What I learned about Cruise Boat Vacations

Observation #1.) Anything Goes

All the fat-shaming and looks of disgust will be left at departure. On the boat you will see almost everything that you usually wouldn’t see. People will drink, let loose, relax, and romance like you’ve never seen before. There is a night club on the boat where people go after hours to party hard and let it hang out. I happened to go on a boat cruise that was packed with college kids during spring break. I seen a guy who looked like Tom Arnold attempting  to do the “Wobble” with his barely 18 year old girlfriend. If you don’t know what the wobble is, here you go. If you don’t dance to this, you just don’t have a pulse.

Pitbull and Flo-Rida was jamming all through the night, with sprinkles of old-school hip-hop to please the crowd. You are liable to see anything, at any moment. I am thankful that I had someone babysitting my toddler daughter back home. Not for the reason of the Nicki Minaj shaped woman with a thong bikini walking around, but for the next observation. I digress, however, this is why I dislike going to Las Vegas, NV during the weekend. The younger and immature crowd are there -walking along the streets with their eyes glazed like a morning donut- looking for some late night nookie. That’s another blog. So lets move on to the next observation.

Observation #2) Sex 

Grrr!!

I can only speak for myself when I say this, but man, it felt like we just met all over again. We were jackrabbits. I won’t get too “50 shades of grey” on you guys, but I will say it felt good. When you have the constant pressures of a demanding job/career and raising children, sex becomes an accessory. If you can get to the bedroom and get some while you are both are awake and the kids are sleep, congrats. In cases like me and my wife, we have to get it when its apropos. Having the freedom of no responsibility for 3-5 days felt incredible. I missed my child, but I damn sure miss the “first apartment together” sex we used to have. As I alluded to in the previous observation, ANYTHING GOES!!

Observation#3.) Free Room Service

“I’m gettin’ tired of this sorry mutha$#*ka callin’ me, this about the 20th time in one hour!”

You damn rite, I want the grilled cheese sandwich with the tomato soup, and some chocolate chip cookies on the side. Oh, and before you get off the phone, can you grab some fresh cookies, last time they were stale.

Yes, that was me. It was another opportunity in my life where I had that much more reason to be an obese slob, and mail it in. The food was a 6 out of 10. Nothing that would make you stay in the room and order all day, the dinner service is where the cuisine food is at.  Most of these observations depend on what boat you choose to cruise on. They have luxury boats that are sumptuous in taste and design. I just happened to take Carnival; the company that is the McDonald’s of boat cruises. There are some fancy luxury cruises out there that are built like The Venetian on water. So experiences may differ.

Observation #4.)Awkward ass dining situations

 Carnival, believes in inclusion when guests come on their boat, and it is no escaping it. I am totally into being a hermit, so this was a challenge. First of all, I had no shoes to wear to the formal dinner. So, my wife went to the local souvenir shop where they only had boat shoes. I looked a hot mess, I felt like a Black version of Skipper on Gilligan’s Island. The only piece missing from my costume was his hat. I felt like a complete clown.

So, there my wife is looking fancy, while I walk into the restaurant looking like the guy above this sentence. Secondly, when I arrive there, I am disgruntled and stoic. I want no parts of a friendly conversation, and they put me next to Mr. Loquacious himself. Boasting gleefully to his wife about all of his accomplishments, as if they just met, he would pause the conversation (while staring directly at us) and wait for me or my wife to interject. I just continued eating my frog legs, while acting deaf, dumb, and blind.  This actually worked for me, and the couple eventually left, while me and my wife laughed boisterous and wicked. My wife knew I was being an asshole, and played along with me. lol. Lastly, the breakfast was twice as awkward, but I knew how to break the ice. With me being the only token Black, the table was completely awkward. I could read the biases that were on their faces when they arrived at the table.  A white couple from a rural town near Buffalo, NY. sat tense from across the table. I introduced myself and chatted about the NFL with the husband, while having laughs about trivial inquiries. Another foreigner couple who barely spoke at all arrived  at the table. Then another couple from Florida arrived. They were friendly and nice. I felt like saying, see it wasn’t that bad. Knowing damn well that I was just as nervous as them. We all exited the table being friendly when passing each other later on.

Observation#5.) Short duration of time spent at destination(s)

You buy an excursion package in Ocho Rios, Jamaica for snorkeling and whatever but only have so many hours to enjoy it. By time you get finished with the rock climbing and your “Eat, Pray, Love”  antics, you have an hour and a half to get back to the boat. The boat will be jam-packed before departing, and you need to buy some souvenirs and take selfies to make everyone on Facebook know you’ve been there. The scenery is beautiful and the sting ray farm is amazing, but now it is time to go. The ship is taking off as you look at the people who are basking in the elegance of a magical resort at the beach. They get to stay for the whole vacation. You privately begin to stew in envy as the boat takes off. They get the REAL vacation on the beach. The inverse of that argument is that you may not be a Resort kind of person. Resorts are ran differently. Ships are inclusive, resorts are exclusive. The culture of cruise ships are to mix and mingle with everyone:Make new friends. Good times, Celebrations, Salutations!!. While resorts are more suitable for people wanting privacy and savoring the beauty of the culture.  They both are awesome, it just depends on your personality.

