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Sunday, January 24, 2016

This Is What Makes Up A Home

This Is What Makes Up A Home

A baby’s first walk
A baby’s first talk
This is what makes up a home
Framed pictures on the wall
Doorway notches to see how tall
This is what makes up a home
A home cooked meal
With lots of soup spills
This is what makes up a home
Peanut butter and jelly
While rubbing your belly
This is what makers up a home
The first day of school
A shade tree that’s cool
This is what makes up a home
Butter that melts over corn on the cob
Coming home late from a real busy job
This is what makes up a home
Birthday present from one to seventeen
Macaroni and cheese when the days are lean
This is what makes up a home
Puppy dogs that lick an ice cream face
Trophies on the mantel from that winning race
This is what makes up a home
Graduation pictures and homecoming queen
Faded denim and raggedy jeans
This is what makes up a home
Fireworks that explode on the 4th of July
Children grow up and say goodbye
This is what makes up a home
  • - Bobbie L. Washington

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is Hollywood a Subversive Institution?


Is Hollywood a Subversive Institution?

By

Bobbie L. Washington

It's award season now and the general public will get set to see the usual fair of awards shows ranging from the already aired Golden Globes, The Critics Choice Awards, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, The Grammy Awards, The Writers Guild Awards, The Directors Guild Awards, The Producers Guild Awards and the crown jewel of awards show, The Academy Awards. And as the announcements were made for this years 88th season of the Academy Awards, there was a noticeable absents of faces of color when it came to acting. This did not go unnoticed in the acting community for it was the second year in a row that faces of color was not represented in a community that lauds itself for being inclusive. But is it really?


From the very outset, Hollywood's early beginnings with film making has been replete with racist symbolism and depictions. Starting with Birth of A Nation, a film that gave the KKK a resurgence in domestic terrorism and showcased white people in black face that depicted them as lazy, dim-wits, criminals and rapist to 
Charlie Chan, a film about a Chinese detective who was really a white guy speaking in broken English to Burt Lancaster and

 Donna Reed in tan makeup who were suppose to be portraying Native Americans. And the list goes on and on, even Walt Disney's animated racist cartoons added to the laundry list of Hollywood's subversiveness to cultural exclusion.

When Hattie McDaniel won her Oscar for Gone With the Wind in 1939, she did so in a separate room away from the main gathering because they didn't allow blacks in the hotel and accepted her Oscar in a speech that was perhaps adequate for her in the times that she lived in but by today's standard, it was a bit cringe worthy when she cited being a credit to her race. 

Her role as a domestic proliferated throughout her career thus limiting the prospects of blacks, especially female blacks to those types of characterizations.

And as the machine of the Hollywood industry moved forward in time, the Academy Awards have seen fit to nominate eighteen lead black actors over its history with four earning the Oscar; Sidney Poitier in 1963 for Lillies of The Field, Denzel Washington in 2001 for Training Day, Jamie Fox for Ray Charles in 2004 and Forest Whitaker of The Last King of Scotland in 2006. I must make note that in this category, Denzel Washington was nominated three times, Morgan Freeman was also nominated three times and Will Smith was nominated two times. The last year for a black actor to be nominated was in 2013 and that nomination went to Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. In the lead actress category, there have been ten actresses of color nominated over the history of the Academy awards with only one win, Halle Berry for Monster's Ball in 2001. The last time an actress of color that was nominated was in 2012 to Quvenzhane Wallis for Beast of The Southern Wild.

Under the supporting category for actors, The Academy saw fit to nominate sixteen actors of color with four earning the Oscar; Louis Gossett, Jr., An Officer and A Gentleman in 1982, Denzel Washington for Glory on 1989, Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry McGuire in 1996 and Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby in 2004. The last year a person of color nominated in this category was in 2013 and that went to Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips. For the supporting actress category, there were nineteen actresses of color nominated with six earning the Oscar; Hattie McDaniels in 1939 for Gone with The Wind, Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost in 1990, Jennifer Hudson for Dream Girls in 2006, Mo'Nique for Precious in 2009, Octavia Spencer for The Help in 2011 and Lupito Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave in 2013 with that year being the last a female person of color was nominated.

