How I Knew that Michael Phelps Would Not Repeat His Beijing Magic

When I saw Michael Phelps’ official Olympic headshot for the 2012 London Games, I instantly knew that the he was not going to repeat the magical eight gold medal count performance at the 2008 Beijing Games. Not with that face! Aside from strong semblance to a mugshot, Phelps looks disinterested, disheveled, and disengaged. He, with no doubts present or even in the vicinity, did not want to take this picture; if he did, then he definitely has a post-swimming career as an actor because he made me believe otherwise.

Though I am not an Olympic athlete (I workout four times a week and play in two competitive, intramural-styled basketball leagues…not sure why I just felt the need to justify my athletic prowess), I somehow understand Phelps’ relative lack of enthusiasm to take this picture, represent his country and continue his onslaught of the Olympic record books.

He is burnt out!

Many people do not know this fact, but this Olympic tour is Phelps’ fourth. At only twenty-seven years old, Phelps began his Olympic career at the tender age of fifteen. Fifteen! And he has paid the mental and emotional price for it.

Consider the following facts:

  • 12,000-calorie-a-day diet
  • Daily menu (he eats all) includes:Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

    Lunch: One pound of enriched pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo on white bread. Energy drinks packing 1,000 calories.

    Dinner: One pound of pasta. An entire pizza. More energy drinks.

  • Five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week exercise regimen
  • Sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to simulate high altitudes

Imagine doing all this and much more for the last twelve years of your life. True, it is a choice that he made and he has undoubtedly reaped the benefits (over 39 world records, 17 Olympic medals, and countless honors and accolades). Yet, that picture highlights the question that few ever consider: At what cost?

I am not Michael Phelps so I am not sure of the answer to that personal question. Yet, I can only imagine the amount of sacrifices he and his family has made and endured for his success. As a contemporary, with the daunting ’30’ within plain view, I imagine that Phelps is contemplating what he has done thus far and what he will do moving forward. He has already stated that London will be his last Olympic stop, his proverbial swan song at age 27. I often worry about athletes and entertainers who reach their professional climax at such young ages: gymnasts who are considered over the hill at 18 16 or basketball players who are considered the walking dead at 35. There is so much more life to live and for many the absence of the spotlight hurts the most.

I believe that Michael Phelps will love to be out of the nation’s gaze as he inches toward his thirties. Though he will forever be emblazoned in our collective memory for the thrills and pride he provided over his career, I hope that he finds some relative peace and is able to do something that he is passionate about as he prepares to make the mid-career transition.

Thank you and, more importantly, best of luck to you, Michael Phelps.

 

That’s Dope…That’s Not Dope [Birthday Edition]

What a birthday weekend! I am officially 364 days away from turning thirty! Without further ado, let’s chronicle the dope and not so dope from this past week.

Not Dope

  1. Pre-gaming too hard that I miss the most anticipated party of the summer
  2. Facebook stock
  3. Receiving automated birthday wishes from my dentist’s office and an online bank that I no longer use
  4. The Olympic committee banning YouTube clips
  5. Gas prices
  6. My mother’s incessant inquiries into my love life after she heard that my best friend is engaged

Dope

  1. Birthday dinner with the family and brunch (unlimited food and alcohol for $25) with the homies
  2. Threatening to leave my cable provider and in turn receiving four movie channels and faster internet connection
  3. Facebook wall posts and messages from various people wishing me a happy birthday, which makes me feel special because they took time out of their day to acknowledge my date of birth. Thank you; truly humbled and blessed.
  4. Lebron’s ridiculous three quarters length bounce pass
  5. Google’s daily Olympic styled homepage
  6. After writing this post, receiving the following text message from the homie: 

What I Want For My Birthday

I was not in the mood to work out today. Similarly, I was not in the mood to write today. However, I worked out. Therefore, I’ll write so I could say I wrote.

Since I was young, I never could construct any huge wishful birthday lists. I always thought about this and that (read: economics, societal pressures of what was acceptable, etc.) and never just focused on me and what I want. Today is a new day. Here is a list of things I would like want for my birthday, in no particular order. The following items all would make my heart smile:

