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Today I’m 32, Here Are 32 Things I’ve Learned

In honor of turning 32, I’ve decided to share 32 things I’ve learned. If you want to do something for my birthday, read it, please. Thank you!

1. Mornings are the best time of day.
The only time this is not true is when you’re hungover.

2. The key to breakfast is the eggs.
If your eggs aren’t made right, your whole morning is ruined.

3. The key to mornings is the coffee.
I take mine with whole milk, no sugar, and prefer it brewed in a French press. In NYC, my favorite place to get a cup is La Colombe. At home, I’m currently trying Bullet Proof coffee with a spat of unsalted butter instead of the milk.

4. Iced coffee is great if you also freeze the coffee cubes.
Bonus points if you want to make some milk cubes too.

5. People say I hate brunch. They’re right.
Sort of…it’s really brunch culture that I despise. This idea that I need $15 french toast to go with my party, or I need a party to go with my $15 french toast is maddening. I like brunch, I just prefer it to be either home made or with one other person seated at the bar.

6. Packing your own lunch saves you money, but it still sucks.
This year I decided I would pack my own lunch. Anyone who works with me will tell you I’m pretty disciplined about this. What they don’t know is I hate it. I hate every minute of it. Note to my future girlfriend who may or may not become my wife: I will cook dinner. I will cook breakfast. Just please, baby, please, pack my lunch for me? Thank you.

7. Actually, it’s about the snacks.
Fruit salads, almonds, yogurt, sliced apples and peanut butter. These are things I pack in addition to my lunch, and they are what gets me through the day.

8. Arugula is the best lettuce.
Except for tacos, in which case it’s iceberg lettuce.

9. Raisins are the worst.
Whether it’s trail mix or oatmeal cookies, raisins are the most unnecessary thing you can put in your mouth. Have you ever had something with raisins and thought to yourself, This should have more raisins in it. No you haven’t.

10. I hope I never find the perfect taco.
The quest for such a thing is better than the actual discovery of it.

11. Drake is properly rated.
We can discuss this if you’d like, and I won’t try to prove you wrong, but I will exhaust you in my efforts to prove myself right until you tap out.

12. Church is my spiritual gym.
Going is hard, but I’m always happy I went when I leave.

13. Peace of mind is priceless.
It’s why I go to church.

14. It may not be fatherhood, but unclehood is fantastic.
On my mother’s side, I’m my grandmother’s first grandchild and the first nephew for my three uncles (one of whom was killed in 2004). When I was growing up, the love these men showed me knew no bounds. They have children of their own, to whom they are great fathers. But I was always in awe of how much they made me feel like a son too. I didn’t get it. Then, three years ago, my sister gave birth to my niece. One day I will have a family of my own, God willing, and I will adore my own children with all my heart. But my niece will remain just as important forever and always. I can’t wait for the day I convince my sister to put her on a plane to visit Uncle Jozen.

15. Love doesn’t cost a thing, but family is expensive.
Speaking of a family of my own: Yes, I want one, starting with a wife. But one of the most jarring things I’ve encountered in my own life is how much of a reality money has become, and how big of a factor it is. I’m not going to say money is the reason I’m not married. But there have been two women I’ve wanted to be with for the rest of my life, and I was never in a position where I could afford a ring to put on their finger. Maybe the importance of such a thing is all in my head, but hey, it’s my head, and therefore it’s important to me.

16. As for my own money problems, they’re like Everest…
But I’m making the climb upwards. I’ve started seeing a financial planner at this organization called Neighborhood Trust. They offer free financial services and planning to NYC residents. John Figureroa is my guy. He’s helped me tremendously just by virtue of laying out all the numbers and showing me what I need to do to manage my debt. I also recently got a second job. In college I often worked two jobs, and when I graduated I thought those days were over. It turns out they weren’t, but I’m okay with that. My 20s were for spending, my 30s are for saving and budgeting.

17. Ladies, buy your man Oud & Bergamot Cologne Intense by Jo Malone
Or, you know what, don’t. Unless you’re comfortable with women constantly smelling his neck. But men, buy it for yourself. An ex of mine bought me a bottle, when we were together, and it changed my life. I did four short sprays on the front, back, and sides of my neck, then leave my apartment basking in greatness. Grown men would step to me on the humble and say, “Hey man, I’m not trying to hit on you or anything, but what are you wearing?” Women would be like, “You smell so good, here’s my number.”

18. I date all sorts of women these days.
For years I proudly proclaimed my love for black women, wore it like a badge of honor, as though it gave my mixed ass a dose of authenticity. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less exclusive about who I date. I won’t apologize for it either, what I will apologize for is thinking dating black women actually made me worthy of some props or was progressive in any way. There was never a point in time where I told myself I would stop dating black women altogether or make it a point to date women from other ethnic groups. It happened naturally. I started to meet more women who though not black, fascinated me and attracted me as much as every other woman I dated prior. Not dating them simply because they didn’t check off the same boxes as most women I dated on their census form seemed not only childish, but unfair to me. So I turned off the part of my brain that was holding me back, and started dating who I felt was most interesting. Yet, even when I started letting go of my pre-occupations with only dating black women, I was still having trouble looking at non-black women as just a woman I liked. They were, for lack of a better word, “different” and not in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, I knew for a fact, most women who were dating me didn’t see me as their exotic token. By virtue of much practice (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), I can definitely say today, I no longer have those hangups. But please, hold any applause. This isn’t an instance of me smartening up, so much as it is being less dumb.

