The Countdown To The End…Again

(The following is true and inspired by the above trailer for The End Again. Read more here.)

I’m obsessed with countdowns. I also know when that obsession started.

end-139848_640It happened the day I experienced the last 30 seconds of a persons life and I became fixated on each of those last seconds. I can’t even fully explain it, but for the last 14 years of my life, my mind has often drifted back to that night and those last seconds. Or even that day. The last day of a life you don’t know is ending. Was it mundane? What were you doing on the day that you died?

What happened with 12 hours left.

With 2.

With 10 minutes.

I saw the last 30 seconds. In retrospect, they ticked by slowly. Each one lasting an hour as I watched the inevitable unfold. Since then, the moments leading up to the end tend to etch themselves into myriad possibilities in the bandwidth of my mind.

This also likely explains my fascination with the move Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind as Joel and Clementine spiral towards the moment of realization that his remaining memory of her – doubling as his first memory of her – is about to be eliminated from his consciousness and this convo ensued:

Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.

Joel: I know.

Clementine: What do we do?

Joel: Enjoy it.

That convo really got to me. Only because its usually impossible to enjoy that last moment. It’s one thing to realize what you have when its gone; its another thing to realize what you’re losing while you watch it leave and there’s nothing you can do to stop the train.

Unless you can and you don’t. That is an amplified pain because two people get hurt at the same time. You hurt yourself and you hurt the other person. Hurt people hurt people. And scared money don’t make money. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and me and Mrs. Jones have danced this tango before as I’ve watched the end manifest with that last Uhaul box and that last shared memory walking over the threshold out into the world with a door closing behind it.

The countdown.

It starts somewhere. At some point, we commence with the beginning of the end. Is it a look? Is it a missed text? The stolen glance that never happened? The day that we forgot to kiss “hello” like we’d done every single day of our relationship before. Missing that first one makes the second easier, though no less noticeable. Habits are easy to create and harder to break. Pretty soon the “why not” becomes “why” and the pictures become reminders of what could be that isn’t anymore.

Three months.

The arguments that used to end with moments of vulnerability as we both realized that what we stood to lose was greater than what we stood to gain by being “right”  now rest in the air and linger. They linger until the next one, a little more passionate, a little more resolute, a little more pointed, a little more biting. You still sleep in the same bed but might as well be sleeping on different planets. Intimacy requires affection and that ship sailed the same path as the Titanic. The more time you spend together the less time you have left together.

One month.

Anger.

One day.

Sadness and reflection. It’s inevitable. Unless you hate one another – and chance are you don’t if you can assume the same space at the same time – at some point you will both try to question what happened and why. That doesn’t mean there are answers, just questions for the ether. Momentary smiles that frustrate because you don’t know why you stopped smiling but the music stopped and nobody can find the beat. Or the melody. Or even a note.

With every article of clothing placed in a box the time left shrinks towards its conclusion. You both see it coming. We see it coming. Or saw. We watched the chaos become emptiness. The thing is, even with words never said, the time draws down. And when the lights shut off and its my turn to settle down, my main concern, promise that you will sing about me.

One hour.

There’s something unsettling about the end. We all know that an end is coming. We have no delusions about that. But the moment the key gets placed on the counter and the look to find something else to do when there’s nothing more is the “it’s going to be gone soon” moment. It’s the end. Only the formality of the exit stands between the past you suddenly miss and the future you don’t want.

Love is a b*tch.

One minute.

The final embrace, both everything and nothing at the same time. Years reduced to a gesture that can be shared amongst strangers.

Door closed.

The end?

-VSB P

Signs That Guys Look For To Know That A Woman Is Interested

start-dating-signs-compatible-ugly-flirting-ecards-someecardsWhen it comes to approaching women there are three types of guys.

1. The guy who will never approach a woman and will likely only ever meet a woman at an Everest College Alumni Mixer or Home Depot After Dark Game Night where the convos are controlled and he’s got a better than 75 percent chance of you at least saying something back to his, “hey…so what brings you here?” He is also most likely to marry the sh*t out of the woman that he eventually dates because he is NOT going through the agony of meeting anybody else. That sh*t is for the angry birds.