Observation#6.) Talent Show

If you had a failed attempt at that 90’s rock band as lead singer, or you are a professional shower singer. This is your chance to get your Alanis Morrisette on. It is the most entertaining thing on the boat.

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Two hood books that I automatically assume you haven’t read

Raised in South Central, Los Angeles -now known as South Los Angeles- Ross witnesses a traumatic incident inside of his household. He witnesses his Uncle’s Murder. Moving to the other side of town, he resides on a street called Flower St, a street that runs parallel to the 110 fwy. Therefore, Ross and his friends became known as the “freeway boys”. He attended the local schools during a time when gang wars were at its prime. According to Ross, he never joined any gangs, even though he lived in the territory of the crips. He attended Dorsey High School and became a tennis star. He had played tennis so good that he was offered a scholarship, until they found out he was illiterate. Once scouts found out he was illiterate, he was of no use to the potential colleges. He ended up like just another Black 18 year old kid with no job or school, looking for a way to fill his idle time.

He started off small, then sold the narcotic PCP, then graduated to cocaine.  He made a connection with a Colombian and the rest is history. You already know how the story ends. Drug dealer goes to jail and ends up broke. Well, he went to jail and came out blaming the informant who put him in jail, and the secret service that employed the said informant. The Contra Scandal was the real deal, and it had a catastrophic effect on the Black and African-American community. I was born in 1984, the era of  “crack-babies”. So, I am not saying that what he claims happened is false; my gripe is that he diminishes his role, when compared to the macro level. The remorse for the actions he took were minimal, making it seem as if he was only a middle man. That is something that I vehemently disagree with him about. Conscientiously selling drugs to your own people, while seeing how the product affected families, was FUCKED UP. As any true drug dealer would privately admit, the bottom line was money. He apologizes, but only before making it seem accidental. That was what irritated me about the book.

THENNNNNN!

When he got out of prison, he saw that someone stole his alias and moniker. Parading around stage, and doing world tours, a rapper was using his name and image to make entertainment money. He got offended by the business move and took the rapper to court. Wow!!! The irony of it all.

“No I am a Drug Lord, your Honor, he is a fraud. I really participated in the genocide of my people, by selling them drugs that would break up homes. IT WAS ME!!!…Where’s my money for being the REAL bad guy?”

Ridiculous. .

This book is based on an inner-city corrections officer who goes rogue. He talks about the ugly realities that exist inside the American prison system. Drugs, sex, murder, and hard liquor all wrapped into one book. He is vulgar and bawdy throughout the whole book. To be honest, you will need urban dictionary more than Webster’s Dictionary. He keeps it hood and gutter. It is very short and easy to read. By time you get to the part where the female officers are being auctioned off as prostitutes to shot-callers, you will become engulfed in the salaciousness of it all.

As I read the book, I could kind of tell he was pulling stories out of his ass to add shock value. I honestly cannot believe everything that was in this book.

Interesting read considering that nowadays, you have 4G cell phones being smuggled in prison for the right price. It is so rampant at this point, that many women on dating sites have to post “NO GUYS IN JAIL” on their profile.

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Life’s too short for boring books

For the past 3 years, reading has become my new hobby. For certain books I read the actual text via e-book. Other times, I use audiobooks. In this quest, I have given many books the time of day. If a book cannot capture my full attention with meaningful substance within a chapter or two, I am out. I have thugged it out with some of the most celebrated books, just to say I have read it. In my mind, I will one day go to some pretentious wine party. At this festivity they will serve wine and cheese, with caviar and crackers as appetizers. We will have a conversation about the greatest books ever, and they will ask me if I have ever read “Ulysses” by James Joyce, or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. And I will reply with “Why, Yes. Madam, may I suggest The Great Gatsby or Mark Twain?”

“Can you pass the Grey Poupon?”

Get the hell out of here!

On the other hand, I don’t wanna be that guy who reads the baseless books that are no better than an American infomercial. “Hey, Eddie! have you read the Kim Kardashian Selfie book?”

Im not trying to be a snob, I have no animus towards the Kardashians. I am just saying that we can’t have a civil conversation about books, if you’re coming at me with these kind of book suggestions. Saying you read a selfie book, is like saying you take medical advice from Dr. Oz.

I’m still chunky after taking those “cambogia” and “raspberry ketone” pills. Curb hunger, my ass.WTF!!

There are way too many books out there that I haven’t read to be reading mundane books. I have read books that were absolute money grabs. I just read a book today that talks about how athletes are performing better. I am reading the book under the impression that he will provide an aspect that will change what I already know. The ultimate point of his book was that they challenge the odds. 7 hrs of book reading, sums up to him writing about different athletes, who said they were gonna challenge the status quo. Another historical book with 4 star reviews, talking about how immigrant meat factory workers were in disease and death plagued workplaces. Sounds interesting, only problem is that it is written in an antiquated style that takes the strength of 2 Adderall pills to understand. I completed another book of a celebrated cocksure guru, who writes in a book to “Give maximum effort, to achieve maximum results!”. Not only does he give common sense advice, he talks to you like a Pop Warner coach while doing so. I can go on and on. Books are anecdotal. Hence, whatever book causes an epiphany for you, may not cause a breakthrough with me. This is why those “20 greatest books” lists always pisses readers off.  No more tedious books for me. I hope you gather the courage to discontinue books that don’t inspire reflective thoughts.

