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I’m going to try something this year for my birthday. It’s not new. It’s just a drive to finally see a ‘long-form’ creation of mine into completion. I’ve never truly done something for my birthday outside of a few pic collages and a blog post or two. Never have I had a birthday party. Never have I hung out with friends and celebrated my birthday. Never have I really ventured outside of my hometown for my birthday, and if I actually did, it wasn’t memorable. And if it was memorable, it wasn’t worthy of the “Happy” portion of the phrase “Happy Birthday.” So, for some odd reason, I want my birthday to be special this year. It’s not a “monumental” numeral like ’30,”35,’ or ’40,’ but it’s the burning desire to eradicate the similarities between my birthdays and those of one Buffy Summers (If you are a die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan then you will get that reference). The only problem is settling on a creative event that will not only become a welcome imprint for years to come, but a positive, goal-achieving, and reflective one as well.

So a quick glance at my Facebook page yesterday gave me the first idea of how I wanted to execute this year’s birthday celebration. Seven years and seven months ago, there was a fad flowing among my college friends’ pages where people wrote lists consisting of 16-25 truths of themselves and posting them for their peers to see. My list was the full 25, because at that point in time I was 25 years old and still in a collegiate melancholic haze about life; confident, but not to the point of knowing where the economic crisis would take me in the next few months. But that’s another story…

The point in why the list caught my eye was because it showcased a different side of me that I, sadly, had managed to lose track of. A lot can happen in seven years and while some of the truths from that persona checklist are still solid rods in the foundation of my very being, an equal or greater amount has morphed into new ideals teetering on the brink of madness sometimes. 

Here’s the list in it’s entirety:

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“A Mark O. Estes Production: “25: Random Edition”

I waited on doing this because I was getting tagged for both 16 random and 25 random things and I didn’t want to do 25 and be called out for being extra so here goes the top 25 things that you might already know. If you didn’t then you just haven’t been around me much, which isn’t a bad thing…

Ok… ACTION!!!!

Scene 1. I believe that no human being is perfect, but laugh when people actually believe the opposite. And they wonder why folks “hate” on them…

Scene 2. I have scoliosis, which for those who don’t know, it is the curvature of the spine.

Scene 3. People need to learn the difference between friends and associates and I believe that it should at least be a required 101 class for all universities.

Scene 4. I’ve been writing stories since the age of 8. One of the first was The Goonies 2 and I also write stories/scripts for me to act out with my action figures by directing and providing voices as well.

Scene 5. I am going through a period now of reading as much thought-provoking black books/essays that I can find. I have read two Toni Morrison books (‘Love’, and her newest ‘A Mercy’), and am now reading Michael Eric Dyson’s ‘April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr,’s Death and How It Changed America’. Next on my list are Toni Morrison’s ‘Sula’ and Ernest J. Gaines’ ‘A Lesson Before Dying’.

Scene 6. A lot of the stuff that I know or have learned in life has come mostly from TV and movies, which has strangely put me at odds with a lot of people, namely my family. The Real World Seasons 1-10 (It got hella skeezy afterwards), early BET and MTV in general and a few others are to blame for my ‘upbringing’.

Scene 7. Speaking of my upbringing, I kind of raised myself in a sense, because my parents and I have contrasting ideals and I am always the oddball on both sides of my family. It was hard growing up to be myself, because my family frowned on just about everything I did, except my schoolwork.

Scene 8. Technically, I attended my parents wedding due to the fact that my mom was three months pregnant with me at the time.

Scene 9. I am constantly ragged on about my taste in music, TV, and movies, because most of it is “white-washed” and “lack color”.

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Scene 10. Out of the over 200+ movies and TV Shows that I own, I haven’t seen more than a handful of them.

Scene 11. I have been told that I can be quite depressing company to be around, which is puzzling because I have also been told that I am a people magnet.

Scene 12. I have a tendency to alphabetize books if they are out of order in a bookstore and replace books in order of their call number in libraries if they were misplaced. Blame it on my past experience as a librarian. My books here at home are in order of their release date as well as my DVDs.

