How To Talk About A Broken Family

April 24th, 2014 1 comment

I grew up in a family that could be termed many things: Non-traditional, blended, broken, or dysfunctional. Whatever you want to call it, for the past 50 years, Doyle was there. He was Doyle, he was Dad; throughout those years I referred to him either way depending on my mood or his. More so as dad in the later years and when speaking of him to others I always said, “My dad.”

Today, those words will be spoken by mother at my grandfather’s eulogy. Doyle died last Monday, April 14 at the age of 81 after a short battle with leukemia. The funeral will be in California. My mother and I talked briefly about whether or not I should fly out to attend, but times are lean these days, and we both quickly decided it would be best if I stay here, so I will not be attending. This was not an easy decision, but it also hasn’t been hard to accept.

Though I loved my grandfather (a man who I also referred to by first name and family title whenever it suited me), his death has not affected me deeply. I have cried, yes, but not over the loss so much as the toll it’s taken on my mother, on my grandmother. I was told my niece, who is three-and-a-half years old, and who did have a relationship with my grandfather, woke up in the middle of the night the night before he died and told my sister she doesn’t want “Grandpa to be an angel.”

That has been the only time I broke down.

Outside of that moment, even my closest friends are just finding out about my grandfather’s death as they read this post. I haven’t told my co-workers because there is no need for me to take off work nor has his death affected my performance. I am not “going through it,” as they say. Of course, Gina knows. I told her, and I’ve talked at length about things I feel during this ordeal, but opening up hasn’t been challenging, because as evidenced by this blog, expressing myself emotionally has never been an issue.

The biggest challenge for me, personally, is talking about the dynamics of my family in talking about my grandfather’s death.

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Why I’m Not Attending Church With My Girlfriend

April 15th, 2014 3 comments

On our very first date, Gina and I were already talking about our faith. She is Catholic and I am a former Catholic who now identifies as a practicing Baptist church goer. Even though we attend different churches of different faiths, I appreciated how both of us had a very similar outlook on the way we felt about our religious activities. Like me, Gina doesn’t evangelize to others nor sees a need to do so. Like me, she sees her faith as a personal thing that she keeps close to her chest. Like me, she doesn’t need to debate with other people who disagree with her faith, nor justify it to anyone, and she doesn’t need other people to attend church every Sunday with her.

Only two or three weeks had gone by before Gina started asking me if I wanted to go to church with her. This was right in the middle of the football season, and for years I have a tradition of going to my brother’s every Sunday to watch the games. It is he and I’s quality time, and I never have any qualms about choosing to be there instead of a service. Gina understood this, but to her credit, she never let it detour her from asking week in and week out. The one time I agreed was because the church she attends is literally around the corner from my brother’s and she was joining me to watch the Super Bowl at his place (and to meet him for the first time), so we went to a 5:30 mass that was so quick, Gina was convinced they ended it early because of the game.

I did not attend the mass kicking and screaming. There was no hesitation in my accepting her invitation, but if I’m being honest, I did feel like I was being put on the spot. I know that wasn’t Gina’s intent, that her timing was more a matter of circumstance than trickery, so I went, because if I declined, I knew it would send a message I was not entirely comfortable sending: Going to church is not important to me.

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Three Dating Tips For Guys I Gave on ‘Sway In The Morning’

April 11th, 2014 4 comments

Last week, I had the privilege of appearing on Sway In The Morning on SiriusXM Channel, Shade45 for a segment called First Aid with Kelly Kinkaid. I was brought in to discuss dating during the Spring/Summer season, but as with most live radio, things can unexpectedly go into a different direction.

I’ve gotten to the point now where most appearances don’t make me nervous, but admittedly, sitting down with Sway had me rubbing my hands on my jeans to get the sweat off. Personally, Sway has been one of my media heroes. His most remarkable trait is how straightforward he is with all his guests, no matter who it is. From the rapper we have never heard of to Barack Obama, Sway’s questions may change but the guy doesn’t. There is no code switching going on. He was sitting to my right, as you will see, and Kelly was on my left. Props to her as well for making me feel like I had the credibility to be given the platform to speak on this topic.

So I’m sitting in between both of them, and waiting for the questions come to me. I’m expecting us to talk about how to navigate the dating scene during the warmer months when folks start seeing more skin. This is a conversation I’ve prepared for in my head, but out of nowhere, Sway hits me with a question for which I was not prepared.

“What are three things, as men,we should be doing?”

I had no time to prepare for this question, but I have been asked a variation of this question so many times, I confidently listed the first rule I have. But no sooner do I say my first rule (more on that below) do I hear a bell. And all of a sudden, in my head, I’m thinking, “Oh, this is serious! I don’t even know if I have two more.”

Fortunately, I know how to think on my toes, and I was able to rattle off the other two. Admittedly, I liked these rules I came up with, so much so, I am now going to share and expound on them a little bit more here. You can watch my entire interview on Sway in The Morning with both he and Kelly Kinkaid at the bottom, but get these dating vegetables first!

