Are You Smart or Smart Enough?

[Admin Note: Earlier today on Twitter, somebody mentioned a post I wrote almost 10 years ago - literally almost 10 years ago as in June 2004 - as part of a convo they were having. I figured it must be a sign from The Sign Company to revisit and share. Mostly as a means of looking at life from the lens of a then just turned 25 year old and what my thought process was. This post was about my thought process as a parent almost 5 years before I had a kid. Let's see where I was coming from.]

Screen-Shot-2012-05-25-at-11.09.29-AMEver had a broke hug? As in hugged a broke person??? I do it all the time and in kind, I give lots of broke hugs. They suck so I want my kids to be able to give rich hugs. So I have a plan.

I’m not a role model and may never be. But a thought I had yesterday really brought it home for me. I realized that when I have kids I’m not going to tell my kids to be geniuses or even to be smart.

I’m going to tell them to be smart enough. Why do you ask? I’ll tell you why.

Because I’m learning that smart people don’t get to be millionaires. Athletes, entertainers, black folks who started stuff back in the 1900?s offspring; they all get to be millionaires. Me? I’ve been considered smart my whole life and I’m broke. I’ve been to college, twice. Still broke.

Debunking a Popular Misconception: If you are smart you can be rich. This is wrong. If you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with or without the right idea, you can be rich. You know why? Smart people are risk averse because smart people know that they can get f*cked up financially by just one bad decision. So smart folks don’t take those chances because we realize we have something to lose. Smart enough people just have their balls and their word, so they take chances because at the end of the day, we all we got…oh yeah, and a million bucks in the bank.

There were a lot of smart enough people in the NBA draft the other day. Smart enough to stay eligible because they knew millions awaited them. I’ll bet lots of them fellas became honor students when they realized they could make the draft. As a result, the number of black millionaires just increased by like 20. And what’s worse, that might be 20% of all the black millionaires. 50 Cent is smart enough to know that 9 shots, which everybody is capable of getting, could make him a household name. Bingo…50 cent made like $21 million last year.

So I’m going to tell my kids to be smart enough; smart enough to make it through high school while dribbling that damn ball from the house to the school. Or singing they ass from the church to the house. I know lots of folks in college, graduate school, professional school. All of us have debt…Shaq doesn’t have any debt. Kobe doesn’t have any debt (aside from that potential debt to soceity…different talk show). 50 Cent, Dre, Cosby, Chris Rock ain’t got no debt. Jocephus from the University of Maryland Law School…debt. Anquenetta from UCLA Med school…debt.

I was doing a web search for black millionaires. It was quite eye-opening. I couldn’t find a single damn estimate. I kept finding stats like, “the number of black millionaires has risen 75% in the past 6 years.” Nowhere did they tell me what it rose from. Not one site had any estimates of the number of black millionaires. What I did find was that in America in 2003, there were roughly 2.3 millionaires…out of about 280 million people. That’s less than 1%. So I know our numbers must be really small. The fact that I couldn’t find any numbers indicated to me that there must not be that many…like maybe 100 or 200 at most…including rappers, actors, and ballplayers. Which probably accounted for the majority of them. So that’s what I’m pushing for.

My kid wants to be a rapper??? I’m going Richard Williams style on they asses. They are gonna be the best 12 year old rappers ever. Next Jay-Z…let’s make it happen. You wanna be the next 50…I’ll drop you off in South Side Jamaica Queens n*gga you heard me so we can start your legacy. Because smart rappers are broke too. Look at Talib Kweli and Mos Def (his rap career anyway) or Jurassic 5 or hell anybody that ain’t Jay-Z, Dre, Eminem, 50, or Outkast. Oh yeah, and Cash Money, and Master P since both of those camps were smart enough to capitalize on the times.