Scene 13. I had a dream about the birth of my son and in that one dream I watched him age to four years. His name was Christian Tobias Estes. Needless to say that was the best dream ever and was hard to wake up from.

Scene 14. I subscribe to the belief that its vacuous to be at every event, club, party, etc and wonder why or how your business is in the streets.

Scene 15. My first/only Spring Break Trip ever was Spring 2007 and it was to Atlanta, which was also my first time ever being there.

Scene 16. MTSU and the University of Memphis were the first and only choices for school. But after both said my grades weren’t good enough (yes not good enough), I so happened to be cleaning my room and a brochure and application to UT fell out of the bottom of a box that I picked up. I filled it out and the rest is history. Or rather God helped me come to my senses…

Scene 17. I initially came to UT for theater, but by Divine Intervention again, I was steered back to my first loves: writing, television, and film.

Scene 18. Growing up I was a social misfit in my own head. I didn’t think that anybody liked me because I thought they considered me too awkward to be around. But by my senior year in high school, I wised up and realized that people didn’t like me because I was a social chameleon and didn’t let cliques dictate my social life. So I told everyone in my last will and testament to go to hell and that good luck making it to our 1st class reunion, which I won’t be attending.

Scene 19. One of the people who helped shaped me into the person I am today, Earline Bynum, died two weeks after I moved to UT. I never got to say goodbye properly because the last time I saw her before I left she was asleep. I knew then that nothing will ever be the same and I still haven’t gotten over it yet.

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Scene 20. I wonder a lot about things that people would be frightened to acknowledge, issues that others only think about when their own being is at stake, scenarios and possibilities that most consider irrelevant or petulant. At all times my mind is operating…

Scene 21. I don’t like it when people measure someone by their achievements/status/merits and not by their complete character. While that might seem either conceited or confusing to some, I feel that if you don’t have some sense of a moral compass then you don’t have shit worth gloating about.

Scene 22. I see my entire college life as a television show (ala Degrassi) and that I am living my own spinoff now, while the rest of my friends have their own spinoffs. I can’t wait for the reunion movie to happen now. Yea, it’s that deep…

Scene 23. I am a big nostalgic person and love anything relating to the 80s and 90s because they remind me of how things used to be so simple and how film, TV and culture in general was much more creative, original and, at times, unique.

Scene 24. My senior year in high school I placed #1 in the nation in the Cranium Bowl sponsored by Channel One News and U.S. News and World Report magazine. I won a $100 dollar gift card to The Gap and had a field day at the clearance rack.

Scene 25. I have a problem with people who go out their way to be pompous and siddity and then declare that they are just “confident” or that they just have “swag” when someone calls them out on it. That’s not confidence, it’s straight up arrogance. ‘Confidence’ doesn’t have to be displayed 24/7 and is ugly and retarded as hell no matter how tight you twist it. But I still love ya!

Deleted Scene: I am a true Gemini to the core.

Commentary: Sorry if my list might sound bitter, but you got to admit that it was random at best. I tried to mix them up but I guess I had to vent a little. But this is my Random Edition so… Plus, I wanted to do something a little different with mine as you just saw. This is the first of three different editions so look out for the other three installments.”

To be honest, I cringed rereading some of those, but it’s just a prime example of youth in motion. It’s astounding to look at this mirror of words and see someone so totally different, yet not really. It’s a beautiful thing.

So here’s what I’m thinking of doing: I’m thinking about updating at least 23 of these ‘truths’ daily and give reasons why I chose to do so or not. This is just one of the challenges I’ve set up for myself. The other ‘provocations’ I’ve set up for myself won’t be listed, because they might change as soon as I hit publish on this particular blog post, which is actually already late technically.

I hope whoever reads this joins me in this journey and makes sure I stay on track on it until completion on May 23rd, 2016. It’s also a way for me to make sure I’m writing something everyday for the next 23 days.

In advance, I thank you. And hopefully this birthday will become one for the annals.

