All posts by gblee55

Love and Basketball

Dear NBA,

Some say you stand for the National Basketball Association; others say you stand for “No Boys Allowed.”  Personally, I think that you stand for “Never Brought Agony” because you have never brought agony into my life. Well then again, I guess that’s only somewhat true judging by the fact the New York Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, but you are still good to me. You have brought me the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Stephen Curry….the list is endless.

I knew we were a match made on the hardwood ever since I put on my first oversized jersey and New Era fitted cap. From that moment on, I decided I loved you and I would dedicate my life to the pursuit of your love in return. You plagued my mind and stole my time. I thought of you as I shot 1,500 jump shots daily. I dreamt of you as I slept with a basketball in my hands. I spoke of you as I counted down from ten at the YMCA to beat the imaginary buzzer. Most importantly, I envisioned our wedding day when the commissioner would shake my hand during the draft and join us together forever in holy matrimony.

Alas, it seems that the staggering height of 5’10”, a delayed puberty, and a propensity for turnovers was enough to prevent our marriage from happening. But hey, maybe in a few years if we are both single, we should try to rekindle what we once had. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with this poem.

This is my act of love towards the National Basketball Association
We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting but I know you through association
The time we’ve spent together is the sole source of my procrastination
I chose you over any girl, inevitably preventing chances of procreation
You manifest your destiny from east to west across this nation
You make your name from competition and your dime from elimination
Other leagues have tried to copy but you are a stranger to duplication
Although, you’ve made too many rules and I pray for deregulation

You can keep the NFL, Pain and I, we just don’t gel
You can have the NHL, I tried hockey once, but I fell
Why watch the MLB, when you can go to sleep for free
All these leagues are fine, but they are definitely not for me
I gave a chance to FIFA, but I just couldn’t watch their soccer
Their football was okay, but their acting deserved an Oscar.
So once again my love, please take this message from the author
I know you’re busy now but I’m steady waiting at the alter

Yours Truly,

Gabriel

My Top 5 of 2016

As I sat down on New Year’s Eve counting down the minutes until 2017, I suddenly felt anxious for the year of 2016 to be gone forever. In my opinion, 2016 was a tough year to swallow. During some instances throughout the year, it appeared that 2016 would just be a barrage of bad news, a compilation of natural disasters, and an increasing deficit of respect for one another. In addition, we left behind some important people in 2016, including legendary music artists. Music often carries us through the worst of times and propels us to through the best of times, which is why I would like to highlight some of my favorite works of music of 2016.

*Disclaimer*
These were chosen based off of my personal music preference so there may be a lack of diversity in my music selection. These are also listed in no particular order.

  Awaken My Love

Childish Gambino

I know that I said that these are listed in no particular order but if I absolutely had to, I think that this would be my number one pick of 2016. Donald Glover has consistently shownus his versatility as an artist, whether that be through acting, writing, standupandnow music. I was surprised and delighted to find that there was very little rapping on this project and Childish Gambino virtually sang the whole album. Not only did he impress me as a composer and producer but he also surprised me with his singing abilities. I feel his vocal skills are best highlighted in my two favorite songs “Me and Your Momma” and “Redbone.”

  Malibu

Anderson Paak

Anderson Paakis setting a new standard for thehip hop artist, if you can even call him that. Similar to Childish Gambino, Anderson Paakis a multitalented artist and is part of the reason I feel that one-trick-ponies are on their way out. Anderson is a part of a select groupof rappers (actually none come to mind) that can rap, sing, and play an instrument… all at the same time. His soulful voice and classic style are evident in this album and as Dr. Dre’s new protégé, I think we will be seeing more from him. My personal favorite from this album is “The bird.”

  24K Magic 

Bruno Mars

I have said this before and I will continue to say it again. Bruno Mars is the baddestcat in show business. I mean, the guy is swagger personified. I’ll admit that this is a bold claim but I think that Bruno is Michael Jackson reincarnated. He’s that smooth and this album shows us why. Now personally, pop music is my least favorite kind of music but I can’t ignore the funk that he brings to the table. I challenge anyone not to danceand sing alongwhen “24k Magic” comes on the radio or when the DJ plays “Chunky.” In addition, this album had to make the list just for the sheer number of workout songs on here.