2. The guy who will approach your mother in front of you. He is likely the guy most women don’t want because well, he’s going to holler until he succeeds. Basically, its not you he’s after, well not “you”. He sees, he wants, he attempts. These guys are can eventually get hemmed up into a relationship, but its on his terms solely.

3. The guy who is waiting for as many signs as possible that he should ask for the number. Unless he sees a woman he just can’t NOT holler at because he is so taken aback. Think Jason from Jason’s Lyric. True story: I actually ran the lines from that movie about wanting to see a woman again (“If you go to church, I want to be in the back pew…”); that sh*t worked. It helped that I meant it. Anyway, I think most guys fall into this third camp.

Let’s talk about this last group. Why? I’ll tell you why. Recently I had a conversation with some friends of mine about why I never hollered at a woman I had an interest in. Me, Panama Jackson, was waiting to get my Ace of Base on. But I never saw the sign. Now, their argument to me was that, dude, she speaks to you, she’s not outwardly rebuffing your convo…go in for it.

Now, as stupid as this sounds, I will own the fact that this particular woman had me shook. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I was not about to stick a quarter in my a** in this situation. I feel like half of everybody will get that reference and the other half is SO confused right now.

But this got me to thinking of signs that most guys actually look for to know that women are interested. Not that batting eyes sh*t. But actual signs. Now before I list some, this does not absolve guys from not hollering at women. If you are interested, it is imperative that as a dude you leap out there on faith and take a chance. Women seem to know how hard it is to holler at women even though they feel like you should get over it. At the end of the day, it has to happen in order to preserve the species right? The Internet has become a great equalizer in all of this because you can reach out to damn near anybody via social networking and as long as she knows who you are and you have a few friends in common there’s a chance she won’t yell STALKER from jump. But that’s neither here nor there.

So here are what we’re looking for.

1. Smile

I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. Women hate it when men tell you to smile. So I’m not telling you to smile. In fact, get your sourpuss on, sista. Look like you eat trees to your hearts content. I’m just telling you that from where I’m sitting, if I see you and you see me and you don’t smile in my general direction like EVER, there is no way in Hell I’m going to test those waters out. If you smile at me, you’ve upped the likelihood I’m coming your way by at least 63 percent. Granted, I get why women ain’t smiling all day. Hell I’m not. And you don’t want to invite in Jerome from Martin. It’s a tricky dance. Ladies, I get it. I’ve seen some TERRIBLE situations occur. Hey, we’re all just trying to make it.

2. Some type of…bait

Sometime ago, via IG, a young lady I was curious about laid out THE perfect bait for me. I flubbed it. Totally flubbed it. In fact, I fumbled so hard that when I told my homegirl about t she punched me in the arm. She was like, dude, how the hell did you mess THAT up?!? I don’t know, dog. I don’t know. Well I know why but still…point is, she put the ball in my court in such a way that all I needed was a layup to win the game. On a 6 foot hoop. And I wish I could tell you what it was…but I can’t. And I know that’s f*cked up.

Oh, I can tell you this one tho! This happened via Twitter: I was on there talking about as a Gemini how much I love Aquarians (we’re supposed to be a great match and what not…its proven true thus far) and a young lady hit me with the: “I’m an Aquarius…wanna test that theory?”

Bait.

Remember these are things we’re looking for…like our optimal situations.

3. Active responses

Have you ever had a conversation with somebody and it just stops. Like the other person doesn’t get the concept of a dialogue? Yeah, those let me know that its a no go (obviously this is when somehow, we’ve started speaking). But, every so often you get somebody who lets you know, that you may continue the convo by the social cues they give you. Here’s how I met a woman one time. I was at a bar eating some food and she saw it and wanted to know what it was. Simple friendly question swag gangsta clique. Well, I told her and made some joke about the food. Well, she immediately fired back with one of her own. We zinged. We then talked for an hour and a half after that.

Those are three things that I can tell you most guys look for when attempting to discern if they should try to exchange info and progress a situation. Granted, as a guy, you do have to take a chance most of the time. You will win some. You will lose some. But you live to try again. But hey, we all (men and women) want as much positive info as possible when determining if we’re going to deal with somebody right? Bong bong.

So fellas, what are other signs you look for? And ladies, what signs do you think you give off that should let a dude know that you’re interested?

