I Now Regret Letting My Best Friend Move In With Me When He Had Nowhere Else To Go

puthimout

Hello Xem. My name is Andrew. I don’t mind if you share this letter on your website because at this point I am extremely fed up. I have been a fan of yours since 2010 and I very much respect your point of view on the different issues you discuss with us. I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you get so many of these requests on a regular basis. So to keep it nice and sweet, I am at the point where I feel my friendship with one of my best friends is in jeopardy. He has been living with me since March in my one bedroom apartment and it doesn’t seem that he is making attempts to move out. He lost his job around Christmas and began borrowing money from us to pay his bills, so we thought (there are 3 of us who have known each other since high school). He told us that he was going to be receiving unemployment and would pay us back once the checks began coming in after the processing period. He said that would be in January. Well, we come to find out that he used the money he borrowed not to pay his rent or other bills in full, but to still buy gifts for other people. Then, when the new year came around he was trying to play catch up on his car note and gas and electric and rent. So, none of us (the 3 friends) knew that he was borrowing money from all of us. Something happened with the unemployment whereas he wasn’t able to receive the checks. I guess he started receiving eviction notices in March and his car company even began calling me looking for him because he was so behind on his car note. I became really concerned and because I love him like a brother I offered him to come stay with me until he could get back on his feet. I’m a bank manager, so I know that we do summer hires every year that most often turn into full time positions. I arranged for my best friend to interview in April for one of the three teller positions that was opening in June. I basically tailored his resume so that his skills would fit the teller position requirements. Everything was arranged for a Wednesday afternoon. I even allowed him to drop me off at work using my car that day, go back to the apartment, get dressed later in the day and come in for the 1pm interview. He never showed!!! I thought something happened to him so I began panicking and calling him and our other friends. He was asleep the entire time!!! This has become who he is now. He sleeps through the entire day and is up throughout the night blasting the television or asking to use my car before I go to bed. When I give him leads for different positions that are opening in different places he doesn’t follow through by faxing his resume. I have a fax machine and scanner at my apartment, so he doesn’t need to venture out to an Office Max or anything.

I also don’t feel that he respects my things. He sleeps in my living room every night, but he doesn’t fold the sheets or blankets or fix the couch when he wakes up. He doesn’t clean out the bathtub once he takes a shower or even do anything for that matter. Our other friends warned me to not allow him to move in with me but he honestly had nowhere else to go. His parents moved to Texas two years ago and that’s when he moved out into his own place here. His sister is away at college in Minnesota, but goes home to Texas during her breaks and we (the 3 of us) are basically his other family so to speak. I’m the one who welcomed him into the house, so how can I ask him to leave now? I know he is unmotivated right now and probably depressed in certain ways, but when I try to even talk to him he doesn’t want to discuss anything. I think it would push him over the edge if I asked him to leave, but our other friends are saying that he needs to hit rock bottom before he stands on his own. Do you agree with that and how would you handle this situation? I know I wrote more than I expected. Sorry. I hope you will still respond to me.

XEM SAYS…

I absolutely agree with how your circle of friends feel regarding your present living situation, and the circumstances that surround the mutual best friend. Your heart was obviously in the best place when you opened your home to someone who you consider to be a brother. He was facing hardship and you provided what should have been a temporary cushion to soften the heavy blows of life. However, you made the mistake of not setting rules and framing a timeline for your best friend to follow prior to moving into your home. While we’re sometimes unable to predict how long it will take for someone to “get on their feet”, I feel that allowing a friend to live in your home for 2-3 months is more than fair in aiding in their process to restructure their financial life. When we fail to set expiration or due dates, the people closest to us will subconsciously take advantage of that opening. We extend ourselves out of a pure love for a friend, but that friend becomes so comfortable that they begin to depend on our helping hands. You have created a situation for yourself where you are now taking care of your best friend, as opposed to your intention of helping him once again take care of himself.

If it truly isn’t in your heart or your spirit to send your best friend out into the street immediately, it is time that you give him a deadline to move out of your apartment. If he knows that he now only has until November 1st to find another place to live, I am confident that the deadline will light a fire beneath him to vigorously search for employment. Your best friend is obviously not a dead-beat, otherwise he would have never been able to maintain his own place or vehicle for the past two years. He certainly possesses marketable skills, as he held a full-time position prior to losing his job last December. So, the issue isn’t that he can’t find a job or a new place to live. The problem is that he has become complacent and refuses to move his feet.

