Archive for the ‘homelife’ Category

Well, not you, kids.  I know I often call you “kids.”  But today I mean my facial hairs; aka neck-sprouts; aka my-stache support system.

My beard is gone.  And I better learn how to face it.

It’s a weird time to be beardless.  At least two dudes1 with blogs of the highest repute — 12minds and JP — are starting, not ending, beard campaigns.  November is National Beard Growing Month, partly to raise awareness for men’s health, mostly because dudes like growing beards.  And so here I am, swimming against the tide.

I had “good” reason.  Saturday was Halloween and we, as a spoof of HBO’s Big Love, were Big Black Love.  Sure: you could argue that taking a shot at an entire group of people — those who play Mormons on TV and in real life — is insensitive and divisive.  But since Mormon-celebrated Brigham Young once saw fit to aggressively preclude blacks from positions of power in the Church of Latter Day Saints, let’s just call this my attempt at a little balance.


I was a black Mormon and Miss Bianca was my wife-one-of-three.  For her costume, we spent a whopping $7.90 at a thrift store for some of the frumpiest clothes seen since Laura Ingalls Wilder adorned her mother’s hand-me-downs.

black mormon_For me, there’s a picture.  I don’t think it does our idea justice so lemme ‘splain.

No jewelry, contacts instead of glasses, backpack, super-pleated pants, gold-buckle belt, tie, name tag that read “Jebedias Pious,” The Big Black Book of Mormon and propaganda/spirituality cards that read either “Want God? We deliver,” “Ask me about our underwear,” or “More V for your P.”  I handed a few of these cards out; one to a lady in nun’s clothing at a nearby table who looked like she’d understand the joke on a deeper level.

But to top it all off, I shaved the beard for that fresh-faced, full-of-joy look.  Problem: I don’t even own a razor or shaving cream.  I only have trimmers and clippers since, like Tim Taylor, I believe in power tools.  So — *braces self for embarrassing admission* — I had to borrow shaving gear from Miss Bianca.  That meant a purple razor and Skintimate.  I’m not proud.  I mean, my face now shimmers with the glow of lavender oil.  At least it’s oh-so-touchable, though.

So I’m starting this month with a naked face; a face that hasn’t been truly naked in a year.  And it’s a cold, cold world like this, kids (this time I do mean you).  Sure: I look more “professional.”  But I’m also probably going to start getting carded all the time, now; even when I only ask for beer-battered cheese fries.


1Edit: Phampants is in, too. Anyone else?


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In your readers, there is a post about a neighbor of mine.

The post is a lighthearted joke about him finding a lady to spend some time with.   I wrote it Monday, a few days after having invited him into our home for a drink for the first time, after we had been talking, and talking and talking about doing so since we first moved in in mid-July.  I scheduled it to post at 12:01 this morning.

I took it down.

Outside this “old guy’s” house this morning there was a police car, a medical examiner’s van and a stretcher.  No ambulance.  No flashing lights.  No emergency.  Just response.

I don’t know what happened.  And may not know for a few days.  But the post didn’t seem as funny anymore.  This space was meant for better things.

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I’m not entirely sure what a gift horse is. I know I don’t consider myself one. But I still don’t like being looked in the mouth.

There’s this local neighboarish guy in our little neck of the hood.1 When we were checking out the now-not-so-new place early this summer, the current tenant said there was a local guy who’d sometimes come around to clean the yard a little, etc.  About a month and a half after we’re settled in at our place, I meet this guy for the first time.

It’s 9:00 on a Saturday.2 The doorbell rings. Miss Bianca and I look at each other as Cody — our dog — audibly loses his mind. When I open the door, standing just outside the reach of our outside light is a dude, approximately six feet tall, haggard with a pair of gardening shears staring back at me from the shadows.

I step outside and close both the gate and the door behind me. His attempt to explain who he is is disappointing; a jarbled, incoherent series of short unresponsive phrases to my questions. Basically, he’s the guy we’d heard about and when he stopped by previously, Miss Bianca had asked him to come back another time.

He and I have a gentlemanly conversation about the propriety of arriving unannounced, after dark with scissors capable of decapitation.