  The Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper

And we back!This album right here is heavenly. Not just because most of the production was based in gospel and soulful roots but because if I imagined an angel rapping, it would sound like Chance.The man is like water on a track. His lyrics, flow,and adlibs are like no other. This album is what it sounds like when secular music and gospel make a baby. I respect Chance for paying homage to his rootsbut also being able to sustain a modern sound. I also appreciate this album because it exudes energy and it is contagious. It’s hard to listen to this album and stay in a somber mood. Just play “No Problem” or “Blessings” and your head will be bobbing in notime.

 
  Blonde

Frank Ocean

Where have you been Mr. Ocean? This album was the most anticipated album of the year in my opinion. Frank Ocean fans have been waiting for years for this album to come out but I have constantly been met with delay and disappointment. This album makes it on the list for some of the same reasons as The Life of Pablo. It’s almost like a legacy award. Frank is too good forme to leave him out. It wasn’t his best work but it still was pretty good. It sounded more like a summer mixtape than a full length album but we still gotsome gems. For example, “Solo (Reprise)” featuring Andre 300 and “Ivy” are songs worth remembering.

 

Big Boys Don’t Cry

She offered that we watch a movie. I should have let her finish before I smoothly interjected, “Yeah that’s cool. I mean, whatever you want to do is fine with me.” She then began to thoroughly explain her affinity for horror films. “Okay, this is going to be a problem,” I thought to myself.

We hadn’t reached a point in our relationship when I could sit her down and explain to her that I  had made the conscious decision to abstain from all things “scary.” If I deemed something to be scary in nature, you could count me out. There are an assortment of things that fall under my imaginary umbrella of scary which ranges from turning on every light in the house in order to take a late night potty-break or refusing to take the trash out past sundown. Call me crazy all you want, but there is no way you can prove that someone isn’t lurking in the woods by the trashcan just waiting to make me a murder mystery. Watching a horror film ranks somewhere between visiting a location where someone  inexplicably perished and adhaljdjaslsgjsglksglkj ljsljsagjlsdg (I still don’t really know to say here. Any suggestions).

She had her heart set on watching a movie called “Deliver Us From Evil.” I recall the synopsis saying something about “a thrilling rendition of a true story about a cop and unconventional priest who team up together to perform an exorcism in an effort to solve a string of crimes.” Okay, there is a major distinction that I make between scary and thrilling. They both engage similar aspects of adrenaline and both involve a subtle fear of death, but the discrepancy manifests itself in how death finally takes me. There is an undeniable difference between being thrown off a roller coaster and quickly falling to your death and being axe murdered by a satanic children’s doll because you forgot to switch on the hallway light on your way to tinkle.

Also, what was this based on a true story hogwash? Are we talking loosely based, mostly based, or this definitely happened? The margin of error in discerning this fact was too wide, and as far as I was concerned, the error involved a gruesome death. Yet, I conceded. I agreed that we should watch “Deliver Us From Evil” because, and I quote, “The plot seemed like it had an interesting story line.” Oh the moronic lies I tell myself when I’m scared.

The next two hours involved calculated measures of extreme excuses and avoidance. Some of the evening’s highlights include me pretending to be asleep so I wouldn’t have view the particularly scary parts, faking an unexpected important phone call from work, and conveniently having a very active bladder. Needless to say, the evening did not go how I expected. However, I must add that if we would have watched Disney’s “Enchanted,” which was my movie choice, the evening would have ended with tears of joy from a thrilling love story of a fairy tale princess who found true love in the real world.

 

Candid Confessions of a Minimalist 

You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at my closet, but I’m a minimalist. Okay, maybe I’m an aspiring minimalist. If you can see past the mountains of Steve Maddens and patterned ties, then you’ll realize I’m trying to live a simplistic lifestyle. You see, the trick is to exude luxury but practice frugality. Essentially, I’m a human peacock. This is the precise reason I had a hard time picking an item on ThisIsWhyImBroke.com.

One could make a case for buying any item on that website but when everything is special, nothing seems special. Everything starts to blend in together as unusual novelty items or gag gifts. Although, amid all of the quirky items on the website, you are bound to find something that screams, “How did I go my whole life existing without this thing?”

I believe the only way I will ever fully embrace a minimalist lifestyle is by forcing myself to live in such a manner. I think the perfect way to do this is to build a tiny house. So, when I came across the building plans for a tiny house on the website, I had to take the plunge.