In the meantime, you must also create basic rules to govern your household. Treat your best friend as if he is your roommate. In essence, that is your living situation for these final 2 months that you will allow him to live in your home. Make it clear to him that you need your rest at night and therefore, he needs to monitor the volume of the living room television. Give him the responsibility of cleaning the bathroom every Sunday and mopping floors or vacuuming on Saturdays. Sometimes, as this is true for a lot of men, they won’t initiate cleaning – but they will follow a routine of straightening up behind themselves when they are instructed to do so. Remind your best friend that even though he sleeps on your couch every night, that area isn’t considered his bedroom. Ask him to please fold the sheets and straighten the pillows each time he wakes up and starts his day.

If your best friend is offended by your deadline date or taken aback by the new rules you set in place, he will possibly leave on his own. You cannot feel guilty if he catches an attitude and decides to move out now. This grown man has lived with you, rent-free for the past six months. Honestly, you have already extended yourself beyond reasonable expectations. If he decides to stop speaking to you and continues to associate with the other friends who refused to let him live in their homes, then he doesn’t value your friendship. You have provided for him in ways that no one else was willing or able to do during these dark moments in his life. Though he may be depressed or frustrated at the hands of his present circumstances, he has also made you feel uncomfortable living in your own home. It’s unfair. A large part of maintaining a healthy friendship is being able to look at someone you care about and say, “HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE”. If they continue to cross those boundaries, that’s your cue to cross them out of your life.

I Can’t Stop Checking My Ex’s Social Media Now That He Seems Like A Totally Different Person Online

socialmediajunky

I love you Xemmy you have no idea! I know you’ll probably never see this email but I’m sending it anyway because any response from you would help me along the way. The problem will still affect my life by the time you ever see this so here it goes….me and my boyfriend have been broken up since May. He said he couldn’t deal with me knowing so many people here in Connecticut and always going back and forward with new people on Facebook. It bothered him that I would talk to “strangers” as he would call them or sometimes hangout with friends of friends that he didn’t know. My ex is a police officer that I also met on Facebook last summer of 2013 Xem, so it’s pretty crazy to me that he would constantly chastise me for having casual conversations with other people on Facebook as well. That’s exactly how he and I met. I always made sure he knew that I wasn’t flirting with other guys or having inappropriate conversations. I would even let him read my conversations but he would decline the offer. He just kept telling me that it got on his nerves but he never said he wanted me to stop or anything. My ex boyfriend is 32 and the type of guy or WAS the type of guy that would go to work, come home, eat food and just lay around. So even if I was at his place when he arrived home that’s what he would do. I would get bored slightly even though I loved being around him and that is when I would check my Facebook page just like anyone else. I just turned 24 and I enjoy doing things outside of the house and I think that’s nirmal. There isn’t a lot that goes on here Xem so to be able to reach out and meet people in other surrounding areas sort of opened opportunities for me to branch out socially NOT for hooking up. So when my ex would complain about it I would ask him if we could go out together or do something instead. His response would be that he was tired and needed to rest up for work. So okay! I wouldn’t complain about it. I just stayed on the computer or my phone. The thing is NOW that we are broken up my ex boyfriend is all over Facebook and has even opened an Instagram page. I found out about the Instagram page because his pictures are uploaded on his Facebook wall. And it’s like now he is a completely different person. He posts pictures of himself working out, I see him checking in at the movies on Facebook and doing stuff like going camping with these people he never introduced me to so they have to be new. It’s like now that we aren’t together he all of a sudden likes to have fun and update his pages practically everyday. He gets all of these likes on his Instagram pictures from random people but especially from this one guy who leaves the same winking emoji under EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. And the guy is someone I met on Facebook like 8 months ago that knows I was in a relationship with my ex at that time. I want to beat his ass Xem! I created a Instagram page but never post pictures on there. I do follow my ex on there but he can’t see my face or anything. I don’t even care about Facebook or being online like that anymore. I try so hard to stop myself from reading his Facebook since he never deleted me from his page. Even when I don’t go to his page specific his check ins and status messages pop up on my timeline. My stomach drops everytime I see pictures of him in new clothes or out with new people, but I’ll still look at his Instagram almost everyday. I get really pissed reading all of his flirty comments and sometimes I just want to say something but I don’t. He hasn’t replied to any of my text messages or phone calls since we broke up so its almost like going to his Facebook and Instagram is my only real connection to him. How do I stop myself from looking at his updates? It’s like even though I know its going to hurt me or upset me I look anyway. Does that seem crazy to you Xem?

