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Archive for July, 2014

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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Ten Years A New Yorker

July 9th, 2014 7 comments

Today marks my official New York Birthday. In 2004, I flew into JFK, a young, fresh-faced college graduate who finally accomplished one of my major life goals up until that point: Get a job at a major magazine in New York City.

That magazine was VIBE and the first job was as a fact-checker. As for residence, well, I didn’t have my own place yet, but I had a plan. My brother was already living here and would let me crash on his couch until I found a place of my own. Within a month of me landing in my new home, I was moving into a two-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights with my friend Ashley, who I met the summer before when we were interning at VIBE. For two years, we stayed there on W. 164 and Broadway, a block away from the ballroom where Malcolm X was assassinated.

Life was good, and even in hindsight it seemed too good to be true. Hugh, one of my best friends from college was living in Fort Greene, not far from three other former classmates of ours E, Neems, and Ash who shared an apartment. Every day, we would go back and forth exchanging emails, debating, talking smack, cracking jokes, then gather on the weekends at the girls’ apartment, the five of us acting out a real-life version of “Living Single.” Since I was the lone Uptown resident, I would either pack my stuff and take it with me to work or I would go home, pack, and then make the long trek from Uptown to Bed-Stuy.

I like to look at those first two years in New York City as an incubation period, my version of graduate school. Aside from the unexpected murder of my uncle, which happened in California two months after I left, there were very few real moments in my reality within those first 730 days I was here.

But then, very suddenly, everything started changing.

Hugh was leaving NYC for a new job opportunity, and my roommate was doing the same. This meant I was going to be here without one of my best friends and I had to look for a new place (and possibly a new roommate).

As luck would have it, I was able to secure an affordable one-bedroom apartment in Central Harlem, on 150th and Frederick Douglass (or, as the native New Yorkers call it, 8th Ave). I signed my lease and moved in, turned 25, and began a new chapter in my career as an editor at KING magazine all within the same week.

This morning, I woke up in that same apartment. It is one of the few things from my time here that has remained the same. Most of everything else around me has changed. Some of the changes were part of my plan, most of them were God’s plan for me, the only thing that has never been on the agenda is an exit plan. I’m sure that day will come, but one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned since moving to this city ten years ago is that this city and I are a good match.

I will always make sure people know I grew up in Seaside, California and that I am a proud alumni of Howard University, because my Pop told me to never forget where I came from. But today’s post is about where I am and have been for the past 10 years.

No one can seem to agree on how long one must live in New York before they become a New Yorker. I’ve heard some can become one in six months, but that’s a lie. In my first six months here, I still thought the train ride from Uptown to Brooklyn wasn’t too bad. Instead, I would like to think today, ten years after I picked up my luggage off a carousel and told a cab driver to take me to 792 Columbus Ave, I can now claim I’m a New Yorker. I’m not from here, but I am of here, and just like people tell me to this day they can hear the California accent when I talk, whenever I travel out of this city, people will think it makes sense when I tell them I’m visiting from New York.

To commemorate my 10th New York Birthday here are ten lessons I’ve learned about living in the concrete jungle.

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Free Agent Friends: A Collaboration with Black & Sexy TV

July 7th, 2014 1 comment

Are you familiar with the term “Free Agent Friends”?

It’s a term reserved for those who have decided to make the bumpy trek from lovers to friends and it’s the type of smart phrasing that can only be found in a series like “Hello Cupid.”

I have been a fan of this series since coming across it last year in the midst of a routine browsing of my Internet. The series, which is about two best friends Whitney and Robyn and their online dating shenanigans caught my eye because, well, admittedly, the actresses who play Whitney (Ashley Blaine Featherson) and Robyn (Hayley Marie Norman) are fine. But it didn’t take me long to get past the superficial and see a well-produced, sharp, fun web series that was just as good as anything on traditional television. Once they added in a male lead who goes by ProudDad aka Cassius (played by Brandon Scott), things got only more interesting and I was hooked. Before I knew it, I went through the whole first season, which didn’t take much time considering each episode was made-for-web, and no episode ran longer than 17 minutes.

Admittedly, this is a show I probably should have written about sooner, because if you’re a fan of this blog, chances are you might be a fan of “Hello Cupid.” But time sometimes has a way of revealing when it’s good for everyone, and that is exactly what happened when earlier this year, Black&Sexy TV, the production company behind “Hello Cupid” asked me to be a part of the series as a story contributor.

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