Something funny just occured to me. My blog is officially one year old this week (Happy Birthday "Inside Andre's head" !!!). All this time I've ranted, commented, and pontificated on everything from war, to stupid presidents, to how much I love and hate my (former) church, to institutional racism, to my on again, off again relationships with friends (also here, and here, and here...). But, oddly, I really didn't throw in any plugs for the family. That being said, I'd to introduce you all the Fam. Since most of them have own webpages, anonymity is not all that big for them...
Brief description: If I had to pick out my absolute best friend on the planet, Robin would be it. Although Robin is the youngest of the girls in my family, she's still a year and a half my senior. Incidentally, we didn't really start to become close until high school. Being one of the popular kids, she was able to use her influence to assimilate me into our school's culture. I think that it was largely because of that, I was able to build some of the sociability that I have today (which still isn't much, but it was a lot more than what I once had!)
As we matured in age (being 27 = really mature!), so too did our relationship. So much so that -- even as we dealt with difficult times and sour relationships in our lives, we could always rely on each other for support (without judgment), unbiased feedback, good intentions, and love.
I think that what's most interesting about Robin is her multiple dimension. Don't be fooled by the pretty-girl appearance (at least I think she's super model material). She's one of the most brilliant minds around (she's got two degrees and a few different certifications) and is one of the funniest people on the planet. Just to add to her resume, Robin is also one of the most daring and adventureous people I know. She's been living on her own, in various parts of country; since high school, can get a new job at the drop of hat (so much for a "bad economy") and has traveled all over the place.
Favorite past times with Robin: Watching Cops, making fun of D. West, his strange "motivational" techniques, and his tight ass sweater vests, laughing at our disfunctional extended family, hearing her insane and off the wall stories (usually about how some nutcase is trying to hit on her) and ranting about stupid people.
Favorite memory of Robin: Hmmm. I'd have to say just recently when I visited her new spot in Miami. All I can say is: Day-yum! Must be nice...
Brief description: As I've always maintained, Tamika is my role model. Anything that I've ever strived for or accomplished was motivated by something that Tamika had already done. Even as long ago as elementary school, Tamika has always made strides toward excellence.
What's interesting about her is she spent a large portion of her life as a student athlete. Prior to watching her grow and develop, I always thought the term "student athlete" was an oxymoron (sort of like Hippie Conservative. But I digress...). But, as she excelled in sports, while graduating with high distinction from high school, college, and graduate school, she quickly dispelled that stereotype.
I think that Tamika often gets a bad rap as being rebellious and indifferent toward many things. Perhaps some of that has rubbed off on me (Talk about stating the obvious). But, that reputation aside, when it comes to things for which she has a passion, nobody is as energetic and determined as Tamika. Her disposition quickly turns that rebellion and indifference into independence and strong will. She's a fighter, spunky as all outdoors, and willing to take on just about any challenges that pop up in her life...and ours. Like Robin, Tamika is adventurous and always willing to take risks. Living in and traveling to multiple places is further evidence that Tamika is always on the go and always keeping active. Strange behavior for a narcoleptic (inside joke...)
Favorite past times with Tamika: Text messaging each other. We probably spend more time typing messages to each other with our phones than we do physically speaking to one another; complaining about Momma, hearing about how much she hates her job, and watching her coach basketball teams.
Favorite memory of Tamika: I'd have to say that watching her march during her commencement as she received her Master's degree. That memory sustains me every time I get flustered with being in grad school myself.
Brief description: Ah! Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly. As the oldest sibling, Kim has always assumed a sort of authoritative role; matched with a pretty level head, a positive disposition, and a voice of reason. Similarly to my other sisters, Kim was the active, always-on-the-go type. She lived a pretty fast paced life in Atlanta at a time when progressive shifts in the south were first starting to peak for African-Americans. The South was starting to rise again (I mean that in an anti-Confederate, non-racist sort of way), and she was right in the middle of it all. But, as she grew older and a little more conservative, she accepted a different role as a family women. In so doing, she slowed herself down to meet those demands. Changing and adjusting lifestyles -- to me -- is one of the strongest indications of her character.
Also, Kim is probably one of the more spiritual people in our family. She has a pretty insatiable hunger for learning God's word and for applying it to all aspects of her life. She's a pretty emotionally charged person (sometimes to her detriment), but can pretty reasonably balance that out with logic and common sense.
Favorite past times with Kim: Exchanging recipes (I gotta give it up. Kim is one of the best cooks around. She introduced to the better side of asparagus), listening to her try to convince me about how great Cincinnati is, and having our Biblical/spiritual discussions (if you recall reading comments from Kim aka "Big Sis", she's one in the same).
Favorite memory of Kim: Helping her move into her first college dorm. Watching Kim be the first one in my immediate family (and one of the first in my extended family) to go to college, I was injected with desire to be a college man myself. The rest, as they say, is history...
Brief description: Let me just say that this is the first and only time that I will ever use the name "Donte". From here on out, the correct name is "Toe Joe".