XEM SAYS…

There is absolutely nothing “crazy” about having an unyielding desire to read your ex boyfriend’s social media updates or wanting to see his newly uploaded photos. However, it is unhealthy for you to actually give in to those desires by actively visiting his Facebook wall or Instagram page on a daily basis. The two of you split up only four months ago. As a result, both of you still exist in the beginning stages of your healing process. By continuously texting and calling your ex boyfriend, you are seeking answers and explanations that weren’t made clear to you during the breakup. His approach to healing is to engulf himself in the online activities that seemed to steal your attention away from him during the time the two of you were together. Both of you are responding in normal, human fashion.

You are visiting his social media pages regularly for the exact reason that you stated: his Facebook and Instagram updates are your only present connection to him and his life over the past few months. Your longing to see him, to hear from him or to know how he is living is temporarily fulfilled when you read a new online post or see one of his recent pics. However, the fact that you know you no longer play a role in these changes and activities explains why that gut-punch feeling hits your stomach the moment you see that he’s doing just fine on the surface. As selfish as it may seem, it’s extremely painful to witness our exes living well.

Just keep in mind that people don’t post the photos of the moments they spend crying, sad or hidden beneath their blankets at home. Your ex may not be as carefree and joyful as it seems. In turn, you have lost your desire to post online regularly because it was that one habit that caused you to lose the man you obviously love.

Meanwhile, I do advise that you take the step of temporarily deleting the Facebook and Instagram apps from your phone. Sometimes, we check our social media pages by habit, and not necessarily because we want to know what our friends are doing every hour on the hour. Deleting the apps from your phone will at least aid in your ability to not visit your ex boyfriends Facebook or Instagram pages when you’re out and about. If you find that deleting the apps isn’t slowing down the rates at which you check his social media pages, it then becomes necessary to delete him from your Facebook page altogether. When we sign-in to Facebook, the individuals whose pages we visit the most will always appear at the top of our timelines. To avoid having his updates shoved in your face, it’s probably best that you remove him from your friends list. Once you do remove him, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll then request his friendship anytime soon. Also, because you don’t utilize Instagram for your own enjoyment, please get rid of the page you created to basically keep tabs on your ex boyfriends life. You are not emotionally ready to handle the level of newfound attention that he is receiving in the form of photo “likes” and flirtatious commentary.

Your ex boyfriend is thirty-two years old and you are now just turning twenty-four. He approached your relationship from the standpoint of someone who has obviously existed in numerous, romantic situations. An experienced man isn’t going to directly tell his partner to stop engaging in certain activities or to cease interaction with specific people. You stated that he, “never told you to stop communicating with random guys on Facebook”. Instead, he repeatedly expressed to you that it bothered him and made him feel uncomfortable that you communicated with strangers online and then spent time with individuals he had never met. It was his expectation that you would respond to his discomfort by changing your habits. Your compromise was to continue the internet behavior, with a side offer for your ex boyfriend to read your online conversations. For the sake of saving your relationship, you could have minimized your online interactions to simply communicating with people who your ex was already familiar with. Since you say the two of you met on Facebook, it is already ingrained in your ex boyfriends mind that you utilize social media as a platform to meet guys beyond the boundaries of establishing strict friendship. Men who exist in their thirties have usually endured so many relationship challenges, that they aren’t going to battle with their partners about issues that have repeatedly been addressed. If the problem persists, they will simply remove themselves from the situation without a great deal of explanation. His complaints, as he sees it, were explanation enough.

