Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Aspire to Inspire before you Expire

This past Saturday, my fiancée and I were attending our weekly premarital counseling sessions at the church. The class is full of other couples preparing for their weddings and also a few couples already married looking to enrich their marriage. This was our 9th class out of the 12 week course. Anyway, midway through the program, the facilitator informed the class that there was another program going on in the church that he wanted us to briefly attend if we had time. So a number of us ventured downstairs to the fellowship hall where they were having a prayer breakfast for Breast Cancer Awareness. Those in attendance primarily consisted of Cancer survivors, caregivers, family and friends. As I walked into the room, I sort of felt uncomfortable. All the folks attending the prayer breakfast were dressed up and looking sharp and here I was wearing some jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers. However, we were extended a friendly greeting and ushered to some tables in the back of the hall.

I sat there listening quietly to a number of people from different organizations talk about Cancer and how they are trying to assist those dealing with the disease. From that point the various victims of Cancer stepped to the podium one by one and told their stories. Each one of them shared personal testimonies of their trials and tribulations. They talked about the pain they endured, yet how their belief in God remained strong. It was very emotional at times. People began to shout "Hallelujah" all over the fellowship hall and began to praise God aloud. I began to reflect upon the family members that I have lost over the past few years from Cancer and those who are currently dealing with it. I thought about the months of pain management treatment that I underwent in 2004 at the Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital after the electrocution 2 years before that in 2002. I used to sit in the waiting room at the hospital and talk to Cancer patients while there for my appointments. Although dealing with pain from internal burns to areas in my chest, I knew that those folks were suffering much more than I was. Yet, most of the people I encountered there were pleasant and in good spirits.

Sitting in the fellowship hall that afternoon and listening to the testimony of those women, made me feel as though the pain I've been dealing with was small in comparison. The song Running Away by Bob Marley came to mind when he sang "Every man thinketh his burden is the heaviest. Who feels it knows it, Lord". I wasn't dealing with anything at all. I'm listening to these beautiful women talk about having their breasts removed and going through surgery after surgery after surgery. It humbled me in a way. It wasn't just the fact that they talked about the struggles that they went through, but more for the joy and zest that they had for life. Yes, there were many moments where I got teary eyed. It was impossible not to get emotional in that environment.

One of the themes that the keynote speaker spoke about towards the end of her speech was to "aspire to inspire before you expire". That phrase has been stuck in my head since Saturday afternoon. I've been pondering that thought and have begun to ask myself a number of questions. What is my purpose? What do I aspire to be? How can I inspire others to greatness? What do I need to do before I expire?

I suppose the reality is that we don't really know who we impact by our words or our actions. How much of an impression do we have on the world? How much better would our lives and the lives of others be if with each action we had the intention to inspire? Instead of just trying to make it through each day and along the way complaining about our circumstances, we were devoted to being the best that we could be? What if we all believed that by being genuine that we could motivate and light a spark of positivity in others?

I honestly realized the power of my writing when I wrote a blog entry in April 2005 in remembrance of my best friend who committed suicide. I had no choice but to write that day because my heart was heavy. It's not a situation that I like to discuss that often, but I felt the need to talk about it that day. I received only a few comments on that entry, but the response by email was overwhelming. A lot of folks who either were contemplating suicide, were close to someone who committed suicide or dealing with depression or family issues of some sort in their lives emailed me. A number of people thanked me for sharing my story. I even held email conversations with some of those folks about their sadness.

Many of the people who mailed talked candidly about their own problems. Sometimes people are dealing with things and feel like they’re alone. I’m no different. At times I'll read something that someone has written and it will touch my heart or hit close to home. You never know who you may help by telling your story. I did feel like I was able to help some folks that day. Folks that I don't know or have never met. But people who may have been at the end of their rope. I miss my man Eddie, but I feel like if I continue to talk about the situation, that it may help someone going though a crisis, while at the same time it is therapeutic for me as well. Some of my entries are of a serious nature, while some show my sense of humor. I’ve always been a writer and this forum allows me to scratch the itch of a young kid who at one time wanted to be a journalist.

Reflect upon a time in your life when someone had a huge influence upon you. Maybe something that they said or did facilitated a positive change in you. Maybe their words gave you a boost of confidence or the desire to move forward and not look back. It could've been anybody from a school teacher to a famous athlete or entertainer to a close friend or maybe even a total stranger. No matter who that person was, they quite possible made a strong impact in your life. It could've been from one simple sentence to long conversations over an extended period of time.

Many times it's the little things that mean so much to us in the larger scope of life. It's the indiscernible force field of positive energy that inspires us to believe in the possibilities, to be valiant and tenacious and to move forward. However because everything we say or do is not necessarily acknowledged, we'll never know the true impact that we have upon others. Nevertheless, each of us have positive spirits within us. We all have the power to invigorate and affect others. If we live our lives with the desire to spark positive vibes and to inspire others, just imagine how wonderful that would be.

Just food for thought y'all. Have a good day.