  • Movado watch–every man needs a dope watch. Since this list is full of wishes, let me up that to a Hublot watch. “I let my watch talk for me…” Who rapped that statement? Answer it in the comments section
  • Not hear 50 Cent wish me a happy birthday because I’m not a shorty and it’s not 2003. (Hold up! That song came out nine years ago…yep, I’m getting old. Either that or time is moving at warp speeds)
  • Prada loafers (the driving shoes to be exact)–“No Sock Summer ’12” has been in full effect and quite successful. Adding these bad boys to the collection would cause heads to turn and, more importantly, accentuate my ankles. I kid. I kid. Maybe I should go to the store and try them on *rubs chin*
  • A trip to Montreal, Costa Rica, Greece, Egypt, and Brazil–not all at once, but definitely want to make those trips happen relatively soon. My passport is ready!
  • A party that included the various “Friend circles” I’ve traversed since middle school. Yeah, I’m taking it back to that time when we were all awkward and insecure at some point, more than likely in seventh grade. Now, we are all grown and should party together. I’ve been blessed to meet hella dope people of all walks (sidenote: never quite got that idiom, but it fits here so I’ll use it) This party would include: jocks, teachers, non-teachers, overachievers, dancehall queens, musicians, A-typers, backpackers, circus performers, academia educated folk, street educated folk, color folk (of all colors, including white), twentysomethings, thirtysomethings, plussomethings, amongst others. ALL WALKS!
  • A dinner with close friends where conversation and laughter are the main dishes.
  • A special “Her” that I could call my “Queen” 
  • Golden Oreos by the truck load. Ugh. I really have a problem.
  • A new house estate with a sunroom, a deck, and a swimming pool so I could throw ridiculously fun get togethers/pool parties to celebrate me! Have it looking like a 90’s rap video, except people would actually be in the pool and women would be getting their hair wet.
  • “I want it all, brand new socks and draws.” No really, I want new socks (the summer is almost over) and draws. Silk, please. Only for the draws though. Super duper cool points if you know who rapped that line without googling the answer. Post your guess in the comments section.
  • Last, but definitely not least, a throwback Tim Dwight Atlanta Falcons jersey–my name and birth year = perfection. If anyone ever got this for me, I would name my first second born after him or her regardless of gender. Word.

Ten Random Things About Me

One of the coolest additions to Facebook was ‘Notes.’ It spawned an equally dope trend in which people would write 10-15 random things about themselves and then tag their friends to see it. I remember one of the notes almost made me cry because it was so personal and telling. I also remember wanting to do one badly, but was not sure what I would write and/or whom I would tag.

Now that I have my own blog, I do want I want. So without further ado, I present ten random things about me:

  1. I like love Golden Oreos. Seriously. My diet will forever be in shambles as long as Nabisco continues to produce this delicious crack-like substance sold openly in grocery asiles throughout our nation.
  2. I find it funny that “LOL” no longer means laugh out loud; no one really lol’s anymore even though it can easily be found perpetrating the funk fake laughing in many text inboxes, emails, and blog comments. In fact, when something does make me laugh, I now write: lol for real tho. Is this the birth of LOLFRT? I’ll let the public decide.
  3. When I was younger, about seven or so, I wanted to change my name to Jeremy. Initially, I wanted to have a cool name like Zach from Saved by the Bell. While Jeremy relied on two syllable dopeness, I liked it. I told my mom my decision and she got so mad that I would ever think about changing my name from Dwight. The push for Jeremy instantly died, but forever lives in my memory.
  4. I like corny or cheesy jokes. The cornier the better. One of my favorite jokes: Why are black people so tall? Why? Because their knee grows (Negroes). *cue the Sandman from the Apollo*
  5. I really enjoy the courting period in dating; getting to know someone. More specifically, I like first dates. The anxiety and butterflies in my stomach always feel paralyzing, yet exhilarating: never knowing what to wear; worrying about being the first one to arrive at the spot; trying not to seem too eager if you like the person; trying not to seem completely disconnected if there’s no connection present; a myriad of other things  *Note: I have never had a bad first date…well from my perspective*
  6. While I’m on the subject of dating, I do not like walking up to a woman and asking for her number. Aside from it being an awkward encounter, especially if the distance travelled is significant, there is so much pressure on those first words. I’m sweating just thinking about it. Regardless, I do it…ever once in a while. Oh and I have been curved (aka shot down) hella times.
  7. I have nine tattoos. The smallest one is on my ring finger on my right hand. The largest one spans from my entire rib cage (from my armpit to my hip) on the right side. I once got three in three weeks; it became a Friday night ritual (if rituals only lasted for three weeks) with my homie down in Houston. People never think I have tattoos because they don’t. I guess I don’t look like the type…whatever that means. I want to get a couple more…maybe a birthday present this year *rubs chins.* I also plan on doing a family orientated tattoo on my back once I have completed my family (i.e. wife and kids)
  8. My favorite sitcoms (off the top of my head, in particular order), meaning that if they are on I would watch an episode or six without hesitation: My Wife and Kids (see how my brain works), Fraiser, Martin, Seinfeld (before Cosmo Kramer Michael Richards went on his N-word rant), Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosbys, Mad About You, Everybody Hates Chris, Everybody Loves Raymond (see what I did there), Friends, Will and Grace,  Modern Family, Two and a Half Men, Big Bang, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, George Lopez, Family Guy, and The Office. Did I miss anything? Oh, almost forgot The Game and Girlfriends. Judge me.
  9. I have never broken a bone, though I severely sprained my ankle back in college. As a result, I was mildly addicted to painkillers for two days (if one can have an addiction for two days). I vividly remember throwing away the pills because I am fully aware of my addictive personality.
  10. I don’t drink coffee, though I love coffee cake. And those some e-cards are hysterically funny…even if they don’t feature any black people.

