Monday, February 26, 2018

Victory and Defeat.

So, the past few weeks something has been bouncing around in my spirit. The idea of "victory" and "defeat". As a Christian, I have been programmed to believe that " we have the victory". That's all well and good, but I haven't been feeling victorious every time I leave my church or my spiritual family. I've been feeling defeated. I've been wondering why have I been feeling ashamed. I'm not ashamed to be a Christian. I'm not ashamed to be a black male. I'm not ashamed of where I've come from, or where I'm going.
I don't know if I have the words. It's like I've been seeing things wrong. It's been a part of my maturation that I've been coming to these realizations of how wrong I have been.
For example, there has always been love with my church family. However, I've had a skeptic's mind. Is it REALLY love? No matter how much love and support they have thrown my way, or my family's way, I have been like," cool, but keep your distance."
It's not just something that I've been doing with my church family, but I've been this way with a lot of people.
Without it being super spiritual, I've also been thinking about in context of being a black man in America. The historical context being what it is. I've been questioning myself, " Why is every discussion about blacks seem so negative?" Why do is it that every time the discussion surrounds black people it's about misery, suffrage, the struggle, or hatred of/from other people?
It's like what god has been saying to me has finally sunk into my thick skull. It's the thing that Christians have been saying all along. "Rome, you are VICTORIOUS." It's not a "you're going to get rich next week" or " you're going to find your wife tomorrow" type of thing. It's realizing that you are in favor.
When you realize that you're in favor, that you have been blessed, some of the stuff caused conflict and turmoil for you ends up seeming stupid. Something as big as race ends up seeming generally stupid.

I don't know what all this means, but I'm just trying to follow God at this point.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Potential of McKeesport

I've been paying attention to a lot of politics as of this past couple years. I have watched what has been said in the traditional media. I've also have been listening to what has been said on social media amongst many friends. No matter how you feel about certain politician, you have to be able to look away from screens and into the world around you.
For me, that has always seemed difficult. Sometimes, it's a matter of family. Sometimes, it's a matter of skin color. Sometimes, it's a matter of community. With all the difficulties, it is often hard to see the good. That could be how crazy your family is, how often the image of you as a black male takes a hit for the foolishness of another, or how downtrodden your neighborhood has become.
Lately, I find myself trying to think about positives. I'm thinking about the positives of my family, skin color, and community. I'm not going to get into details about family or skin color for a variety of reasons.
 I think people always take pride in their communities( I'm no exception in that sense). For me, that is McKeesport; hence the title. Right now, my hometown is struggling. My grandmother's house sits on a block with four families on it. That's a block, I'm going by address numbers, with 20 plots of land. When I was growing up, there was a solid dozen families on the block.
 I don't mean for it to be negative, because I'm not thinking about it that way( not trying to think that way). Instead, I'm thinking about how those houses can be turned into beautiful home for beautiful families. I'm thinking about how the massive plot of land next to the Rite Aid in Christy Park can be a big entertainment studio with the potential for two shopping centers being within walking distance. I'm thinking about how the former Corner Pocket can be turned a soul food restaurant.
I haven't even begun to think about actually downtown McKeesport. Downtown has such potential for businesses and industry, which would include all the different types of jobs and people to fill those roles. I think McKeesport has people with the potential. Being one of those people, I don't know that we believe in ourselves or each other.
I don't know. I'm just at the point where I don't think it's going to come from any government. We as the people have start putting our heads together to build these communities like McKeesport. That also means that we start trusting ourselves/each other to do right and do good. That's the problem no matter the level which you speak.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Who To Vote for President?

We have to be accountable for our actions. As we throw around terms like "corrupt" and "racist" and "bigot" and "reckless" in our politics, we do ourselves a disservice. my thing is this. What mentality do you want our government to have? Is it a bunker mentality where we look any islamic as an enemy combatant? Is it the little boy who lost his family because of a civil war?
How do you approach this? I don't think any of the parties have the right answers. I would be willing to listen to Trump's economic plan, but his national security is based on mythology and isn't pragmatic to the ever changing demographic.
Saying that I'm voting for Hillary would sound nice, but what am I voting for? Am I voting for 30,000 missing emails? Am I voting for the Clinton Foundation mysteries? Or Am I voting for someone who has been fighting for women's rights since the 70's?
Two events creep into my mind.
1 Occupy Wall Street. 2011 when Romney had his 47% fiasco. That's not what bothered me. What bothered me was Newt Gingrich said something along the lines of "they should go home, get a shower, and get a job." He was talking about these people who is saying that something is wrong here, the system is broken.
2. A couple years later, We have the Black Lives Matter movement, We see these deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown. I know people think the issue is with police. From my perspective, it is a movement that is saying, "THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN."
Without digging too much into the weeds of policy, I'm looking at these candidates and trying to figure out who is fighting for who?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Death of Chivalry

So a Facebook friend, of the female persuasion, shared a article about chivalry. The article was another writing of men no longer being chivalrous. I read the full article and let it sink in. This idea that chivalry is dead. No man is opening doors. No man is paying for dates. No man is buying flowers. So on and So on. Men need to step their games up. Where are all the "good" guys at? Right? We need to accept that chivalry is dead.
Here's my thing. Chivalry isn't dead. Is it what it use to be? No. As a man, I feel a bit put down by the notion that my version of chivalry isn't equivalent to the Old-School 16th century knight in shining armor. There's nothing wrong with expectations, and men should be gentlemanly when possible. There are some things that should be expected, but those are generally in confrontational moments, such as domestic abuse and such.
However. the presentation of the old school gentleman, even of 50 years ago, is unrealistic to the modern man. We're not living in the times of of previous generations. If you compare how many women were trying to have careers now compared to 50 years ago, that would say a lot. How was men valued then compared to now?
I want to be clear. I do NOT want to change the modern woman. I love this woman. She can be feminist, fierce, and independent. I would love her for it, but those qualities mean men have to adjust to these new women. Men can't strive to be the same strong manly guy. Those guys aren't respect like they were in their times.
The idea of chivalry is nice. The idea of a modern woman forces men to make subconscious changes to the idea of being men and therefore being chivalrous.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thinking Positive