Monday, October 30, 2006

Take the bitter with the sweet

On a sad note, Red Auerbach died on Saturday night of a heart attack. Red was the President of the Celtics and was responsible for bringing 16 world championships to the Boston Celtics organization. As I've mentioned a number of times on this blog, I am a true Celtics fan. I've became a fan watching Tiny Archibald play in the late 70's, early 80's. Anyway, I met Red Auerbach when I was about 10 years old. My dad was working for the Washington Bullets at the time and I was at Capital Centre for a Bullets-Celtics game. Pop introduced me to Red and his brother Zang a few hours before the game. During the game I sat in the row directly across from him and he even got me an ice cream cone. Contrary to his public image of being tough, he was really a nice, friendly guy. I'll never forget that day.

Statements On Red Auerbach


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On a much happier note, I'm truly excited right now about the Cowboys victory over the Panthers tonight. When the game started with us down 14-0, I had to take a deep breath. But with QB Tony Romo at the helm, the team fought back and took care of business. He found Terrell Owens early and often. Both Julius Jones and Marion Barber ran like madmen. Roy Williams made a key interception and the D stepped up and made huge plays. I'd also like to take a moment to thank Keyshawn Johnson for his crucial drop of a sure TD in the 3rd quarter and the rest of the Panthers offense for playing awful in the 2nd half. Oh well, can't ignore the final results Cowboys 35 Panthers 14. Next week we've got the Redskins. Best believe I'll be at FedEx Field next Sunday with my Cowboys gear on, talkin' trash and rooting for my 'Boys.

That's about all I've got for today.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Three Things

It's Friday and this is a meme that I found a while ago. However, I've waited until now to actually complete it. Anyway, here it is...

01 | Dumb people
02 | Snakes
03 | Corrupt police officers

01 | Khari
02 | JT
03 | My nieces (yeah, all 3 of them)

01 | Family
02 | Music
03 | Anything strawberry

01 | People who can’t drive
02 | Liars
03 | People with no sense of humor

01 | Politics
02 | Women who can’t cook
03 | Homosexuality

01 | Digital camera
02 | Spool of blank CD's & DVD's
03 | Bible

01 | Eating a cupcake
02 | Drinking glass of milk
03 | Watching Def Comedy Jam on OnDemand

01 | Start my own business
02 | Get married to fiancee
03 | Have children with wife

01 | Bend pinky finger backwards to touch back of hand
02 | Fix almost anything electronic
03 | Get my hustle on

01 | Anything math or science related
02 | Swim
03 | Dance

01 | Laid back
02 | Silly
03 | Sarcastic

01 | Very creative & resourceful
02 | Dimples
03 | Great sense of humor

01 | Quick temper at times
02 | Lazy at times
03 | Eat sweets too much and too late at night

01 | God
02 | Your Mom
03 | Your gut feeling

01 | George Bush
02 | Jealous and/or broke friends
03 | Puff Daddy's Forever

01 | Yeah aiiiight
02 | Whateva
03 | Huh?

01 | Homemade macaroni & cheese
02 | BBQ chicken
03 | Sweet potato pie

01 | Powerade
02 | Inko's White Tea
03 | Canada Dry Ginger Ale

01 | What’s Happenin’
02 | That’s Incredible
03 | Good Times

01 | Turks & Caicos
02 | Italy
03 | Hawaii

01 | G-Money
02 | Juice
03 | NahLaterz

01 | Blackreign
02 | Juiceman
03 | Black Aquaman

01 | Midnight (cat)
02 | Taffy (hamster)
03 | Cleo (Great Dane)

01 | www.youtube.com
02 | www.espn.com
03 | www.sohh.com

01 | Better patience/tolerance
02 | How to really use Photoshop
03 | The recipe for Grandma's Pistachio cake

01 | Gasoline
02 | Baked sweets in the kitchen
03 | Success

01 | Burnt microwave popcorn
02 | Filthy restroom
03 | Chitterlings

01 | Richard Pryor's Moving
02 | Boyz N The Hood
03 | The Wiz

01 | When nieces were born ('01, '02, '03)
02 | Graduating from Howard University ('00)
03 | When brother & sister were born ('82, '83)

01 | Being electrocuted on-the-job ('02)
02 | Eddie's death ('95)
03 | Broke wrist playing basketball ('87)

01 | Sports writer
02 | Comedian
03 | Film Director

01 | Download and burn music
02 | Talk trash
03 | Collect sports memorabilia

01 | Losing a loved one or close friend
02 | Migraine headaches
03 | Bills

01 | Dallas Cowboys
02 | Boston Celtics
03 | New York Mets

01 | Basketball
02 | Flag Football
03 | Tennis

01 | Costco
02 | Health food store
03 | Target

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

$3.35 an hour

The image “http://www.chocolatecityweb.com/BlogPics/Oct2006/baskin2.jpg”

First of all, don’t ask me why I’ve kept this paystub for 19 years. I’m a packrat okay. I mean, how many people still have the first paystub from the first job they ever had? Now, on to the story.

