My Best Friend

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There are many people in life that influence the way that we think and the way that we act. Whether its a way that I say a word, or the way that I approach serving others, there have been many people that I can thank for making me the person I am today. It is rare that you find a person that influences you immensely and you can connect with at a deep friendship level. I am lucky because not only has my best friend helped shape who I am today, she is also my wife.

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Why Being Married is Awesome

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Je t’aime Ali

Now that I have been married for 2 years, I believe it’s time for me to start giving advice on how to succeed, right? On how it feels to be married, and what it actually means to love your spouse? It’s funny to me when I think about how people might ask me these questions. I have learned a lot since getting married in 2014, but I definitely have a whole life of learning ahead of me.

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The List

She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel as she went through the mental checklist of things she needed to do. The kids hadn’t done their homework; she hadn’t gone to the gym yet today; the laundry was still stacked on the drier; she needed to pay the electricity bill. ‘What could possibly be taking them this long’ she thought. The little glass barrier finally collapsed into itself revealing the familiar white bag she had been waiting for.

“Two burgers and fries with two diet cokes!” Stated the cheery employee as the woman snatched the bag and said a meaningless “thanks.”

“My pleasure!”

The drive through window was out of sight, and she sat now at a red light waiting for the traffic signal.

“Change you stupid light!” She yelled as she continuously tucked her loose strands of hair behind her ears. There was no one else in the car to sympathize with her impatience. She unhinged her jaw to the side as she released a sigh filled with steam of frustration.

As she pulled into the driveway she loosened her grip of the steering wheel for an instant. Relieved that she had a second to breathe. A moment to pull out of the strangle hold of a life that she was living. She stared into the familiar bricks glowing from her headlights, and then opened the car door knowing she had to continue into the depths of her own home.

The burgers and fries went to her two children as she hurried into the kitchen to recollect herself and start the next thing. “Mom, you forgot the ketchup?!… Where’s the ketchup?… Can you get the ketchup?”

“Use a napkin, not your sleeve.” She calmly replied as she went to get the ketchup from the refrigerator.

The list had shrunk slightly by the time she was forcing the kids into their pajamas, the nightly battle ritual that almost always ended with someone in tears. She finally read enough books to appease them both so that she could leave the slightly lit room and slip onto the couch fully exhausted. She had missed the show she wanted to watch, and her counterpart had yet to arrive.

The mirror in her bathroom revealed a very aged looking young girl. Very different from the girl who dreamed of living so vividly. She pulled her hands down her face revealing the elasticity of her worn skin, no longer resembling the innocence of her youth.

The next day was a daunting pile of things to pick up, things to clean, and things to pass her by. The world seemed to be moving too fast for her to be able to accomplish all of them. She took a gulp of water to swallow the sleeping pill that would help her go to sleep faster. She stared into the vastness of her failures, and worried how hard it might be to go to sleep still. She sipped another pill down. The mirror continued to show the same woman.

After the fourth and fifth pills she laid down on the cold tile of the bathroom floor. Stretching her fingers out she could feel her pulse in each movement in an ironic moment of clarity. Her world had slowed down enough for her to relax, for her to not have to think about the celebrity gossip in the latest magazine, or the stain that was still in his shirt, or the food that hadn’t been packed for the kids lunches. She could just feel the world around her and fully receive all it was telling her. The plant that was awkwardly placed on the ledge of their bathtub, the wrinkles in the ceiling because of the wear of the paint, the dirt in the cracks between the tiles on the floor, all became more known. The weight of the continuous list slowly lifted off of her shoulders and allowed her to take a deep breath. As she slowly closed her eyes and the last color filtered through her eyelashes, she was finally okay with where she was.

“Hey, honey. You okay?” A hand gently placed on her shoulder slowly forced her eyelids to open after several hours of being unconscious. “You’re on the bathroom floor?” She forced herself up off of the ground and slung her arms around his body.

“I guess I fell asleep.” She said as she rested her head on the pillow of his chest, not willing to recognize the lateness of his arrival. She squeezed the warmth out of his body. She could feel every bone that filled it, and every muscle that held those bones in place. The life that exuded from his being was totally in her grasp, and she was not going to let go. She did not want to have to do life on her own, to accomplish her list by herself.

“Hey, let’s get you to bed.” He lifted her head to his and slowly guided their foreheads together. Her list was still long, and he had a list of his own too. But when they touched their heads and closed their eyes for a second the lists vanished and they could just be alone in the massive world of giant lists together, unafraid to face them as long as they still had each other.