Now don’t get me wrong, if my son wants to be an astrophysicist that’s all well and good. I’m sure DuPont will pay him a nice little bit of money. And I’ll push him to be the best damn astrophysicist he can be while his sister is on TV singing her ass off Whitney style while I’m coaching like Joe Jackson from the sidelines. And we know how great a coach he was. And I also know that there are black millionaires that made money by good ole fashioned hardwork. Well, shit I ain’t talkin’ bout them. AND most black millionaires are entertainers anyway. I see I said.

This may sound ignorant, but have you ever heard Jay-Z or Russell Simmons talk. Smart enough to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. And they got millions to blow. Me? Broke.

Smart enough. That’s my parenting strategy.

——

Interesting to see where I was back then and how much I still agree with those thoughts now. I definiely believe in the idea of being smart enough to succeed versus too smart for your own good and staying reserved. What do you think about that concept? Also, anything you remember from your youth that you’ve carried forward to now or any, “I was here 10 years ago but I’m here now” ideologies? Talk to me.

I’ve been writing for a LONG time.

-VSB P aka MR. IM STILL HERE aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Sun, Moon, Stars, Quasars and Sh*t

This is skydiving apparel. This is also something I could see Kanye wearing because he's trying to expand his horizons thru fashion. Help us.

This is skydiving apparel. This is also something I could see Kanye wearing because he’s trying to expand his horizons thru fashion. Help us.

I’m going to share a little about myself here. Sharing is caring has long been one of my mantras. I believe in community service of all types. Sharing is one of them. You may not have to take your clothes off to have a good time, but if you don’t put a little love in your heart, well, then you’re no better than an animal.

I just quoted somebody. That’s a bit more than a little but then not quite a few. Back to the lecture at hand.

I’ve often felt that life was very limiting. Not to be all doomsday or anything, but at some point during the course of my short 34 years on this planet I just felt…limited. I couldn’t fly or hug a unicorn or catch that damn pot of gold. While people tell you that if you work hard and are smart and study and sh*t that you can do anything you want to, it’s not actually true. Like, I stay reaching for the stars. Not proverbially either. I actually reach for them because, well, I get bored a lot. I’m like the guy in that one commercial who reached the end of the Internet. That sh*t f*cked me up because I feel that way a lot.

Fret not, I’m not about to off myself or do anything too crazy. All of my friends know that the one thing that need not happen in my life is boredom. Bad things happen when I get bored. I haven’t burned down any homes but I’ve gotten really closed to being profiled in a few national publications for bad decisions I made out of pure boredom. It’s like my kryptonite. Boredom drives my quest and thirst for the unknown. I didn’t read Encyclopedia’s when I was a kid because I wanted to know what was in them, I read them because I read everything else. To some degree, my child is a saving grace for me and my mind because I get to witness rebirth and new fun sh*t through the eyes of somebody who has no idea that one day, she may get to the end of the Internet.

Point is, I just feel like Earth and all its splendor comes with certain restrictions. I have seen lots and there are lots of things I haven’t but I’m still like…f*ck what else is there? Like the Pyramids are cool, my nword, but can somebody show me the tetrahedron that was man-made somewhere? And I’m not rich at all. I don’t even have the money to TRULY test the limits of life. So imagine if I was rich…

…I’d be somebody like Rihanna. Y’all remember when that crazy motherf*cker got a tattoo CHISELED onto her skin? Yeah. Of course you do. Here’s the thing. I get it. I completely understood. I can’t imagine what its like to be young, rich, and LITERALLY have the entire world as your oyster. It’s why rich people do crazy stuff like get themselves frozen. They’re bored and testing the limits of humanity because, well, they’ve kind of done this human sh*t. This only handicaps true creatives though. Some folks are rich and are just happy to be that way and are content within the confines of whatever world they’ve created. They’re goal-oriented creative. It’s like Big Boi vs Andre 3000.

Andre 3000 is clearly a creative individual who has no effin’ idea what to do with his life. At least he didn’t for a while. That’s why it made perfect sense to me that he was showing up to concerts in turbins and goggles and diapers with really furry Uggs. My man was just trying to explore his mind in every way possible. He was trying and his music started to reflect it. It’s why you get The Love Below. My man was outchea trying to just do…something else.

