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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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Friday, 22 October 2004
escape from Sodom, USA
Now Playing: Citizen Cope - The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
Topic: the Christian walk

I suppose it was only a matter of time before a blog entry of this nature appeared on the site. Been wanting to write something like this for months, actually.

There?s a gentleman?s club about three doors down from where I work. I?ve been trying to figure out why they?re called gentleman?s clubs. What?s gentlemanly about watching a woman dance on a pole or sticking dollar bills into her G-string?

Further down the street, construction workers bulldoze, jackhammer, block traffic, and make way too much damn noise all day long. During their breaks, they do background checks on every woman that passes by. You know the one: she walks by or they walk by, then they crane their necks to check out her butt. Sometimes they turn around completely so they can get a good stare in. One day, it was like an epidemic: every fourth or fifth guy on the street was doing that to some woman that passed. It didn?t matter if I was just arriving to work, leaving work, or on my lunch break ? it was always the same. Then there are the cave dwellers who feel the need to add some sort of comment afterwards. The fact that the caveman has a severe case of craning neck syndrome is bad enough; then they go and say some stupid ish, too? It?s enough to make you want to run down the street with a spiked ball on a chain and play nutcracker.

I love the summer, but I?m happy it?s getting colder. People are finally putting some clothes back on. This past summer was almost too much for my heart to take. There are some women out here (and young girls, I might add) that make me nervous. Just because GOD made you beautiful doesn?t mean you have to leave little to the imagination. And if I?m not supposed to notice the junk in your trunk, why did you go and buy a pair of jeans with ?hot thing? or ?bootylicious? written across the back side? I was doing pretty well until that phenomenon took place.

Somewhere along the way, the right to exploit one?s self crept into the definition of present-day feminism. That drives my wife absolutely nuts. I can remember walking through Union Square Park during the week of the Republican National Convention and seeing a woman wearing a tank top that read ?weapon of mass seduction.? I couldn?t help but recall a line that Lyrics Born sings in that song ?I Changed My Mind?: ??why the hell you wanna go and advertise?? (Besides that, if you really are such a weapon, you wouldn?t even have to say it: I would be able to sense it.) Later I found out it was one of the slogans emblazoned on undergarments by the Axis of Eve, a female activist group that staged a ?panty raid? protest in another part of the city. The slogans only got more provocative; the one I seem to remember most is ?my cherry for Kerry.? While it certainly looked like an interesting way to address women?s issues, it?s a damn good thing I wasn?t there. It?s the same reason why I?m glad I don?t have Showtime: I?d be watching The L Word for all the wrong reasons.

Human nature is best described by a bumper sticker I once saw: ?Lead me not into temptation ? I can find it by myself.? Internet pornography may as well be kryptonite to the average male, and I include myself when I say that. I?ve probably seen enough flesh in my lifetime to keep a 24-hour adult channel on-air for at least three months straight. Once the visuals enter through your eyes, they attach themselves to a brain cell. They?re stocked away in the A/V section of your mind, ready to be recalled at a moment?s notice. Hundreds upon thousands of positions, poses, moans, and tangled body parts?in your head?on demand.

I?ve only been on this earth for three decades, but I?ve screwed up plenty. The major mistakes have always revolved around trying to be something other than what I am. A hopeless romantic has no business trying to be a stud. But the magazines, videos, and mpegs suggest otherwise. Sooner or later, you begin to project those fantasies onto the females in your life: best friends, co-workers, classmates, church members? That?s when the real trouble starts, especially if you happen to have friends that can project sexual energy from a single hair follicle. All they have to do is walk into a room and the tension?s so thick you could cut it with a carving knife. I?ve had friends and acquaintances like that. It?s the classic moth and flame scenario: even when you know you?ll be consumed by fire, you do something stupid anyway. A thought becomes a word and/or deed that you can?t take back. It?s what you do when God?s love isn?t good enough, when you feel like something?s wrong with you because several others don?t find you desirable.

After a while (and usually a demeaning experience leaving the real you exposed to the very ones you lied to), you have to refocus and recognize who you are. I?m no stud, no player, no porn star?I?m a PRUDE. Regardless of the Victoria?s Secret ads that invite me to see curves, no matter how many men?s magazine covers with various women and different interpretations of the ?come hither? stare, I must walk the walk that stresses the spirit over the skin, how beautiful it is to give yourself to one person for life and making a house a home instead of building a harem. It?s not impossible, but it is extremely difficult to do in this life when all of these external factors are telling you to get primal.