The blunt realities of unemployment

Time

jim carrey

This can be either a positive or negative. If you had a part-time business that you never had time for, now you have a full 24 hours with no excuses. When you are at work all you think about is home. Home is the ultimate goal of the day. Escaping the cubicle, Uber-Car, restaurant, or commercial truck is what we strive to do. When you no longer have the excuse of work clogging your schedule, you are challenged to find ways to utilize time. Idle time can have the most negative impact on your mind. Couple that negativity with anxiety and you have doubts hovering over you like wolf clouds. You now have time to exercise, drop off and pick up the kids from daycare or school,  and meet with your spouse for lunch. The converse is that time is working against you. Bills need to be paid on TIME, and unemployment is only temporary. It will run out.

Touching up the résumé

This should be the number one thing that you should do. For most people who have recently faced a job loss, this is essential to the whole process. Your resume is easy to make and gives the future boss a glimpse of the potential employee he or she is getting. If you have no clue on how to make a resume and you are confused, you can always get your 20-something old cousin, or spouse to complete the task. Remember to create another email that is appropriate for a resume. For example, Dirtbike_dan666@hellsex.com is not a good look for that administrative assistant job. JohnSmith@applepie.com is more suitable. Use up to date phone numbers that are current, and use job references of people who are LEGIT. No potheads or alcoholics who can’t hold a decent conversation with someone. You need people who can vouch for you, and speak the language a prospective employer wants to hear.

“Wassup Sir!! Oh that boy Kevin is my Dude. When it comes to his gig he is a beast sir!”

Getting a job is a job

You have to spend countless hours of the day in front of a computer, filling out applications for jobs that you feel you have a 2 percent chance of getting. The job post says that you need over 15 years experience with a PhD in Pseudorectomy (lol), and you only have two years experience at Shake Shack with a Master’s Degree in Zoology. The odds are slim, but you never know. You must be on alert for emails that kindly deny your job application by saying “We appreciate your interest in our company”. There will be constant phone interviews and awkward in person interviews that will be the biggest waste of time. Jobs that will hide the hourly pay or salary from you, until the interview, what is usually less than the unemployment that you are already receiving, before tax.  There will be days when you will have to take a city job test for an open job vacancy. Lines will be as long as Black Friday before store opening, and the test will be all the questions you studied for. The guy or gal who aced the test to make it on the top of the availability list, just so happened to be a cousin of the city supervisor. Yes, you will have to accept the fact that nepotism may have played a role, but what can you do? Right before you give up the fight and say “To Hell with this, I’m going to the Army!”, another job you were seeking will finally call you and you will move down the yellow brick road.

Harbor no ill will

Yes, Danny, your ex boss, was an asshole. He would never greet you with the proper respect, when in his vicinity. He would berate you in front the cute secretaries, when he could’ve talked to you in private. Unprofessional as he may be, never talk ill of a past boss or superior. Most industries are connected,i.e., medical field, package delivery, restaurant, or transportation. With the economy being in a frugal state, most companies are becoming conglomerates and merging with each other. With that being said, some employees may have siblings that work for opposing companies. Cousins who are both in sales, one works for Verizon, the other for Sprint. Everyone talks, whether they admit it or not. If you slander Danny, it may offend his brother-in-law Eric, the quiet guy who is assistant operations manager at a job you are trying to score. He will smile gracefully in the interview room, and brood in silence as you exit the premises. Be careful, you never know who knows who.

Become financially literate

As you deal with this stint of unemployment, you will go through some financial turmoil. That fly car with the bells and whistles will most likely be repossessed.The credit score will take a hit. Everything that you rationalized spending crazy money on will go out the window. That 40 dollar cricket wireless phone plan will look more appealing than Sofia Vergara in a scantily clad bikini. You will learn that a quarter will get you a gallon of water, and 5 dollars will stretch far in a Spanish Mercado Carniceria. Ralph’s market will become too snooty for your taste. You may have to hop off the hipster-train and eat non-organic fruits until the checks come back. The ridiculous gym club membership that you never used needs to be cut. The 200 dollar spa retreats that you went on must cease. You may have to go a season without the NFL package until things get better. It stinks, but you have to find a way to make the dollar stretch. This is the time to go to the library and soak up as much knowledge as you can about money. I am not telling you to become a cheapskate for life. I am stating that value becomes more important than price. Unemployment will teach you a lot about money. Its not a way you should be forced to learn, but it will make you more aware.

That’s what friends are for. Right?

Insecurity

Going to an in-laws on Thanksgiving is as embarrassing as undressing in front of a crowd. When you are unemployed it feels like the whole world knows. Random people that you never have met before will approach you with the whole “UPS is hiring!” or ” The coffee shop on Winston Ave, and Bloomington Blvd are hiring”. Of course, they mean well, but it doesn’t sit well with you, when you know that you have been busting your ass putting in applications. Some baby boomers are completely dumbfounded when it comes to job searching on the internet. They make getting a job sound like getting a Snicker bar at a candy shop. They’re all like “Hey, When I was your age, I went down to the Post Office and talked with an Irish fella named Jim O’Malley. I didn’t even have to interview, I was driving a big-rig the next day with no license. Back in my day, you learned on the spot! None of this computer crap.”  I’m like “Yeah, you also could snort coke and drive drunk in your day too. Where’s the honor in that?!” The insecurity will be constant, but if you let the right person know, you might be able to land the decent job you’ve been searching for.