Clearly this is an issue that afflicts tons of people across the world. And especially some ‘flicted people.

Lil Wayne seems to have lost his ever loving mind but really, he just needs a new challenge. When you’ve literally achieved everything you can, you start making rock albums and singing too much and only rap about p*ssy because, well, what the hell else do you do when you spend 90 percent of your day fried out of your gourd because you’re trying to transcend life.

I can’t speak for any of these people. I have no clue if they feel that way. But it sure seems like it. And I feel that stuff. It’s like working in Word and they only give you limited fonts but you need new fonts because what you have doesn’t allow you to fully express yourself. Some people see what’s in front of them and feel like they have all that they need. They express themselves and make great product, whatever it may be, via the resources in front of them. Others see whats in front of them and realize that if those things exist, the possibility for more also exists. So they seek those things out. I’m one of those other people. The rush of the experience requires you to throw caution to the wind.

Funny enough, I’m also very much an “it is what it is” person about certain things. I recognize “checkmate” very quickly into the game. So while I’m not rich and I’m often bored I’ll continue to just f*cking rock like I do. But I’ll spend a lot of nights trying to figure out if I get on my roof, and I try to reach for a star, will I actually be able to reach one if I try hard enough? And if I fall and hit the ground, will I really die? Yeah, that’s the problem with being one of these people…death doesn’t really scare you. The not knowing makes it enticing enough to wonder what’s really going on afterwards.

Mind you, I realize this is all mental. And I can always watch vh1 to dumb it down. Shots fired. But this is why so many artists spend so much time talking about space, lasers, bars, quasars and sh*t.

Luckily, I ain’t a crazy motherf*cker and I’ve got a child. So I’ll just chill on my porch, stare at the sky, and wonder if Rihanna grabbed one yet.

A star…not Young Chris’s balls.

I wonder what Kanye is up to.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT? aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

How To Be Friends With People With Kids

I’ve had a kid for about 4 and a half years now. I remember when I first got my kid. She was all bright and shiny and fun. And she’s only gotten funner since. I mean this thing is a little person with opinions and causes and a fashion sense. She’s a people. It’s amazing.

For instance, in the car with my nephew, my mother, and my daughtephotor a few weeks back….as I tickled her feet to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore, she yelled out, “stop it daddy, don’t turn me into your art!”

*dead*

I don’t even know what that means or meant.

*dead*

Well, having a kid is aces. Especially because you learn a lot about other people when you have kids. It is through this knowledge that I’ve ascertained since the stork dropped off my bundle of joy that there are two types of people in the world: 1) people that “get” and love kids; and 2) people that don’t “get” the big damn deal about kids at all.

The people that get kids are an easy bunch when you have kids. They want you to bring the kid with you at all times and know how to have grown up fun while kids around. They put the Henny down first, then play with the kids. They understand that your life revolves around the child so when you can’t be somewhere, they get it. They’re not disappointed…they know you’ll be where you can when you can be there.

The people who don’t get kids…this lot rightchea my nword? Well let’s back up…its not that they don’t get kids. They were once kids. They remember those days of carefree life. It’s just that they don’t “get” the whole kids thing while trying to live a wild and carefree life. Which is fine and makes total sense. For a lot of people, kids are this nebulous concept. For most of us, the reality of kids in our adult lives doesn’t come into play until that first friend has one and…

…disappears. Babies (and kids) become friend zappers and sh*t. But since that person disappeared, you just don’t factor them into as much anyway. So they’re your homey for life but your circle changes and you keep on keepin’ on with the folks that are still there. It’s like when Doughboy walked away from Tre in Boyz In The Hood. Except there’s no subtitle that says “Doughboy was murdered two weeks later.”