Now, it seems that your ex boyfriend is utilizing social media in ways that he didn’t take advantage of when the two of you were together romantically. He is updating his Facebook wall regularly and posting daily photos on a new Instagram page. This is common behavior of the partner who was constantly complaining about a specific issue or individual while existing in the confines of the relationship. When someone breaks off a relationship because their partner would not stop engaging in a certain activity or hanging around a particular person, that someone often becomes intrigued by those specific elements. They will place themselves in situations in an attempt to experience everything that seemed to be of overpowering interest to you. This is a part of their healing process; hence your ex boyfriend’s increased level of social media activity.

Because social media consumed a great deal of your time and acted as a distraction to the relationship, your ex is simply trying to figure out why Facebook was so special or even now, how Instagram could present the same or similar power. He may have also kept you as a Facebook friend to vindictively throw his “good times” in your face – in an effort to make you experience the same hurt or frustration he endured while the two of you were together. 

Either way, his behavior right now is very temporary, but certainly a normal reaction for someone who didn’t understand why their partner was so consumed by a specific activity.

While we often convince ourselves that we can’t stop checking our ex’s social media pages, we very much have control over breaking the habit. Sometimes, it becomes necessary that we consciously remind ourselves of the pain that beats against our stomach the moment we lay eyes on their new photos. Other times, it’s necessary that we unfriend or block that individual from our page in an effort to force ourselves to not look at a post or pic that will negatively affect the remainder of our day. A large part of letting go of someone we love is having the strength to cease all means of communication. Since social media plays such a huge role in modern day interactions, removing someone as a friend on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram often gives us the space and time necessary to truly heal and move on with our personal lives. Only you have the power to take that initial step forward.

Another Holiday Weekend Where My So Called Friends Didn’t Bother To Include Me In Their Group Plans

notinvited

As Labor Day Weekend is coming to a close, everyone has begun to upload their group photos from the local pool parties, different out of town excursions and final summer outings at the beach. Meanwhile, you are sitting behind your computer screen and suffering from feelings of rejection or dealing with other self-deprecating thoughts. As you’re seeing pics of fun times filtering through your social media timelines, it’s tough to not wonder, “Why was I not invited?” – Another holiday weekend passes by and all you’ve done is clean up, watch movies and order carry out for ONE.

It’s easy to begin questioning whether or not you’re to be considered socially awkward when you’ve spent three free days behind closed doors and no one in your life has bothered to call or text about making plans. Your friends who decided to stay in town never made mention about going out to eat or getting drinks at the downtown bar, and the guy you’re sort of dating never said anything about coming over to keep your company. As far as you were concerned, everyone was going to lay low, lounge around the house or maybe engage in family activities. However, seeing pictures of people you thought you were close to, hanging out with others you don’t even recognize has made you feel out of the loop. You aren’t necessarily angry or upset, as much as you have become frustrated by not being included in the group activities.

Often times, we see or hear about our friends spending time with their other associates and we make ourselves feel insecure about those relationships. We assume that we are being intentionally left out of “exclusive” outings. As a result, we force ourselves into this mode of questioning our friendship status with certain individuals. It rarely crosses our minds however, that no harm was meant by the parties involved that did not directly include us in their group plans. Circumstances simply created a moment where a circle of people came together for a social event and you were not in attendance. It may seem shady on the part of your good friend, but you have to keep a few situations in mind…

THE PLAN WAS SPONTANEOUS – Every outing isn’t scheduled or detailed ahead of time. Sometimes, plans fall through with one circle of people and your friend is invited to join their associates at the last minute. Since your friend isn’t close to the majority of the group they’re being asked to hangout with, it would be inappropriate for him or her to simply invite you to come along. Their intention may have been to stay in the house the entire weekend. However, your friend never said that they wouldn’t go out if an opportunity presented itself. Did you make any suggestions to your friend for you both to see a matinee movie together or to randomly grab a cocktail on some uptown rooftop? NO.

THE OUTING HAD AN UNSPOKEN OPEN INVITATION – Sometimes, our friends assume that if they are hosting a cookout, movie night or game party at their place, you automatically know that you’re invited. Since the two of you have known one another for so long, your friend doesn’t always deem it necessary to formally ask you to come over or stop by. If you understand the dynamics of your relationship with certain people, the ones you are closest to consider you family. Family is usually the first to arrive with helping hands and possibly a homemade dish as well.

