Basements and Stacks of Wax

I loved basements as a child.

Well, more specifically, I loved 3 basements… the ones belonging to my father and two of my uncles. They were all set up with the same formula: finished basements with good looking flooring and walls, well lit, beautifully hidden utility segments (laundry, furnace, etc all tucked out of plain sight) custom made bars, and a kickin’ stereo system. These basements were perfect for entertaining guests, and there was always a rotation of who’s basement would be the spot for each year’s New Year party.

For me, the focus of the basement was always the stereo rigs, and this is where my love of music began.

George Zimmerman is NOT your enemy.

Let’s get this part out of the way:  I disagree with the verdict.  I don’t by his story.  I don’t buy this verdict in the same state that convicted a black woman of firing WARNING SHOTS and sentenced her to 20 YEARS.  I think that’s garbage.

Now, with that out of the way… I have no ill will toward Mr. Zimmerman.  I don’t wanna be buddies with the guy either, but why should I bother to harbor ill feelings?  That’s not gonna affect him in the least, it would only bring ME down.  We need to stop, breathe, and consider a few things.  

Far reaching, but short sighted…

There used to be a time where we lived real communities. We knew our neighbors and their children, and they knew ours. Our children were required to respect them as authority figures, and in return we could count on them to BE authority figures, and the community watched for their own as if they WERE their own. We knew that if our kid was with Johnny that Johnny’s parents would watch over them and keep them in line.

That’s largely the stuff of myth and legend now. Many don’t even know their next door neighbor beyond a first name, if that. Even in our generation, we knew how it was for our parents and we could see it shrinking bit by bit in our own time. I was able to stay out until the street lights came on… but can we let our kids do that now?

The changes in technology and modern society now allow us to reach out to a complete stranger anywhere on the planet at a moments notice… and yet the more access we have to the world, the more we isolate ourselves from the people and things closest to us. We are dedicated to online communities and forums, but have little interest in who’s walking down our streets.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can still reach across the world, and still take time to reach out to a neighbor and shake his/her hand. We can get online and donate money in an instant, but not neglect to feed someone in need right before our very eyes. We need more eye contact, handshakes, and REAL face time.

We can still reach far, without losing sight of what’s before us. Use that long arm to reach more, not over.

The Negro Motorist Green Book

A friend shared this with me a while back… I had no clue that such a thing existed. Little known stuff like this needs to be covered in our schools, especially when kids are driving to school right into their first year of high school and don’t give it a second thought. This should give us more appreciation for the endurance of past generations next time we get behind teh wheel. Share this with others!

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The Green Book often provided information on local tourist homes, which were private residences owned by blacks and open to travelers. It was especially helpful to blacks that traveled through sunset towns or towns that publicly stated that blacks had to leave the town by sundown or it would be cause for arrest. Also listed were hotels, barbershops, beauty salons, restaurants, garages, liquor stores, ball parks and taverns. It also provided a listing of the white-owned, black-friendly locations for accommodations and food.

The publication was free, with a 10-cent cost of shipping. As interest grew, the Green Book solicited salespersons nationwide to build its ad sales.

Inside the pages of the Green Book were action photos of the various locations, along with historical and background information for the readers’ review. Within the pages of the introduction, the guide states, There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States .”

The Green Book printed its last copy in 1964 after the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Here is the 1949 book in its entirety

http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Race/R_Casestudy/Negro_motorist_green_bk.htm

The Answer

A question has been running through my mind a lot lately.

It has already been answered before.

It must be answered still.

The answer is a daily recurrence.

The answer was given from the very start.

I must continue to seek that answer.

I must never forget the answer even as I’m seeking it.

My answer must be correct.

If my answer is incorrect, then I must correct it.

My answer must remain correct.

It is not for me to say if my answer is correct or not.

My answer cannot deviate for foolishness.

It is useless to ask myself unless I answer.

My answer is not in these words.

Even as I answer, I must continue to find more answers.

My answer is never finished.

I owe this to Him.

I owe this to her.

I owe this to him.

And I owe this to myself.

Sometimes…

Sometimes…

I want to say “I quit”, even though I’m not giving up.