But like with anything, there are times when folks want to hang with all of their friends, and the kid becomes an inconvenience. The crew is trying to take a 2-week vacation to Mongolia. “I mean…your kid will be alright! It’s got a momma. It’s only 2 weeks, bruh! What your kid won’t be okay without you for 2 weeks?” So when you say, “but I won’t be okay without my kid for that long”…or “naw homes…kids got a schedule and I need to keep it” etc…they get the screw-face. Or when you go to events and there are zero other munchkins around and folks try to keep the convo appropriate for little ears until the first lewd comment happens and everybody realizes the kid didn’t explode, then the mouths get free – which is when all parents leave. Mind you, I get it. I was once a person without a kid who endured a person with a kid and was like…”i don’t get it…but I love your kid because you’re my brother so let’s go to the playground.”

Well, because I looooooooooooove you, here’s a few quick lessons for those in the latter group (the ones who don’t “get” the whole kid thing) who are wondering how to still be friends with their friends with kids.

1. Realize that all partying doesn’t happen at night, so hang during the day

Folks with kids tend to not just use sleep to refuel, they enjoy it. But more importantly, you can’t bring a kid to a club at midnight. For one, its frowned upon. It really is. Two, most clubs and places tend to be 21-and-up, or at least 18-and-up…that makes it difficult to bring the 4-year-old. Fake IDs work, but not all the time. So lunch instead of late dinners is the way to go.

In that vein….

2. Know that hanging with people with kids can be the cheapest partying you’ll ever do

Kids aren’t cheap. My kid has tastes already. ACTUAL TASTES. Plus, between school, piano, tennis, dance, cheerleading, etc…my kid is running our pockets. So what this means is that parents become the kings and queens of the cheap but entertaining date. Seriously, have you ANY idea how much fun a free ass fountain is? A fountain. Kids play in them for hours while you can sit and talk. Dude…hours. For real. Plus its outside. There will be other kids. Point is…it requires no real planning short of a time and a locale, no dressing up, nothing more than just chillin…and you can get exercise on those long walks that kids seem to love to take.

3. People with kids are extremely understanding about your time and events, so there’s no pressure

I’ve heard folks tell me – true story – that they wanted to hang but they only had a little bit of time because they had other things to do. My response, “that’s cool…do you homes. If you can’t make it or we need to reschedule…no prob.” Of course, if you’re ALWAYS flaking thats a problem, but folks with kids understand changes of plans. So if we’re all hanging and you need to go bounce to go have some body take jello shots off you, we got it…go have fun. We’ll catch up for tiddlywinks some other time.

4. If you know the event is a ratchet-in-wait, its okay not to invite me to your BBQ/event/whatever, I promise I won’t mind…I understand (see #3)

That whole “once the first lewd comment flies it becomes a free-for-all” is very real and has happened a few times. I only attended because I was told to come through and that it would be cool. Granted, it wasn’t a bad idea to go, just having A child around a bunch of childless or childless-for-the-day people is usually more of an inconvenience for them than it is us. So its just easier to do a quick drop by or for us to catch up at another time so my kid doesn’t have to listen to Ace Hood and you all can talk about penises.

Those are 4 tips. Mind you, these only apply to people with common sense and those with kids who aren’t really focused on the life they are missing because of their child…those folks give zero f*cks and will bring their kid to the Lil Wayne/2 Chainz/TI concert and ask Lil Wayne to babysit while they party.

These tips are clearly not exhaustive. What others are there? What group do you fall into? Is there another group of people?

Kids these days…

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka lower.case.p aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

 

The Moments of Impact

water-dropI have a confession. I like the movie The Vow. I’ve watched it a million times via cable movie channels. Part of my like of it is from the soundtrack. I’m one of those folks who latches onto the movie playing in the background. That can make or break a movie for me. Picking the right music makes all of the difference.

Think (if you’ve seen it) the first episode of The Game this season and the closing music while Derwin was leaving the show forever as Miguel’s “Don’t Look Back” played. While the song has nothing to do with parting ways – it’s actually a song telling a woman to leave and not look back if her man doesn’t make it home because he’s outchea cheating – it sounded great in that scene and brought it all together. For a moment, I felt like they got it right. For a moment.

