Moving In and Getting Out

November 5th, 2014 No comments

I love my apartment.

In New York City, that is not something very many people can say, so I consider myself fortunate. Here in this city, having a roof over your head that doesn’t leak is a blessing, so having one that you adore, well, that can make even a poor man like myself feel rich. If what they say is true about home being where the heart is, and there being no place like it, then you can find my heart in a one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a pre-war building deep in Central Harlem. My place is my baby.

When Gina and I first discussed living together, there was no talk of moving elsewhere nor was there talk of moving in with her. The latter discussion wasn’t even on the table because she was the one who lived with two other roommates. Besides, with the amount of money we would be saving if she moved in with me, it just made more sense for me to be the one making extra closet space for her belongings.

She’s now fully arrived, the last of her things retrieved over the weekend. Of course, there is still a lot to do including some clearing out of some of my old stuff, and some buying of new stuff where we can properly store old stuff. We need everything from pens for her dry-erase board, to shoe racks. The adjustments we’re making to this new lifestyle are mostly physical, but as everything around the place with which I’m most familiar begins to look different, so has my feelings towards it.

Gina has just moved into my apartment, but I already want us to move out, together. It’s not a space issue. The square footage of our apartment accommodates both of us just fine. My reasons for wanting us to move and live elsewhere together have more to do with truly feeling like we’re in lock-step towards building a life together.

This desire, to want us to establish ourselves on an equal playing field is shocking to me. Like many feelings I have come to experience since she’s come into my life, I had no idea her moving in would make me feel the ambivalence I now have towards my apartment. If someone were to offer a smaller place than the one we have right now, I don’t know if we would take it, but if we did, the biggest reason would largely be due to the fact that we get to start somewhere anew at the same damn time.

That idea, a fresh start together, is what enchants me these days. I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s like, cohabitation, in this brief time, has been great, but it’s merely scratching the surface of what I’m really trying to do with her. I don’t want to just live with my woman, I want us to create our own world together.

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Hey Boo: Five Reasons Halloween is The Best Night to Meet Someone

October 29th, 2014 No comments

Let’s get one thing straight: Of course I’m biased.

I met Gina at a Halloween party so naturally I’m going to think this Friday is perhaps the best day of the year for people to meet that potential special someone. This has nothing to do with cuffing season because in case you didn’t know, I am staunchly against cuffing season. This is more about great environments begetting great opportunity.

Whether it’s life-changing love or a one night stand, Halloween parties are your best bet to get whatever relationship you want. I believe this so much, I don’t even call it Halloween anymore so much as I call it “boo season” because the term more accurately describes the multiple benefits of October 31.

I always believed Halloween parties were great environments to meet someone, even before I met Gina. But meeting her at one certainly helps give me credibility in this niche, and no this guideline isn’t so any of you all can get like me. It’s just to help those who have yet to be truly enlightened as to why fright night is the right night to meet that special someone and here’s how you do it.

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What It Feels Like to Lose a Distant Friend in 2014

September 30th, 2014 5 comments

On Sunday morning, I logged onto Facebook and received terrible news. My friend from Howard University, Shomari Marlon Small died on Friday, September 26 in his native, Jamaica. The cause of his death as of this time is still unclear, and I am waiting to hear more details, which I am sure will come to me similar to the way news of his death came to me: On social media.

Shomari and I met each other as freshmen at Howard University. Coming from California, I wasn’t exposed to too many people like Shomari, which is to say I could probably count on one hand how many true Jamaicans I met prior to arriving at HU. Shomari’s island accent was thick to the point where I chuckled the first time he spoke. I had a lot of growing up to do back then, but Shomari did too because when he heard me speak, he laughed and said, “Yo, where are you from? Why do you talk like that?” I had never been to Jamaica, he had never set foot in California, and both of us were living in D.C., away from our families and all that was familiar for the first time.

Seeing as we were equally alien to not only our surroundings but to each other, we hit it off immediately. Some days, we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. He hipped me to beef patties, I put him up on sushi and raw seaweed my mom would send me in care packages. In those very early days at Howard we became more brothers than friends.

By the beginning of the second semester, Shomari and I still acknowledged one another as close friends, but the dynamic between us wasn’t like the first semester. We grew apart, not in spirit, but socially. By now we adjusted to life at Howard, made more friends who we would be seen with more often, developed other interests that kept us busy. He was a business major, I was a communications major, this meant often times a whole week could by before we ran into each other, since most of our classes were taking place on different parts of campus. Our relationship with one another continued on that path right up until he transferred out of Howard in 2003. We never had a chance to say goodbye to one another.

