Now or Never

May 23, 2011

One day last week, after a long day at work, I dragged my legs to my car, mentally and physically worn out. I flipped through ideas in my head regarding what I should change. I felt that I was repeating the same habits and wasn’t enjoying myself. I took my iPod out of my ears and connected it once I was in the car. The drive home was short, but I couldn’t stand to listen to anything on the radio – the formulaic Top 40/Popular Hip-Hop, nor the Sports talk radio interested me.

The first song that came on was one of my favorite groups, The Roots. The song, “Now or Never” came on and though I heard it many times before, I usually listened to this song while I was doing something, and only half paying attention. I repeated it the entire drive home. And I kept returning to it.

Let me preface this by noting that I usually adapt really well to change. Working in a technology field, I know I must embrace change in order to keep up with my industry and my job. Technologies change, requirements change and people’s minds change repeatedly. So the more flexible I am, the better off I am personally and professionally. However, a series of personal and professional changes just threw me for a loop and I haven’t accepted these changes so willingly or easily. I also need to change some personal habits in order to achieve my personal goals. So when the chorus blared at me, I stopped to listen and felt that it was relevant. I’ve had some of these thoughts in the last six months, and it’s just up to me to find some willpower.

 

Note: italics are my emphasis

Note 2: I detest the word “Nigga” but since they’re in the song, I will display the lyrics here.

 

“Now Or Never”
(feat. Phonte, Dice Raw)

Everything’s changing around me
and I want to change too
It’s one thing I know
It ain’t cool being no fool
I feel different today
I don’t know what else to say
But Imma get my shit together
It’s now or never

[Black Thought]
I’m sick, sick of waiting in vain, tired of playing the game
Thinking of making a change, finally breaking the chains
Every phase, every happening, craze
When it’s said and done, my head is right back in a haze
I’m ready for the next chapter and page to start acting my age
and part ways with Black Thought from back in the days
I’m stargazing from the back of the stage
Questioning if who y’all praise is worthy of praise
Was the phrase “bygones is bygones”
Niggas who used to be the underdogs is icons
People say the light shines once in a lifetime
Is this midlife kind a crisis a little bit like mine
I’m thinking not now, but right now
I need some kinda sign that the future is bright now
I fuck around, do the right thing like Spike now
The quick in the day, which one is my lookalike now
I’m moving ahead

[Phonte]
Yo, opportunities lost because I blew them
On the sunniest days of my life I cry through them
Mom’s out the picture and Pops, I barely knew him
And I would pray to God but I’m tired of lying to him
Tired of trying to run from the things inside of us
Got a lot of fam, and a lot of admirers
Who tell me that I should aspire to be changed
But when I think of changing, it’s like why even try this shit?
My mind hazy and my thoughts, they get distorted
I know my good and bad deeds both get recorded
You do right so your soul can last
But my role is cast before I even audition for it
So I don’t really see an end to my vice
It’s just false reformation, no end of my strife
Feel the evil overpowering, you can go ahead throw the towel in
‘Cause nigga, that’s the end of the fight
When you can only see the tunnel at the end of the light
Light’s out, party over, that’s the end of your life
and i’m out

[Dice Raw]
When I look into the mirror, and see my own image
I feel like there’s something else far in the distance
Something I wanna see, but something that’s resistant
And everyday the heartin’ is growing more persistent
I never noticed it before, but now I can’t miss it
And the constant pounding is driving me ballistic
I ran from it for years, but it’s still next to me
And it’s growing stronger, taking even less of me
I can’t fight it now, I know it’s just destiny
And I just wonder what’s gonna happen when it catches me
Will it leave me face down, in the Chesapeake
Or will it just start bringing out the best in me
But is the best in me really just the worst in me
And if so, yesterday could be my anniversary
And sinners court, is it important to have church with me
I’m trying to get rid of these ghosts that’s cursing me
I feeling change is an absolute certainty
‘Cause what’s going on is a state of emergency

 

As a fan of Hip-Hop, I cannot and will not defend all musicians or lyrics. However, I will that these lyrics and this group always find a way to say something relevant. I also love how lyrics like these can come to you after listening, even passively to them for months.

Thanks for reading.

 

I need more…and less

February 8, 2011 · 6 comments

I seem to keep coming back to the same ideas and themes after a lot of time alone with my thoughts.

I need more of some things, and less of others.

Maybe I need to spend more time:

  • Writing – for many years I was told that I’m not any good at this. When I wrote a paper in HS, the teacher thought there was no way I could have written it. She asked for my sources. Once I furnished them, I got the high grade I deserved. As a developer, and even and a Black boy from the Bronx, no one expected me to write well. I think I started to listen to those negative voices. Recently I’ve been told quite the opposite. I’m not perfect, but I’m far better than those folks who insisted I’m a poor writer.
  • Connecting with friends and family
  • On my photography. I miss it a lot.
  • Making things with my hands – I enjoy tinkering with electronics (a la Make, doing things around the house and I want to create useful things.
  • Taking vacation: I wait til I’m burnt out to do that
  • Away from the computer, or more off line
  • Working out
  • Taking care of myself and my family
  • Reading
  • Chasing my dreams (I’m not dead yet!)
  • Time to prepare – I always seem to leave something out or do something last minute.