Back to The Vow. You know the story. Car accident. Wife loses memory. Can’t remember husband. He tries to win her back. He loses. Until he wins. The end. Nothing remarkable there.

But what does stand out to me are two sets of quotes about moments of impact:

My theory is about moments, moments of impact. My theory is that these moments of impact, these flashes of high intensity that completely turn our lives upside down actually end up defining who we are. The thing is each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known. And it’s these moments that become our history. Like our own personal greatest hits of memories that we play and replay in our minds over and over again.

The moment of impact. The moment of impact provides potential for change. It has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together. Making them closer than before, while sending others spinning off into great ventures. Landing them where you’ve never thought you’d find them. That’s the thing about moments like these. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, control how it’s gonna affect you. You just gotta let the colliding parts go where they may. And wait. For the next collision.

#realn*ggatalkinshutthef*ckupho

If we are to view life as one big set of collisions inspiring a million tiny changes and every so often monumental, epic change, then all of life is about the crash. The moment you meet that woman who inspires you to become somebody you didn’t even know you could be. Or that man who makes you realize that it’s okay to trust. The person who lets you take off your cool. But Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action is an equal opposite reaction. Now technically its supposed to be to the actual forces colliding – kind of like Iyanla and DMX – but living within the spirit of the law, you’re meeting you husband means that collision possibly sent somebody waiting in the wings on the love they feel to be returned off into a tailspin they don’t even know exists. They’re the train heading towards the blown bridge. And they won’t know until its too late.

Well the interesting part of these collisions is that from the ashes often arises a fire-y bird. I shall call it a Phoenix. I’ve seen change have various affects on people. But the most common – though often ill-inspired – is the change that pushes somebody towards new heights. I’ve seen a woman who lost her man because he cheated become the beauty queen we all saw. Not to say she went out and got him back or immediately got another man, but I witnessed her become free and beautiful in her own existence, set adrift on memories bliss while realizing that new memories are but a short walk on the sidewalk.

I’ve seen some of my best friends face adversity after experiencing some huge loss and restructuring their life to never lose that way again, sometimes for better, sometimes for the worse.

I’ve personally altered my mentality after going through, at the time, what would be the most significant collision I’d ever experienced.

But these collisions were necessary to help shape the personal narrative of all involved. Some people need change to grow. I remember years ago my daughter’s mother suggesting that I needed to be fired from my job in order to realize my full potential. She felt as if I’ve been to able to rely on stability to make it through life and the resulting contentment stopped me from truly becoming who she felt I could be. By the way, there is no force stronger than a supportive woman. I truly believe this. A woman who believes in you enough to think you need to LOSE a job to become a great? But has no doubt in your ability to dust yourself off? I’m not sure I ever said thank you for that. I probably should.

Either way, moments of impact that change your life. I look forward to those. Nearly every day I wake up I realize that something could change my life that day, good or bad. I’ve prepared myself if its my time to go. Seriously. But I also know that the possibility for greatness is right around the corner. I just need to find the right set of buildings. But it’s there. The person I’ll bump into. The idea I’ll happen upon. The impact that’s waiting on me to show up so the energy can finally be woman-thou-art-loosed.

I’ve experienced some already. But there’s more.

What about you? Have you experienced that person, place or thing that altered your world? Has there been any collision that sent you into the great abyss of greatness?

Let’s collide.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. IMPACTION JACKSON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Parenthood Strugglelife.

So you're saying that you can't seem to find mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy?

So you’re saying that you can’t seem to find mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy?

Parenthood, ah parenthood.

It’s simultaneously one of the most rewarding yet stressful endeavors any person can enter into. For one, you literally have no clue what type of child you’re going to get. You might get a child who inexplicably loves “Gangnam Style” or loves to tell you to worry about yourself in the most aggressively polite way possible. Or you can get a devil spawn.

The possibilities really are endless and you get to find out who you have over the course of time. My daughter? She’s a total comedian. She loves to laugh and make people laugh and has one of the most developed imaginations I’ve ever seen. She loves art, and likes singing. All things she got honestly between her mother and I. But she’s only four. Who knows who she’ll be even two years from now. Cool runnings. Peace be the journey.