It was my 10th grade year of high school. I was 15 years old and really wanted a job, but wasn’t sure where to apply. Most of the kids I knew were either hustling drugs, working at fast food joints or doing nothing. I had spent the past 2 summers working down at the print shop in the alley, but they closed at 5pm each day and I didn’t get home from school until almost 4 o’clock. I really liked cleaning up the print shop cuz they paid me in cash, but it was time for me to find a real job. One day while riding my bike through the city, I saw a sign in the window at Baskin-Robbins. I don’t remember exactly what the sign said, but it either said “Help Wanted” or “We’re Hiring”. Anyway, I chained my bike to a nearby tree and walked inside. I recognized a girl that I went to school with. I didn’t know her, but I had seen her a few times. She was kinda fly too and had those real big earrings with her name in them. It surprised me that she was working there. She seemed more the type to have a drug dealer boyfriend and not have a job herself. I asked for an application, sat down and filled it out. I left without ordering anything and went home.


A few days later the manager at Baskin-Robbins called me for an interview. I don’t really recall what happened in the interview, but I know that I was nervous. However, the offered me the job. Maaaaaaaaaan… I was so excited, I was gonna be the ice cream man. They were gonna pay me $3.35 an hour to work about 4-5 hours each day. That was good money to me back then. I was gonna get paid to serve and eat ice cream. There wasn’t a job better than that one. It was better than working fast food and coming home smelling like burgers and fries every day. The first few weeks on the job were cool. All my friends came by and of course wanted me to hook them up. I never gave away anything, but sometimes I scooped a lil’ bit more than I was supposed to as a hook-up. One day the manager saw me doing this and after the ‘customer’ left, she asked me if I had forgotten how big the scoops were supposed to be. For the next few days they made me scoop the ice cream and weigh it on the digital scale. It had to be 4 oz and anything more/less than .5 I had to rescoop. That was a pain I tell ya. Every day after working my shift I had to take a very long hot shower. I’d have dried up ice cream all over my clothes, my arms and at times my face or my hair.

After a few months, they gave me a raise to $3.65 an hour. I was really happy with that. However, I started to not like the job as much. When the warm weather hit, the lines would be out the door. I would sometimes scoop from the moment I walked in the door, til the time came for us to close. Going into the big freezer to replenish the ice cream was no joke either. I've heard those horror stories when someone robs the place and they make folks get in the freezer. I understood how they didn't survive on most of those occasions. That thing was ice cold and I was only in there for a minute or two. Alos, I always hated when folks would come right as we were closing. It would be 9:56 and I'd be headed to the front door, only to be greeted by a family of 6. Those were always the people who had no idea what they wanted, so we had to sat and wait for them to make up their minds. From the first day I started working I took ice cream home. We were allowed to make whatever we wanted to for ourselves to take home each night. But after a number of months, I grew tired of ice cream. I would still bring stuff home, but it would be for Mom or the house. I always made sure we had Egg Nog and/or Pumpkin ice cream for the holidays. I had gone through all 31 flavors and then some. I was able to determine what flavor was what, just by looking at it. I didn’t want to eat anymore banana splits or pound cake ala modes. I even grew tired of eating strawberry ice cream and that was my favorite. All in all I was tired of Baskin-Robbins ice cream. On occasion I would trade my ice cream on the days I worked, with friends who worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken (wasn’t just KFC back then), Mickey Deez or the local pizza joint. They wanted dessert and I wanted food, it was the perfect trade off.

I left that job after about year or so. I left that gig for the Dunkin’ Donuts which was right up the street. That was an adventure in itself. This was long before the two companies merged together. I don’t think I ate ice cream for close to 2 years after that. I just couldn’t get myself to eat any. If I recall, when I did go back to eating ice cream I bought a ½ gallon of Edy’s. However, after a few years I did go back to Baskin-Robbins. In fact, I would go back to the one I worked at. I would at times mess with the cashiers and say something like “Is the emergency alarm button still to the right underneath the counter?” or “Now you know boss lady would be mad if she saw how big those scoops were”. I would always get a funny look from them when I said things like that.

The one thing a lot of folks don’t know about Baskin-Robbins is, they use different size scoops depending upon what you’re getting. If you order a 2 scoop sundae, then they’ll give you two 2.5 oz scoops and then add the toppings. However if you order just two plain scoops, then you’ll get two 4 oz scoops. The trick to getting more ice cream for your money is to just ask for two scoops. Let them think that you only want two scoops and nothing else. Then after they put the scoops in the cup, ask for your toppings. On occasion you’ll get an employee that’ll tell you that you’ll have to pay extra or that they have to rescoop if you want a sundae. I’ve even had managers get mad at their employees after seeing how I got around the small scoops. I remember one day when the manager screamed at this Black girl working there. She hollered “You know better than to use big scoops with the sundae”. I took up for the young lady and hollered back at the manager “Maaam, she was only doing what I asked her to do. You have no right to talk to her in that tone and disrespect her in front of your entire store like that. I asked for the large scoops with the toppings in that fashion and I’m willing to pay extra for what I want. You won’t have any employees if you talk to them like that!” The manager remained silent and walked away. The young girl halfway to tears smiled and handed me my ice cream. I paid for my order and gave her a $10 tip. I wasn’t trying to get her in trouble. She only did what I asked her to do. The manager had no right to yell at her for that at all.