For Hispanic actors and actresses, the history for The Academy is abysmal. In all of its glorious history there have been one nomination in a lead category and that was in 1988 and it went to Edward James Olmos for Stand and Deliver and that was the last year a Hispanic was ever nominated. 1947 was the only year a male Hispanic was nominated for a supporting role. There has never been a Hispanic female nominated in the lead actress category while there has been a grand total of four Hispanic women in the supporting category with two wins; Rita Moreno for West Side Story in 1962 and Mercedes Ruehl for the Fisher King in 1991. The last year a female was nominated in this category was in 1993 and that went to Rosie Perez for Fearless.

For Asian lead actors, there have been three nominations with two wins; Yul Brynner for The King and I in 1956, Ben Kingsley for Ghandi in 1982 with the last nomination being in 2008 for Ben Kingsley for The House of Sand and Fog. One female lead was nominated back in 1935 and that went to Merle Oberon for The Dark Angel and the last year a female was ever nominated.

In the supporting actor category, there have been seven nominations with one win; Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields in 1984. 2003 was the last year an Asian actor was nominated and that went to Ken Watanabe for The Last Samurai. 

 The supporting female category had six nomination with one win and that went to Miyoshi Umeki for Saynora in 1957. The last time any Asian female was nominated was in 2010 and that went to Halle Steinfeld for True Grit.


And there has been one group, the Native American, my cousins, have had only one nomination in the entire history of the Academy. Graham Greene was nominated in 1991 in the best supporting actor category for Dances With Wolves. This by far is the most egregious sore point with the Academy based on years of discriminatory practices done to the Native Americans.
But what is the take away with all of this? Well, whomever votes on these things will be based on a subjective process. Is there any cultural bias to these films and to these actors? Are we too thinned skinned to this issue? I don't believe that is the situation. It is the craft of acting that many people of color are having an issue with and the quality of that work not getting the merit it deserves. American Hustle, a film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Baradley Cooper, (Yes, I know it's spelled Bradley but I like to pronounce it as Baradley Cooper) Amy Adams, and Christian Bale was nominated all over the place for awards including the main prize but I didn't think the work that Jennifer Lawrence did in this picture was her best work. That is subjective. Meryl Streep is another one of those performers who gets nominated time and and time out. She can act no wrong but is it safe to say that there might be bias when it comes to every time she gets a nomination because she is an actor's actor?

Hollywood is about the box office numbers. Sure, you can have a number on movie like Ride Along 2 and the studio heads are grateful because they will make money on their investment but the studio head is not necessarily the impetus behind the nominating process. There are other issues that are too numerous to go into but we will stay on topic with this issue. Jada Pinkett Smith had voiced her pronounced disappointment for the lack of diversity in the nomination process for this years candidates. Her husband, Will Smith, was in Concussion, and it appears that his role was very good or at least nomination worthy. But he was shut out along with Idris Elba for Beast of No Nation. These two films got a lot a buzz that matches the Eddie Redmayne film, The Danish Girl. Concussion got a lot of media attention because the subject matter revolved around the NFL practice of ignoring head injuries to their football players. The Danish Girl is about a man dressing up was a woman and wanting to be a woman. And while The Danish Girl got some buzz, it's been relatively muted in comparison to the Concussion. The hype for The Danish Girl had begun even before it was released as being a viable contender for the Oscar. So it goes into the award season with all of the hype surrounding it while Beast of No Nation gets muted.

Nobody wants to boycott an awards show and for the most part, these award ceremonies are often times boring with the long winded acceptance speeches of thanking God and the caterer for serving cream cheese on rye crackers. On the surface, Jada Pinkett Smith's is venting her frustration about the selection process as this is the second year in a row where no person of color is nominated. This is her profession, this is an industry where her peers vote on who will get the Oscar. But who are the ones who do the nominating? Is it, as they claim, a cadre of sixty to seventy year old white men primarily doing the selecting? Should the Lead Actor and Actress category expand to eight as they did with the Best Picture category?