YOU DON’T GET ALONG WITH A PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE – Your friend has decided to attend an event where the majority of the attendees will be a group of individuals you don’t like or enjoy mixing with. On numerous occasions, you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to be present in the company of certain people your friend hangs around. Keeping this in mind, your friend didn’t even bother to mention the plans because they knew based on past experiences that you’d be uncomfortable or annoyed. YOU SAID IT.

IT WAS ASSUMED THAT YOU ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE PLANS – Your friend sent out an Evite via email or created a Facebook Event. The digital invitation was sent to you along with everyone else days in advance. Somehow, between your busy schedule and other responsibilities, you had not been able to check your online inboxes. You can be bothered by the fact that you missed the party, but you can’t be angry at the host for not personally calling or texting to invite you. We are adults living in an age where most people plan casual get-togethers online.

YOU NEVER SHOW UP ANY OTHER TIME SO WHY SHOULD THIS EVENT BE ANY DIFFERENT? – We tend to exclude ourselves from group activities so often that our friends become too frustrated to even make mention of an upcoming party or get together. While your second job, romantic relationship or financial obligations don’t always allow you to hangout, the people around you become use to your absence. When the invitation list is being created, it’s assumed that you won’t be able to attend for one reason or another. The fact that you’ve missed the past three or four outings makes people think that you’re too busy or preoccupied to participate. Begin making yourself more available to socialize in public and your name may inch itself back to the top of the invitee list.

Most often, it is a harmless misunderstanding between friends that results in one person not being formally invited to attend an event, or another individual never hearing about a particular outing. However, we can’t rely upon our friends or other people to fill the voids in our lives. While being left out of group events or holiday weekend plans can be hurtful, our happiness or sense of comfort should never depend upon inclusion in social circles or other activities. It is the responsibility of the individual to engage themselves in solo tasks and hobbies that are just as entertaining behind closed doors, as hanging out with other people in public. Create situations for yourself where the absence of an invitation cannot create a hole in your attitude, mood or demeanor.

Xem VanAdams Releases A Personal Statement

TwitterProfile1

I love and embrace the fact that the large majority of my supporters truly respect my talents and look up to me as a “big brother”, boyfriend-in-your-head, loving friend or even a father figure. However, I’m just really starting to become ANNOYED that people hold me to a completely different standard than they do some of the others. Please understand that before I am ‘Xem VanAdams’; a public figure who enjoys writing and speaking about social issues or relationship topics, I am very much a human being. You may have been introduced to me through an online video or article post that focused on a serious, relatable matter. Then, you probably began digging for additional content from me that was created along the same lines. By natural order, you may have decided who I was in those moments and somehow placed me in this mental box of purity and other straight-laced confines. You assumed that because I speak a certain way or that I think along certain lines, I’m simply not allowed to be silly or sexual. You mentally painted me onto a canvas where my everyday personality and common interests aren’t given room to color outside of very black and white lines.

THAT’S COMPLETELY UNFAIR!

In my real, everyday life, I too enjoy looking at male celebrities or listening to TOP 40 music on the local radio stations. I too enjoy posting a shirtless pic every few weeks to show off the hard work and dedication that I’ve invested into building my body. I too am allowed to cruise MyVidster and make casual mention of it online if in that moment, I feel comfortable doing so. I AM NOT A MONK.

Every single pastor, professor and political figure you’ve ever come in contact with engages in the exact same activities as the individuals they serve. I have never presented myself publicly as being holier than thou. What many of you must remember about my platform is that I have been a present force for over six years now. When many of you discovered me circa 2008-2010, social media had not risen to the degree where it presently burns. As a result, I didn’t have to promote my content or myself across various platforms. I didn’t have to tweet at the high points throughout each day to stay connected to my audience. I wasn’t forced to update two different Facebook pages with links and status messages during peek hours in an effort to increase my web traffic. There was no Instagram in existence for me to post pictures regularly in order to maintain the attention of my readers & viewers in between the release of projects. All I had to do was release a video on Youtube once each week and post to my Blogspot or XemVanAdams.com. I wasn’t being pressured to meet quotas in order to receive a monthly paycheck from Google.