 

The Three Most Told Lies in the Digital Age

Here are the three most told lies in these digital streets. We are all perpetrators. Yep! Every single last one of us have completed one of these lies within the last month. If you haven’t then you ain’t living right.
  • “My computer/phone was hacked”–this lie has been popularized by celebrities desperately seeking attention to (re)create a buzz. When their album or latest project is about to come out, often a personal picture or video leaks and is instantly consumed by the public. Their name and image are then plastered on blog sites and news websites for a couple days, generating the necessary attention. Kim Kardashian’s “success” will forever be linked to her sextape with Ray J, which leaked around the time of her show’s first season. No one has ever been able to tell me her talent  The days of actual talent and skills has been reduced to marketing oneself well in our society’s obsessive reality binge. No shade or judgement. I’m glad she’s getting that money. This lie is not just for the rich and fake famous; no, it is also uttered within pedestrian circles, often involving a regrettable drunk dial/text or a raunchy picture seen by someone for which said picture (or video) was not intended.
  • “I didn’t get your text” or “What missed call?”–during the first wave of text messaging, it was possible for one’s text to truly get lost in the network. Other times your text would reach its destination hours, even days, after you initially sent it. Those mishaps are now rare like a waterfall in the Sahara. Often this lie is used to cover up the fact that one received a text and did not want to respond or worse gave the caller “the look off” (aka ignoring the phone call because you knew who was calling and did not want to be bothered with him/her/them at that moment). This lie when coupled with “I was in [insert name of location] and there was terrible reception” often works…but barely.
  • Check the box to agree to the terms and conditions–this is the number one lie told by us all. If you pay bills or shop online you have undoubtedly checked the box next to the terms and conditions without even taking a peep at the words residing within that dense text box. No one has “time” to sit there and read through all those terms and conditions that somehow apply to you, but feel like they don’t. Heck, no. Just click the box and move on with the transaction (sidenote: I tried to read one of those terms and conditions boxes once and got maybe two sentences in before I realized that I would never do that again).

What are some other popular lies told in this digital age? Please share in the comments section.

The Problem with Pause, No Homo, and other Related Sayings

Gus Johnson: “So you like Zach Randolph?”

Spike Lee: “I like the trade. I like Zach. I like Fred. I like Dick.”

Gus Johnson (interrupts): “Pause

“All my [dudes] that say pause after they say some [f-ed] up [shhh]”-Jay-Z, “Can I Live II”

In the early fall of 1997, I attended my ninth grade retreat, a two day overnight trip to unify the incoming freshman class. The days were filled with trust falls and various team building activities. My favorite was the suspended tire, in which we had to get the entire team through a tire that hung in the middle of two wooden platforms. As one of the bigger kids, I helped lift all of my teammates, struggling with the last one, who was close to my weight. As the last person, I had to jump through the tire, desperately reaching for the many helping, pulling hands on the other side. I received a particularly loud cheer when my feet touched the platform because it meant we were successful. During meal times, we were encouraged to sit with new people, which was not difficult for me because I only knew five other students before the trip’s start. At our only dinner, I was introduced to hummus and some of my future classmates’ disgust of whole milk. Our lone night consisted of meeting our class dean and having time to further chat with soon to be friends.