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The Intimacy of Being a Clumsy Boyfriend

September 26th, 2014 2 comments

When we talk about intimacy, we often conveniently leave out the part about vulnerability. Getting close with our partners requires more than getting naked in front of them, it’s showing imperfections we don’t want anyone to see.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around me knows I’m not nearly as smooth as I appear to be. I know I may come off as someone who is like water because on this blog or on social media, I’m well-spoken, articulate, and quick-witted, but I’m only not clumsy with my words. Physically, in person, I am fidgety, at times unkempt, and have the robotics of a clown. I may sound and at times dress like Stefan, but I move like Urkel.

My clumsiness, my tendency to run into stuff, to break and spill things, to slip and fall without anyone’s help used to not be a big deal. It used to be something I could laugh about and others would too. As a kid, my lack of spatial awareness could be dismissed by older people as cute. Look at Jozen falling over himself, isn’t that adorable?. In high school, I worked as a busboy, and I dropped so many plates as I took them to the dishwasher you would have thought there was a plate-breaking contest happening. Once again, it was laughed off by me and my co-workers.

Like other awkward parts about me, I figured at some point, this would be something I could grow out of. So instead of trying to be a more graceful person, I just worked on other parts of my game. It was social skills over motor skills.

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Other Questions You Can Ask A Victim of Domestic Violence

September 10th, 2014 3 comments

Let’s start with the facts: That we never know the full story. Whether it’s a domestic violence situation close to home or it’s one being played out on the news documented by security cameras, we will only know what we saw and what we’re told. Naturally, we all have questions, and most of them come from a good place, and valid, but some of them, while well-intended, are poorly executed.

Case in point, this question I have heard a lot since Monday when TMZ Sports released video footage of Ray Rice knocking out his wife Janay Rice in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel.

What did she do to provoke him?

Before I get into why this question is the last question anyone should ask, here is a list of five other questions I think are better suited for not only Janay Rice, but other victims of domestic violence as well. For the sake of this post, let’s just imagine the woman we’re talking to has come to us directly to tell us she and her partner got into an argument and he physically hurt her to the point where there was visible damage. Also, because unfortunately MOST domestic violence victims do not have the benefit of video footage and therefore reports must be taken at their word, let’s say this woman is someone we believe would have no reason to lie. She is reaching out to you because she would rather go to someone she loves/trusts/respects rather than the police.

Here are the questions I would ask if a woman I cared about said her partner assaulted her:

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Living With A Woman Again For The First Time

September 9th, 2014 2 comments

For the second time in my life, I am going to give cohabitation a shot. There’s a new couch in my living room, a new stand for the television, and a new dresser in the bedroom. Gina has a key to my place, and spends more time there than she does at her place. She is scheduled to be all moved in by the beginning of October, at the earliest, beginning of November the latest.

I have done this before, with someone else, back in 2007-2008. Longtime readers of the blog may remember when I first started writing this blog in 2009, many posts referenced my experiences living with my ex-girlfriend. For a refresher, here is a quick post I wrote almost four years ago. “The One Who Got Away”

One would think having gone through so much after my first experience with living with someone, I would know better than to do it again. That is, after all, how many people feel after they try and fail to do something the first time. They change the rules, convincing themselves such a decision will prevent them from the same outcome as before.

But, I have always maintained, living together wasn’t a mistake. Of course, many mistakes were made, most of them by me, but those mistakes would have been made even if she didn’t live with me. If I’m being honest, the closeness of our living together, the fact that I couldn’t hide (and tried in vain to do so) with the person I shared a bed with every night, is what eventually became my downfall.

In spite of those mistakes, and going through the pain of not only a breakup but it being compounded with her moving out process, I had a blast living with my ex. It was such a good experience, I came away convinced I would do it again, I just needed to be sure I changed things about myself for it to be successful.

The time that has passed since my last experience and this one I’m going into with Gina does not feel like it flew by. I wasn’t an uncle, my biological father was still alive, I never stepped foot inside a therapists’ office, and I had no idea what it was like to live life unemployed. That’s just a brief highlight reel of my experiences post-living with someone, but you get it. Things changed a lot once I was living on my own again. Even though Gina will be moving into the same apartment I once shared with someone else, she is not moving in with the same man who once lived there, and I don’t have the same life I had when I lived with someone the first time.

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Robin Williams: A Man Who Made My Whole Family Laugh

August 12th, 2014 No comments

When the news came across my Twitter timeline that Robin Williams committed suicide on Monday, I, like everyone was shocked and saddened by the news. I was also somewhat unsettled, like I usually am by most celebrity deaths. To mourn someone we don’t know on a personal level, demonstrates a certain sense of compassion, but when that person is a star, I always try to hold back my grief. As much as I have written about celebrities, interviewed them, and even enjoyed reading profiles about them, I have never been in the business of celebrity worship. These people, who entertain me, are appreciated, but not more than those I actually know, so I reserve a full range of emotions for those closest to me.

The loss of Williams is different.