So I do what I can to push the carnal thoughts out, sometimes with the Bible, sometimes with music, sometimes with writing. But two decades plus of pornographic scenarios don?t die easy. You don?t just wake up one day speaking in tongues, cured of carnality forever. It doesn?t make you suddenly forget the name of the website you kept coming back to or the porn star you did random searches for. In a world where adult stars are gaining more access to mainstream channels, you have to step up your game. Any talk of American family values and how this country is a God-fearing nation doesn?t mean jack when pornography is a multi-billion dollar business. Let?s be real.

And while we?re talking about saints and sinners, I?m still trippin? over this Wired News article from a few months back. This pair of pastors are definitely on some subversive stuff and I understand what they?re trying to do, but I don?t know. Back in the day, Jesus hung out with the sinners and showed compassion on them, but these guys show up at adult entertainment expos with bumper stickers that read ?Jesus loves porn stars.? You know you?re in for quite an article when the first sentence talks about a Krispy Kreme employee that masturbates.

(Puts the glazed doughnuts in a whole new perspective, doesn?t it? Just read the damn thing.)

Posted by macedonia at 5:57 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 22 October 2004 5:29 PM EDT
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Monday, 29 March 2004
secret of the saints no. 481
Now Playing: (deafening silence)
Topic: the Christian walk

every Christian wants to be just like Jesus...

...until we actually have to. then most of us act as if we never met the brother...

Posted by macedonia at 12:55 AM EST
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Friday, 12 March 2004
while i run this race...
Now Playing: the profound silence of one lost in thought...
Topic: the Christian walk

?Guide my feet?while I run this race
guide my feet?while I run this race
guide my feet?while I run this race
?cause I don?t want to run this race in vain.?

The guest preacher ended his sermon at our church on Tuesday night with that song and I?ve been singing it ever since. I need all the help I can get with this race that I have chosen (and been chosen) to run. Why lie?

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior when I was 12 years old. I clearly had no idea what I was signing up for. I didn?t really know all that it would entail. All I knew was that I had a need to rely in something much greater than myself. So when I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God had raised Him from the dead, I meant it. But I think there?s this period of naivety that young Christians in the faith go through. We think that because we have Jesus, we don?t have to go through anything. We think that the problems stop, that hard times cease to be. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that the moment we accept Jesus into our lives, we?re put on satan?s hit list. The devil ain?t just out to make us have a bad day. He wants to straight up take us out. If he can?t take us out, he?ll make every dogged attempt to disqualify our lives from being a true witness for Christ. Faith is easy to come by when things are going well. The real test is believing He?s real when all hell is breaking loose in your life. Our existence is a series of tests. We all want the testimony without having to go through a test, but that?s not how it works. There?s no testimony without the test. And the higher you go in Christ Jesus, the more difficult the tests become. As my mother used to say, ?New level, new devil.?

Being a Christian in a fallen world means constantly having to ask yourself one question: is it possible to be in the world and not of the world? In other words, is it possible to live your life for God and not be swayed by the influence of worldly thinking? Will you choose God?s way over your own desires? I can?t lie: I have not always chosen God?s way. The struggle between spirit and flesh is quite real, and I have failed this test on countless occasions?even though I knew better.

We as Christians think we get it, but we don?t really get it. This life is a life of suffering. In order to be elevated, we have to get low. We have to deny our selves daily to follow Him. Not our will, but His be done. In a world where everyone wants to take care of themselves before others, is it any wonder why the Christian walk is a hard sell? It completely goes against the way the world operates. From what I hear, some preachers have taken the easy way out with messages of prosperity. I won?t be fooled. The blessings will come, but not without some bruising along the way. It?s going to cost me something. If Jesus was wounded for my trangressions, than I have to expect to catch a beatdown by the trials and tribulations of life. I?ve been through too much already to believe otherwise.

?Hold my hand?while I run this race
hold my hand?while I run this race
hold my hand?while I run this race
?cause I don?t want to run this race in vain.?

Posted by macedonia at 5:29 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 12 March 2004 5:30 PM EST
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