Of the list of best actor nomination, there are two that I found their performances as “meh”. The reason being is that I've seen these types of performances before and nothing new was brought to the table. And why wasn't the kid from The Room not nominated? His performance as a captive child dealing with the new outside world was mesmerizing and believable. Was this a subjective call as well? And what does it say, once again, about race in America?

Jada Pinkett Smith got a lot of blow back from the walks of life ranging from the most visceral of comments to the hashtags of #justbehappy, #begrateful, #justgoalong and these phrasing are remnants of a time when hash tags were actually voiced by others who questioned why black would want the same as their white counterparts. “It's not your time” or “just wait your turn, it will happen” was said to many aspiring people of color only to be knocked back by the perceived threat to the status-qou. After 88 years, you would think that theses issues would have gone away especially from an institution that seems as liberal to any cause an actor might have. But when it comes to race, that is where the line doesn't cross. Sure, they will have a host of color to come out a make jokes and perform like a sophisticated idiot but the show will come to a close and what are you going to do about the perception of lack of diversity?

The machine of Hollywood will still anoint who they feel is worthy. Can we peer into the future and see any change coming about. This is an entrenched institution. They make claims that they are changing but the fact of the matter that it is hard making it in this business. There are other profession that blacks, Hispanic and Asian would like to explore like directing, producing and writing. Not all people want to be actors. The background stuff has it's own set of particulars to explore but this too is locked out based on a system that says you must have an agent first in order to be seen by us but you can get an agent who will look at your work because they don't accept submissions from authors without agents and that is the catch-22 scenario that every writer goes through. So, if big name stars are having a hard time getting nominated, the lowly would be film director or writer or producer will have many mountains to climb before he or she sees the top.

I don't believe that I will boycott the Oscar telecast, it depends if Downton Abbey is on. It may garner a respectable ratings number but with this controversy looming over like a dark cloud, the host, Chris rock, will find a lot a material to dine on, if they let him improvise. Maybe he could team up with Ricky Gervais to make it the most remembered Oscar telecast in history? Who knows?


Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Dear Mom, Sorry I Missed Your Funeral


Dear Mom,

Sorry to have missed your funeral. It was only on Thanksgiving Day that I had found out that you had passed away back on May 31, 2015. To say that I was surprised would not be accurate, it was more of a letting go than anything else. What I felt was ambivalence to the news. You see, the last time we had spoke, it had been several years ago, maybe seven or eight years ago, I'm not even sure, and when we did speak, you had forgotten who I was. As I spoke with you, I knew that you were in the twilight with dementia. I had resigned myself to the fact that for all practical purposes, your body was there but your mind had begun to leave you. Even as you slowly left, you were so polite and kind to this new stranger.



As I look back on the life that we had, I spent technically 16 years with you. I went off to college at the age of 17 and I had told myself that for now on, I'm on my own, there is nothing more that you could do for me, I was technically of my own as I traveled over 1,000 miles away to Texas with a handful of my friends to attend college. And that was true, I never sought out anything from you, nothing financial, nothing materialistic, you never raised me and my brother like that. It's just that it was only with the exception of one thing, who was my father?

It is the question that I discovered most kids ask when they don't know who one or both of their parents are. I don't know if it's instinctive or biological for a kid to want to know who that parent is when they do not know? In my case, I remembered when it all began and that was when I applied for my social security card. The person at the Social Security office ask me who my father was when I was filling out the application. I honestly didn't know and they called you. You told them but I don't think that was a true statement. When I got home, I was in trouble with you and I could never understood why that was a big deal, but it was.

Years move forward and being a kid with the kinds of friends I grew up with, you get picked on by some just for being you. One day, a friend of mine asked me that if I didn't have a father, where did I come from? I didn't hear the question fully and only heard, “where did I come from?' And being matter of fact, I said, “I walked.” We were at a store with other classmates and everybody laughed at my expense. Time moves on. It was only as adults did I told him about that story and the impact it had on me and he sincerely apologized. Hell, we were in grade school but those words stayed with me like a dagger stuck in my chest for all of those years.

