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Friday, 5 November 2004
31 blessings
Now Playing: The Push Bin w/Lou (wfmu.org)
Topic: the Christian walk

I just got out of my job review. I don?t have it in me to tell it all, so I?ll just say that I got a glowing review by my supervisor, but it?s clear to her that I?m frustrated right now. At least she knows. At least somebody knows now and I don?t feel like there?s this secret I have to hide from everyone. I let my frustration be known and did it in a professional manner. It?s done. It?s out there.

I?d been preparing myself for today since this weekend. I turn 31 at approximately 4:02 p.m. today. I see the date, but it doesn?t register. It just feels like another day. I don?t feel special, I don?t feel celebratory, but at least I can feel something?even if it?s a void. Throughout the week, I?ve been counting the blessings to remind myself why today is important. Here are a few of them:

  1. God took the time to create me. The heavens and the earth were more than enough. The fact that He didn?t deem it a waste of time to form me from the dust of the earth and breathe the breath of life into my lungs is amazing to me. I meant enough to Him that He created me. (That goes for you, too, you know?) I believe that God is a God of purpose, meaning that He didn?t create us just because. There?s a reason why the Creator placed us all on the planet. If I stay in His company long enough and follow His instructions, my purpose will be revealed to me in time, at the right time?His own time. Remind me that I shouldn?t put a time limit on success.
  2. Even when I wasn?t concerned with God, God was concerned with me. I can?t fathom unconditional love, no matter how hard I try. And the idea that God pours out that type of love daily on a horrendously flawed creature like me is just mind-boggling.
  3. Jesus gave me a second chance. He also gave me third, fourth, 15th, 16th, 27th, 28th, and 32nd chances. Anybody else would?ve given up on me by now.
  4. The Lord has kept me from dangers seen and unseen. It?s the ones that I don?t even know about that I?m really thankful for.
  5. Health. In Westchester County, it costs $1.75 to ride the bus. I cut down on cost by buying a book of bus tickets, but my income isn?t like it once was. I stretch the duration of the ticket books by taking the bus to the subway station in the morning and walking home from the subway at night. Sometimes I?ll miss the bus in the morning and have to walk both ways. If it wasn?t for the Lord sustaining my health, my commute would be the death of me. And speaking of being near death?
  6. I lived through having the measles, mumps, and chicken pox at age two. SIMULTANEOUSLY. Both the doctor and my mom really thought I was going to die. Obviously, I don?t remember any of this. Anything before age five is a complete and total blur.
  7. All five senses are intact. A left-handed brother woke up in his right mind this morning. I can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. I know how it feels to hold my wife?s hand, to have her look at me and smile and how it makes me melt every time. What if I couldn?t hear music? What if I couldn?t experience it on all the levels that I do now? I wouldn?t be able to hear my wife sing (she?s my songbird). And life would be vastly different if I couldn?t taste peanut butter, apple pie, and vanilla ice cream (no, not all at once).
  8. Food. I have a choice of what I want to eat in my fridge and cupboards. I?m not in a position to have to resort to cannibalism or eat what others throw away. At my lowest point, I ate nothing but rice for a week. Still, you can stretch starch-based foods, so that rice was a blessing.
  9. Clothing. In the immortal words of Mr. T from his Be Somebody Or Be Somebody?s Fool video, ?Everybody gotta wear clothes. If you don?t, you?ll get arrested.? I?m not worried about name brands ? does it fit me and can I afford it? I have more than one shirt, more than one pair of jeans or sneakers, and at least one suit in my closet. I BETTA act like I know some don?t have that luxury, as well as get off my butt and give my older threads to those that need them.
  10. Shelter. During marriage counseling, Rev. Dr. Edward L. Hunt (the pastor that would officiate our wedding ceremony) mentioned what was, in his opinion, the eleventh commandment: ?Thou shalt own property.? Beth and I want to own a house someday, but right now I?m happy with our apartment. It feels like home and a place of solace, which is critical when the work day beats you down.
  11. God sent me someone to share life with. Beth?s had my heart since the fall of 1992 and she will long after the Lord calls me home. Our wedding day and honeymoon are some of the happiest times I?ve ever experienced. Five years married, twelve years together, and we?ve only just begun. I thank God for her daily: she makes this life bearable and I hope I do the same for her.