EVERYTHING I POST IS VERY STRATEGIC. EVERYTHING! Marketing 101 will teach you to grab your potential customer with an enticing visual and then slide the message or sale directly behind it. If you’ve paid close attention to the ways in which my social media pages are updated in association with the core content, you’ll notice a balance between surface imagery and quality sustenance. My platform does not rely heavily on celebrity gossip, reality show reviews, award show critiques and other mainstream topics of interest. As a result, to maintain my high reader and viewership, I must constantly attract new followers.

Joe and Shmoe may start following me on Twitter because someone retweeted a Twitpic I posted of Trey Songz taking a selfie in his underwear. However, immediately following that tweeted pic will be a link to my latest article posted on XemSays.com or my most recent video uploaded to Youtube.com/XemVanAdams. Joe and Shmoe are more than likely going to click the link and then be turned on to my real work. It’s very calculated ladies and gentlemen. On average, each of my articles is read 5,300-5,500 times over a 30-day period. That traffic would be cut in half if I did not use certain types of images to attract the common reader. I don’t have the luxury of posting a link once, sleeping the rest of the day away and waking up to full readership or viewership. Unlike some of the others, I have to actually dedicate 50% of my time to simply promoting my material. Part of that promotion is also sharing content that is associated with my target audience, but not necessarily a direct parallel to the stories, articles and videos I create for that particular group. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? – No, I’m not going to record a video discussing Kim Kardashian. However, I will post a new picture on my basic, social media pages of North West posed in the fall 2014 Chanel ad. A random, Facebook friend named David Collins may see the picture in his timeline as he is scrolling one evening. Having only followed me because he liked my avi three months ago, David Collins may have NEVER read a Xem VanAdams article or even so much as watched a Xem VanAdams video. NOW, because David is home from work and has a little time on his hands, the chances are greater that he will go from ‘liking’ the pic of North West to now scrolling my entire wall. Once David begins perusing my Facebook wall, he sees a photo of a guy he finds attractive. That photo is attached to a link that connects to my article of the day. David reads the article and not only loves my writing style but also relates to the situation Ive described or the advice Ive given another reader. David Collins begins visiting my website daily and then discovers my youtube channel in the top header.

The reason why 15,000 people will watch me sit in front of a camera for 15-30 minutes and discuss a real, everyday issue is because I’ve shared many facets of who I am over a course of time. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some thirty-something intellectual who walks around each day preaching about sexuality, giving love advice or being serious from sunup to sundown. I pride myself on being vulnerable, honest, approachable and HUMAN. A large part of me being HUMAN is also sharing my appreciation for the male form, new music, paparazzi pictures, selfies and other social media ingredients that are mixed to create a substantial following.

Sometimes, in order to attract the attention of common individuals, you have to reel them in with conventional images, popular hash tags & headings, or mainstream interests.

As you obviously exist as a part of my core audience, please allow me to express myself in a personal and professional manner that has proven to be effective. As I eventually move beyond my sole, online platform, there will be additional sides of my character revealed as well. I’m not apologizing for any of it. At the beginning and end of each day, I feel very PROUD of what I have managed to accomplish in such a short period of time. I cannot and will not pretend to be a boy scout simply to appease those who mentally created that image of me a long time ago. I was never that person, even when I recorded “Young, Black & Gay In America” in August of 2008. Smart guys are allowed to be sexual. Pop culture junkies are allowed to discuss politics. And I must be allowed to continue sharing myself freely – until the powers that be are paying me to brand my media content separately from connecting to my audience, personally.

Men & Their Obsession With Shoes: It’s Not Only A Female Fetish

endofsummer

The shoes you wear on a daily basis can send silent, visual cues to the rest of the world about who you are. Upon initially meeting someone new, one of the first things they will do is glance into your eyes or capture a mental picture of your smile. Then, without conscious thought, that individual will look down at your feet to see what type of shoes you are wearing. In that moment, a man’s entire surface character can be defined.

WHO IS THIS GUY & WHAT DO HIS SHOES REVEAL ABOUT HIS AURA, PERSONALITY & STYLE?