19. It’s about the humanity in people.
As a mixed man, I have tried on many hats of identity. The journey thus far, has been a beautiful one, but I no longer care what people think I am and I no longer care about giving them signs or clues so they can guess correctly. When folks say they don’t see race, they think they’re doing us a favor. I’d much rather you see it then not. All I ask is you don’t stop there. Get to know folks.

20. I have the most American of names and it tells a beautiful story.
Jozen Pedro Cummings. But yeah, you can call me Pedro. Just not Joe.

21. It really gets on my nerves when people think the J is silent.
It’s Joe-zen, not Ho-zen. I’m not a ho.

22. I have to dress a certain way to not look like the help.
The security people at my office wear navy blue suits. This is why I don’t wear a navy blue suit to work. The last thing I need is someone believing I’m security. That’s not elitist, it’s just I’m not security. You all don’t even know my struggle. I know it sucks to be followed around the store because people think you’re going to steal. But trust me, it also sucks being followed around the store because people think you work there.

23. This is why I refer to my mom as Ms. Rita.
My mother is super big on manners. If you walked into her house and didn’t say hello, I’d have to justify why we were friends. If you left the house without saying thank you, I had to convince her you weren’t a bad person. If you called her Rita, you weren’t allowed back in the house. Should anyone meet my mom, they’re going to know how to address her properly from jump. I don’t want any problems.

24. I pop a Pepcid AC or some other antacid before I drink liquor.
An Asian friend of mine put me onto the powers of antacids before you drink. I get what they call the Asian glow. I don’t know if this entirely true, but supposedly many Asians lack an enzyme that allows us to break down alcohol quickly. What happens as a result is we get very red in the face. Before I’m even drunk, I look like a beet. So my friend Nelly once told me to prevent this, take a Pepcid AC. I still get a little red, but at least I’m not glowing these days.

25. Getting into shape was the best decision I’ve made in my adult life.
Nothing really more to say here. Well, actually…

26. A six-pack is the best gift a man can give to himself.
Look, man, I’m not here to tell anyone to get in shape. No one told me to do it. And honestly, it’s way more important to be healthy than to look like a walk-on extra for 300. But dude, honestly, if you do one thing for yourself in the name of vanity, make it some crunches, three times a week.

27. Or be strong enough to pick your woman up.
I’ve said this before, in another post, but men, you gotta be able to pick your woman up. You don’t have to muscles or a six pack or anything like that, just have the strength to put her over your shoulder or allow her to jump in your arms and wrap her legs around you. If you can do that, you don’t have to worry about her finding someone who can.

28. The best day and time to go out on a date is 2:00 PM on a Saturday.
Trust me on this. Just trust me.

29. Getting dumped is still worse than being dumped.
Before my last relationship, I hadn’t been dumped in a long time. I was doing most of the letting go and ending things. After doing it so many times, I started to feel worse about myself, and as a result, started to feel like I was actually in pain too. That wasn’t pain. Maybe guilt, but not pain. Pain is when someone you love says they love you too, but not enough to be with you anymore.

30. Get used to thinking about them everyday.
People try so hard not to think of those they want to forget. I’ve given up on that fight. I think about them everyday. You get used to it.

31. Men and women can be friends.
Any woman who thinks differently is no friend of mine.

32. Friends can become lovers.
I don’t want to be with a woman that is not my friend first. That has been the biggest takeaway I’ve seen in my friends settling down. I’m sure they argue with their wives and wives to be, but when I see them together, I see that friendship they have and that’s what I want for myself.

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  • Soolaabee

    Number 30 is a great lesson! Enjoyed reading these and happy birthday

  • Uptowninfluence

    LOL 21… Thanks for the clarification! Happy birthday Jozen!

  • HauteKokoa

    Number 27 is so true yet so many men ignore its importance. Tisk Tisk. PS.I Love reading your blog 🙂 Happy Birthday love!

  • Anike

    Great article and haha @ “Asian Glow”. Yeah, it’s true that a high percentage of people of Asian descent lack the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. I guess med school didn’t lie to me after all!

  • keisha brown

    yes. raisin bran. LOL.
    and !!!!!!!! @ 27.

  • Leigh Brown

    I was cracking up the entire time while reading this!!

    Happy Birthday!!

  • Agatha Kubalski

    I’m with ya….hate raisins, love drake! seriously though, great post.

  • Karizma H

    This was one of the best posts that ive read lol. You make me wish to find and fall in love with a man like you.

  • Rebekah

    It’s always a pleasure reading your growth. I’ve been a big fan of your blog for a few years. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy but I look forward to reading about the lucky woman you find to be your wife.

  • Maxine Shaw

    I was looking at that cologne for my dad – 25th anniversary coming up for my folks, so the gifts have to be on point – and nearly fainted when I saw the price. Gotta warn folks next time.