  12. My mother. She has been the nurturer, the sustainer, the disciplinarian, and the strand of support and guidance for more than a quarter of a century and has lived to tell the tale. Still giving, still caring, still concerned, she is my mom, my friend, and my sister-in-Christ. She left me the sweetest message this morning while I had my review:
    ?Good morning, my darling. I?m just arriving at the hospital. My labor pains are not too bad. I will call you when you?re born. I love you. Have a blessed day.?
    I?ll always love my mama ? she?s my favorite girl?
  13. My father. Reconciliation is important, especially when it?s your parent on the other side of your scorn. Forgiving my father for past behavior is easily one of the best decisions I?ve ever made. I can remember him arguing with my mother and raising his hand to my sister. I can remember sitting on the back seat of his green Cadillac Eldorado and watching him and his friends freebase in the front. He?s made a number of wrong turns in his life and, thankfully, none of them have taken him out. The fact that he?s still here for me to hug wipes the slate clean. I love my dad more than he can imagine.
  14. My extended family. Between grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, we are four generations deep on both sides of the family. Add to that my wife?s nuclear and extended family and you have a lot of people on all sides with a lot of quirks, idiosyncrasies, and general personality crap that drives you nuts. Even so, there?s a lot of love flowing whenever we do get together, and for that I?m thankful. There are some families that can?t say the same.
  15. I get along surprisingly well with my in-laws. Beth reminded me of that just yesterday. That?s a blessing: few things are worse than gaining family members through a sacred union that can?t stand you.
  16. My church family. In addition to my nuclear and extended family, God has blessed me with brothers and sisters in the faith I can go to for encouragement, accountability, and spiritual uplift. The secular world shouts ?clones,? but God desires unity (not uniformity) amongst His people. I don?t know how they?ve put up with me as long as they have. Must be grace and mercy extended in my direction.
  17. Morpheus. I?m adding this one at Beth?s suggestion, but it?s true: I love our little neurotic. I never used to like cats until Beth got him while we were dating. That silly thing stole my heart. He races around the house chasing things from other dimensions, he licks plastic bags, and he bats around his water dish so that it falls on the tray underneath it and then drinks it from the tray. In addition, he?d probably rather have peanut butter and tortilla chips than his cat food. AND HE?S LACTOSE INTOLERANT. This is what Beth gets for insisting on choosing a kitty that was hiding under a dresser. The apartment wouldn?t be the same without him, though.
  18. Financial aid mishaps didn?t stop me from graduating college. I?ve had to work for one semester three years in a row to pay my tuition bills, thereby turning a four-year degree into a seven-year bid. But I didn?t quit and I didn?t forget what the money was for. I graduated SUNY Albany with a BA in English. (A lot of good it?ll do me now: didn?t The Princeton Review rank my alma mater the #1 party school?)
  19. Brubacher Hall (Fall 1991-Spring 1993) Before this dorm was the property of The College of Saint Rose, it belonged to SUNY Albany. This is where I spent by freshman and sophomore years of college. This is where Beth and I first met and fell in love. It is also where I met the most insane bunch of people I have ever known in life. There was a whole crew of us that became friends rather quickly. Most of us have fallen out of touch with each other, but it doesn?t change the way that I feel about them. They were the most amazing group of people I?ve ever met and I know that I?ll never have friends quite like the ones I had in that dorm. That was a very unique time in my life, one that I?ll always remember with fondness and fits of giggles.
  20. I have childhood friends that still ask about me. Mom told me that yesterday. Cats that I haven?t seen in forever (at least since elementary school) run into my mom, actually remember me and ask how I?m doing. That?s gotta count for something.
  21. Music. I obsess over it enough to treat it like I know it's a gift from God.
  22. I?ve hosted a radio show. Several of them, actually, and I created some radio promos, too. I even had my own news article broadcast on a public access station (it was about the growing popularity of techno). Some of them have been recorded and are currently waiting to be converted to MP3 files. And as much as I think all my old shows suck now, as much as I want to distance myself from the person I was then and the radio station as a whole, I have to admit that I had a lot of fun while I was there. I really miss being an on-air DJ. It?s the one component of college life that I wish I could continue.