Depression and Anxiety struggles no one understands

Inexplicable mood swings

One of the problems that people with depression deal with is random mood swings. One morning, you may wake up and feel like are going to deal with a challenging day but can deal with it. Other days you will wake up and feel like the apocalypse is beckoning you to come outside. It will be a struggle to deal with the most trivial matters, and no one will understand why you seem “out of it”. It will be days when you are loquacious and clear minded, and other days when you will be completely anti-social and introverted.

Triggers and cues

You are sitting down watching the nightly news, and hear the death announcement of a childhood TV personality you idolized. You recognize that the celebrity is close in age to your parents and you start to immerse your thoughts into mortality and death. The death of your parents starts haunting you, because you are in constant fear of them passing away. The TV news program was a trigger to ignite your anxiety disorder and place you into fear. Adults are extensions of our younger selves. So, the phobias we never get over become stuck inside our mind. It is the reason why that JaRule and Ashanti track that happened to come on your Pandora stream made you think of the high school sweetheart that broke your heart. Or the smell of that clearance bottle of J-Lo perfume at Burlington Coat Factory, takes you back to a bad date you had in 2006. A person with anxiety will become sensitized,  to any fear causing trigger that most people wouldn’t recognize.

Overeating or Lack of appetite

Depression can drag your stomach size way down, or make your waistline explode. Most people don’t think of food as a drug. It is a running punchline for people who are overweight that they are eating their emotions, but it is true. Fat, salt, sugar are three of the most emotional sensations of pleasure to the human mind.  Sugar is akin to cocaine, setting off the same receptors of dopamine in the brain. Food companies know it, so they add sugar and corn syrup to boost sales. A person may not have the money to buy a Lamborghini and a mansion. But he or she will most certainly have enough money to go through a drive-thru to get some fast food. The stresses of life can seem like they disappear when you are eating a pint of ice cream. On the other end of the spectrum, life can be so down and out that you find no enjoyment in anything. Eating is not something you feel that you have to do to live. If you eat something for the day, cool. If not, no problem. You can barely remember the last time you ate something, because life is just…whatever. When food is offered, you respectfully decline and move on with your day.

Suppressed Emotions

You want to reach out and get help. You want to talk to a professional or good friend to purge your emotions. The issue is that EVERYONE has problems. Your problems are no better than his or hers in the bystander’s mind. “Someone out there has it way worst than you and me, my friend!!” one acquaintance may surmise. “Why don’t you just snap out of it?” another friend may say. In their mind, you are a person who can overcome these thoughts with some Tony Robbins affirmations. If you are a man, you are supposed to be this log-chopping, car mechanic, motorcycle riding, stereotypical brute who can tough any issue out like a REAL man. What usually follows is some nostalgic story of the obnoxious friend or acquaintance’s father or grandfather, who were “REAL MEN”. They dealt with REAL issues like the depression and post-war. Not this pansy “new-age” Millenial bullshit. If you are a woman, the acquaintance may take the news like its a competition of “who has it worse?” She probably will commence to talk about her divorced friend who has 3 children and is successful now, and she had it way worse than you. You should be anything but depressed because you have NO REASON TO BE. So there you are, privately offended at the impudence of the friend or relative you decided to share it with. Stuck with the recommendation of a Tony Robbins, or Joel Osteen book, you sit there and wallow in self pity. “No one cares to hear about my problems”, you conclude.

The voice in your head

This voice is the worst son of a gun that you wish never existed. He has been with you ever since the bullies teased you in grade school. He was the asshole that prevented you from talking to girls and making friends. He talks very loud and disrespectful when you stand in front of a mirror, slandering your reason to exist, and pointing at every flaw not edible for American culture. He or she is the reason you will never start a business and be successful, because you are the worst example of a breathing creature. Most people can hear the voice and ignore it. Other folks hear it and use it to make improvements. The fourth group, is the most irritating of all, they imagine there is no such voice within them and they (allegedly) kick its ass every time it comes near. This is a voice you will most likely never get rid of and will have to accept for most of your life, until you can finally get the help you need.

7 things I would tell the teenage me

Fubu and N’Sync

1.)Read Books as often as possible

I totally understand that you are into baggy FuBu clothes and Air Force One Nike’s. I even got that you have a fascination with blackplanet.com and Yahoo Messenger. The problem you are failing realize is that you are not reading any books. You don’t need any money because there is a library located immediately across the street from your high school, filled with invaluable knowledge. Reasons you need to read books is because you have no idea of who you are as an individual. Black History is just another month where you accept the cliche stories with polyanna dialogue. You have no knowledge about racism other than Spike Lee movies, and have no idea how diluted the presentation of Slavery is. A book has no cut scenes, or time limits. Depending on the author you choose, a book will give you the unadulterated truth about anything you wish to learn. You have to learn about a lot of stuff that your parents are filtering out of your life. When you read, you create a mind filled with perspective. You develop from a boy into a man.