Well, for all the fun and exciting parts, those stressful aspects? F*ck. Or even the ones that break you down. Maaaaaaaaaan listen. You get to learn so much about yourself. It’s non-stop on-the-job training. So what are some of the aspects that will make you want to pull your hair out (unless you’re Panama Jackson and you’ve already done that)? Glad you asked.

1. School

This could largely depend on where you live. But if you live in a major city this is definitely your struggle. If you live in the suburbs already then sure, you can probably send your child to the neighborhood school and call it a day without too much stress about whether or not the education your child is getting rivals that of Eastside High after Joe Clark left but before he returned. SAMS!

Major city though? If you aren’t rich enough to send your kids to private school then you’re like everybody else struggling to get your kids into the few public schools that are actually, well, educational. In DC, we have some elementary schools that are good and for the most part, they’re all in the rich part of town, which is far as hell from the rest of us citizens. Then, there’s the fact that we have a lottery. So you have to Wait for Superman to pull your lever. That goes for charter schools and public school slots here. You visit schools and find one you like and hope that you “win the lottery”. It’s stressful. It will drive you mad. And it’s something you probably don’t think about until you have to. Sure we all think about public education. Some of us work in it. But unless you have a child who is going to experience public education then you can’t truly appreciate how stressful it is find a good fit for your child only to wait for somebody to let you know if you will be able to send your child there or if you’re going to have to 1) move; or 2) have to find a way to save the money so you can send your child to a private school and eat Ramen noodles, which you totally swore off after college.

You know what? Even before that…

2. Day care

Do you know the average cost of daycare in Washington, DC, is like $1,400. A month. That’s a mortgage. So imagine having to pay a mortgage or rent AND that as well? But then there’s the finding a day care that works for you and your family. Is it educational or just an all day playplace. Of course you want educational. What time do they open? What time do they close? Do they make food there or do you have to bring their snacks and lunch? What about their teaching method? Montessori or traditional? Then of course you have to get used to dropping your kid off at day care while they scream and yell for you for the first few weeks. Do you know what can tug at your heart? Knowing that you have to leave your kid there while they’re screaming but not being able to go pick them up because they won’t learn to separate from you if they don’t. <—probably more of a mommy issue at first. My daughter was much more okay with me leaving her then her mother. The good thing about day cares though is that some of the mothers are HOT.

Wait. What?

Crush. Kill. Destroy. Stress. It’s a lot.

3. The things you can’t fix…

My child has THE WORST ALLERGIES. I live in DC. Anybody who lives in DC with allergies will tell you how difficult that life is. I don’t have allergies but her mother does. She got them honest. Do you know how hard it is to look at your child’s face all puffy and stuffy and know there’s nothing that you can do about it short of giving them some medicine and hoping it kicks in? When your wakes up and tells you that she’s tired of being stuffy and of allergies and you know she’s stuck with them forever. It breaks me down. I can’t do anything. Hell I toyed with the idea of going back to school to get a degree in biology so that I could become a scientist and cure allergies. Then I’d probably end up dead as the allergy medicine companies colluded to have me murdered for ruining their bottom line, but you get the point.

4. OPC – Other People’s Children

I don’t typically mean your friends, but the kids in your neighborhood or when you go to a playground and some other little youngster does some sh*t you don’t approve of but its 2013 and you can’t check anybody else’s kid without fear of at best getting yelled at and at worst going to jail with the words “sexual predator” following your name forever. It sucks though, because people want their kids to play with your kids and you’re whole thougth process is like, ewww…shoo fly. Judging. Point is, you want your kid to have friends, but you’d also like to hand pick them which is nearly impossible.

Anyway, those are some stresses of parenthood. What are others folks without children don’t really realize until it happens? Hell, what are things you folks without kids think would be stressful?

Let’s get physical.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. DADDY TO YOU aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3