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The pros and cons of raising a preteen

Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

I was trolling TikTok for laughs one day when I stumbled upon a video of a guy doing a “review” of his newborn baby boy. This dude was visibly delighted with his two-month-old offspring — he said the boy only cost him a few “grown-up transactions” — and encouraged others to get one, too.

Now, I got a good chuckle from the breakdown, which played like an unboxing video. That’s a shiny new baby, fresh out of the box. What’s not to like?

Of course, he’s cute. A baby alligator is cute. And like a baby alligator, a baby…


Living life fully sometimes means living life so fully you fall asleep with a plate on your lap

A young guy in checkered pajama trousers falling asleep with a slice of pizza in his hand in bed next to a pizza box and open laptop. He has the itis.
A young guy in checkered pajama trousers falling asleep with a slice of pizza in his hand in bed next to a pizza box and open laptop. He has the itis.
Photo: yacobchuk/iStock/Getty Images Plus

While I was speaking with a class of college students recently, one of them told me that she was interested in becoming a child anesthesiologist. I told her my experiences of being under general anesthesia, and how it was the best sleep I’d ever had. There were no dreams, no concerns, no care whatsoever for the waking world. It was as close as I have ever come to biological bliss.

Except when I am experiencing the itis.

I feel compelled to qualify the forthcoming hedonism with an obligatory note about the impact of obesity on Black communities, how nearly 50%…


Sometimes, for fathers who abandon their children, there’s no coming back

Photo: Adam Hester

In my first book, Confessions of a Video Vixen, I graphically chronicled a four-year abusive relationship with my son’s biological father, Nathaniel, professionally known as Kool G Rap, one of hip-hop’s most formidable artists of yesteryear. There’s no time to go through the whole sordid affair, so for context, here are the CliffsNotes.

When I met Nathaniel in Arizona in 1995, I was just 17 years old; he was 10 years my senior. In 1998, we had a son together. By the following year, our relationship had ended. In December 1999, I left my son with his father while I…


Every father hopes to see his son surpass him. But did it have to happen so soon?

Photo: Nick David/Getty Images

My 12-year-old son keeps challenging me to hand-to-hand combat. First, we move the coffee table and place a few pillows so that no one loses an eye or needs stitches; then we wrestle in the living room.

It wasn’t that long ago that our wrestling would have been a balancing act between me showing him the few moves I know and letting him get the occasional win so that he doesn’t lose heart. But ever since I turned 50 and he played the junior league football Super Bowl — not to mention going through puberty — things have gotten difficult.


In some ways, I feel like I’m just getting started. Don’t wait until you feel the same.

Photo: courtesy of the author

As I write this I am turning 50. The plan is to spend my semi-century in bed — or, if I’m feeling cosmopolitan, on the couch. Lying prone is not how I normally spend birthdays, but it is how I will be spending this one. It is not a pandemic-based decision; it is an If-I-Must resignation.

I get that I should be thankful. A lot of people don’t make it to 50, especially Black men. I’m fortunate to have made it through the pandemic this far without being tagged with a life-threatening virus or worse. I have my health, my…


The complicated feelings following the end of the most traumatic presidency of my lifetime

Photo: Susan Walsh/Getty Images

I guess I’m supposed to be happy today. I’m supposed to feel that because the deadliest, most corrupt, most villainous president of my lifetime is gone, that I’m waking up to a new, more joyous day. And, personal politics about Biden aside, he is going to be objectively better, less deadly, and less corrupt than the avowed racist who left the White House yesterday. Today is going to be a better day for all of us than yesterday was, let alone the day Donald Trump was inaugurated. I should feel some sort of joy about this.

But I don’t. I…


How toxic masculinity ruined summer camp and my friendship

Photo: martinedoucet/Getty Images

When I was 10 years old, my parents decided they wanted the summer for themselves. So they did what any self-respecting NYC family with little money would do — they signed me up for day camp. That’s where I met Jose, my first best friend.

Jose was a light-skinned Dominican kid with straight black hair and big eyes; his fingernails were painted black. We met during lunch when he jumped into a heated debate between me and our lead camp counselor, Jayshawn, about who was the strongest Power Ranger. Jayshawn and his crew insisted it was the Green Ranger (Tommy)…


The Only Black Guy in the Office

Being reunited with work has never felt so good

A Black person, lying on a couch in front of a window showing a snowy cityscape, eating a chicken drumstick.
A Black person, lying on a couch in front of a window showing a snowy cityscape, eating a chicken drumstick.
Illustration: Michael Kennedy

In normal times, my outgoing text messages would be full of optimistic and excited notes to loved ones about the new year. I’d think “2021 is mine,” jotting down the goals and resolutions I had for the next 365. After taking some time to unplug (and maybe even piece together a vision board), I’d return to work recharged. But as much as I want to beam this positivity, I didn’t expect it to be so tough shaking off the bad vibes of last year — and that reality has only become more palpable during the holiday break.

Don’t get me…


JUST RANKIN’ SH!T

Making a list, breaking it at least twice

Photo illustration; source: AJ_Watt/Getty Images

5. To give up vice X (smoking, drinking, cursing, masturbating, gambling, etc.)

These kinds of resolutions are so hard to break because they target behaviors that give you genuine pleasure and that you started engaging in because they were fun (and maybe before they became so destructive or distracting). Who wants to quit fun, pleasurable pursuits for good? Not you in a month, probably.

4. To get organized

That Marie Kondo decluttering book you copped during a spurt of inspiration won’t help much if you stopped reading in chapter two.

3. To make better decisions

Have you met yourself? You love terrible decisions!

2. To save more money

Conventional wisdom says you should put money away for retirement, or whatever awaits you later in your life…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

‘I don’t want to open my eyes, just read the rankings to me out loud’

Photo illustration; source: Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

8. Watching “The Hangover” trilogy

Super not recommended!

7. Hydration

Drinking to excess makes you pee more, which leads to dehydration and electrolyte loss. So it follows that drinking lots of water (or Gatorade or Pedialyte) should cure this splitting headache, right? Yes, but it would’ve been a lot better if you’d hydrated before the booze. Womp-womp.

6. Menudo

The tripe soup (not the boy band) is considered an effective hangover cure among my people; unfortunately, there’s not a lot of evidence to back it up. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to eat menudo in the morning.

5. More alcohol

The hair-of-the-dog method is akin to putting out a raging…

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