When I go to Baskin-Robbins, I still ask for samples of the ice cream even though I’ve tasted pretty much everything. They get exotic stuff every now and then, but for the most part the menu is the same. I walk up in there and get my pint of Daiquiri Ice (really good if you’ve never had it) or a two scoop sundae (correction… lol), or two scoops (one Pralines & Cream, one Butter Pecan) with caramel topping or a scoop of French Vanilla along with a scoop of Very Berry Strawberry with some strawberries on top. It’s rare that I order anything else but one of those 3 things. I used to get Raspberry Sorbet, but most stores don’t carry it anymore. They generally have Raspberry Sherbert and it’s not the same.

Anyway, I just realized after typing all of this, that I’ve talked about ice cream this long. That’s kind of crazy in itself. The theme of the post was about my first real job. Somehow I got a lil’ bit carried away in talking about it. Anyway, do you remember your first job? Was it a fun job and do you recall how much you made when you started?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Truth Hurts

Sometime around 6:30pm yesterday afternoon my phone rang. My Orthopaedic doctor was calling to give me the results of the MRI I had last Friday. Once I answered the phone he immediately began to ask me how I was feeling. Right then and there I knew the news wasn't going to be good. Normally when my tests and radiology results come back and there are no problems, he tells me instantly. Anyway, we chatted for a minute or so and then he broke the news. He informed me that I'm suffering from Cervical spondylosis and that's what is causing my neck pain. Basically my cervical discs C5-C6 and C6-C7 are worn down. I have all the symptoms of a person who suffers from this health issue. I have constant neck pain and stiffness, headaches quite often, loss of balance at times, and loss of sensation and weakness in extremeties. I took a deep sigh. I already knew that something was wrong and this was just the confirmation. So not only do I have the issues with the degenerative disc in my lumbar spine causing back pain, I now know why my neck has been hurting also.

I'm not gonna even act like the news is not disheartening in some way. I began to think back to all the injuries I suffered in my lifetime. Could it have been when I hurt my shoulder while in the Navy in 1990? The military doctors told me 16 years ago that I may have problems later on down the line. Subsequently every so often when I get treatment at the VA Hospital, the doctors there say the same thing. But was this related to that shoulder injury? Right now I'd trade every single disability check received from the government for the past 12 years just to be pain free. Then again I've had so many freak accidents in my days that it could've been so many different things or a combination of all of them. I've moved more times in the past 10 years (7 moves to be exact) than some folks move in a lifetime. I guess I can't expect my body to hold up after carrying furniture, heavy equipment, boxes and stuff that often.

I've been in a few car accidents which left me banged up and sore. I suffered a concussion in 2001 playing basketball, where I fell flat on my back while fighting for a rebound. I wore a collar from that accident for at least a week and had serious neck stiffness. Hell, I'd be here all day trying to pinpoint the exact incidents which may have contributed to what I'm dealing with now. I'm trying not to be angry about this, but it's hard. When you wake up every day wincing in pain, it's not a good feeling. I struggle a lot more than I'm willing to admit to those who see me each day. I feel like if I fuss or complain about being in pain that no one will care anyway, so I remain silent. As I said before I've successfully recovered from being addicted to painkillers for the most part. Yeah I still have Percocet and Vicodin in the cabinet, but it won't do any good. Is that recovery or have I just built up a tolerance? Oh well, regardless I'm not taking them.

I talked to the good doc for close to 30 minutes about my next move. Again, he basically said that most people just live with it until they can't bear it anymore. He said that whatever treatment plan I choose is entirely up to me. The options are pretty much the same as before. There's epidural injections, seeing a Chiropractor, acupuncture, massage therapy, wear a neck brace occasionally or just do nothing at all. Anything surgical would be well after those options have been exhausted. Maaaaan... I'm tired of walking around all hunchbacked because it hurts to stand up straight. But that's the only way to lessen the amount of pain I'm in. I won't take any pain medication or anti-inflammatories, but I will occasionally take a muscle relaxer because it does help me sleep. Trying to adjust the pillows at night is not a fun task. I swear that I must move at least 50 times in a 10 minutes span to try and get the right comfort level.

For now I just have to limit activities which place pressure on my head, neck, and shoulders. I have to continue to exercise, but I need to participate in low-impact activities like swimming or yoga. Aside from that I've got to use good posture while standing, sitting, driving, sleeping and while at the computer to prevent further damage to my spine. Most importantly from my own perspective, I must keep my level of stress down. Stress does nothing more but make matters worse. But now I realize that it's not just emotional, but physical as well. My advice to my people reading this right now is to take care of yourself. Not saying that I haven't done my best to do so, but I'm sure that I could've done a lot better.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Coping with neck and back pain

(camera phone shot of my x-ray)

It's almost 4am and I'm wide awake again. Why is that you ask? Well, it's cuz a brotha is in pain. A lil' over a year ago the good doc informed me that I had a degenerative disc in my lumbar spine. This is defined by medical professionals as Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). Doc explained to me that it's not really a disease, but more of an aging process through wear and tear. I don't care what they classify it as, all I know is that it hurts like hell!!!!! I've been in extreme pain the past 3 months and made a special trip back to the doctor's office last week to ensure that no further issues had developed. The x-rays didn't show anything different though. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.