-VSB P aka MR. HELLO IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR  aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Relationship Things That Stop Being Cute Past A Certain Age

phone sleepI don’t know at what point it happens. I wish I did because then I could tell you at what point it happens…but I don’t know so I can’t. The point here is that, it happens.

We all get old. Now this isn’t a bad thing and old is more of a state of mind anyway. I was almost sure when I was 21 that being 34 would basically be the point where I’d be chillin’ in the hiznayee for good. It turns out that 21 and 34 really aren’t that different. I mean I make a lot more money and have seen a lot more things but the fun hasn’t stopped. However, there are things that I used to do when I was 21 that I thought were so great and stuff that in my older state I wonder why anybody would do such things. They’re not only inconvenient, but impractical.

Here are a few things that seem so cute and sh*t in your youth(ness) but at some point, seem to be not as…cute (though admittedly, I’d probably still do them all because love. because heart.)

Three hour phone + calls that last into the wee hours of the morning

I’ve been on more than my fair share of REALLY REALLY long phone calls that last way longer than they probably should. Namely because I’ve been in quite a few long distance relationships. Here’s the thing, it’s not that a long ass phone call isn’t cutesy. Having that much to talk about with somebody…now that’s a beautiful thang. Shucks, I love it when I can talk to somebody and the party don’t stop til I run through it. However, at some point, when that convo starts at 1130pm and doesn’t end til 3am you know you’re losing out on? Sleep. You’re draggin’ a$$ the next day at work because you couldn’t tear yourself from the phone. And I know, nobody wants to get off the phone. Love and other drugs and sh*t. But sleep deprivation is real. I really enjoy sleeping.

Really, really long walks anywhere

I love taking long walks around the park after dark like anybody. Seriously, I do. But that’s a park. Let me tell you all a story. A few years back I ended up on a maybe 4 hour walk around the District of Columbia. The circumstances could be a made-for-tv movie, but I won’t get into those. The point was, stuff like, during the Cherry Blossom Festival no less, could be deemed romantic. And that sh*t is cool…until 3 hours into it you realize that you have to walk BACK to your car. My hitta my hitta, that walk back was BRUTAL. And there was a time when that walk back was still just part of the romanticism. At some point, you realize that your feet hurt because you don’t have on walking shoes. Folks ask for piggy back rides because they don’t want to walk back either. So yeah, cute and sh*t? Yep. Taking a 10 mile walk just cuz you’re in love and all that jazz? Yeah…no.

Skinny dipping

Have you ever been skinny dipping and tried to smash in a pool? That sh*t seems so caayute but as I’ve gotten older it just doesn’t have the same appeal. I can’t quite explain this one. I need help.

Matching…anything

You know, I can’t lie. At one point, I looked like the very kind of picture that would spread like wildfire on Twitter with the hashtag #matchinalfets. I did that. Somehow, a woman can’t convince a dude to do nearly anything. True story. If you care, you won’t fight every battle. One of those battles is the battle over matching. there have been times in my younger days where my color choices were remarkably similar to those of my woman. It may seem cute at the time – we love each other – that sh*t is just tragic after a certain point. There is never a way for that to be cool.

Petty fights that lead to makeup sex

While makeup lovin’ may be great…at some point you realize that fighting to get to it is REAAAAAALLY not the business. While you may think this is an odd addition, I know people who absolutely need dysfunction in order to feel love. Word up.

You know what, I have a few others, but I want to see what folks come up with to see if I’m right as rain on that front.

And just because it needs to be said, F*ck winter. 70 degrees on Saturday and SNOW on Sunday?????????? Somebody told Mother Nature that she was the sidechick. She no likey. She rebel.

So what say you? Are there things that stop being cute after a certain point? Hell, are there things that will NEVER not be part of the relationship equation? What you got?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST

 

When Love Escapes Us.

jail-breakI met somebody.

Normally this would be a great thing, except I was right out of a failed relationship. Not failed because of infidelity or indecency, but failed because of humanity. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I didn’t try at all. But convincing myself that she wasn’t the one was easier than the self-reflection so I hit my nae nae as I walked out of the door. I didn’t even realize that I’d tripped over the door sweep until I opened my eyes and saw the one who would be next staring down at me as if Allah himself sent her.