I want to say “forget it” but it stays fresh in my mind

I don’t want to show frustrations, but still want it to be acknowledged

I feel like I’m losing, even though I know I will win

I feel like I’ve been set up for failure, yet poised for success

I cry, but understand that my tears don’t make me any less of a man

I want empathy, but have no need of anyone’s pity

I feel that I’m lacking, even thought I have everything that I need

I want to do the right thing, but for the wrong reason

I feel like my thoughts are scrambled, even though my steps are ordered

Sometimes I start writing, then forget what the purpose was

Sometimes… I don’t need one.

Venting… but no backdraft?

I can probably sum up what I’m about to say in one phrase: Some people want to fart in the wind, but are shocked and appalled when the wind changes quickly and their own stink returns to their noses.

I understand that we all need to vent sometimes.  I’m the one that does the venting on occasion to trusted friends, and I have those that trust me to come to me for their release.  Sometimes we just need someone to hear us out.  That’s perfectly fine.  And sometimes, we don’t necessarily want or need any feedback, pep talk, or whatever… we just need to be heard.  That’s alright sometimes.

What irks the crap out of me, however,  is when you have folks that want to release and vent and spew and piss and moan and whine all over the place, but RARELY want any real feedback, especially when it’s gonna tell them about themselves.  Worse yet, they even cop an attitude toward you even you even attempt to interject anything unless you’re in complete agreement with them.

Maybe the reason that it gets on my nerves so much is that I expect my friends to give me some perspective, or to put me in check when I’m out of order.  What a crazy notion, right?

I’m sorry… but if you’re coming sideways then don’t come blowing off steam to me and expect me to just say “yeah”, nod my head in agreement, or give any such indication that I agree with, condone, or consent to your point of view.  When this is almost ALWAYS the case, you’re not really looking for a release… you’re just looking for someone to cosign and validate you in your mess.  Get real and GROW UP.

Oh, and let me drop this little tidbit… if you’re always complaining about what “people” are always saying to or about you, and these “people” are really the ones that are appointed in your life to look out for your best interests, your well being, and your very SOUL… then SHUT UP AND LISTEN.  They very well might be wrong in any particular instance… but at least take a doggone second to humble yourself, get your rump off of your shoulders, your nose out of the air, and HONESTLY EVALUATE YOURSELF.

Treasuring my dear friends

Before I begin, I must point out that I’m not much of a writer.  As I start to do the blogging thing more frequently, I realize that sometimes when I try to express my thoughts in written form, it just doesn’t seem to come out the way that I want it to.  Nonetheless, here I go…

I truly treasure my dearest friends.  I don’t have a lot of them… many acquaintances and many friends, but very few DEAR friends.  The select few that I can confide in, trust in, and have that same commitment and trust from me.  Sometimes they are someone who you’ve been close to for a very long time… sometimes they are someone that  you haven’t had that sort of history with, but somehow have that unspoken and effortless connection with.

There are certain qualities that these dear friends have that make them special to me… not that other friends lack these qualities, but the ones special to you are the ones you know without a doubt that you can rely on for a different level of communication.  It can’t always been explained, but you just feel it.

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Consistency: No Flip-Flopping

I’ve learned by experience the importance of being consistent in words and actions, and when it comes to your closest relationships it is that much more critical.  I am fed up with wishy washy nonsense from folks, whether they been acquaintances, family, or co-workers.  It’s a shame when you can’t take a person’s words at face value because that person has become notorious for flip-flopping as soon as it’s convenient for them.  Then when you you call them on it, you get some crap excuse similar to "well that was different" or sometimes they just dismiss or ignore it. 

Now this doesn’t mean that you got to folks expecting the same type of response from them every time.  A dear friend’s consistency is in not having to second guess their words, or suspecting that they’re gonna flip flop on you when it’s good for them.  You can take it to heart and know that they really mean what they say.

Objectivity

I like to think that I’m pretty good when it comes to thinking objectively.  When I disagree with something, I’m usually able to take a step back and try to view the situation from multiple perspectives and weigh that against my own viewpoint to make the most objective decision/opinion possible.  Nonetheless, it seems like common sense to me that to get a truly objective viewpoint, you need to get it from more than your own brain.  So to be able to got to that dear friend that is like-minded in their attempt to be objective when giving advise is a quality that shouldn’t be undervalued.