While it’s universally known that many women are possessed by an uncontrollable urge to shop for new boots, sandals and heels, the modern man also suffers from this contemporary, shoe obsession. Now, more than ever, men are aware that what they wear on their feet will be noticed by women and other men the moment they walk into a room. As a result, guys everywhere are choosing shoes that can be worn on different occasions to compliment their mixed styles at work, on a date, while with friends on a Friday night or praising the lord at church on a Sunday morning. Not only are men purchasing shoes specifically to attend different events throughout each season, they are also selecting multiple colors of different styles to wear with each of their ensembles.

Men who grew up in conventional households usually experienced a childhood where their parent(s) purchased new shoes once each year – two weeks before the first day of school. Those shoes were usually a gleaming, white pair of low top sneakers with clean laces and a sturdy, outer sole. As young children, we were told to take our sneakers off upon arriving home in the afternoons, as to not dirty -up our “school shoes”. Still, during recess, we’d play kickball on the playground in our sneakers, not giving a second thought to all of the scrapes being carved into the leather, toe-cap. While sitting bored at our desks waiting for the other children to complete their classwork assignments, we’d rest the back of our feet on top of our sneaker heel tabs. Before the end of September, our new shoes looked completely worn out …but we didn’t care. Shoes merely served the purpose of covering our feet and keeping our socks dry during inclement weather.

As we grew older and matured into our pre-teen and early teenage years, we began to pay closer attention to the shoes we wore on our feet. We would get a new pair of sneakers two weeks before the first day of school and then a new pair of boots for Christmas. Four months later, we’d request a third pair of shoes for Easter to then last throughout the spring and summer seasons. The teenage boys who were a little less fortunate, whose families couldn’t afford multiple shoe purchases, still took great care of the one pair they owned. Using tooth brushes, old rags and Comet cleaner, or that special foam spray from ‘Foot Locker’, that one pair was kept in immaculate condition. Our shoes became a staple of not only our sense of fashion and expression of style, but also a representation of the man we were becoming.

As adults, men have begun to invest just as much money and time into purchasing footwear as the women and other ‘fashionistas’ who exist in their lives.

guysandshoes

While the rest of the world is asleep at night, there’s a group of men feeding their shoe fetishes by placing new orders online via trendy, web shops like, CreativeBoysClub dot com, and searching the latest footwear releases on the HIGHSNOBIETY website. The shoe-obsessed, modern man isn’t walking into chain, retailers and standing in line with everyday shoppers to purchase the new, luxury flats. These guys have an unapologetic affinity for high-end, designer sneakers that aren’t readily sold at the local, athletic shoe stores. These are your premiere, sneaker obsessed men who go ga-ga over a one-of-a-kind design. Their fetishes include every brand from the Dior Homme high-tops, to the Balenciaga tone-on-tone sneakers, and the entire Giuseppe Zanotti 2014 collection. These guys place themselves on various mailing lists and online shopper newsletter threads. This private practice secures their leading position as one of the first to own this fall’s, Diet Butcher Slim Skin High-Tops – to be purchased in red patent, black, blue, olive green, cadet gray and white…of course.

Then, you have your guys who care about their kicks, but aren’t necessarily aroused by the luxury brands. The classic, Timberland boot, otherwise known in urban neighborhoods as butters, have become a symbol of power and aggressiveness. This particular brand has been made famous by male rap stars and athletes that exude dominant personality traits amongst their peers. As a result, the classic, Timberland boots have become a staple of hyper masculinity and surface confidence. Guys who tend to be a little rough around the edges will purchase multiple pairs of this rugged style of boot, as to always be wearing “fresh butters”.

In contrast, the guy-next-door who also likes to follow footwear trends will always purchase the latest release of high top Jordan’s, Jeremy Scott’s newest Adidas, anything on the Zumiez shelves from the SUPRA brand, or one of Nike’s recent line of sneakers. During his casual outings to summer concerts, cookouts, the local bars or even just to do a day at the mall, your guy-next-door craves to remain in the forefront of foot fashion. This particular guy who owns multiple pairs of the famous, Jordan sneaker or has a closet filled with black & white Adidas shoe boxes, is sending the visual cue that he values style, doesn’t mind investing money into his wardrobe and enjoys fitting into the fashionable crowd.