My college days had come to an end and it was graduation time. You had come for the ceremonies and I was glad to see you but the lingering question remains, who was my father. I decided to ask you one more time. We were outside of the house I lived in at the time and I asked you again but you a very reluctant to tell me, in fact, you didn't tell me. The only thing that I could get out of you was that he was still living and that was it. I could the discomfort and pain on your face with the line of questions and out of respect for you, I drop any further inquiries. But what was it about this guy that still brough you pain? Why was his name forbidden to pass through your lips?



For years I had wonder about this. I just couldn't let it go. It was the very thing that had shaped my consciousness, my existence, my very being. It had come to define who I was as a person. Relationships never really stood on a solid ground filled with hits and misses. Finding surrogates in male teachers and older friends to guide me along the way into adulthood was very unfulfilled and short-lived. I remembered Mr. Vincent briefly teaching me how to drive a car. And there was your boyfriend, the cop. Who wasn't a bad guy but he and I were just passing each other. We didn't have anything of note to say, no common interest, he was just your boyfriend. He couldn't understand why I became a vegetarian when I came home from college the one and only time. He wanted to turn it into an issue, I just wanted to be left the fuck alone, it was my business.

And somewhere along the way, that was to become a part of my legacy. I retreated within myself and live a life off everybody's radar, off the grid, as they say. I ran silent for eighteen years. You get kind of used to living that sort of existence. It has darkness in some of those passages. You embrace it, you discover who you are as a person which is only a sum of the whole. You slowly emerge from the shadows of some of that existence but you keep a foot inside not because of the solitude but more that you found a comfort to it.

And as you come out from those shadows, you find yourself still keeping a foot or half your body in it while trying to reconnect with everyone, including you dear mother. When you were lucid, I had called you and you had thought that I was dead after falling out of contact with everyone in the immediate family. No, I just chose to live a life that wasn't traditional. As I was once told, I had became a ghost, showing up nowhere in anybody's databases. But the question still remained, who was my father. I had come to discover that other people in our immediate family knew who this person was including my cousins. Why was this information being held from me?

My half-brother had found out who his was when we were kids. He met some of his half siblings but I don't think he ever cared or maybe he did. We hardly speak at all. The last time we did, it was during your twilight. His memories of us growing up and you raising us was in stark contrast to what I remembered. I don't fault him for looking at those images through rose colored glasses. That is the world that he's wishing to recall. I, on the other hand, has taken a more pragmatic approach and saw things in shades of black and white. He and I haven't spoken in years and still haven't spoken to him since your passing. I've never spoken to him about his biological father either or how he felt about it or if he's ever stayed in contact with any of his half siblings.

I was given a name and phone number of who my alleged father might be and I called it. The person on the other end told me that no, he wasn't my father. That conversation took all of about three seconds and that was it. I didn't think I would feel bad about what he had said but, surprisingly, I did. I didn't know this person on the other end of that phone line, he was just a stranger. Whether or not if it was true, only a DNA test could say otherwise as to the claim of paternity but still, it surprised me. Maybe it was because that door, for whatever length of time it was open, slammed shut. It's a helluva thing not knowing who you are. I have always wondered where did my thinking come from? I know it didn't come from you, mom. Why do I do all of these things in life, architecture, music, photography, writing, poetry, film making to name a few. Who is responsible for this?

I had taken a genealogy test to at least get an idea of where I came from and the results were surprising. It was on the paternal side, the company that did the testing only test for the paternal side. I'll take another test from a different company next time to gt the maternal side as well but the results from this one yielded some results and I hail from across the globe. My origins include three places in Africa, a big chunk from England/Ireland, some Scandinavian country, a spot around Micronesia and a sprinkling from Asia. The Irish thing probably explains why I like Celtic music and I long to go to Ireland one day.

This is who I am but the answers was with you and I do not know because you died with secrets. Your generation was good at keeping secrets from what my cousin has told me. There is a level of dysfunction within our family. We were a reality show if they had reality shows during our days. My cousin, Keith, who knew of my father, has informed me that he is dead now, died two years ago. And after corresponding with him via email, I now have a name. But he is still an alleged father. Maybe he has offsprings and some test could be performed to find any similarities in the genomes.

