Native and what it took to finish that project. When I was done recording all of the vocals, it took about two weeks before I could say it was done. My best friend heard it first. Then Malcolm. Then my manager at the time, who sent an email a day or two later saying “Congratulations on such a dope record.” He had an idea to have this certain big name, music website to host the EP and they replied to us a week later saying they wouldn’t do it. The owner of the website emailed my manager directly and he gave three reasons. One, “He has a lot of room for improvement.” Two, “I don’t like the mix of the songs.” Three, “I know for a fact a couple of these beats are stolen.” My skin began to wrinkle in the shower at this point.
Something told me it was more to this story so I scheduled a conference call the very next night and asked my manager what his reply was. It took about ten minutes to get an answer out of him but he basically apologized to the owner because he “wasn’t aware of any of this.” Then my project went from being “dope” to “needing improvement.” There’s a trust that should exist between the artist and the manager but whatever trust I had left went out the window because it turned into a fight for my music. And I felt alone in the fight with only Malcolm in my corner. I yelled at my manager on the phone for at least an hour. I always had a suspicion that he didn’t believe in me but I never acted on it. I couldn’t control what I was saying. “You don’t say one thing to me, then hear somebody else’s negative opinion, and now all of a sudden that’s your opinion too.” He didn’t say too much on the phone. There’s more details that I won’t get into but the next day, I released the project without any help from him. What amazed me was how many people were mentioning me on Twitter. Letting me know they were listening to it, telling me their favorite songs, taking screenshots of the album cover to post on Instagram, DMing me just to show love. My contract with him expired in June and I haven’t talked to him since. Be careful about who you let around your art. It’ll make you scream and stress and lose your hair and randomly think about it almost a year later while you’re in the shower and write about it on a blog that you update two times a year.
“Fanatical readers tend to be broken people. The type of person who goes to see four movies a week alone is a broken person. Any medium that allows someone to spend monastic amounts of time by him- or herself, wandering the gloaming of imagination and reality, is doomed to be adored by lost, lonely people.”—Tom Bissel
About a month ago, I was at this bar called Double Door. It’s a bar where bands usually play but it was towards the end of the night so it was kinda empty. It was four men and two women in our group. As soon as we got there, I went to the bathroom. In the stall is where I realized how drunk I was. It was too difficult to keep my balance and for some reason I couldn’t stop laughing. When I came back to the bar, there were six beers and twelve shots waiting for us. I thought myself, “Nigga they want me to die.” I took one shot and the room starting spinning. One of the women in our group wanted to tell me how she met my cousin but wanted to tell me how she ended up in Chicago first. She’s only been here for a couple months. She talked nonstop for a good ten minutes as I nodded my head with a blank stare and a half smile. I don’t know what she was talking about so I hugged her repeatedly until she ran to the empty dance floor with her friend and danced to no music.
Last night I was at the Vertigo Sky Lounge. It’s a rooftop lounge where one half is indoors and the other half is outside so you can get a view of the city. This group included five men and five women. The women were sitting in this couch area on the outside section next to this fire display and I noticed a white couple standing nearby. Eventually they made their way to where I was standing and the woman said, ”Have you seen those girls over there? They are beautiful!” This led them to introducing themselves and somehow I got sucked into a conversation with the woman about race, this city’s segregation, and how “adorable and well-spoken” I am. Briefly I thought, “If I was white, I wonder if she would compliment my well-spokeness.” I didn’t want to get upset so I ignored it. She kept rubbing my skinny arms and my back until the women in our group walked past us and caught her attention. “You ladies are so beautiful, it’s driving me crazy. Do you guys know R.J.? He’s my favorite.” Long story short, I figured out that this couple were swingers and they were recruiting. Miley Cyrus was on SNL last night, which was on the television behind the bar. I pointed at it and said “Oh wow, I didn’t know she’d be on there.” The woman turned around and I ran off with the speed of Jesus. Sliding my way through the crowd into the indoors section. I stayed for a little bit longer then said my goodbyes to everybody. But you know what’s catching my attention more than anything now? Hugs. Some women give me the church hug and others give me the full body, few seconds too long hug. I can’t tell if the full body hugs are a form of flirtation or if it’s just the way some women hug. I guess it really doesn’t matter.