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For $350 I thought I was getting a tiny house, but apparently that’s only enough to cover the plans for making the house. In an ironic twist, becoming a minimalist looked like it was going to be very expensive. Fortunately, the plan I chose included the descriptive steps on how to construct a tiny house that was pet friendly, solar powered, and harvested rainwater. Talk about being off the grid! A house that small and efficient is the perfect first step to using less resources in my life. On second thought, a tiny house seems like a good fourth or fifth step. Although, when I do decide to take that giant leap, ThisWhyImBroke.com will be reason I can invite company to my tiny house and say, “This is why I’m rich!”

A Day Unplugged

I must admit, when I was given the task of creating my own holiday, I instinctually wanted to create something that would benefit Gabriel Lee. That’s not my ego shining through, I just feel like there are very few holidays that I can really enjoy. Actually, let me rephrase that. There are very few holidays that I can afford to enjoy because quite frankly, I’m broke. Aside from being broke, there are lingering social issues that prevent me from enjoying some of our biggest holidays. I’m too single for Valentine’s day, too sober for St. Patrick’s Day, and too over New Years Eve.

I don’t want to be that guy, but are holidays really what we make them out to be? Is Christmas really Christmas, or is it a barrage of commercials and gift-induced insanity? Are holidays like Martin Luther King. Jr Day and Presidents day seen as a day of reflection for the things these people did, or are they just a day off from work or school? I’m probably being too cynical but I assume there is some validity to the questions I pose.

So if I could create a holiday, it would be something that would attempt to truly bring us together. Not for any celebratory purposes or gift giving, but simply something that would give us a chance to be briefly reminded of ourselves and the people around us. I propose a “A Day Unplugged.” This holiday would involve an effort to sever the ties we have to our devices for 24 hours. Ideally, that means no TV, no phones, no internet, and the million other devices that I can’t keep up with.

I know by now I probably sound like an irritable old luddite, but that’s not the case. I’m just a concerned millennial trying to get us to look up for a while. I say us, because I feel we all have fallen victim to virtual solitude. Even as I type this paper, I have my head buried into my laptop, inadvertently shooing off any human interaction. It’s no one’s fault that sometimes we get like this. It’s just a symptom of our current situation, a situation I feel we are responsible for continuing to improve.

I realize that with the current way our world operates, people would probably have some questions about how A Day Unplugged would be implemented. How am I supposed to do my job? What if I have schoolwork? What if I have to call 911? But that’s the beauty of A Day Unplugged. You would only have to unplug to the level that you are comfortable with. If you are capable of refraining from all of your devices, then go for it. But maybe you just want to give up Snapchat for a day. That’s okay too! I wouldn’t want anyone to feel pressure to display a certain level of commitment to the holiday. I just want to give us the opportunity to have more real moments with people, something that I feel we have been lacking recently. More importantly, I want people to have more real moments with themselves. This could be a chance for Gabriel to rediscover how Gabriel sees and feels about Gabriel. Not how Facebook and Instagram see Gabriel.

Technology isn’t bad. Our phones and devices aren’t bad. We just haven’t really figured out how to use them yet. Of course we know how they work, but have we really figured out the roles our devices play in our daily lives. Sometimes they bring us together and connect us in ways that weren’t possible before. But sometimes they prevent us from connecting with the people and moments in front of us. As we implement more devices in our lives, we increase the chances of becoming disconnected. So whether it’s official or not, pick your own Day Unplugged and remind yourself what it means to be you and share those things with the people around you. It might be hard at first, but you’ll feel rejuvenated when it’s over. That’s the magic of A Day Unplugged.

If I had a dime.

If I had a dime.

If I had a dime for every time I got distracted during my writing I would probably have enough money to pay my college tuition. Unfortunately, the only reward I receive from my distraction is sporadic waves of genius informed by the random thoughts that pop into my head.  Although for every genius thought that crosses my mind, there are at least ten useless thoughts that come before it.

For example, it’s taken me 43 minutes to write the first 100 words of this blog post. Not because I want every word that I write to be eloquent and sublime, but because thoughts like, “I wonder who is winning the Warriors vs. Clippers game” or “What was the name of the instrumental that was in that one video?” These thoughts offer no relevant insight, yet they seem to always force themselves into my consciousness. The craziest thing about these random thoughts is that I can never recall them when I need them. By this time tomorrow, one of my friends is going to ask me if I saw the Warriors game and I’m probably not going to know what they are talking about. It’s funny the way our brain works.