“So its not called Malcolm Ten, the X is for unknown!”

2.)Recognize Family mortality

Unfortunately, most of the family members you grew up to revere will perish, and your parents will become disabled and sick. I hate to be terse, but you need to come out and speak to your family, because heart disease, cancer, and other afflictions will take them away. Humans only have so much time on Earth before the next chapter. Nobody is exempt, e.g.,the King of pop and Whitney Houston will punch the time card soon also.

3.)Friends are temporary

I understand that you grew up with each other since childhood, smoked chronic, and called the party-line together. Yes, those HALO multiplayer tournaments on the XBOX will be epic. Your friends are NOT forever. One day you will meet that special woman who will carry your child, and co-found a household with you. That whole “Bros before Ho’s” shit will be out of the window and you will catch the cooties. Despite the occasional argument, you will want to spend every waking moment with that person. Hitting the club to chase some bourgeois broads will become old. Making passion to someone you love will become more than just “gettin’ sum”, it will feel special. Hanging out to have occasional talks will always be there among true friends, however, life will split the bond into different trajectories.

4.)Think broader than being an ATHLETE or RAPPER

So, you got your Rocawear T-shirt on with your Sean John Velour suit, you think you got bars that will change the world. You feel like you can spit in a cypher with Ludacris and Busta Rhymes and they will sign you. Eminem is the rap version of Tiger Woods and you feel inspired to be the next big talent. The problem with that logic is that everyone in the ‘hood’ is trying to do the same thing. The market for trying to be an athlete or rapper is shamelessly over saturated. Everyone is trying to do it. It’s so many artists that are working three times harder than you, and fail miserably. That is not to say that you cannot make it. If you figure out how to come out with a catchy dance with a song, you will become popular and attain fame. For how long?.. Then you become a one-hit wonder who never gets heard from again. If you wish to be long-term, prepare for lots of thieving and song stealing from people with more clout. Prepare for performing at shady clubs with no crowds and no money. How about meeting prominent people in the industry who make false promises to you? Guys who promise they will listen to your CD in the club you performed in, only to find it thrown in the garbage or even littered in the parking lot. The rappers that are in front of the camera, have a combination of extreme tenacity, talent, and luck that makes them exceptional. So, I ask you, how do You want to be a rapper, and never attempt to read a book about how the music industry is. Being a rap artist is business, and you have no knowledge of the industry. Think about all of the rappers who never made it because they never understood contracts. Think broader than rap. The manager/agent who is behind the scenes making 10% of all of the commissions of popular artists are making a steady income. The rapper is constantly under pressure from fans and record labels. If the next song is a flop and your album goes foam, adios amigo. Think about the guy working behind the scene who owns 40% of the shares of the label. He sits on his ass making mailbox money, while you slave and dodge gang-member club fights every night. This is where reading books comes into play. Being a Dentist or Engineer may sound boring, but it will probably place you in a more secure position, than a volatile music career.

“Do that dance!! Do that dance!! Hey!!!”

5.)You have been lied to

Being the diligent and good boy that you are, you believe everything that your mommy and daddy tell you. Even Tupac lied and said America is not ready to have a Black President. All of the cliche sayings that you hear, i.e:”hard work pays off in the end”, “great things happen to those who wait”,”rich people are the root of all evil”, and “Go to college and get a degree to be something in life”, are at best half-truths. The reason you believe in God is because of what your parents taught you, which was the result of what their parents taught them. For instance, were people who existed before Christ, spurned to hell, because of not knowing him and accepting him as their Lord and Savior? Its not to say if he is real or not, just an interesting question to ponder. Great things don’t happen to those who wait. If you procrastinate long enough on a opportunity, it will pass you by and you will fail. Rich people are not the root of all evil. Contrary to popular belief, rich people that you assume are assholes are not evil. Most rich people voted for Bush because of tax and financial purposes. Yes, there will be greed among the highest businessmen in America. The billionaires will be  in a category called “one-percenter”(not the bike club, more like the yacht club). 2008, will be the year that the economy tanks and media will sensationalize the wealthy as crooks. Collectively as a group, the wealthy are some of the most altruistic people you could meet. They donate to many causes that the government doesn’t interfere with. The opulent businessmen of America create full-time jobs for the middle and lower-class society. A rich person loves a country ran with less government and more autonomy. A millionaire wants to feel that he can operate his businesses and make money without government  interference. Rich neighborhoods are usually safer than poorer ones. A poor person has pent up aggression towards the world  for people not showing compassion for his or her struggle. A poor person will rob and steal from another person, not for the sake of enjoyment, but for survival. Lack of money brings in stress. Stress begets anger, and anger impels a man to do something he may later regret. These are reasons why crime rates are higher in poor neighborhoods. Go to college and become something is anecdotal. For some it may be a rite of passage, And for others it was an expensive waste of 4 years for a defunct or obsolete education. I personally feel an empty void for not going, so its something you should do. Go and study computer engineering because it will be a booming industry. Get an MBA afterwards and combine the two. Hard work does not always pay off in the end. I work 60+ hours a week and yes I make decent money, but the lifestyle is overwhelming. Smart work pays off in the end. Work hard if you have a personal business that you building from scratch. Work smart if you want to be wealthy. As a garbage man, you will encounter plenty of rich people who let their money work for them. They are not stressing over retirement savings, because they own apartment properties and franchise restaurants.