As much pain as I've been in I began to wonder if I had another injury somewhere. Basically, the same degenerative disc between my 6th & 7th vertebrae is still plaguing me. I wanted to make sure that no further problems had developed however, so I had an MRI on Friday night. That's another thing in itself. I'm not fearful of having MRI's, I just don't like having them. Laying stiff in a casket-like cone for 90 minutes with earplugs in my ears to suppress the loud clanging and vibrating is not my idea of a fun time. I've had the process done at least 7 times in the past 13 years including 3 times in the past 3 years. I'm really coming grips with the fact that I'm getting older.

Each day I have to drive for at least an hour each way as I commute to work. Most of that ride is spent sitting in traffic. I'm really starting to contemplate if it's really worth it. I mean, the frustration in dealing with knuckleheads on the Beltway is enough to drive any sane person mad. But sitting in stop and go traffic raises the level 'slightly'... lol. I tend to notice more soreness and discomfort the minute I step from the car into the office and also when I arrive home after each work day. However I do know that when I'm moving around, I do feel at my best. It's those points when I'm not able to stretch or move freely that I'm in the most pain. I suppose in a way that's why it's so difficult for me to get going each morning after laying in bed for at least 6 hours.

I think I've honestly tried to maintain as much as I can without popping pills again. It really has come to a point where the recommended dosage of narcotics and painkillers do nothing for me, so I don't take them much anymore. I'll take an occasional muscle relaxer, but that's more to try and sleep peacefully than anything. Obviously I didn't take one last night. I experiment with drinking tea as a way to calm my nerves or use a Thermophore heating pad on my back as I lay in the bed. I actually find that when I'm the most active, is when I don't feel the pain as much. I'm playing flag football once a week and I played basketball for a good part of the summer in the work summer league. Well, let me re-state that. I don't feel as much pain when participating in the activities, but afterwards... Good Lawd!!!!

So, I'm still waiting for my MRI results from last Friday. With each thought of what will be revealed to me, I wonder how I will approach it. I'm just trying to cope with it ya know? I don't have any intention of getting any kind of spinal fusion surgery or epidural injections. But I do wonder if there's another solution to the pain like going to a Chiropractor, or having acupuncture or massage therapy. Right now, I just wanna go back to sleep. These nights of waking up in pain are taking their toll on me. When it's time for me to get up and go to work, I'm sleepy and then I've got to sit in traffic. That makes for a great way to start the day doesn't it? I'm trying not to get frustrated with this. All I keep hearing from folks is that a lot of people have back problems after the age of 30. Ummmm... that doesn't make me feel better people.

Doc even told me that he has back problems too. I do appreciate him though because he refused to give me any more meds cuz he knows it's just masking the true problem. In his words, "some folks just live with it". That wasn't exactly what I was looking for from him, but it was the truth. However the thought of waking up each morning and struggling to do 'normal' things without pain is somewhat disheartening. I suppose at this point I'll continue to grin and bear it in hopes that the good Lord will bring a healing to my mind, body and soul and keep giving me that inner strength and intestinal fortitude to cope each and every day.

I guess I'll go back to bed now. I've got 2 hours til I have to get up for work...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Need a boost? Get Inko's



So it's Monday morning and after a long weekend, I'm tired as hell. I'm not fatigued from partying or anything, I'm just getting old aiiight. Now normally on mornings like these when I have to sit in long staff meetings, I grab a Red Bull. However today I'm trying out a new product, it's Inko's White Tea Energy drink. Now I've been a huge fan of Inko's White Tea's for a lil' over a year now. I'm famous for picking up new products when shopping at my neighborhood health food store and one day their products caught my eye. I realize that I drink way too many juice products which contain high fructose corn syrup and so I've been doing my best to cut back. Their product does not contain that evil ingredient. I'm not gonna even front, I spend a good amount of money every month on their white teas now. They've got a lot of flavors and I've had almost all of them. Although I really like all the flavors I've tasted, my two favorites remain the white teas infused with Blueberry and Honeydew respectively.

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Anyway, back to this Inko's White Tea Energy drink. I was fortunate enough to receive some samples of their new product which has yet to hit the open market. I guess you could say that I'm a one man focus group. I sat at my desk, cracked it open and drank the entire can within about 10 minutes. The one thing that I really like is that it's not carbonated. All the other energy drinks I consume from time to time are carbonated. After taking a couple of swings, I can dig the taste. It kinda reminds me of a lemon tea with lil' bit of ginger in it. Now anybody who knows me knows I love ginger anything. I love ginger ale, ginger beer, gingerbread, ginger snaps and any other kind of healthy ginger drink. I can taste a lil' bit of the ginseng and guarana, but it's not overpowering. This is pretty good as far as the taste goes. But the true test is whether it's gonna keep me awake and alert. Time for my Monday morning meetings... we'll see.


Okay, it's been a few hours and to be honest I forgot that I was even sleepy. Now I'm not going to attribute everything to the energy drink, but it sure did give me a pick-up. After sitting in the first meeting for close to an hour, I did a good amount of running around the building. I wasn't running literally, but you got what I'm saying. I've drank products that tasted good that didn't even raise my eyelids when I was sleepy. I've also had energy drinks that tasted awful that got me so wired that I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. This stuff right here tastes pretty good and didn't overwhelm me as far as taking over my body. It gave me a lift and I didn't even think twice about it. That's a good thing. Lord knows I had days when I used to take Ephedra when tired and I thought I was going 100 miles a minute, but when I slowed down I felt like I was trying to run in a peanut butter pasture.