An issue came up with work that made me realize that I think very negatively. If I was going to tell a lovely lady how great of guy I am(in theory), I precede the flattering stuff with negative stuff to temper expectations. As I think through my next steps with the customer, I start  to think about how my comments, actions, and general energy. I realize that I beat myself a lot.
I'm sure that everyone goes through the negative stints. I'm not trying make my life seem awful, because it's not. I have this friend. A female. We were discussing romance and accessing each other. She made an interest and perplexing, which I thought at the time, observation about me. She asked me,"Are you a masochist?" The answer to that question remains the same(NO!). The idea baffled me. Now that I get it, I'm thinking about how I think  about things. It's not just romance and all that mushy stuff. Bleh! and Eh! This isn't The Notebook.
A week or so ago, there was this Facebook trend among my "Facebook friends" going(I'm so McKeesport...). Generally, I would have been one of those people ignoring it or saying"WTF" to it. Surprisingly, I got my few posts in the mix. Anyone who knows about the area knows how tough and depressing the area has become. Some McKeesport natives even had their "I'm so NOT McKeesport" quips in. For once, I wasn't thinking about the abandoned houses and gunfire rather than summer lunches and the old hangout spots. Good times.
For once, I was able to take a step back an appreciate actual good times in "Da Hood".  I realize how great my people(friends and family)  are. I actually recognize the love and support even when people are yelling at each other. We support each other.
So with being said, I need to make a promise to myself. No more negativity. No more trying to couch good days, smiles, and general happy moments or expectations.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Reputation of Edginess

I grew up the good kid. The nice guy. That wallflower who wasn't going to bother anyone. When your  family is (used to be) filled with crackheads, potheads, and drug dealers, that nice guy routine is being a black sheep. I'm sure that I could go into the boo-boo sad story, but I'm simply intrigued by the idea of "the bad guy" as if those people are actually bad guys.
My first "admitted" crush was this girl named M__. She apparently broke my heart horribly that I have to be reminded of her( from others) every time it seems like I might have a crush. Excuse while I roll my eyes. She wasn't the cheerleader-preppy type. If you actually assessed her style, it was a bit of an "Outsiders" look with jeans, zip-up hoody and a random rock t-shirt.
Moving on. As I look around at the "beautiful people", I seem to be noticing more and more tattoos. Case in point, there is a couple girls, who happen to be "friends of a friend of a friend". These two girls seem to be pretty different( at least in the presentation that I have seen). One girl is a tall blonde with a hint of a wild side. The girl is a short wholesome brunette with a bit more artsy interests.  I would think that I would be more interest in the brunette. I like artsy shit. I'm relatively wholesome. However, I am more intrigued by the blonde. It's not the blonde hair or her height or anything of that nature. There's a mystery. You don't know where the story is going to end.
I know a bunch of guys have randomly awesome(or cliche) tattoos. That's the new biker jacket. Instead of slicking their hair back and popping their collar,  guys are pulling up their short sleeves and  saying, "EYY!!"
There are days where I wish I was a bit more "bad ass". Maybe I should get a tattoo or two. We'll see if that EVER happens.


There are certain times when you have to reflect and appreciate. A day or two ago, there was this Facebook trend of "I'm so McKeesport". I actually got into it. It was rehashing places and events that used to be in My Hometown( don't ask why I italicized that. I thought it'd look cool). It got thinking about how it's so easy to caught up in the meat grinder of the day and not appreciate the memories. There is so many things that should put a smile on your face.
It's weird, because I will remember certain events like busting my shin off a parked car as I ran from a friend J___ . Luckily, I didn't break my shin or require any serious attention to it. I look back on that  and think to myself, "The good times...when adolescent boys did random stupid shit to impress girls." I should have prefaced that by telling J___ and I were constantly trying to impress a girl with random acts usually of athleticism, such as jumping off her porch and this pretty big bush into her front yard. It's weird to me, because I'm smiling in glee as I type this.
I also remember what got me going to First Evangelical Free youth groups. Guess what. It's was because of another girl. This time, I wasn't trying to impress anyone. My friend, whose  name also happens to be J___, was in this fling with a girl from another town. As we attended, we ran into a lot of our high school classmates. I ended going to this youth group through out high school.
For me, the hangout was Mom's Homemade Deli and Bakery(the bakery). When I was little, my dad used to take my brother and me to the bakery to help him prepare the next days orders on friday nights. We used to do as much as most pre-teen kids could do. We used to fill the jelly-filled donuts, and I would occasionally pull the lever of the device so hard that the filling would shoot thru the donut. We would glaze the donuts, and would lick the icing off our fingers afterwards. At some point, the bakery transitioned into a pizza parlor, which meant that we also started to eat pizza, wing, and hoagies to go along with the donuts, cookies, and slices of pies.
Sometimes, nostalgia is a good thing. I have such great memories of my hometown and my childhood. It could be people that I grew up with or places the used to be. It could moments like my mom screaming at the coaches to put me into the football game. Those memories are reasons to smile.