6.)Technology will make everything better

Anything that you will imagine will become better. No more newspapers for information, news literally popping in front of your eyes in real time, as it happens. Camera surveillance that will be ubiquitous(everywhere) with videos going viral of scandals. From dating to doctor visits, the internet will make life very easy. The Nokia phone with polyphonic ringtones will be dead. The mobile phone, however, will be almost more important than a wallet. The mall that you frequent will only be of use during “Black Friday”(after Thanksgiving) sales. E-Commerce will take over the hassle of waiting in line at a brick-and-mortar store.  Circuit City will be replaced and everything will be digital. Cars that have GPS navigation, just in case you get lost. Downloadable video games and their will be a solution for everything. Hence, the reason I alluded to studying the computer field when I spoke on broadening your occupation choices. The future starts now.

7.)Enjoy your naiveté

Enjoy your youth and innocence. Smoke weed,clown and joke as much as you can. Meet as many women and partake in any activity you wish. Travel across the globe and meet different cultures. Appreciate the times of laughter and feeling immortal. Make no rush into growing up and becoming an adult. You may hate being told what to do 24 hours, 7 days a week with nonstop nagging. It will be awkward coming home smelling like weed and being paranoid that you are sticking out like a sore thumb. You will hate your parents insinuating what jobs or major you need to take, so they can impress their friends. Whats worse, is when they start asking you to chip in on groceries! Wow! the gall of your parents, how insensitive and cruel of them. Now, fast forward your imagination to a future date to where either I am at, or later.  As you grow older you will lose hair, gain weight, be responsible for twelve times as much, and won’t be able to ask your parents for money; they will be on a fixed income. You will endure new jobs, job losses, bad bosses, bad jobs. No drug use whatsoever, compounded with the stress of being responsible for a whole family. You will have days where you will want to chase opportunities, but will likely consider them unrealistic. Between the fact you have a family you barely get to spend time with, and a demanding job, you will sulk in shame. The more gadgets and bullshit you buy, the more bills you get in the mail, and will be forced to go to a job you don’t love. Enjoy the freedom of not paying rent, and taking the little money you do have to buy off the dollar menu. Life is about to get hard, so age as slow as you can.

Reasons why you should buy “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

She made me feel like a middle-aged White feminist divorcee.
  1. Elizabeth Gilbert has the most realistic approach about dream chasing- Change your perception of failure and fear.
  2. Get out of the “apprentice” mindset when it comes to helping people. Do no favors for people when it comes to your craft.
  3. How to get out of the permission mindset: I’m too fat, not attractive enough, no experience, what if…etc.
  4. Just go for it! Success and failure are all subjective anyhow. Put the work out there.
  5. Stop taking yourself so seriously, live creative without boundaries.
  6. The suffering/tragic artist is a myth.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love, writes another New York Times Bestseller. Big Magic, is not another glib self-help book written by an impudent Guru. Gilbert, attacks the common fallacies that hold us back from our creative energy. Fear of failure is almost number one on anyone’s list for anything. Reluctant to start a blog about awesome books, I felt an immense fear of failure. In spite of that, the right book will motivate the most procrastinating dreamer. Gilbert, gives you that kick in the bottom to get the inertia rolling. Just get off your stinking tail and start rolling.

“I swear I’m gonna start my fitness DVD. Soon!”

Gilbert, had this concept of a book that involved a Minnesotan woman traveling to an Amazonian jungle on a business trip, that eventually turned into her falling in love with her superior. Abandoning the book project for her young love life, Gilbert, lost her motor to complete the book. Traveling to some event later on, she met some woman that coincidentally had the exact same story that Gilbert abandoned. This is where Gilbert inserts her incredible belief of spirits, and creative energy being transferred in the universe. Due to my skeptic nature, I became disconnected from the whole “energy in the universe” mantra. Eh, I don’t know about that. This is starting to feel creepy.

“No thanks, I’ll pass. I don’t want to hear what my dead Grandpa Henry has to say to me.”

Besides that, the book is a knockout hit. Unlike most self-help books, Gilbert, feels as if she is talking WITH you. The vibe of the book is like an expensive lunch with a mentor. Gilbert, has a mastery of storytelling that is impeccable. She can talk to you about bagpipes in Scotland, and you will feel inspired to put on a kilt. The theme of the book is similar to Nike: ‘Just do it!’ Get off your ass and fail, then fail some more, until you ultimately succeed. Gilbert, failed many times over, dealing with constant rejection and botched efforts. Unequipped with any certainty, Gilbert, created Eat,Pray, Love and her career took off. Many people loved it, another crowd of people hated it, and dissected flaws in the story. Nevertheless, the movie and book were an international success that catapulted her into stardom. Gilbert’s response to the critics:”If people don’t like what you’re creating, just smile at them sweetly, and tell them to go make their own fucking art!” This is so true. Imagine if Gilbert, or any other luminary you admire, stopped and revised their art for the sake of pleasing everyone. Inevitably, the work would be compromised and disingenuous.