Here are my three dating tips for guys:

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On Dating Exit Interviews

March 25th, 2014 1 comment

HuffPost Live invited me on a segment to discuss the idea of exit interviews for dating. For those who are not familiar with this practice, it’s pretty simple:

Two people go out on a date. One person feels as though the date was good enough for a second date, but the other person declines when asked or just never bothers returning calls or texts.

What gives?

Asking this question to the person who has declined the second date would qualify as an exit interview question. The purpose is to figure out what was so wrong with you (or them) and why there won’t be date number two.

If you watch the segment (embedded at the bottom of the post), you will see I fall on the side of being in favor of exit interviews. I don’t know if this is a trend in the dating world, but in my life, asking for an exit interview has always been the wave and if any of you knew what was good for you, you’d do the same.

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On Kissing: Just Go For It

March 11th, 2014 2 comments

There is a video being passed around today of strangers kissing in front of a camera. If you haven’t seen it, watch below before you get into the rest of the post.


The people are real, but the scenes are a fantasy. They all know the cameras are watching them, and they all know why they are there. In real life, two strangers never get down like that, at least, when they’re sober. So we can take this video for the entertainment that it is, more than the chemistry experiment some have made it out to be.

If you pay attention, you will see there are some revealing things here; lessons from which we can learn. For instance: Women can make the first move too. At 1:13, notice she is brushing up on him, and the way the guy is such a bundle of nerves, he stalls. In all of the scenes, watch the hands. As a professional kisser, I’ve always paid attention to what her hands are doing. You can’t see them, but they’re a good indicator for when things are going right. As intimate as lips pressed against one another can be, hands – touching the face, wrapping around the neck – tell us what pressure from lips cannot.

Perhaps the most important lesson each scene teaches is the value in just going for it.

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Five Things She’s Better At or Just as Good At as Me

March 6th, 2014 1 comment

One of the things I’ve had to adjust to since getting into a relationship is letting go or somewhat deferring things over to my woman. I will be the first to admit, even though I don’t buy into antiquated, dogmatic ideas of gender roles, I do want to be a man for my woman at all times.

But like most men, I have come to realize I have my limits and perhaps the manliest thing I can do is let her handle things when she says she can or is perfectly capable. Here is a short list of awkward moments when I’ve had to let Gina be great.

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About That Life…Together

February 27th, 2014 3 comments

Last week, after we wrapped up the final episode of House of Cards’ second season, Gina said, “I don’t ever watch that much TV.” That wasn’t shade thrown in my direction, even though I’m the one responsible for getting her hooked on the show. I understood what she meant as do most of us who watch HOC. That show is a marathon, even when we exercise a sort of portion control. Watching only one episode, knowing the next episode is just a click away, is a feat no one I know has figured out how to master.

But her comment did have me thinking how the two of us spend time together. I understand our relationship is still in its newborn phase, but we have spent a significant amount of that time together. Since she’s come into my life, I can honestly say the both of us have spent more time with each other than anyone else. And so there’s enough of a sample size to spot a trend in how we spend time together. When I thought about it, I realized, we very rarely have a quiet night inside watching something on television.

We like to party.

The same weekend we wrapped up House of Cards, we also worked on our individual projects together at a coffee shop. Then there were a couple of hours she spent cleaning up her place while I prepared things for my next trivia night. We were going to go running on Saturday, but what had happened was…We went out on Friday. We probably would have ran on Sunday, but what had happened was…we went out on Saturday. Both nights we were out until at least 3 AM. On Sunday night, went to go see Schoolboy Q and if it wasn’t for the fact that I was exhausted, we might have gone to the dance party that was happening in the same venue afterward.

I thought to myself, Damn, I haven’t slowed down since I’ve been in a relationship. If anything, I’m out more.

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E.D.A (Electronic Displays of Affection) With My Girlfriend

January 23rd, 2014 7 comments

At first, it was about other girls.

I needed to tell them there was someone new in my life, and I didn’t want them finding out on Instagram. I wanted to be straight up, so I reached out to the ones I knew would care about seeing me with a new woman and give them the heads up. Others reached out to me before I even had a chance to tell them what was happening, making assumptions that, while correct, were still premature. But I was thankful they did the heavy lifting for me.

Moves like this always sound extra and unnecessary to outsiders or even people who are on the receiving end of the type of news I was delivering. I, for one, always believe in the power of saying nothing. That sort of move speaks volumes. But with social media a part of our everyday being, people we aren’t even talking to have an ability to hear us. People who were once in our lives, by our side, still exist on our screens, in our phones. And going through the trouble of blocking, de-friending, and deleting, well, it just seems to be more trouble than letting them know what was going on with me. If they chose to respond to my news with those actions, that’s fair, but I wasn’t about to go to such lengths. Besides, I don’t have blocks on my accounts. I’m sure they would still be checking me out from afar even if they did go to such lengths to act like I don’t exist.