Toe Joe is the "baby" in the family which, by rule, gives him a sort of entitlement. He got his nickname from being a fat baby with narrow and slanted eyes (similar to a sumo wrestler with the same name). Though he grew out that and transformed into a pretty boy, cassanova-type, the name sorta stuck.
Toe Joe is not particularly emotional or expressive (at least not in public view). But, he is pretty personable and incredibly socialable. He was always been popular (especially with the girls) and never really had an enemy to speak of. I suspect that it has more to do with his laid back demeanor, his humor, and his wit than anything else. Toe Joe is one of the types of people that you can get pretty upset with, but never really hate. Truth be told, Toe Joe and I really couldn't stand each other when we were both living together at home. But once we both moved out on our own, we started to get pretty close.
Maybe it was a bit of a foreshadow, but Toe Joe; being the baby of the family; was the first (and so far, the only) child in our family to produce a baby himself. You remember him, right? Ever since Landon ventured over to this side, Toe Joe's outlook has changed. He's a lot more open and expressive (especially when it comes to Landon), and a lot more responsible. But, even with everything going on, Toe Joe is still Toe Joe.
Favorite past times with Toe Joe: Blasting him for flaking me when I visited (I was in Florida for four days and saw him for about three hours. To this day, he claims that he was "busy"), Feuding between his San Francisco 49ers and my Dallas Cowboys, counting the number of shoes he has, having three-way conversations with Robin where we talk about our dysfunction extended family.
Favorite memory of Toe-Joe: Hating him for being so spoiled as child. Momma and Daddy used to let him get away with murder...the little brat. One time, he went crying to my dad telling him that our cousin threw him out the window. Just to appease him, my dad yelled at the poor cousin! Sigh! That was the story growing up...
(5) The parents:
Brief discussion: It's no accident that I don't have a picture of my old man. That just goes to show that I really don't have a whole lot to share about my dad. I assure you: It's not from a lack of knowing him. He's just not very dimensional. He doesn't really have much of a personality, he keeps mainly to himself, and he's one of the most introverted people I know (with us, anyway). I suspect that I get that from him. This isn't to say that my dad is completely indifferent to everything that goes on around him. In his life, he's dealt with a divorce, the loss of three brothers, his father, and his stepmother. While he was obviously pretty emotional about those things, he's emerged from those events unscathed.
To make up for not being very open and parentally affectionate, my old man compensated by being a strong provider for the family. He'd make sure that we were taken really good care of; along with other people in our family, our friends, or whoever just happened to be in the room at the time. Even to this day, he still tries to pass out money like Jehovah's Witnesses pass out Watch Towers. So, if anybody needs some money let me know.
Interestingly, though, ever since he and my mother divorced, he has a different outlook on things. He's been more open with us, jokes more, and doesn't shield his emotions as much. Growing up as a kid, we'd be luck to get him to crack a smile, much less to be completely open about things. But I guess that having some changes occur in his life and dealing with the self actualization that comes with getting older, has caused him to reevaluate certain things in his life. Who knows for sure?
Favorite past times with my dad: Going to wrestling events as kids, coming up with schemes (with Toe Joe) to secretly throw away the hideously disgusting egg omelettes he used to make for breakfast, personally delivering our lunch (and sometimes lunch for our friends) at school. Teaching each of us to drive at least one year before driver's education.
Favorite memory of my dad: The first time he looked me in the eye and apologized for the wrong he caused in our family. To this day, that stands as the most significant thing he's every said to me.
Brief description: Similar to the soap operas that she loves to watch, my mom is an emotional roller coaster. One day I love her to death; the next day I want to strangle her; and then I go back to loving her the day after that.
For starters, my mom is the perfect family figure. She has an unmatched love for kids (you can imagine that she's been on cloud nine with Landon), was a loving and devoted wife for years (I still say that she got the short end of the stick with her former marriage), and took pride in doing the laborous domestic work. Affectionately nicknamed "Cookie", her cooking skills, for example, set her apart from the pack.
Being a housewife never really lended Momma to developing herself outside of the home. She never really had what you call a career, only had a brief stint with college, and never really did much socializing and traveling outside of church (in her defense, though, some of that had to do with my old man being so introverted). I think that's always hung heavy on her; especially since some of her older sisters were just the opposite (had careers, traveled, and were more sociable). But after her divorce, she became a lot more active, social, and outgoing; sometimes to her detriment.
My mom makes questionable and costly decisions most of the time, which usually are a product of her naivety. And even though we usually wind up fixing her problems for her, it's hard to stay upset with her. The fact remains that she has a heart of pure gold, a deep spiritual connection to God, a love for her family and friends, and is probably one of the nicest people you'll ever know.
Favorite past times with my mom: getting scared to death by her ghost stories (to this day, I believe that a ghost named "Miss Mary" lives in the house), throwing down on her dressing (Sorry Diane, but I think my mom's dressing can beat anybody's), and watching her sing in the choir.
Favorite memory of my mom: Taking her to her first Detroit Pistons game. Though the Pistons were on the losing end of that game, we had a blast together.
There you have it. That's my family. Is there any wonder why I'm so crazy?! Just kidding!
Seriously, though we're all separated by hundreds of miles, my family is...and always will be...the closest thing to my heart. I love you guys!