  23. I was a rotating resident DJ at a bar. From January to October last year, I was a part of a really great party on the Lower East Side called Recess, which was held at the Orchard Bar on Wednesday nights. I miss tag team sets with my man Jordan; we learned so much from each other. I miss hearing Goldenchild and Moises rock rare groove sets and talking music with them. It had its annoying moments, but the high points outweigh them in my memory now. There was one night in April of 2003 that the back room almost exploded, there was so much energy. It was 3AM on a Wednesday and no one wanted to go home. The party?s still going, but I hear from some that it?s not the same as it used to be. That?s a shame; for a while, it was THE place to go midweek.
  24. I had a poem published as part of a former professor?s book. Dr. Mark Anthony Neal?s class at SUNY Albany was the highlight of my last semester there. We?ve kept in touch since then and he?s currently considered one of the greatest cultural critics of his generation. He has written several books, one of which is entitled Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic. He asked for one of my poems to appear within the book?s introduction. It?s an honor that still humbles me. I have so much respect for Dr. Neal?s work and I make it a point to see him whenever he?s in town.
  25. Will and Khari. My brothers-in-Christ, my partners in Cut-Up City (urban-based audio collage), random silliness, and way too many in-jokes. Those two are always gonna be my heads. Cut-Up City runs things. ?We will be here for-EVER?Do you understand? For-EVER. FOREVER AND EVER?AND EVER AND EVER.?
  26. Mikal. MC, writer, raver, dancer, and all-around brilliant mind, he is a pea from the same brown-shaded pod. We met at a party in Albany back in 1999. I thought I was the only head at a rave that got into the music as intensely and outwardly visible as I did until I met him. That?s how we bonded. We?re both older and wiser, but still share similar struggles and we talk each other through them. Truth be told, he?s the younger brother I?ve always wanted. I?m very thankful that God allowed us to cross paths.
  27. Dawn and Baba. Whenever two people find each other that you know are just meant to be together, that?s a major blessing. These two souls are powerful as individuals; united in matrimony, they will move mountains. I am so glad that I was able to witness their wedding ceremony this summer. Plus Beth likes having more friends around us that are married and in their 30s ? makes her feel less like the oldest person in the room.
  28. Constant inspirations in concert. I?ve been fortunate enough to see a number of my greatest musical inspirations perform live: Prince, Fishbone, De La Soul, The Legendary Pink Dots, Basehead, Squarepusher, Carl Craig, and Mouse On Mars. Alas, I never did get to see Frank Zappa on stage. He came through my area on his last tour a few months before I got into his music. That was 1988 ? he died in December of 1993. I guess it?s no surprise that I?ve been listening a lot of his live recordings lately?
  29. I?ve never been to jail. I can hear the Chris Rock response on this one: ?You?re not supposed to go to jail. What you want, a cookie?!?? But when prison populations are overwhelmingly black (even in towns where there are no black people), you can?t tell me that someone somewhere doesn?t already have a cell with my name on it. I?ve managed to avoid becoming a cog in the machine known as the prison industrial complex for this long, and I intend to keep it that way.
  30. I?ve never been shot or stabbed. I?ve heard from those that have traveled overseas (especially if they?re from New York City) that others constantly ask if they?ve been shot, as if we all live in the wild wild West. I suppose we do, in a way. However, being in front of or behind a knife or a gun is not a black man?s rite of passage, contrary to popular belief. Neither fate has befallen me so far and I thank God for it. (?If you never been shot or stabbed [Mount Vernon], go ?OOOH, OOOH, OOOH, OOOH???)
  31. I?ve seen a body of water that just goes on forever. It was November of 1999 and Beth and I had arrived at the Sun Palace in Cancun. As we checked into our room and got settled, I looked out our window. All we saw was water. I?ve never seen that before. Usually, there?s always some land mass or bridge in the midst of it all. But not here?just water. I?ve never been as relaxed as I was in Cancun. Beth and I have been trying to get back ever since.
I was hoping the list of blessings would make it to 31. There?s lots more that I know I?m missing, but two days ago I didn?t even think I?d get this far. That was the goal for this week: to write down one blessing for each year that God has spared my life. It?s not like He had to.

Posted by macedonia at 12:19 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 November 2004 12:28 PM EST
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