Just stick to what you know is authentic. Don’t change to fit everyone’s flavor.

For the millionth time I questioned myself why I haven’t followed my dreams. After reading Big Magic, I clearly understood why I never allayed my creative appetite. The fear of being a gigantic screw up was looming over my head.  I have no experience writing a blog, and I feared that I would be exposed for the flaws of my inexperience. Without truly conceptualizing my actions, I was giving the imaginary internet troll, or English major wise-ass, permission to prevent an action I never even attempted. Gilbert’s Big Magic, helped me grasp an understanding of  this logic that was present inside of me. Maybe I’ve read it in another self-help book, and it isn’t original, however, the way that she presented the information had a different angle to it.

The last thing I will leave you with is her take on the tragic artist myth. She asserts that you don’t have to be the suffering artist who translates pain into beautiful creativity. Her message is be yourself, create your own story, and stop conflating art with money. Don’t be upset at your creativity for not making money, because art is simply art.

Gilbert says: I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protect, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis … but simply because I liked it.”

She is one hell of a speaker also. Check out her ted talks on YouTube:

Stop playing around, and add this book to your book collection. You will not regret it. Information posted below.

http://www.amazon.com/Big-Magic-Creative-Living-Beyond-ebook/dp/B00S52M350

5 compelling books that will change your life.

 Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

One of the illest books ever written, SON!!!

Nothing has ever made me feel transformed like this book did. As a man who suffers from depression, I have to read this book at least twice a year. This book was originally going to have no author, Frankl, originally intended for this book to be written as Anonymous, or his assigned prison number. Frankl, was a psychologist who endured a German Nazi concentration camp, and had the gumption to write a book recalling all of the mental/physical tortures done to his community. The details and descriptions of the masochistic psyche of Nazi’s were so perverse it planted you inside of the author. The tension was so palpable in this book, it made my stomach turn. The psychological terrors were so visceral that a man suffering from his worst nightmare would be in Paradise in comparison to reality. Not only the psychologist is a compelling writer, he is an actual survivor of the reprehensible concentration camp. Losing almost everything that was associated with him to the abysmal hell -family, friends, everything- he comes out with a mind clear enough to write a thorough masterpiece that is a classic for the ages. If this man can survive a calamity, and have a clear mind after such a dark tunnel, he absolutely understands the meaning of life.

Spittin’ that ether!

The Republic, Plato

The man behind religion.

Republic, by Plato, is so far ahead of its time, it is ridiculous. The book starts with a spirited debate over who holds more power, a just (righteous) human being, or an unjust person. Plato commences to verbally emasculate the guy in front of his squad of mentors and comrades. The book goes on and on about how a society should be built from scratch and what logically makes sense for the greater good of mankind. I found myself shaking my head several times in disbelief of the crazy assumptions that Plato held. As crazy as it seems in current times, these ideas were the inception of laws, military, and religion. He started the argument for what is morally correct, and what is immoral before the celebrated Christianity came into existence. His teachings were what spawned Aristotle into surpassing him. Aristotle is responsible for writings that would inspire Eastern philosophy and religion. So, this one book would eventually ignite some of the greatest minds to ever write. St. Augustine, the creator of Western Christianity, was inspired by Plato. St. Augustine inspired Martin Luther, creator of the Lutheran bible . The Republic, is responsible for the ideology that inspired Western culture and religion.

Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin

Talk about black-face, for real.

Many people from other races automatically assume that African-Americans don’t have it that bad. Countless amounts of conservatives fall under the assumption that America is a country that is based on the content of one’s character. John Howard Griffin is an exception to the rule. Griffin, underwent several dermatology procedures to darken his skin. Griffin literally becomes a Negro in the Jim Crow era, traveling to the deep south, and facing the ugliness of racism. Ladies and gentleman, you may ask yourself “What is the difference between him and Rachel Dolezal?”. This man did it for 30 days and continued to fight as a white man for racial equality. Dolezal intentionally beguiled people who genuinely trusted her. She continued a facade of Pan-Africanism, and never remained true to herself or others. Griffin had the gumption to face the ills of his own race, and internalize the insecurities that a black man carries within him. He recognized not only the burdens of the white gaze, but also a coded black behavior that is implicated among the race. Griffin comes in constant conflict with the white privilege he is afforded, while being deprived the right as a black man to use a restroom. The fear of southern white backlash was so great among whites that liberal whites were afraid of being civil to African-Americans in public. In those times, it was more acceptable to be known as a white racist, than a “nigger-lover”. The repercussions for inter-racial relationships were violent. Griffin, had the balls to face the ugliness of white supremacists, while risking his life fighting for a cause that he knew was absolutely correct. He marched alongside blacks in the prime of racial turmoil, and received local death threats that put him and his family in peril.This is the definition of death defying courage.