I have yet to grieve for you mom. I don't think I ever will. I had spoken with a friend of mine about the last conversation you and I had and I told him about your condition. He said to remember you as you once were, in those days where you were fluid and vibrant, in those memories where I still liked your smile. You had a wonderful smile. We didn't have a lot growing up. You did your best with the skills that you had and the times that you lived in. I was not a bad son nor the best son, maybe an okay son, one who never got into any kind of trouble and went off to school and never looked back. I became the prodigal son in the long run.



That last conversation we had where you didn't recognize who I was, I probably mourned your loss then. I said goodbye to that mom who made Christmas work for us, with an aluminum Christmas tree and a rotating color wheel of red, blue, orange and yellow. I said goodbye to a mom who provided us with shelter until we moved out out on our own. I said goodbye to a mom who made us laugh when she was angry with us when she said, “You come in with your fingers in your ass, you leave out with your fingers in your ass.” To us that made no sense and we laughed and you finally had to laugh when we laughed. Goodbye, to the woman christened Hannah, goodbye, mom.

Your Son,


Bobbie

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015



A Moratorium on All things Kardashian

By

Bobbie L. Washington

May make a suggestion or maybe this should be a plea for a return to some sort of normalcy in the world of journalistic integrity. What I am pleading, begging, imploring you with all good consciousness is to place a moratorium on anything that has to do with reporting on any Kardashian. I would like to see it set at 30 days. As simple of a request that this may be, I'm sure many a news outlet who suffer a tailspin of what to fill up their outlets with. So why do I want a moratorium on the Kardashians? It is because it has gone into overload of what constitutes news. Jimmy Kimmel has a comedy bit on his show called, “Is This News?”. News outlets are now reporting on the most mundane topics when it comes to the Kardashians and you have to ask yourself, is this news?

For 99% of the time, it is not news when it comes to the Kardasians. You read headlines like, “Kylie wears mom's bikini”, Father wears a bikini for the first time”, “Mom sets up Kedall Jenner up with Zayn Malik”. And this is just one day and not everything. How did journalism get to this point where journalism ethics now cater to the lowest common denominator with what constitutes news? The Kardashians are not talented people. They are not relatively beaming with scholarly attributes. And because one made a sex tape, we are invited into their home to see how they flaunt a lifestyle that is insanely obsessive and narcissistic.

Kylie Jenner just celebrated her 18th birthday which makes her legal for photographers to take a chance of her having some wardrobe malfunction. Of course leading up to her 18th birthday was an obsession in itself with Kylie taking as many selfie one could take in many a small bathing suit and close to revealing outfit. Coupled with the fact that she is in a supposed relationship with Tyga, a 25 year old rap artist that the media has scrutinized because he was dating a then under aged Kylie Jenner because of the illusion of some inappropriate behavior. But mom, Kris Jenner, had signed off on it so it must be okay. Kylie's Instagram videos tells a not to surprising portrait that she is no Mensa candidate. In fact the now 18 year old clearly demonstrates that a 12 year old brain is something to really work at keeping.

Kim Kardashian is in an orbit all to herself. The sex tape was her coming out party and it's been nonstop ever since. Between the product endorsements, television appearances as a guest star, marriages, pregnancies, half-ass singing career, we have been bombarded with her for everyday since then. And she won't stop, even when the FDA came down on her for soliciting some morning sickness drug without giving the side effects. But that's not the first time she and her sisters have run afoul with some product they endorsed without first doing their homework. It's all about the money grab first, then the consequences later. Kris Jenner has channeled herself into Kim where every move, every action, every nuance, every blink of the eye that is scripted and rehearsed to the point where you have no idea what is real and what is Memorex? All of it is smoke and mirrors and Kris is behind the curtains with the Wizard of Oz.