Whether he played an animated genie, a cross-dressing father desperate to be with his kids, an adult-looking fifth grader with a crush on his teacher, a boy who could fly and never wanted to grow up, a doctor with unconventional methods of treatment, a widowed therapist with a unique approach to helping his only patient, I always took a piece of the characters he played with me.

I don’t know what jobs Williams had coming down the pipeline, I don’t know what movie or show he was slated to play in next. What I do know is whatever the role was, he was more than likely going to nail it and transform into yet another character that would probably stay with me for the rest of my life, because that’s what Williams always did.

I truly can’t think of one person who is talented the way Williams was talented. People can name me funnier comedians, they can cite better actors, but I can’t think of someone who had both of those gifts in abundance like Williams did. That man made my whole family laugh, together, at the same time. That made his talent more than entertaining to me; it was downright magical.

What I Learned From My First Vacation With My Woman

July 30th, 2014 3 comments

After I wrote last week’s post about preparing for my vacation to Austin with Gina, I heard a variety of responses. Some people told me traveling with a significant other was their way of finding out whether or not they were the right person for them, the ultimate test so to speak. Others said it didn’t make a difference at all, that if Gina was truly the one, a vacation with her wouldn’t change that no matter how things would unfold. That latter point was specifically something my friend Ace told me, and while I understood where he was coming from, I still felt like the trip would be an eye-opening experience for me and my relationship with Gina. It turned out I was right.

There were lessons, big and small, that I learned not only about myself, but Gina, and of course, Austin, Texas, a place neither of us had ever been. Those who follow me on Instagram were able to see I had a good time, specifically with stuffing my face full of some of the most delicious food I ever tasted, but here are some more thoughts and stories from my first adventure with Gina.

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The Most Important Trip of My Life

July 24th, 2014 4 comments

One of my married friends once told me the reason he and his wife travel so much is because they’re at their best when they are discovering somewhere new or going on a new journey together. He told this to me years ago, and it always stuck with me for three reasons:

The first reason was how he was able to pinpoint the exact thing that made he and his wife great together, besides sex. I thought that was dope.

The second reason was the thing itself, which was travel, was such an easy concept to grasp. I know he was only talking about him and his wife, and wasn’t doling that out as a piece of advice, but if I were writing a collection of great relationship advice, that would surely be included.

The third reason was “travel” could never really be that thing my partner and I enjoy together mostly because I am not much for traveling unless I absolutely have to for like weddings and funerals. I know that hasn’t been a sexy thing to say ever since the Wright Brothers figured out that whole flying thing. Every adult should have a driver’s license, a Costco card, and a passport, and I’ve read the profiles of enough single people to know that a desire to see the world is one of the most sought-after traits in a partner. But what can I say? I hate flying, therefore I don’t like to travel.

Gina is the complete opposite of me.

I don’t think we made it past our first date before I learned she is a girl who doesn’t need a funeral or a wedding to get on a plane. Whereas my idea of vacation is simply not having to use my subway pass to go into work, her idea of vacation is a boarding pass to some place in a different time zone. Once I realized Gina was the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life (right after we said goodbye on our first date), I knew I would have to get over my fear of flying in order to keep up with her.

Fast forward to last Friday, my 33rd birthday.

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Cracking The Relationship Code with ‘Guy Code’s’ Damien Lemon

July 11th, 2014 No comments

Not to brag or boast, but in case you haven’t noticed, there is a small trend developing here on this site when it comes to the comedians I interview. Not long after they allow me the opportunity to have a conversation with them for this site, they tend to blow up. Don’t believe me?

Behold, exhibit A: Kevin Hart for UIGM in 2010

And now, exhibit B: Hannibal Buress for UIGM in 2012

I have a feeling Damien Lemon is going to be next on the list, my exhibit C if you will. If you are a fan of MTV’s “Guy Code” you’re already hip to the way he can make something funny simply by the way he delivers his guy-isms.

But for those who haven’t seen him on the MTV series or haven’t witnessed him on stage, holding his own, you should check him out Saturday, at 12 AM. Damien will be the featured stand-up comedian on Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour.” Full disclosure: I’ve known Damien before he even started doing stand-up. He was working in marketing and events at VIBE when I was just starting myself, and off-top, he was not only one of the nicer people I met, he was also one of the funniest people. I don’t think there was one conversation I had with him that I didn’t laugh, and, as you can see in this clip, his funny isn’t an act. It’s a natural part of him. The same way he’s talking here is the same way he talks in casual conversation.

A few days before his Comedy Central debut, Damien was kind enough to give me some time so we could chop it up on a variety of topics. Schedules didn’t allow us to meet at our favorite spot for chicken in Harlem, so instead we talked on the phone about everything from how he’s handled his growing celebrity while being in a relationship to the tricky thing about giving advice to other guys. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

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