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Too much awesomeness contained in one book

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and psychologist, opens up your brain and splits it in two. Not literally, but in the philosophical sense by making you examine the two operating systems in your brain. System 1 is the FAST system that is sheer reaction. These are the things that you do instinctively without apprehension. System 2 is the system that is SLOW. This is the system you use when you play a puzzling strategy game, or use to fix a broken piece of equipment. Kahneman, sheds light on the flawed biases that we involuntarily assume are correct.He dissects the situation and uses algorithms over imagination. Everything that you believe is true may not actually be constructed as such. Pundits and so called experts can actually be the worst type of advisers due to the inability to admit fault. A pundit will almost automatically assume he or she knows best, because of expertise and intuition, which is nothing more than a gut feeling. Perhaps using algorithms over experts could’ve prevented the economic collapse of 2008. Kahneman, reveals the issues of  the anchoring effect, and how framing a question could elicit predictable answers. One of the most compelling books that I’ve ever picked up to read.

Damn Gina!!

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

The original cynic. King of keeping it 100!

Niccolo Machiavelli, is the original king of keeping it real. Machiavelli specifically speaks on autocratic systems- ran by one individual ruler. In the book he expounds on the failures of past rulers with errant tactics that either got them impeached or banished. Furthermore, he talks about the importance of appearing to have the citizens interest at heart. The appearance was more important than truly giving people what they wanted. His ideology was “it is better to be feared, than be loved”. Say whatever it takes to gain the people of the town’s trust, and then stay true your personal values. My favorite example he uses in the book is of a General who hires a henchman to carry forth a violent act in another part of town. The people of the town claimed the henchman’s act of violence was so brutal that the public called for the General to execute him. The General orders the same goon – that did all of his dirty work- to be beheaded before the crowd. Is that example far fetched from the backstabbing and posturing that goes on in today’s politics? I don’t think that it is. A politician will say whatever will capture the citizens vote, while concealing ulterior motives. The Prince, offers compelling points that aren’t morally acceptable, but nevertheless true in many cases.

a.k.a reality shows and publicity stunts

Lamar Odom and Snark

As a lifelong Laker fan, I was very sad to hear about Lamar Odom. I am aware of the drug use that is associated with Odom and can honestly say that I was always somewhat pulling for him. For most who aren’t aware of Lamar Odom, he is a talented NBA veteran, 2x NBA Champion, and Sixth Man award recipient. He is a man that is plagued with trauma and losses that start from childhood.

Things seem to have made a bad turn around the time that he was cut from the Lakers in 2011. Odom made a trade demand after reports leaked of an NBA trade being vetoed. Feeling deeply insulted and distraught, he demanded to be traded elsewhere. Odom was aghast because he came off a season winning an NBA sixth man award, arguably coming off of his best season. This was an awful summer for Odom. His cousin passed away and barely a day after he was involved in an accident that took the life of a child. Odom was only a passenger, however, the trauma still penetrated his spirit. In the midst of all of the drama, he was adjusting to a new role on a new nba franchise. Completely out of shape and mentally confounded, his stint with the mavericks was a complete disaster.

Media attention comes to a boil

Dealing with a failing NBA career, he suffered from depression and turned to drugs to escape.Odom became part of the Kardashian family by marrying Khloe Kardashian. Part of the Kardashian culture is being under constant reality show surveillance. Considering that basketball was a finite resource of income, he considered reality TV as an avenue for post career aspirations. Constantly carrying the burden of camera surveillance, Odom became disgruntled. What originally felt like an auspicious decision became dismal when faced with constant disappointment. Rumors began to swirl of Odom succumbing to the demons of crack use, that ultimately caused the public split with estranged wife Khloe Kardashian.

Example of Media Snark

Odom almost became invisible, disappearing from the spotlight and becoming a recluse. Living in the current era of internet snark, Odom developed a reputation as a crack addict. The stigma was almost akin to Whitney Houston, and Bobby Brown. Heavy drug use is often a pernicious cycle that usually ends in death. Death is something that no rational human being would associate with laughter, however, with the power of snark, there is an insidious nature that is cruel to the object being scrutinized. A person having addiction issues is something that often gets categorized as being “weak-minded” and “stupid”. As if addiction is a vice that can be controlled, people make insensitive comments in public, or through internet forums. In many cases, these are the same people who suffer with more acceptable vices:Drinking too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes, overeating, or infidelity. Unfortunately, Odom is a celebrity for whatever reasons people may know him. Due to the unrealistic nature of fans and internet trolls, celebrities are supposed to be perfect and infallible. He is a man before anything, and we as people need to monitor our downfalls and flaws before slandering anyone.

“Odom is a crack addict loser”-Internet troll

       Odom had a wild weekend that became a national story. It is very unfortunate that Odom is in a hospital bed and fighting for his life. I sincerely hope that his health makes a turn for the better. More importantly, I hope it is a reminder to us as Americans that we need to reach out to people, and just listen to them. We may not be able to help a person on drugs financially,or help them get into a recovery facility, however, we can make that same person feel as if they do exist and you are pulling for them. This isn’t exclusive to drug addicts, ex-convicts or people with troubled history need to be reached out to as well. As D.L. Hughley, famous comedian, said in a interview with TMZ, drug addicts have an inevitable downfall that usually ends in death. Lets hope that Odom pulls through “dire straights” into a longer life of purpose.

Lamar in his Laker days