Fast forward.

It’s now yesterday, and over the course of several weeks, he has randomly stopped by, claimed he did some yard work we never a) asked for or b) can confirm he did, rather than our neighbor whose yard stretches into ours. But we’ve given him some of the cash we’ve had, because, you know, whatever.

But yesterday, as I walk up to our door, he appears from nowhere and starts pointing to some weeds we’re 90% sure our neighbor pulled days ago. He asks for cash. I tell him to let me get inside a second, get the mail, etc.

When I come back out, I give him the only proportionate bill either MB or I had: a five. Actually, I hold out the five and he does nothing. Then he rolls his eyes. Then he sighs. Then he says, “I guess it’s better than nothing.” Then he reluctantly extends his hand.

And I don’t get it. Yes: we normally give him at least twice that. No: if I had actually spent all afternoon pulling weeds, five would not seem enough.


Our “yard” is a DC yard. That means it’s approximately five by seven feet. Also, he never asks. He just, allegedly, does stuff to it without direction when no one is around and then sticks out his hand for a reward.

And we’re a little over it.  He’ll just show up, point to the ground, say, “I did that” and wait for one of us to reach into our pocket.  And we are starting to feel more and more sure that we’re being hustled.  But maybe it’s just us.

1Do hoods have necks? If not, they should. The woods get all the personifying features.

2How did Piano Man lyrics get here?

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I am neither lost nor at a loss.  I am not misled or misplaced.  I am not stranded with “S.O.S.” tattooed on my forehead.

Yet, there you are, at my front door, Bible in hand, with a duty to sell, ready to save my soul.  And here I am, wishing for the death of a salesmen.

The problem is not that you believe what I have made a decision not to accept.  The problem is that your system of beliefs seems to come with an aggressive marketing scheme and I learned at an early age to be wary of strangers with something to prove.

I don’t want your god.  I mean him, her, it or them no disrespect.  I’m sure they are wonderful conversationalists; I’ve heard nothing but great things about the miracle of prayer.  But I’m simply not in the market for religion right now.

I grew up in the church.  I understand the need god fills for you.  It’s a need we all have: to understand how/what/where/when/why we are.  I just have a different strategy for finding the answers and I would appreciate it if you found the humanity to respect that.

All ideas are goal-oriented.  We have them to move us somewhere, even if it’s only an inch.  And, to me, you are ordering your steps up a stairway to heaven.  I think you’re more concerned with where you’ll be than where you are.  You have a destination in mind and your travel agent says the travel package features endless days and infinite nights in paradise, but one of the catches is recruitment/referrals.

So you knock on my door, armed with a manual written by men you’ve never met and pamphlets I can keep just in case a cartoon of a sheep and a white, bearded man in draped cloth is the only thing that will get me through a rough day.

Well, you didn’t ask, but if I had your ear, here’s what I believe.

I believe that the only religion I need is an unabashedly human one.  I believe that we should be concerned first with whether our lives make the lives of those around us more fruitful and not whether we please a being with nothing at stake and with nothing to lose.  There is no personal reward system for this; no eye towards karma or open hand to receive a key to the pearly gates.  There is only balance.

But I haven’t told you any of this as you stand at my door.  And I won’t if you come back next weekend or the one after.  I won’t; not just because what I think about what you believe is irrelevant, but because faith, much like love, is best communicated by example.  So, rather than read you my rights, I’m forgiving you for the insult of coming uninvited to my home and telling me my soul was in danger of flaming damnation unless I started living my life more like yours.

I forgive you.  But you don’t even notice.  And the irony of that is your loss.  I hope your faith finds you well.

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Allegedly, I’m there.

You know, there, right?  That place on the American life’s timeline where engagements and real estate purchases make their appearances; the one where your parents do a stellar job of “subtly” remarking on the preciousness of grandchildren; the place where you either start watching Rogaine commercials more closely or start waxing your upper lip (you know, depending on whether you were born a bird or a bee)¹.

Allegedly, I’m there.  I’ll be 27 in less than two months and while that is still, in my opinion at least, really young, it’s also an age ripe for fielding expectations disguised as questions, like

What do you do?  Is she/he The One?  Where do you live?  Do they have good schools there?