As the night came to a close, the class was separated by gender and each group went to separate cabins. Though this was not my first time sleeping away from home, I acted that way. I kept the cabin up, laughing, by constantly saying “pause” after anyone said anything remotely, vaguely sexually “inappropriate” or to be more crass, anything that sounded “gay.” My classmates joined in, purposely saying “questionable” phrases so that I could quickly say, “pause.” We all erupted in laughter. At least, I thought we all did. Our chorused cackling was interrupted a couple of times by a teacher, who would later become my mentor. The first time, I think he just heard that our room in the cabin was loud and told us to quiet down. The second time he entered the large room, I am positive that he heard what was causing our roaring laugh. While his exact words escape me, he used the word “inappropriate” to describe our seemingly comedic outbreak. As he chastised the cabin, he looked directly at me  because he could undoubtedly hear my loud, distinctive voice, leading the way. My leadership skills weren’t always used properly.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, a teacher and fellow classmates, present in the cabin, are gay. While I have never asked them about this memory, I cannot imagine the kind of social pressure I must have put on them or how uncomfortable I made the atmosphere with my constant “joking,” which was really a posturing of my heterosexuality to my new classmates and, more importantly, a discrediting, belittling of homosexuality. My “joking” established the norm for the room; the others that followed and actively participated were doing the same, some contrary to their sexual orientation.

The prevalence of “pause,” “no homo,” “that’s so gay,” amongst others bothers me because of the underlying statements about masculinity and sexuality. Often the sayer of the phrase is (re)affirming to the group his heterosexuality by distancing himself from the slightest interpretation of homosexual innuendo. I constantly stop and question my friends when they use those phrases. I wish I could say that I do it every single time that I hear it, but I cannot say that I do. More importantly, I’ve stopped using those phrases (admittedly, there are times when I slip up, though those times are rare). I am comfortable in my sexuality and if I say something that sounds, according to Jay-Z, “f-ed up” oh well. I do not need to highlight my sexual orientation by contrasting it with anyone else’s preference.

Difficulty with Making Friends Post College

One of my friends, a former co-worker, shared a link to a NYTimes about the difficulty of making meaningful friendships once over thirty. The article deeply resonated with me, even though I am in the latter years of my roaring twenties, a time when making friends should be easy.

It’s not.

Becoming friends with the opposite sex and/or the same sex is often complicated by the threat of sex, desire, and unrequited feelings. Undoubtedly, those wants can strain any possible mutual friendship. Additionally, when I talk about friendship, I am not referring to the “hey-we-just-met-let’s-become-Facebook-friends-and-follow-each-other-on-Twitter-or-Instagram” kind of relationship. In this social media world, the word “friends” has been thrown around with no caution, resulting in thousands of friends, who are really acquaintances or random people in your freshman year lecture styled biology class. Instead, I am talking about a friendship in which there is genuine concern for, trust of, etc.

*Time lapses*

I am having a difficult time writing this piece; I have started and restarted numerous times. Truthfully, I feel restless, needing something new and exciting to avoid dreadful monotony. Thus, I am re-examining my close friendships, which currently feels stale, and have found that I have not been successful in this category. For example, all of my closest male friends throughout my life are now absent, except for two, and each of those relationships are strained in some way. Time and distance is often the culprit, but breached loyalty has also been an issue. Honestly, those failed relationships reflect on me because I am the only constant in all of them.

In college, I missed out on creating and nurturing possible life-long friendships because I was too engrossed in my first serious relationship with my then-girlfriend. I rarely spent the necessary time or shared random experiences, the building blocks of relationships, with others. One of my favorite memories of college was the first couple weeks, staying up in the hallway or someone’s room just talking, getting to know each other. Unfortunately for me, those moments were rare once my focus shifted solely to my then-girlfriend (note: I lost myself). Those moments, however, didn’t stop for others. Hence, the reason I often feel like an a “near” outsider with my college friends. Once my then-girlfriend and I broke up, I was left without any close friends and college was over. Yes, I knew hella people and vice versa, but I did not have that meaningful connection with anyone in particular (sidenote: I left college with some wonderful friends, but no one who I would randomly call and talk to about nothing; no best friend). After college, most friendship circles close and solidify; thus, becoming close friends with my college friends after graduation was nearly impossible and futile, further facilitated by the fact that I moved half way across the country from most of them. Additionally, after-college, life happened; careers started, people married, babies were born. Therefore, responsibilities and expectations changed, often forgetting or forgoing “new” friendships.

*Time lapses*

I feel like I have not been a good friend to those around me (a la college); I feel like I missed out on numerous opportunities to be close friends with others; most importantly, I feel that I need to own my missteps in my relationships.

In Sir Robinson’s book entitled, The Element, Sir Robinson discusses this idea of finding similarly passionate people and the effect it could have on one’s life. While reading that section a few years ago, I remember desperately wanting to find that pack. I must not have been desperate enough because I still have not found them; I have not done the necessary work to find, build, and cultivate those relationships.

Maybe I’m ready now.