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This past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. Tons of black celebrities, political pundits, talk show hosts, and more attended the landmark event that drew thousands upon thousands of black men, women, and children to the nation’s capital in order to celebrate not only a significant moment in African-American history, but a current cultural movement within our country as well. 

But I only heard about the Million Man March 2015,this monumental once in a lifetime event, Saturday morning/afternoon. The day of the event. NOT the weeks leading up to it. 

At first, I was slightly ashamed of not hearing one peep about the event taking place. The questions swirling in my head were “Why wasn’t this retweeted, reblogged and shared on various social media platforms? Why am I just finding out about this? Where were the news reports leading up to it?” But after beating myself up for a few minutes and mulling over my lack of knowledge of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, I realized… how could I search for something I had no clue existed in the first place?

So after coming to that conclusion, I looked to some news on the matter discussing who was all there and the theme/hashtag #JusticeOrElse. A good friend of mine had the luxury of attending the event, as well as several celebrities I follow who shared their pictures, Facebook statuses, and tweets from the event. The pictures flooding my FB timeline were pretty epic in scope; the crowd was massive and it looked like there was and endless sea of attendees, possibly rivaling any gathering in recent U.S. history. 

Meanwhile, there were other posts flooding my timeline simultaneously that didn’t talk about who was at the event or what was being said as much as who wasn’t in attendance. 

  
Several memes and statuses were bemoaning the lack of media coverage in D.C. for the Million Man March anniversary.  Some of these reports were of the “SMDH/should have known” variety and some others were blatantly pissed off and outraged about the absence of the media during a peaceful and noteworthy event. The same angry parties also declared that if there was violence on hand then the cameras surely would have been front and center, ala Baltimore and Ferguson, to get every bottle thrown and any negative image they could possibly collect. 

This blog post is dedicated to those who decided it was more important to repost and reshare the lack of media coverage than the actual events, speeches, and message of the Million Man March, and why they totally missed the point – and opportunity – to actually do something for a change. This blog post is also dedicated to those who didn’t bother to stop to fact check before making these memes, nor come to the conclusion that it doesn’t take an army of news trucks to represent a journalistic presence at an event this size.

Now in no shape, way, or form am I taking up for the media as a whole, because they have dropped the ball on numerous occasions on race relations and other subjects outside of that hotbed topic. But a quick Google search would show that numerous news entities ranging from CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc were on hand to cover the event as it played out. You would think that if one was bothered enough to send out memes about the injustice of the media screwing us black folks again would at least have the time to pull viable receipts to back their claims. No one bothered to do this despite people leaving examples of coverage in the comments section of the memes and blog posts. 

Then another thought came to mind about people maybe wanting to actually see the events transpire instead of reading about them on the net. Maybe they wanted their kids to see the power of unity from the black community and have them be a part of a national movement through their TV screens, not a sea of articles. I understood this new kernel of knowledge wholeheartedly, but it only produced a new seed of questions and observations, namely one that brings me back to my initial qualm about the coverage of the Million Man March: Why did I, and tons of others, not hear about it until Saturday, the day of the event?

  
This is where my ire sets in. And this is where not only the media dropped the ball, but the social media justice warriors as well. 

While trying to make sure people “stayed woke,” the social media activists slept hard on a huge opportunity and they have only themselves to blame mostly.

Something this huge should not have snuck up on us. It should have came roaring; loud enough that it would be have been on everyone’s lips according to the sites who are declaring a complete media shutout of the event.

JusticeOrElse.com was the official website for the MMM 20th and they have a Facebook page, Twitter handle, and an app that promoted this function. By the looks of things they promoted this pretty damn well (as far as April of this year according to their Facebook page). But still it didn’t (and wouldn’t) reach all ears and eyeballs. This is where those blogs and others whom were anxious that the event wouldn’t be covered properly should have reached out to the handlers of JusticeOrElse about a joint venture to have the landmark affair covered properly. If they couldn’t have reached them, then get in contact with someone who was going to be in attendance, had audio/visual knowledge, and could set up a live stream of the event for their organization or website. The event drew people from across the United States so someone knew someone who knew something that could have been of value to the sites/blog. 