Kendall Jenner is running a campaign to be the next Kim. She became a model last year out of nowhere because she had no training and just the name. I wonder how other models who worked hard in their careers felt about this newly minted top model sauntering in without any credentials other than having a reality show? And she had her debut as she has posed topless and wore shear outfits for her “new profession”. But that's what people are really looking for in the Kardasians, who is going to get naked? And Kim is the winner on that. You'd think a new mom would curtail the nudity but no. Kim wanted more of the limelight or maybe it was the mom who told her she needed to get the spotlight back on her since Kendall was soaking up the air? And sure enough, Kim got naked, not just for some Internet publication but for her legions of fans where she posted selfies of her nakedness. Well, I guess if you got it, exploit it for cash because Kim gets paid for Twittering.

Khloe Kardashian is the proverbial lady in waiting and she will be waiting for a long time for her shot at the Kim throne since the annointing of Kendall and Kylie, the newest incarnations to this Kardashian bubble. At one point one may have thought that this would be the one to break free from the carnival ride of fame whoring. If one were to believe Lamar Odom being a victim to a setup involving Khloe and a supposed chance run-in with her ex, then manipulation of the media would have been executed properly to the first order.

Kourtney Kardashian has her latest issues as a single mother. Her companion and father of her children has left the compound but what we don't know if this too is one of those scripted events that will lead up to some dramatic telling? Lama Odom hinted that there might be more to the story when it comes to the Kardashians if he isn't treated fairly in the press.

And you may ask yourself why do I know all of this? Because that's what the media is feeding me as I mind my own business when it pops up on the news. Sure, I can hit my mute button on my remote control or change the channel but by then, I've been forced feed enough to the point where it's stuck in my head like it was junk food. I don't like junk food. Hearing about how an 18 year old got a Ferrari for her 18th birthday is fluff and none of my concern.


At one point, this circus act will have to eventually fold up. TMZ will probable have a hard time with that but everybody needs to move on. This request that I am proposing may be too lofty to achieve but it's worth the effort. I suspect that some news organizations have assigned reporters to cover anything Kardashian. The Huffington Post and Yahoo News seems to have something on them everyday. I've even read comments that readers have left suspecting the same thing. So, how's about it media outlets, can you help a brother out?

Sunday, July 12, 2015





Singin': This'll Be the Day That I Die,
This'll Be The Day That I Die

by
Bobbie L. Washington

I've never thought of myself as anything special. I never had a lot of things growing up and never expected much out of life as a kid when you live below a certain economic line. However I did had my health. As far as I knew, I was in general good health with the exception of having the whooping cough that kept me out of school for seventeen days. Over the course of time, I had sustain a back injury while in high school when my elbows didn't lock and I fell back with a set of dead weights. Yeah, that was pretty ugly at the time. I was in gymnastic and track and field and the coaches weren't happy with that.

As I got older, college days were unremarkable with no health problems or injuries. As the years went by, I experienced a hernia problem, more specifically, a right inguinal hernia that I suffered through for a month. I remember tearing it because some lazy workers weren't doing their job and I went and picked up some signage that wasn't my job to do. That was a hard lesson to learn as you come to the reality that you will be cut on and that you'll be carrying around a scar for the rest of your life. It happens and you move on.

Time ticks on and you move on to another career and friends. You're invited along to a restaurant because your friends know that you are a vegetarian so you accept the invitation. While dining at the establishment you bite down on a cornbread muffin and then there is a loud pop. Everybody stops eating and you spit of a chunk of glass. I know that's not a part of the recipe. So you go the the doctor and you discover that you have damaged the joint at the point where the mouth hinges to the skull and know you have temporomandibular joint dyspepsia or TMJ. That little dining experience cost me two years of having my mouth wired shut. I had a choice though, either the doctor could wire my mouth shut or he could go in a perform surgery and run the risk of hitting one or more major nerve that stems for that joint. In other words, I could have run the risk of losing my hearing, my sense of taste, my vision, my smell or having some paralysis to the face. And I thought having a scar would be the worst of that.