Be real, whether it’s favorable or not

Sometimes when we’re seeking the advice or counseling of others, what we want to hear and what we need to hear may be completely different.  A real friend isn’t one that just tickles your ears and fills your head with what you want ot hear and what makes you feel good inside.  Sometimes they’ll need to tell you something that might offend or even hurt you… but they’re doing it for your good.

The problem here is that some folks have real friends, and can’t appreciate it because they don’t want  the real answer.  They really want to hear the convenient answer, the answer that favors them, the answer that they feels justifies their mess, even if it’s not the correct answer.  So, sadly, they’ll turn from their true friends and run to the people that will scratch their itching ears just right.

I thank God that not only do I have people in my life that can and will tell me about myself when I need to be told, but that I’m humble enough to take it even if it stings.

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I know this is just the tip of the iceberg on this subject.  I’ll point out that as much as I try to exhibit these same quality to those that are dear to me, I’m still working on myself.  We all are, we’re not perfect, and we sometimes come up short in these very same qualities that I’ve described.  Lord knows I have.  But there’s a huge difference between sometimes falling short and constantly laying down because the effort isn’t even being made.

That said, I encourage each of you to take the time to appreciate the ones that you hold dear, the ones that you love, the ones that you depend on to keep you straight… and work just as hard to be that same friend for them.

Life lessons…

I’m starting to realize that there are some relationships that either can’t or won’t be salvageable. Of course I’ve always known that… but it’s a different thing to realize it when it begins to apply to your life. It’s no surprise to me that things will work out that way sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing sometimes.

I’m blessed that two of my closest friends over the years are ladies that I used to be in romantic relationships with. Even when I handled the separation in the worst way due to what I can only describe as my silly youth and immaturity, our friendships were so strong that to this day I can count on both of them for anything, and vice-versa. It kinda amazes me when I reflect on it.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. I ended one relationship in particular for reasons that I felt were the best for me at the time, and I was always up front about my feelings. There was a lot of anger, hurt, and bitterness directed toward me, much of it justified. I broke her heart, and that’s the one thing that I regret about the whole situation. I’m sure if she told the story, she could paint a picture that would make me seem like a complete jackass. Perhaps I was.

Nonetheless, in the times after I’ve always left the door open to be friends. Not that I expected everything to just be gravy and we suddenly be best buddies, but at least to be able to chat once in a while, say “hi how are ya” and have a genuine conversation. I’m just wired that way… I think of people, past and present, wonder how they’re doing, and hope that everything is going well in their lives, even if we weren’t friends at all or parted on bad terms. There were attempts, but ultimately I guess she couldn’t or wouldn’t. So eventually the occasional “hi how are ya” got a one word response if any… eventually I was removed from friends lists, etc.

So be it, and such is life. I wish only the absolute best for her.

I’ve changed and learned a lot since then. I went through a period of reconciliation… reflecting on my life, the decisions that I’ve made, the good bad and ugly. I’ve used that to work on myself abd grow, and I still am. The people that I can recall that I’ve hurt or disappointed are on good terms with me… not that I was ever infatuated with “making things right” with people, but sometimes it just happens. Sometimes you find things weren’t as bad as you suspected. Maybe in this case she hates me, or is indifferent but just would rather not be associated. Who knows.

What I’m finding is most important isn’t always trying to reconcile something that’s already dead and buried… but instead using the lessons learned to strengthen the friendships that I have right now, new and old. For that one failed friendship, I have so many more that have endured. Reconnecting with people here on FB shows me that in spite of a few mistakes, I’ve had a positive impact on the vast majority of the people that I’ve encountered in my life.

That means a lot to me. It serves to remind me that, in spite of my flaws, I can be a great husband, father, friend, acquaintance, supervisor, subordinate, peer, and man. I can count on people to hold my ladder, and they can count on me to hold theirs. I can be an asset to those around me, and not a leech.

I can sit here and smile, and know that I’m a good man… but be humble enough to realize that the people around me have been essential to being that man.

So to all of you that have been my friends, that have stuck with me, helped me, endured me, beared with me, forgiven me, considered me, thought of me, prayed for me, encouraged me, uplifted me, corrected me, justly chastized me, complimented me, constructively criticized me, and loved me… I thank you.

Ok, I’m done rambling, lol!