Also you didn’t need to have complete videography knowledge. Live blogging or live tweeting the occasion could have been a big help. I’m sure someone did just that Saturday and probably could have uploaded a Storify link with video to boot.

  
The point is that while the MMM 20th promotional train did its thing, it was up to those with the platforms who received the JusticeOrElse’s call to take the baton and continue the race and make sure news of the event reached the eyeballs of as many African-Americans as possible. Creating memes, blog posts, and articles damning the media for not showing up cameras blazing for the peaceful MMM 20th, instead of using that time and energy to actually report on the speeches and events as they unfolded, did not add anything new to the conversation. It only fed on the ignorance of those not in the know and continued to spread the virus known as misinformation during what is supposed to be the Age of Information. We know the media (all forms, biases, and what have you of it) have no clue of our plight and need papers to sell and page clicks to cash in on. 

A great opportunity was lost this weekend, and in that lies a great disservice that is growing monstrously each day. In short, we have to do better people.

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I can’t sleep… 

Why? The answer is quite simple, yet a bit complicated. You see… My mind operates like that. Its dual nature is both a curse and a blessing in more ways than one. But I digress.

I can’t sleep.

Why? I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of my mind hijacking my body with thoughts of your tears and rage hammering away at my psyche.

I’m afraid of closing my eyes and succumbing to the nightly death like slumber to only wake up to a broken heart and an empty bed.

I’m afraid of entering the Land of Dreams to only find myself making a wrong turn to Nightmare City and being haunted by our dead love affair. 

I’m afraid of sleeping on a million ways to tell you how much I love you.

I’m afraid of the anger pulsating through your mind, body, and soul, and not having any power of ceasing that internal storm by making things right.

I’m afraid…

I’m afraid of losing you.

No matter how heavy my eyelids get with the daily horror show known as my life, they will not have the urge to rest based on the fear of your absence.

The excruciating notion of being deprived of you overrides my integral need for slumber. 

My dreams are meaningless and irrelevant if we don’t experience them together.

But…

So that’s why I can’t sleep.

I’m simply afraid…

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What starts off as a small insignificant tear can easily become an infected, pus-prone gash when you don’t take proper care of it.

The infection only gets worse when you refuse to acknowledge its existence. You abuse or disregard the medicine bestowed to you out of love. You continue to let something so curable destroy something so promising. And when the infection finally reaches the point of no remission, your last minute attempts to salvage what was once great, sturdy, and beautiful are as futile as a helpless fly pleading to a hungry spider.

And the saddest part of it all? This illness you brought into our lives was easily avoidable. Easily curable.

Yet you chose to let it devour everything you claimed to care about.

It is in that insufferable fact where my heart can’t even begin to comprehend the last word on its dying lips:

Why?

Writing Soundtrack Pt. 1

 

It should go without saying that music is a beautiful thing, if not one of the most beautiful gifts we have on this earth. Music is a stress reliever. A time machine. A confidant. Music takes us to exotic places we might never see in our lifetime, or rather see in our wildest dreams. It also serves as a snapshot of our most prominent achievements in life, a graduation, a promotion, a birth. Music also helps motivate The Creatives into weaving ordinary words into majestic stories and movies; causing masters of colors to bleed out their personalities on the canvas for the world to see; or encourage other musicians to either follow the path a particular song or group laid out for them, or make their own.

So like most writers/authors, it’s a must for me to have a soundtrack waiting for me as I write. Usually any music that’s landed on my iPod has magical properties that leave me compelled to write something, or formulate a scene in my mind at any given moment. These songs are constant mainstays on my little Apple device, but there comes a time when  the right music for a particular project is a must. This is where the title of this blog post comes in.

I’m working on my first novel tentatively titled, “Blues from Down Here…,” which is, of course, from the rock gods known as TV on the Radio’s album Return To Cookie Mountain. I’m not ready to relay the complete details of the novel just yet, but I will say that it’s LGBT related and deals with the nightmare of coming out, or rather not having any control of coming out of the closet. It’s a dark piece laced with some bright moments that will leave the reader charmed, inspired, and hopefully feeling some type of way about the concept of ‘love.’