And I need less:

  • Clutter (as much time as I’ve spent cleaning up, I thought the place would look great. Not yet. Take a photo of your house and look at it. It’s not what it appears in your mind’s eye)
  • Frustration – I get frustrated too easily and I make flip decisions. I just need to slow down, regroup and think it through. I see it in Tyra too.
  • Time on twitter (perhaps…I love the medium and all the folks I connect with. But I might not have taken a 48 hour break since I joined)
  • Distractions
  • Time saying yes to everyone else and saying no to myself
  • Debt
  • Negative thoughts – I’m not as horrible as I think.

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Adrift.

January 27, 2011 · 8 comments

I’ve been feeling a nagging sensation lately…something hasn’t been right. I can’t get my bearings and find consistency. Everything I used to rely on has been taken away or changed recently.

I used to know what I would be doing every day at work. I am working on a completely new client. I know absolutely nothing about what I’m doing. It’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. For three years I was worked on the same kind of work every day. I was certain of what I was doing for the last two years. I got a little too comfortable.

I have been running for three (almost four) years. Now I am taking a little Physical Therapy because I have patella tendinitis in my left knee, and Iliotibial band (IT band) pain above that. I used running as part escape, part exercise. But I didn’t stay balanced. I didn’t weight train. I hardly ever stretched until I started to feel pain. One therapist said my IT band was as tight as a guitar string. Oh, and no running or cycling until I’m told it’s OK. It seems like it might be a while. I figured if I want to run a 10K and a half marathon this year, I need to be injury and pain-free before I start.

And one of my docs asked me to cut back on the alcohol for a little bit. Really? What’s left? What to do now to blow off some steam? I’m not good at finding an outlet. Any suggestions are welcome.

Sincerely,

Looking for an outlet.

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There are times you have to laugh at yourself because there is no other alternative.

Yesterday, I left the house, took Tyra to school as normal, and made a special stop to do some blood work for a doctor’s appointment next week. I should have done it Thursday. I forgot, and the lab was closed Friday – surprise! After I was done with the blood work, I rushed to the train, and went to the office. I unpacked my lunch, got settled in and realized…no one was there. I forgot that we had a day off. I didn’t read the holiday schedule to notice that we were off. I had only been there an hour, and only a co-worker who showed up to do her job noticed.

Related: I’m a dork.

This is just a microcosm of my life: I can prepare for some things well, and not others. I didn’t look at the calendar, and I’m only partially prepared for things.  I just need to pay more attention to things and prepare all the time, or at least more than I do now.

What are you missing out on these days? What have you forgotten? What slips through the cracks when you prepare for your day and week?

Side note: I left my phone in my car running for the train this morning.  *sigh*

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What can I say?

January 3, 2011 · 5 comments

I’ve been struggling to write something, anything lately. So bear with me. The last two to three months of 2010 have kicked me in the head. Happy new year and all of that.

Work had been kicking my ass lately. One project would run over into the next and project managers were all upset. Late nights and weekends were the norm for bringing work home. (Well, except Thanksgiving. I wasn’t interested in that nonsense.)

Just when I squared everything away and was ready to try to get back to normal, I received some awful news. My sister in Baltimore, Nikki had gone into labor and died after the baby was born. The shock was overwhelming for many reasons.

First, I got the news from another sister via a private msg – we didn’t even have each other’s phone number. That was bad enough. I was hoping to get together with everyone soon. There was a lot of drama and frustration around our father who I wasn’t talking to. I had let that anger keep me distant from everyone.

I discussed this with a friend on Twitter; she said that everything that happened isn’t their fault and that I should reach out. Once she said it like that, I agreed. l don’t usually hold onto grudges, but I let this linger for too long.

I was sad that we didn’t get a chance to get together. I was heartbroken for my brother in law, my niece and new nephew. The last time I was even close to seeing them we breezed back and forth to D.C. Because of a wedding for one of Shonda’s friends. I didn’t even have extra time to make one stop. We had to get back to our jobs.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Nikki was only 33. She worked in a NICU as a neonatal nurse. I don’t know of any other time something like this would happen. Not here.

Finally, the four of us did get together. We all wish it was under happier circumstances. I often felt that weddings and funerals were the only reasons my family got together.

Nikki was always trying to get us together. We all live close enough to make it work. I’m putting aside my anger and reaching out to my other sisters. I lost a piece of myself, but I hope to gain a little by reaching out to family. I hoped we could do better. We all plan to, soon.

We look good!

Melisa, Myself, Maelean and Shawna

We haven’t seen each other in too long. Now we’re in touch pretty regularly.

Ryan

Ryan. Cute kid, first meeting.

I’ve really appreciated all of the support from friends, family and colleagues. There was such an outpouring of love, it’s been overwhelming. It’s been almost a month, and it still doesn’t make sense to me…but I never thought everything that happens is meant for me to understand.

Nikki will be missed. Love ya, sis.

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