The only way that I can be productive during my writing is if I take numerous preventive measures in order to negate any possible distractions. I’m always ready to write and I have an unlimited reserve of inspiration but I struggle with maintaining access to it. I can usually channel my inspiration on command but I can’t control how long it is going to stay. Here are a few steps that I take to keep my creativity going.

1st Step: Avoid any human interaction.

  • I like to talk, even if it’s about nothing. I’ve engaged in hour long conversations from nonsense that ranges from “what my theme song would be if I was a T.V. show” to my personal favorite “how much money would it take you to…” So if I want to get any work done, my first step is to separate myself from people.

2nd Step: Use the Internet for research and nothing more.

  • I still have yet to perfect this step. Google makes it so easy for you to spend hours on websites like “50 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Had Ivy League Degrees” or “Things In Your House That May Be Causing Cancer.” I will one day conquer my internet weakness but until then I’ll keep you posted.

3rd Step: Play music that you like but not music that you really like.

  • Do you ever just have impromptu dance battles in your room by yourself or is that just me? Anything with a beat compels me to move so I have to specifically tailor my study music to be energizing but slightly boring.

4th Step: Don’t get comfortable. You will fall asleep.

  • I think my body’s natural setting is stuck on the snooze button. I fall asleep because I can. Most of the time I’m not even tired which is the most frustrating part. So as a general rule, I usually keep myself far away from any sort of bed, couch, or anything remotely soft.

Being a great writer is difficult. You want everything you write to be eloquently said and well-constructed but getting there isn’t always pretty. For me, the thought of creating something that will bring the reader joy is motivation enough to endure the struggles I face while writing a piece. So after three hours of an assortment of Google searches and YouTube Videos, here is my blog post. I hope it brings you joy.

 

Eyes That’ll Make You Cry

It was Halloween weekend of 2007, and I had plans to play my favorite childhood game. Ding Dong DITCH! Otherwise known as DDD by the cooler 12 year olds, is a complex game in which the premise calls for one individual to ring the doorbell of a clueless neighbor and flee the scene before being discovered. The uncontrollable factors of extra adult supervision and surplus of witnesses made this occasion the Super Bowl of DDD. However, I was determined to keep my title as the best darn ditcher in all of West Point Middle School.

The first target of the night was Mr. Harris, our technology teacher who loved to assign homework on weekends and had an unwavering disdain for fun. Mr. Harris’s house was considerably large for an unmarried man and contained a driveway that seemed of equal size to an airport runway. It stood in isolation from the rest of the houses on the street and was located directly across from a cornfield.

As protocol dictated, my friends hid in the bushes as I walked up to the porch and proceeded to ring the doorbell. On the front door mat there was a bowl full of candy with a note that read “Please Take One.” I reached down and took 4 pieces because I’m just that dude. Just as my finger touched the bell, car lights appeared at the start of the driveway.

CODE RED, CODE RED! The car was quickly approaching and I needed to get out of there. I frantically hopped off the porch and dashed into the cornfield. Rookie Mistake. As I ran deeper and deeper into the field, I began to lose sense of direction. I could still vaguely see the car lights but I couldn’t quite tell how far I was from the house.

I figured the best idea would be to just wait it out. I stood peeping through the corn for about five minutes but the car lights were still on. Then it happened; I saw the first set of glowing eyes. Then two more appeared and another two until I was completely surrounded by a sea of glowing eyes. The eyes began to move closer as I could hear footsteps nearing.

I whispered out in a nervous tone, “Yo guys this isn’t funny man!” No response.

The eyes kept moving forward. “Seriously yall, stop it! You are going to get us caught.” No response.

“Mr. Harris is that you?” Silence.

At that point I had done enough inquiry and decided it was time to get out of there. I started to run as fast as I could because this black kid was not dying first in this scary movie. I ran for what seemed like miles as the eyes continued to follow me, but I soon came to an unclimbable fence. Chest heaving, I paused. Took a breath. I decided to turn and face whatever multi-eyed creature was following me.  I was scared out of my pants but I was ready to fight my way out of whatever or whoever was after me.

As the eyes got closer and closer, I clenched my fists and stationed my feet. The eyes got as close as they were going to get and came to halt. I was finally able to see what creature I was running from. There it stood, right in front of me. The biggest gosh darn Bambi-looking deer I have ever seen in my entire life.