At the center of the book is Mike Emerson and Shane Douglas, the romantic duo who are the subject of my first ‘Writing Soundtrack” post dealing with the novel, and other works of my fiction as well. The songs selected describe not only their love story, but each individual as well. Some of the songs don’t take place within the time frame of the story (it’s set between 2006-2009), but said songs help motivate me to either add or subtract certain elements to the story. So without further ado, here is the Mike & Shane Mix Vol. 1 Playlist:

 

1. Blues From Down Here – TV on the Radio (Duh…)

2. Rhapsody – Siouxsie andthe Banshees

3. Hunting High and Low – a-ha

4. Sensitivity – Ralph Tresvant

5. How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

6. Hotel Womb – The Church (the guitar intro alone should be a track itself)

7. Stripped – Depeche Mode

8. There’s A World Outside – The Psychedelic Furs

9. Face to Face – Siouxsie andthe Banshees

10. If I Ever Fall in Love – Shai

11. Are You That Somebody – Aaliyah

12. Love Will Never Do Without You – Janet Jackson

13. Ridiculous Thoughts – The Cranberries

14. Maniac – Kid Cudi

15. Paranoid – Kanye West

16. #1 Crush (Original Version) – Garbage

17. Tell Me – The Chain Gang of 1974

18. Family Tree – TV on the Radio

19. Disarm – The Smashing Pumpkins

20. Spellbound – Siouxsie and the Banshees

21. Asleep – The Smiths

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Noise is good. Especially of the cosmic variety.

We are surrounded by Noise. Not the common noise of planes, trains, automobiles, electronics, barks, meows, and so forth. But the Noise of the Heart, the Mind, the Body, the Spirit. The Noise of the Family, the Workplace, the Livelyhood, and the Being.

We get distracted by the Noises that occupy our varying roles in life. Yearning for a singular thread of theme that will show itself clearly through the tangles of our personal various ‘musical notes’ and experiences. We tend to lose the rhythm of our own personal being, or we lose ourselves in the chaotic cacophony of those around us; whether close or distant, it doesn’t matter. Or, unfortunately, we’ve become so used to being one with someone else’s Noise, their beat and rhythm, that we never know the fruits of composing our own jingle, our own theme song within the gamut of our life’s potential soundtrack.

But once you hone in on that unique composition; a healthy balance of the many Noises within your own life… Oh, boy… The music becomes exhilarating, prophetic, and oh so YOU. You will discover that the different notes you prayed to the Master Composer for have been embedded within the sound-waves surrounding you. Your Song will finally be conducted, ready for the masses to consume and celebrate. Your Noise will become an emphatic Symphony, remarkably unmistakable and genuinely unique in nature.

Your Song will finally be ready to be Sung.

Castle

You retreat within the dark castle of your mind;

 intimidating, saturnine turrets hold flags at half mast to signify your request for solitude.

The surrounding,  impenetrable barrier, erected and protected by your anger and rage, is all that stands between you and the harsh factuality that is life.

But it is also what keeps me from reaching you. From consoling you. From loving…

 You.

The only company within your darksome citadel is the warring trifecta within your mind; the only topic on hand is emotional destruction,

yet their language is foreign enough for you to not comprehend the repercussions of such a callous move.

Outside, I bang my bloodied hands on the icy,  stony barricade, each strike hurting from the unforgiving freeze burn; begging, demanding, for you to

Let. Me. In.

Eventually I stop after your silence deafen my ears. Your ‘company’ grins broadly like the Cheshire cat; thinking they’ve defeated the only foe against their plans for dominating your life with angry misshapen images of your world’s view.

But they, your ‘company,’ underestimates the one factor that always matters. The “divine move” that always conquers its opponent in the end: Love.

My Love.

I return to your hellish castle brandishing arsenal that would make Cupid blush with pride.

However, while these particular weapons can’t tear down the pseudo-misanthropic fence you’ve built with one powerful blow…

…they can at least leave dents. Fissures. Cracks.

And with my love for you, all of you, being eternal…

…I will never run out of ammunition.