So overall, I give Inko's White Tea Energy drink two thumbs up. I've got one more can left and my next test is to take it with me to the movies when I go to a late show. I fall asleep in movies during matinees. It doesn't matter what the movie is, those chairs get real comfortable. I'll just have to see how this one works in that environment. That's a real test right there.

Anybody else drink these sort of drinks for that pick me up in the morning or before working out? Please, no discussions of Starbucks or coffee cuz that stuff is nasty!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Howard University Homecoming

As this weekend approached, I began to reflect on my days spent at Howard U. I proudly rep my alumni status on my license plate frame already, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I remember enrolling at the university in the Summer of 1993. My previous college experience had been at Prince Georges Community College in Largo, MD where I obtained the necessary credits to transfer to Howard University. I honestly never had dreams of going to college when in high school as a lot of folks did back then. My SAT scores weren’t exactly good either, okay they were terrible!!! Through some forces of nature (a recruiter at KFC), I ended up taking the ASVAB test and achieved miraculous numbers on that test. Shortly thereafter I enlisted in the US Navy. The time spent in the military was a series of life events that I’d assume wipe like an eraser to a chalkboard. However, after a shoulder injury and an honorable discharge brought me back home sooner than expected, I found myself contemplating my options.

In January of 1993, the Veteran’s Administration gave me the surprise of my life. Being that I was a service connected veteran, they awarded me the opportunity for Vocational Rehabilitation. This basically meant that they were going to provide the full tuition for me to attend college. My choice without question was Howard University. I had spent many a day at Howard during the years that Ma had worked there at the Allied Health building when I was a kid. I almost felt like I was going back home in a sense.

That day came in 1993 when I stepped into that first class. It was an African-American Studies class with Professor Nikongo Ba-Nikongo. Maaaaaaaaaan… that class was not easy for me at all. I wasn’t really in the habit of studying that much and my classes at PG were at night. I was still working that summer as an inside sales rep for an electrical supply company. They allowed me to attend classes in the morning and come to work mid morning. I had to really apply myself in this class. It was far from simple, but I passed. Over the next 7 years I experienced moments that will be with me for a lifetime. Yeah, I said 7 years. There was never a semester that I wasn’t working full or part time in some capacity, interning somewhere or a combination of both. I was busy from the day I set foot in on the grounds at Howard U, ‘til the day I graduated.

I learned a hell of a lot in the School of C (Communications for my non-Howard folks) while Majoring in Radio-TV-Film. I will forever remember the guided instruction of Dr. Judi Moore Latta in my Scriptwriting class, the hands on lessons in the studio from Ted Roberts (aka The Crazy African) and Candy Shannon in Radio Production and Advanced Radio Production classes. I still remember how astonished I was when walking into my History of Broadcasting and Film class to see a white dude was teaching the class. Yet, Professor William Barlow was one of the coolest white cats I had ever had the pleasure of taking a class with and he knew his stuff. Rumor had it that he was married to a Black woman… lol.

Getting over to my Minor which was Sociology, there was really only one instructor who stood out to me. That man was Dr. Ernest Quimby. Dr. Quimby was not just a professor, but a good friend. As much as I enjoyed all those Criminal Justice classes throughout the years (especially the Mock Trial classes), the one thing that sticks with me more than anything is that I could talk to Dr. Quimby about anything. No matter what our discussions were about I always felt encouraged walking out of his office or classroom. When dealing with some real life (divorce, health) issues that almost drove me into depression, it was that good brother who kept me optimistic. With his help I remained focused on my studies and didn’t’ allow circumstances to keep me down. Dr. Quimby without question was the most influential person in my years spent at Howard.

I didn’t really spend a lot of time partying or going to events because I didn’t have the time. I wasn’t as young as most of the kids enrolled at Howard. In fact, a lot of them called me ‘Uncle’. I wasn’t that much older, but I for the most part I always came to class before or after work and was in business attire. Walking around campus with a suit and tie and trying not to sweat was not an easy task. There were days when I had classes at the top of the hill and the next at the bottom of the hill and then back at the top. The internships that I worked while in school were worthwhile as well. My most memorable experience was working on the Partners of the Heart project. The project focused on the life of Vivien Thomas, an African-American surgical technician who helped develop procedures used to treat Blue baby syndrome in the 1940s. He rose above racism and poverty to become a pioneer of cardiac surgery.