So you get through this chapter as well in life. You learn a little more about yourself, you have the ability to speak with your mouth closed and if you had to, take up the art of ventriloquism. So what more could there be? Well, how about appendicitis. I got that later on. I was eating a baked potato and felt a slight twinge in my stomach. Me being a male heterosexual, didn't think much of it and went to bed feeling fine. As I slept, I felt the pain of a thousand pains hitting me in four compartmental sections. I had not called anyone as I went through that pain that night. So the next morning I wasn't okay but was trying to figure out what was going on. I was in radio at the time working as an executive producer and we had on doctors as guest to talk about things in their respective fields. There as an internist, a plastic surgeon, and a psychiatrist. My thinking was that this is a panic attack so I called the psychiatrist. He said you should go to the doctor but I insist that it must be a panic attack. After four days of pain and not being able to move, I was taken by a friend to the hospital and they were shocked. Nobody is suppose to live past two days when their appendix burst and I waited four days. I was thirty minutes away form circling the drain. All of my internal organs had turned black. But this isn't the day that I died.

On January 29, 2015, I died. What led up to this day was me not feeling great because I was stressed out and working seven days a week doing architecture, filming and editing and running a horse ranch. My sleeping habits were horrible averaging three hours on occasions. I was peeing a lot, my vision was blurry and I was tired all the time. I went to do some filming and I didn't have the strength to pick up the camera case. I knew I was in trouble then. I have always been a good researcher so I googled my symptoms and the results told me that it was diabetes. I didn't want to believe that. But this kept getting worse and a finally asked a friend to drive to to a clinic to see what this was. On the way there I had my first seizure. I lost the ability to speak and my left arm fold on itself. I could understand what my friend was saying as he drove me so that part of the brain was still functioning. I arrived to the clinic and they told my friend to take me to the hospital. This was drama building up as time was not on my side. We take off to the hospital and when we arrive there for check in, I had my second seizure. I'm wheeled into the ER and as a doctor is seeing me I had to go pee. I make it to the restroom and back and then I have my third seizure.

I told that I had conversations with two of my colleagues there. I have no memory of that. I was diagnosed DKA with is Diabetic Ketoacidosis and that's not a good thing. What I found out three months later was that I had died. What was it like? I didn't have this out of body seeing myself from above experience. There was a void of nothing. There was time lost. There was the darkness, just a sea of darkness. People have died and come back and tell these glorious tale of seeing the light at the end of some tunnel or seeing relatives or loved ones but I experienced none of that. The only thing I remember was the quiet of it all, no fanfare, no muss, a certain peacefulness to it all.

I'm a vegetarian, nonsmoker, non-drinking, don't do drugs Type 1 diabetic. At best, I would say that I'm at 75% with good days and bad days all rolled into one. I was told that diabetics must consume 2000 calories per day. I'm barely consuming 1000 calories a day. I'm not a big food person. If there was a way to eliminate eating, I would do it. I find it to be a chore and now it is since I have to do this three times a day. And as I go through all of these test, they are finding other things that are wrong with me internally. On the surface, I am a facade of supposedly good health but beneath it, there are things that are going on. Of the laundry list of health issue is something called an aorta root dilation. I just know found out about this last month and from what I found, it's not a good thing.

That male heterosexual thing is a problem when it comes to man's health. We ignore pains in our body until someone points out to you that this is the problem. I've been having pain in my chest for quite sometime and this is the problem. I will be seeing a cardiologist in September and I am not looking forward to the conversation where they tell me that my chest will be cracked open but at the same time, I'm resigned to that outcome. It may not be as bad as I perceive or it could be as problematic as I think. This may be the one where I won't come out of it. As Captain James T. Kirk said in Wrath of Khan, “ I've cheated death. I've tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.”

Maybe I won't be able to cheat death this time out. I know I don't have the strength because I'm always weak in the morning, low blood sugar. Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, you witness a lot a bad things including your friends dying of an early age due to violence and drugs and car accidents. I've had my fair share of bullets flying by me and car accidents over the years and as you get older, you realize that you would like to live a long life. It's something in your brain that gets turned on when you're in your twenties that says there's more to life if only you give it a chance. I would like to live a long life and impart some advice to that next generation. I will try to hold on but if that is not the case, it's been a slice.