Just let me into your darkness.

Just let me in…

A Haunting? 

A Haunting?

You rule these cavernous, contorted halls like an emperor of the nether, traveling aimlessly for a cause; waiting patiently for the manifestation of an ill-advised sliver to appear.

 Are you of the unconscious mind? Or are you from a past undone?

Once the otherworldly breach occurs you slither through, a beautiful nightmare; your impossible presence uncanny, yet carelessly summoned.
Are you a propitious, conscious being’ Or are you a voided husk; a one way, mischievous vacuüm to the ether?

You are now here in the cerebral corporeality, your spectral talons gripped firmly into this jaded reality. Your invasive tentacles, happily and intricately, coiled throughout the ingenuously naiveté of your prey; promising an indefinite companionship, whether graciously welcomed or vehemently despised.

When your current assignment runs its transcendental course, you silently slip back to your phantasmagorical realm, aimlessly cruising its cataclysmic highway until another foolhardy or blissfully ignorant exit to this plane of existence introduces itself.

 

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Almost over a year ago, I had a long overdue dinner with two of my closest friends, aka “brothers for life,” and the topic of our 30th birthdays reared its foreboding head up for discussion like an unwanted, single gray hair. Our 30th year on Planet Earth also marked the ten year anniversary of when I met these knuckleheads as the new loner in a popular University of Tennessee, Knoxville dorm, but I digress. At the time of the dinner, both E and Murphy had already cashed in their 20s for a newly minted Big 3-0 membership card. They didn’t look any different than when I first met them ten years prior, except for the expected changes nature and life in general bestows so generally upon us. Throwback sport jerseys, ball caps, and jeans two times wider than our actual waists sizes were replaced with starched dressed shirts, polished shoes, and clean shaven faces. Frank might’ve put on a few pounds, while Eric had become a gym owner’s walking promotional ad for what a dedicated daily workout will do for you and the gym’s business. We’re still young adults, except the emphasis is more placed on the “adult” portion nowadays.

So there we were, three ‘young adults’ conversing on the woeful fact of turning 30. With my own birthday just a little of a month away, listening to E and Murphy discuss the dread before and after their respective birthdays hit sent an Antarctica-sized chill down my spine. It was like listening to a cheesy, but utterly effective, campfire horror yarn, except this story’s psychotic maniac or three-headed monster in the woods was actually Father Time and his annoyingly intimidating attribute/companion called “aging.” Like one of those impressionable campers, I sat gobsmacked as my best friends recounted the countdowns to their respective birthdays with an air of yearning to turn back life’s biological time piece mixed with an uncanny sense of doom. But as always, we tend to

“You can basically kiss your 20s goodbye forever,” Murphy jokingly summed up. “That’s what I can say about turning 30.”

We all laughed at that particular signature blunt response from Murphy, but I noticed that our hearty laughter was tainted with a level of awkward sadness. Our 20s were most definitely over, and soon the remnants of our youth would join them. But was turning 30 really going to be that bad? At first, it actually was. At first.

Initially, there were the standard “woe is me!” thoughts of not being content with my current situation; as well as the constant reminders of what was expected and not accepted of a man in his 30s. These nagging thoughts were followed by sleepless nights due to a restless brain with a tendency to conjure up incidents and events long forgotten, trying to decipher the many crossroads I met and why I decided to take the path that led me to that particular regretful moment in time. A case of the ‘blues’ also settled in, but they were nowhere near the hell I suffered during the bleak period between the end of my high school career and the beginning of my collegiate years. Every random memory and unquiet moment infiltrated my “daily happiness,” showing me my dated years with the bratty cackles of the most nefarious school children. It was as if a ominous switch was suddenly activated and all doors you used to have exclusive access to were placed on permanent lockdown at the stroke of midnight on May 23rd, 2013. Access denied, old man. Access denied.

But then I woke up one blurry morning and asked myself, “Do you want to live? Or do you want to ‘be 30?'”