At the time when I was at Howard well known Hollywood director/actor Bill Duke was the Chairman of Radio-TV-Film at the School of C. Bill Duke was the Director for this venture. His being there opened up opportunities for student to become involved in numerous projects; however this one was the grand prize. If I recall there were hundreds of students who interviewed for this one and only a handful selected. I remember throwing on my sharpest suit and shining up my briefcase (with leather cleaner) the morning of the interview. I walked in the room and knocked em out. It was like I had ice water in my veins. For the next year or so I was involved in various aspects from production meetings to doing research at the National Library of Medicine to logging recorded footage. Although the date (February 10, 2003) that Partners of the Heart aired on PBS, I had EVERYBODY watching. I felt a sense of pride in watching it although I didn’t have a major part. But as the credits rolled at the completion I saw my name. I even hit REWIND and PAUSE and sat there glowing for a while. I still have all my materials from that project. All the scripts and notes from production meetings. Since that time, an actual film on the life of Dr. Vivien Thomas has been made from the documentary entitled Something the Lord Made featuring actor/rapper Mos Def.

I really could sit here and write for days about previous homecomings and stuff like that, but I wasn’t really in the young frame of mind like a lot of the folks back then and can’t say honestly that I lived the college life. I attended games, step shows and other events here and there, but nothing that really stands out. I saw Sinbad do a stand-up comedy show, a young Maxwell open up for Groove Theory and numerous fashion shows and plays over my years there. When the premiere of the movie The Best Man was shown back in ’99, I took my then 15 yr old sister up to campus with me to check out the movie. I’ll never forget what she said as we stood there in front of Cramton Auditorium. "Look at all the Black people” she exclaimed. I had to remember that she probably had never been anywhere close to Howard and that seeing 1000 Black faces were like a huge family reunion for her. I assisted with the sound crew back for Yardfest in 2001, but that was well after my graduation.

The culmination of my 7 years of hard work was the day I received my Bachelor’s degree. There are no words to describe my joy that day. Seeing the smile upon Ma’s face was enough for me. Dad had travelled from Charlotte that day as well to be there to share in the occasion. When I say he had just got off the plane, I’m not joking. That man caught a cab straight to campus and lugged his suitcase in hand for the entire morning of the ceremony. It was kinda funny if I may say so myself. So looking back at Howard with wonderful memories bring a big smile to my face. At 34 yrs old I don’t see myself hanging out on Georgia Avenue as I did in years past or going to any of the parties featuring celebrities. I’ll just sit back and enjoy this weekend with reflections of goals achieved and blissful times. Happy Homecoming Howard University!!!!!

Any other Howard University folks out there... or those who have wonderful memories from their college days?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that my car wasn’t stolen… Thank God for that

The bad news is that it was towed.

Why was it towed you ask? Well, it seems as though the homeowner’s association in my neighborhood does not know how to communicate things properly to their residents. Now I have one space assigned in front of my house and the spaces in between the assigned spaces are totally blank. Also we have designated areas where the word VISITOR is painted in the parking space. Since it’s me and my younger cousin at the crib, we have a total of two cars. We both look out for one another and the first one home always takes one of the BLANK spaces, so the other has the space assigned to the house. Now we’ve both been parking in those BLANK spaces for sometime now without an issue. Apparently according to some regulation that we were not advised of, anyone parking in a blank space without having a valid permit is subject to be towed. That’s what happened. Those jokers towed me because I didn’t have some stupid permit that I had never even heard about. Now, I’ve had folks come over the crib and chill once in a while, my fiancé sometimes spends the night and we’ve never had a problem with anyone parking in one of the BLANK spaces. For some reason last night they decided to enforce this stupid regulation and off went my ride.

Now you know the first thing I thought this morning was that it was stolen. I had a similar incident occur almost 3 years ago when my car actually was stolen and found stripped in SE DC. So of course I was angry this morning. So after calling the police and verifying that it had indeed been towed, I was relieved but heated!!!! However I had to wait until 9am for the HOA to open to voice my displeasure with the situation. Furthermore, the towing company was exactly 36 miles from my house and they told me I needed a ‘pretty penny’ to get my car back. I wasn’t about to catch a cab that far, so I waiting a few hours for Ma to come scoop me up. I tell ya, even when times are bad, Ma is always there. *big smile*

In the meantime I called and spoke with the HOA about the situation and they apologized for the inconvenience, the error in not advising us of the parking regulations and promised to reimburse me once I retrieved my car. Maaaaaaaaaan… I didn’t know whether to shout at them for the incident in itself or be happy that I knew that I was not in the wrong. I went and got my car from the towing spot and shortly thereafter I paid a visit to the HOA office to get the 2 permits required for the parking lot. The lady was kind and again, very apologetic. I was still kinda pissed off and she couldn’t get a smile out of me this morning though. I did the paperwork, got the stickers and hit the Beltway.

Anyway, I’m just sitting here at work. Of course the folks here wanna know what happened cuz the first thing I did this morning was to call my boss and say “they got me again maaaan”. I had to go though a rack of changes to get here, but I’m here nonetheless. I suppose I should stop being angry and just be thankful that it wasn’t worse.