Of course they’re fair questions; of course.  But if the questions are asked in rapid-fire succession or their answers are awaited by 24 curious eyes, it’s enough to make anyone other than the most secure with what’s to come unsure about what to say.

After I write this, we’re headed out to say goodbye to some friends who are moving because they are embracing being already there.  And, I admit, it’s pretty vain of me to be so consumed with what their leaving means for my timeline.  Not every object should be held up as a mirror.  It’s probably a lot like checking my reflection in the window of a car I walk past.

But, maybe, since these questions are all everyone seems concerned with lately, maybe it’s cool if all I can do is think about the answers.


¹Still have no idea what an interspecies analogy has to do with the sexes.

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You were supposed to be my One.  We gotta get back to the start.

I remember how it all began: me with a computer, but no TV in my bedroom, and you with a seemingly endless array of movie and TV titles on DVD.

You had my heart, Netflix.

Somewhere along the line, though, I became content being just one of your 10 million subscribers.  I stopped asking for more than just enough.  You see, there’s a difference between the bare necessities — the simple bare necessities that let you forget about your worries and your strife¹ — and the bare minimum.

I should’ve known better.  I knew the way you’d treated other men you’ve been with.²  And yet, I fell into your trap.

And now, I’ve had Dick Tracy sitting in a familiar, but stranded, red paper sleeve since the first week of July.

It’s not fair to me.  It’s not fair to Dick Tracy.  But I gotta let it go, baby.  I gotta let it go.

Sure, I could wait until that one night when the stars align, my schedule empties and there’s nothing I want more than a strong ale and to reconnect with the story of a yellow-overcoated detective this generation has forgotten.

But, Netflix, if you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never know me.³  And if, after 7 weeks, I haven’t made time for Warren Beatty and Madonna — perhaps in the only film other than A League of Their Own that she hasn’t outright destroyed — then I will never make time.

Sometimes, you just gotta know when to walk away; or, to drop something back in the mailbox without having watched it and get something new from your queue.

This is that time.

I’m sorry Dick Tracy got caught in the middle.  I never meant for this to happen.

¹“Bare Necessities” – The Jungle Book
²“Luck Be A Lady” – Frank Sinatra
³“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

(Note: the Disney drawing from Friday will happen tonight.  So tune in tomorrow to see if you won.)

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I need another project.  Got anything for me?  Just a little to get me through.  Not much; just enough to get from now to tomorrow.

I gotta stay one jump ahead of the breadline; one swing ahead of the sword.

I am so the guy who wants to be keyed in most of the time.  Probably would make a pretty good project manager, as long as juggling is part of the duties.

Got a task?  I’ve got a hankering for completing it.

Too busy?  I will make time.  Don’t worry.  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  When the day gives you 24 hours, make 36.

There’s the job, and the blog, and the soon-to-be-new, additional blog, and running new media for an up and coming organization…

The weird thing?  I kinda like it.  And I trust myself enough to know that I’ll take a step back before I make the mistake Jesse Spano did.  I always have.¹

But there must be something wrong in my brain.  Being pushed to the limit is just a chance to find a new gadget or app to manage it all.  (Can’t wait for Google Wave’s launch later this year.)

Don’t get me wrong: it has definitely been a challenge, and one that I’m still working at getting right; step by step, inch by inch.²

But I’ll tell you a secret.  *leans in and whispers*  I get… bored.

Pretty quickly, actually.  I need stimulation.  I need new.  If today is exactly like yesterday, something has gone dreadfully wrong.

So if I notice things have gotten stale, I add something different; something that pushes me; something that forces me to get off my ass and be something better than I was the day before.

And I don’t always get it right.  I don’t.  But I just don’t want to face what not trying to get it right would feel like.

It’s not that I’m afraid of what has already happened or been.  It’s just that I know “yesterday” and “today” are different words for a reason.  So I’m trying my hardest to make sure I treat them that way.

¹Example: I’ve read a few less blogs the last couple of weeks than I’ve wanted to.

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