Which again, would have been great except, I’d just hit my nae nae and most folks don’t even know what that is. Her included. But hey, woman’s job isn’t to know everything, it’s to show me that I could have been flying the entire time I was walking. And she did. There were no boxes to check off on my list. For a spell she had me buying into the Love Jones definition of romance and I didn’t even like Love Jones. In her I saw the possibilities.

Except I was just out the door.

Love Escapes Us Teaser from #LoveEscapesUs on Vimeo.

But with my confidence in tow and belief that God would neither give me something I couldn’t handle nor records that I couldn’t sample, I ventured into the journey of the unknown with this woman who for all intents and purposes made me smile again. One of those smiles you don’t even realize you’re doing. But once it’s pointed out you’re embarassed because who has a right to be so happy that they don’t even know it? So happy that you feel like you’re in a room without  a ceiling. So happy that basically it is just who you are. I wasn’t that before and yet here I was now.

Happy in a 24-hour video.

I’d found #her. #cool.

Or so I thought. #her quickly became #she and part of that was the walls I’d put up around my heart after my last breakup. To be fair, the devastation of that breakup was far greater than I’d given it credit for and I didn’t even know it until well after I needed to have figured that out. It’s hard to fall in love when you’re wearing a harness that keeps you standing up because falling can hurt like hell. She tried to trip me up though. She gave it her all. Threw her heart out at random intervals and dropped affection and support in my path. And I did the best that I could given my circumstances. Of course, not knowing I had circumstances severely limits how far we could make it.

Was she the one? Maybe. Even now I grapple with that question and enough time has gone by to call it official Black History. Because February. But the nagging is always there. What I do know (now) is that for me, it wasn’t the right time. I hadn’t taken the time to deal with what was and what could have been. I also never accepted the fact that my ability to move on came with strings. I wasn’t going to make the next woman pay for the infallibility of my previous relationship. But who knew that love also worked on credit? This woman, who by any measure adored me and I her stared me dead in my face with the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen and offered her soul to mine and the best I could muster was maybe 60 percent of my humanity and 20 percent of my vulnerability. And even there is some overlap. My soul? I thought she could have it but over time the arguments spurred by both of our inability to recognize where we were in life spurred a certain lack of desire to share with her what made me tick.

Love Escapes Us Teaser #2 from #LoveEscapesUs on Vimeo.

If Sway doesn’t even have the answers then I didn’t even have the questions. The situation fell apart fairly quickly. What God has joined may no man put asunder. I think both of us thought the little twist tie we’d use to keep ourselves together was a bit more deified than perhaps it was.

Wrong time? Probably.

I stared down my angel and asked her why her wings weren’t as pretty as I thought they should be. But they worked. And she flew. And I stood there asking myself why I was still walking instead of flying. But I’d also bought some new shoes and everybody knows you need to break new shoes in. So I let her fly solo. And I kept on walking. Those memories resonate and I still maintain them. The dream of it all mixed with the reality that set in. But it all blends perfectly, let the liquor tell it.

It is often in a brown-induced daze that I ponder the age old question of what matters more: right person or right time? If you meet your soulmate do you focus on that or do you do the work so that soulmate isn’t just something you say because it sounds good? Do you hope to catch them next lifetime when you can make it work? I don’t know. Ignorance is bliss I suppose so even in that line of questioning I hope it kind of works itself out. I mean who wants to think they squandered heaven because their watch broke?

After some time I dedicated myself to moving past the blocks that held me hostage. Ropes and chains just aren’t my thing. I wasn’t a slave, but I heard about it, it didn’t sound cool. Word to D.C. Curry. Maybe had I met her later in my journey we’d be able to walk it out together into some blissful future both of us dreamed about in unison. But we didn’t so we can’t. So we won’t. And I’m not gon’ cry. Plus Argentina is, like, far.

I’m no soothsayer and I leave the wisdom to the sages. But the question will always persist, be it my story or others: what’s more important?

Some people say if its the right person, then its the right time. Some people also say the end is the beginning. Some people are made of plastic, and some people are made of wood.

Right person or right time?

The questions.

(All of this was true.)