As soon as the revelatory words left the peripheral of my mind’s eye, I knew then that this was my latest crossroads. It was a simple question, which only required an even simpler answer, one that didn’t need to be mulled over for a day or two. Not even for a second.

The arduous road I chose on that day led me to take formidable risks; fall hard on my ass; get bruised emotionally; and just live for once, which was something I wasn’t really doing before. Yes, I achieved countless victories over the years, but they were to be expected. I never really lived for myself, never followed the path laid out for me. And looking back at my 30th year on Earth… I believed I achieved a lot more than I had done in my previous 29 years.

Since May 23rd of last year I’ve fallen in love (twice); I finally went to New Orleans, on my own accord, and will be in New York City for my birthday; I rediscovered my love for writing fiction and actually loving what I’ve written so far; I came out to my family and friends, and realized that they still loved me no matter what (at least most of them); I came into my own sexually and intellectually, and in the process falling in love with myself for once. It’s that latter monumental event which is the most profound self-discovery that happened within a year’s time. It was where I came to a conclusion that life, no matter what trap or expiration date this fucked up society might have in store for you, doesn’t end at 30. Unless you perceive it to be.

A few weeks ago, E and Murphy met with me again for a movie and, curious, I asked them to summarize their 30th year, the question coming full circle from the previous inquiry I asked almost a year prior. Despite still missing his roaring 20s, Murphy nonchalantly responded, “Eh, it’s not so bad as I thought it was going to be.”

E’s response was similar, “Shit, we’re here. We’re breathing. I’m with my boys. What else could you ask for? I mean, it’s just another year. Same shit, different date.”

As you can see, their answers were a severe drastic change from the belly-aching, depressive dinner we had the previous year, and I would have to agree with them 100%. Life is what you, not some trendsetting hack behind a computer, make it out to be. There aren’t any ominous deadlines you must meet in order to live, love, get married, travel the world, achieve your dream, etc, etc before your 30th birthday. There’s nothing wrong with having life goals, but if you haven’t achieved all of them by the time your 20s have expired, it’s not the end of the world. It will feel like it in some spurts, but trust me, you will snap out of it and will continue on your journey to greatness. That is if you really, really want to.

So to all those who will be turning 3o this year, are leaving their 30th year behind, or are still in that “Oh My God! I’m 30!!!” mind state, I repeat what my consciousness asked me that one grateful morning:

“You can either live, or you can ‘be 30.'” I chose the former, and I feel pretty damn good…

Storms
(Author’s Note: Wrote this during a low point in my life recently. Originally posted this as a status on Facebook and a few people liked it. So here it is again.)
Beautiful Chaos
To create we must destroy everything we’ve ever known. Sometimes it takes an act of Mother Nature, a basic storm if you will, to achieve such a drastic makeover. Personal storms are just as equally violent and literally destructive as their ‘namesakes,’ no matter if they’re external or not. But expect to feel trepidation – a fear that you mightn’t make it through the night or what…ever length of time your personal storm may last – sets in and consumes you, becoming your constant companion on the hellish ride, while anxiety acts as the other passenger, both chiming in from the backseat or the a darkened corner of the recesses of your mind ever so often. Doubting your chances of survival. Underestimating your potential to see the carnage through.
But when the storm, personal or literal, finally hits… This is where the real test begins. Because once the chaos finally commences its temporary reign of cataclysmic renewal, a point of no return is not an option. You must face it through. It WILL effect you. It HAS to effect you for the next step in the restoration process to truly begin.
Previously comfortable foundations (relationships), irreplaceable personal effects (identity), the shattered remnants of assimilated ideals (faith), must be in ruins or in some form of disarray. Battered, bruised, and busted. Ripe for reconstruction.
And when the dark clouds finally subside and nature restores dawn’s light, and you take all of those destroyed elements in your life and choose to (because you WILL have to make a choice) rebuild, refresh, and renew your life’s canvas, you’ve survived the storm.
And when that stupendous, revelatory sense of serenity finally hits your soul, then you’ll also know that everything, no matter how devastating you may have perceived it, will most definitely be all right.
Photo retrieved from World Book Advance through the Tennessee Electronic Library.

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