How to Lease a Toupee

There are several ways to lose hair. One seemingly obvious way that has continuously made my forehead larger is the proverbial tick-tock of time. The older I get the more my genes order my hair follicles to abandon ship as if my head is a maydaying WWII bomber. They hit the eject button while I shower, when I have an itch, and whenever a slight breeze rustles my locks. Although its frustrating, this ever growing loss of afro-ness can be contained. If I just limit myself to only two showers a month and never go outside and never touch my head again I’ll have a full head of hair when I’m eighty-two.

The problem is that time is not the only cause of hair loss. I only recently discovered this tragedy. Another source of chronic mirror-headedness comes from the modern search for a new apartment. I think that I would’ve been okay in the 80s, or even in the 1880s, but today there is just too much information at our fingertips. Everyone has access to public records, to realtor websites, to search engines, to google maps, to craigslist, to trulia, to zillow, to fandango, to momamachacho (this site is increasingly helpful), and many more that I have not even heard of.

I find myself staring into the depths of the craigslist postings of the day, or zooming around zillow’s “for rent” map. Apartments become available and are leased in less than an hour. I have to continue to remind myself that the perfect place will show up, that I will have the perfect timing, and that I will have enough finger speed to email the landlord at approximately two minutes after the apartment goes online. But I just don’t know anymore. As perfectly adequate apartments fly away left and right I start to doubt that my typing skills are going to be enough.

My wife and I have a revolving door that is our list of possible apartments and is the source of much duress. I usually blame myself for our inability to land the right spot. And in the flourishing market of Richmond real estate, who else is to blame but the searcher. There’s thousands of apartments available everyday. But the problem is that we have grown too picky. When something fits our price range it doesn’t have enough storage. When a place has a big enough kitchen it doesn’t have a toilet. One place has the perfect bedroom but has no front door. And on and on and on.

So here I am. Searching the archives of Richmond’s public records, trying to figure out how cheap it would be to commute from Tallahassee, and seeing more and more hair on the keyboard of my laptop. I say all this so that the next time that I appear in public it is not a shock that I am wearing a baseball hat, or a beanie, or a toupee, but that you will accept me for who I am. A hairless, homeless, young man who is still searching for a place to live. Wait, never mind. I just bought a house on craigslist for $500. Hopefully my hairs choose to stick around for a few more years.

The Adventures of a Face

Pretty much every morning consists of me doing the same thing. Waking up from my alarm and pressing snooze. Then repeating that process until I finally snap awake and realize I have 15 minutes to get ready for work. I shower, get dressed, eat a lovely breakfast (thanks to my much more awake wife), and shoot out the door toward another day at work. Along the way, I do have to look at myself in the mirror so that I don’t look like a fifth grader tied my tie, and because of this I have started to notice something growing on my face.

It has taken a while, but I can finally see it from a distance. The leftovers of “No Shave November” and a somewhat reluctant green light from “The One That I Kiss” has left me with a scraggly beard.

The beard, or sir beard as I never refer to it, has changed not only my outer grubbish appearance, but also has changed who I am on a very small level. I look around at a crowded room of shaved people and feel sorry for them. They all have to deal with the anguish of cutting down and fighting back the hair that so desperately wants to be seen on their own face everyday. Also, I have noticed that when I am thinking or pondering something truly deep, as I always do, I find myself stroking the hairs that make up the shadow of a beard that surrounds my mouth and jaw line.

Growing a beard is a man’s natural instinct to keep warm during the cold months and a way to figuratively puff out one’s chest at any passer by. It allows a man to reconnect with his inner caveman. Whether it is a well groomed masterpiece or a few lonesome hairs on a chin, hair of the face allows the grower to feel a little different than the normal ole chap.

I truly do feel sorry for mine though. I have gone twenty three years and I have not yet learned the under appreciated talent of growing a stout beard. My beard looks as though a kindergartner got tired of drawing hairs on his doodle of a stick figure. I know that I have come a long way since my misguided side burn middle school years, but there is still a wide gap of what a beard should look like and what my face looks like.

I continue to pursue a better life for the fur on my face though. The longer I let it live, the more likely it will live a viable life. I give it hope every time I press snooze too many times, or walk past a mirror and catch a glimpse of a hair or two. Maybe someday it will approach greatness. That will be the day. When it can boast to other beards, and walk right up to strangers and yell in a deep and resounding voice “I am a beard.” It is then that I will be able look my beard in the face, shake its hand and say, “You really are growing on me.”