-VSB P aka MR. SPLACKAVELLI ak GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

“Love Escapes Us” is the compelling tale of the cycle of love and heartbreak as told through the experiences of two people who fall in love during the wrong season. King (Anthony B. Phillips) and Queen (Iman N. Milner) journey through an emotional path of one another’s love through this poignant story. Can the experience of falling for someone and dealing with unhealed wounds from past relationships simultaneously ever end well. Written by Anthony and Iman and directed by Craig Tovey. Visit the Facebook Page for the Movie: https://www.facebook.com/LoveEscapesUsfilm

The Theory About Lists, Growth, and Love Over Time

Theory-RealityI’ve got a theory I want to drop off on you cool cats. It’s a theory draped in the narrative of…of…hmm…gender-specific mating-centric relationshipism. While they say that proper planning prevents poor performance, Little Richard taught us that a wop bob a loo bop a wop bam boom. Same thing really.

Back to this theory about this narrative. What I’m about to posit will largely engender stereotypes and generalizations. While some of you may not appreciate or enjoy generalizations, I’m going to need you to clap along like you’re in a room without a roof. Be happy, people. Be happy.

I’m of the belief that most women do at some point craft some sort of list of desirable attributes in a mate. You know, the whole “man in her head” syndrome. The guy she dreams will ride in on his white (or racially ambiguous) horse…do animals have races? Maybe not races, I mean we know that animals have races (Man vs. Beast did happen after all) but I mean like races, you know animal social constructs based upon superficial characteristics and such. Like, you know how you should behold the pale horse? Is there a black horse we should behold to?

Consider my mind blown.

Back to this white (ugh, racist) horse that I think women are waiting for Prince Charming or Charmandejuan to ride on with his job, home, perfect teeth, nice body, ability to read, without children, with a savings account with actual savings, who is compassionate, empathetic, affectionate, hung like a horse (again, non-race specific), who not only washes dishes but WANTS to wash the dishes, rubs feet, goes to church, listens to only non-misogynistic hip-hop and/or gospel, 6’5″, etc. Basically, a list of the best qualities one can have and all that jazz. This is what I presume most women have. It might not look like this, and his name may not be Charming or Charmandejuan. Maybe its Bob. Or Siraaj. Or YOLO.

Well, did you know that us men have lists too? There a wee bit shorter. Especially when we’re younger.

Man List: hot. Read? Bonus. Cook? Bonus. Degree? Eh…bonus-ish.

Point is, in our youth, our lists look remarkably different. Here’s where my theory begins to rear its head.

Panama Theorem 2.5: As we get older, women start to remove things from their list and men start to add things to their list.

Removing things from your list isn’t settling, especially if the list is unreasonable to begin wtih. It’s more keeping in line with what actually matters in life and what’s truly important. So at some point, he need not be 6’5″ though it’s still preferred, but those list start to shrink, if not disappear altogether the older you get to the point of, “he made me an eggo, this morning, I’m in love.”

On the flipside, I’ve noticed that while in my youth all conversations pretty much started and ended with “is she hot?” (actually they still all start this way), the things that used to not be explicitly important like good person, fun, good conversationalist, nice, etc started to become more and more important. Now, you might look at that and and say, you basically want a balanced, well-rounded person, and you’d be right.

Now, the key to finding that person for you is that both of those “lists” (really just the things that matter to you most, like God, peanut butter, and Hall & Oates) to align. You happen to meet somebody who has those qualities you’ve reasonabled your list down to as a woman and improved your list up to as a man and #wallahmagic you may have found you a mate.

Of course, this ignores the efelant in the room of “you must find said person attractive” though read the fine print. They don’t have to be attractive, you just have to find them attractive. Which makes them attractive. Remember that horse thing?

Mind blown again.

Or more poetically, didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I? Sing it like a Delfonic. What the f*ck is a Delfonic? You know aside from a member of the group. I do know that if you have more than one Delfonic, you have Delfonics. Fight me.

I just used 700 words to say this:

As we get older, men add things to their “list” of important characteristics and women remove things from their “list of important” characteristics. But along the way I blew your mind twice and mentioned the Delfonics. I won.

So, what say you? Is this theory off base? Does it have merit? Have you done this? I have. I saw the signs.

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SOLO DELFONIC, I MEAN, IF IT WAS LIKE THE 70S AND ALL WHICH ITS TOTALLY NOT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL  HE A 3