The emptiest feeling in the world

-Wake up at 5:45am in preparation for work

-Take a nice warm shower and get dressed in the business attire

-Pick up a banana, some OJ and a granola bar for the breakfast ride

-Grab briefcase for work and the gym bag for the after work flag football game

-Lock the door to the house

-Walk down the stairs and across the lawn

-Look up and realize that the car is gone

-Do a double take, utter a few expletives and walk back into the house

Here I sit, once again... I have no more words at this time

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm cancelling my trip to Miami

The event that's scheduled to take place on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium will be a clash between the two top teams in the NFL. I'm convinced more now than ever that as long as Drew Bledsoe is the QB of my Dallas Cowboys, they're not gonna be participants in that game. Now, I've never made this guy more than I imagined him to be, but his play this season is causing me a lot of anger and frustration. He always finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I mean with this guy as the general of our offense, we always find a way to lose. It's really pissing me off now!!! Of course I'm very emotional right now after witnessing an awful Cowboys loss to the Eagles. I mean, we had a chance at the end and he blew it... again. Now I'm not going to put it all on Drew, but he made a lot of mistakes in this game. It didn't help that the offensive line provided him about as much protection as a seat belt and an airbag do for a car sitting on railroad tracks getting hit by a freight train. I don't even wanna imagine what would've happened if the Eagles had Jevon Kearse available. Our secondary couldn't cover a receiving core that was without Donte'Stallworth. They made Baskett and Brown look like Clayton & Duper last night.

I've read a number of Dallas Cowboys blogs over the past 2 hours and everybody seems to be calling for Bledsoe to be benched in favor of Tony Romo. I'm not convinced that that's the answer either. No matter which QB we've got in there, I realize that my squad is a far cry for Super Bowl contention. Don't get me wrong, I still believe that they can make the playoffs, but just making the playoffs is not achieving anything. They've got to build this team to be serious contenders. Right now, they're struggling and at times it's painful to watch. I'm a die hard fan and will always be, that's why I'm so bothered by this loss in particular. We had opportunities to win this game just as we did in week one vs Jacksonville, yet they both ended with losses. It's frustrating. I'm tired of the bright side of each season being that fact that the Cowboys didn't lose to the Redskins. I want to see more from my team. The potential is there is various aspects of the game. However, the shortcomings are ones which indicate that this team is not going to make a run for a title. That in itself hurts... cuz I'mma true fan.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Hustle Continues...

Anyone who really knows me is aware that I'm a hustler. I mean, a true hustler. I will buy pretty much anything that I know I can turn around and make some good money off of. I've been doing this since I was in junior high when I was jacking evicted electronic goods like TV's & stereos off the sidewalk and selling them later on. To the later days of high school when I bought candy from Price Club and sold it in class or when I used to go to the bakery thriftshop and buy day old pastries for $.20 and sell them for a buck (or more) in the gym before school. I'm currently crafting a blog on that experience alone entitled The Stale Pie Man... which was my nickname until I graduated from HS.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I was fortunate to get my hands on a 'few' of these Elmo T.M.X joints. Now when I say a 'few', I won't declare exactly how many I have. Let's just say that I've acquired enough to make sure that this Christmas is a bright one for those close to me. The real debate at this point is whether to sell them now, or sell them closer to Christmas. I can make a good amount now, but I might be able to make double 3 weeks before the ultimate giving day. However if Fisher-Price all of a sudden starts shipping thousands of them to your local Walmart, Target or Toys "R" Us, then I might be stuck.

Now, this is far from the first time that I've made purchases on the hottest selling item for kids for the holidays. I make it my job to always know what the hot item is for Christmas. From there I buy a fairly decent quantity and stash em for that 'snowy' day. Some of the things I've copped over the years include...

1996 - the original Tickle Me Elmo

1997 - Sing & Snore Ernie and Beanie Babies

1998 - Furby

2000 - Sony PS2

This is not a new thing for me, yet eBay makes things a lot easier. For years my method of selling the product was to stand outside of Toys "R" Us a week before Christmas until Christmas Eve and watch the eyes of people light up as they assumed that there were some inside. I would never say one word, just smile. Then shortly thereafter they'd come up to me and say something like "Aiiight maaan... how much are you asking?" It was that simple. Occasionally, I took out ads in the Washington Post here. Now we've got online auctions sites like eBay or Yahoo which allow me to generally get the amount I'm looking for with no difficulty. Yet I still miss the real grind as I used to do it. I got real bold at times, especially when I had Sony Playstation 2's. My brother and I stood inside of PG Plaza directly in front of KB Toys and totally ignored mall security. I mean, we weren't openly hollering "Yo, we got PS2's" or anything. We just stood there with the box under our arms. I think however we may have chosen the wrong mall cuz at times I thought some of those cats who inquired about buying it were gonna try and mug us.

Anyway I've got these Elmos. I plan to make sure my nieces get one for Christmas, but there's three of them. They don't each need one do they? One should be enough. I'll take the money I make off the other ones and buy the girls other things that they want/need anyway. The rest of the cash I make will go into savings. Now, I'm sure some folks are wondering "How'd you end up getting one (or more) of those Elmo dolls?" For a fee of $10 payable to my PayPal account I will provide my source and from that it's possible that you may be able to get one for your child, niece, nephew or maybe even yourself. If you catch me on a good day and ask me via email, I might be nice enough to just give you the information..... SIKE!!!!!

oh yeah, one last thing... if you're in the DC area and looking for Redskins, Ravens or Wizards tix... hit me up

The Hustle Never Ends...

here are a few YouTube vids of the new Elmo TMX... this lil' fellas is off the hook!!!!