Once I delivered my news like 3 Stacks, the hesitation to share still pulled at me. Now there were other people to worry about, and most of them were people I have never met in real life.

For the past couple of months I have been on cloud nine. The people in my inner circle have noticed it, my mother hears it in my voice on the phone. None of that is to say I was unhappy before Gina came into my life. Quite the contrary, everything was going just fine. You can say, I was on cloud eight, enjoying life, feeling blessed, and excited about what each day held. But she elevated all of that to the next level, and that’s where I’ve been for most of this winter.

Like most good things in my life, I had a desire to share it, but even after telling other girls I dated that we would no longer be dating, I held back because everything with my current girlfriend was and is still new. And I’ve seen it numerous times, electronic displays of affection (EDA) can make fools out of us all.The last relationship I was in fizzled in less than three months and when we got back together, less than three weeks. There is very little online evidence that we even existed, besides a couple of blog posts I wrote last year, and in hindsight, the minimal amount of EDA looks like it may have been the best move. Quite naturally, with this new relationship, I should follow the same script, right? Because, who knows? I could be single again tomorrow, says the cynic who lives in my head and likes to dance around in it every now and then.

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Year-End Review: On My Career as a Writer

December 30th, 2013 11 comments

If I had to use Facebook to update my relationship status with my career in 2013, I would say it’s complicated.

Depending on who you ask, or when you ask, writing is either hard or easy. But no one who is a professional writer will ever tell you being a writer is easy. It isn’t. Being a writer is not doctor hard or lawyer hard or science hard or even maybe banking hard. It’s not emotionally draining like teaching or being a social worker, and it’s definitely not taking a toll on my body like construction does on my brother.

What makes being a writer so difficult is the way the profession fucks with my head. From wrestling with words and phrases (like when to curse and not to curse), to getting published, to chasing opportunity after opportunity only to be chasing check after check. From trying to write that article for the publication who said yes, to trying to write that pitch letter for the publication we want to say yes, to writing that book proposal to create our own work so we will no longer have to be begging to write for others….I could go on, but you see it, so I digress.

My life in some ways still moves like the way I just described, but this year I was able to smooth things out a little bit. I’m still at the New York Post, and this year, I even picked up another job in my profession as a contributing editor at The Root. There, I write a weekly column called “His Side,” which I encourage all of you to check out. And of course, I still have this blog, which many of you still read.

Thank you.

The biggest breakthrough I had this year as a writer was internal. For the first time ever, I finally found the confidence to say I’m a good writer. That’s something people have told me most of my life, and it was always nice to hear. Sometimes, I even believed those voices myself, but this year I was finally saying it to myself. It was a good feeling to have, and it was also very scary, which is why I say things were complicated this year.

For the first time ever, I started wondering if there was something else other than writing I could do.

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Year-End Review: On Friendship With Women

December 26th, 2013 1 comment

Time for me to do some verbal genuflecting on things I’ve learned about myself and/or life in the 2013. For long time readers who may be scratching their heads and thinking they missed past year-end reviews like this, don’t worry, you didn’t.

This is something I thought to do through a combination of it being the time of year when everyone is recapping something from the past 12 months and a lot on my mind lately. You know how it is in the last week of December: Even if we shut of all media to avoid reading any year-end lists, our own internal clocks have a way of waking us up and next thing we know, we’re up thinking, “Well damn, another year has come and gone.” I do this all the time and now I’m deciding to share some of what’s in my head with you all.

In my circle, it’s fair to say, I have more women who I would call friends, than men. That is not to say, I’m closer with them. The men I acknowledge as friends are men I have known for years. Whereas I can think of only one woman who I’m as close to today as I was freshman year, the men in my inner circle are guys who I can say I first met walking through Drew Hall, Howard University’s freshman male-only dormitory. Most of the women I would call friends are more recent fixtures, mostly people I acquired throughout my time in New York City.

The nature of my friendships between the two groups (men and women) have their differences and rightfully so. If there’s one thing I have learned about being friends with women, it’s that they’re not men. That kind of realization is probably why so many men are opposed to being in platonic relationships with women: If we’re going to be arguing with a woman, at least let it be with a woman who can offer up some make-up sex. I certainly get it, Lord knows the apologies I’ve had to make to women I am not having sex with sometimes even had me frustrated.

This year, one of my friend’s didn’t talk to me for two weeks because I flaked on plans we made for her to help me decorate my apartment. Another one of my friend’s gives me crap over most things that aren’t necessarily wrong, but with which she doesn’t necessarily agree. Then there are women who have been upset with me because I didn’t check on them when they were down, the way I said (or didn’t say) bye to them before I finished the conversation, and a couple of other things that no man in my life has ever given me crap about, but the women I call friends have called me out on.

And yet, the women I can say are my close friends have made me a better man.

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