However, the cultural, Renaissance man who is about his business doesn’t care as much about fitting into the crowd as he is concerned with leading it. He compliments his knit sweaters, tailored suits or blazer and dress pant combos with a smart, cowhide, leather shoe. This man-in-charge selects a hard bottom as his footwear of choice. His obsession is with pointed toe, sleek oxfords. He owns wingtips in the conventional black, but also mixes in shades of light brown oxfords for business lunches, walnut colored Steve Madden boots on casual Friday and maybe a dark chocolate, suede desert shoe to wear with jeans or casual slacks on the weekends. Since he abandoned the minimalist square toe shoe ions ago, his new fetish has set a standard amongst his peers and other business partners.

Meanwhile, the laid back, artistic types or rather reserved, male students aren’t able to save a lot of money to strictly purchase new shoes. However, they have managed to save every flip-flop and casual sneaker they’ve owned in their adult lives. The male, artist type and struggling student are mostly obsessed with comfort. His closet is filled with Vans and Converse to match every color splashed across his canvas of creations. When he does have extra dollars to his name, the artist or student will fixate on the light, skinny sneaker that is sitting on the shelf or thrown in the sale bin at Urban Outfitters. If he has to dress up for a presentation or special affair, there’s an entire row of Sebago loafers and classic docksides lined on the bottom deck of his closet. Though his look may appear to be thrown together as he jumps from classroom to classroom on campus, the shoes he puts on his feet always punctuate his intentional effort to walk in style.

The modern man has easily moved away from owning only one pair of shoes, to now filling his closet with various styles and multiple brands. HOW MANY PAIRS OF SHOES DOES ONE MAN NEED? The answer to that question depends upon how obsessed he is with owning enough footwear to accommodate the many demands of his lifestyle.

7 Reasons Why Your Co-Workers Cant Stand You

towork

Many people spend forty hours each week strapped to a swivel office chair that is positioned comfortably behind a cubicle or a cherry wooden desk of some kind. Between taking calls, inputting computer data, running reports or managing a staff that completes all of these tedious tasks, your job has become an intricate part of your life. You either love what you are paid to do from nine to five everyday or you’ve grown to loathe everything associated with your title, position and responsibilities. However, you’ve become very comfortable or complacent in the routine of each day. You don’t have to consciously think about what needs to be completed first thing in the morning. Your boss no longer has to remind you about turning in certain files after lunch, or remembering to shut down your computer and lock your phone at the end of the day. When you are in the office, you pretty much do whatever you want because you’ve been employed with the same company for years. No one of authority addresses your attitude, mood or demeanor and that’s precisely why most of your co-workers can’t stand you.

For quite some time now, you’ve been allowed to get away with being less than professional. Everyone who works around you has become increasingly bothered by your behavior. The things you say out of your mouth and everything you do during office hours has become so normal to the higher ups that they basically allow your actions to slide. As a result, you’ve become the topic of lunch hour conversations for seven of your most annoying, in office habits….

7. PROLONGING GROUP MEETINGS – You are the only individual who sits in the back of the team room and actually responds to the boss when he asks if anyone can share a story or give an example of a situation that supports a statement he has made. You see meetings as the perfect opportunity to ramble on and on about how things use to be when you were hired before all of the new people came on board. Very little of what you have to say in meetings is concise or even relevant to the topics that are being presented. Your entire point and purpose in raising your hand is to verbally remind everyone that you have some level of seniority or advanced experience.

6. YOUR OFFICE PARTY CONTRIBUTIONS ARE ALWAYS BASIC – As much as you love to brag about your seniority on the job, you never like to bring real food or necessary items to the holiday parties or other company events. While everyone else makes homemade pasta, grilled chicken, baked cookies or a special seven-spice punch, you’ll bring straws – a pack of 20 for a staff of 53. Even when it’s your turn once a quarter to contribute to the Friday staff breakfast, you’ll simply stop at Dunkin Donuts to purchase one, twenty-five count box of munchkins. You’re the first person in the office to pile your plate with everyone else’s homemade dishes. However, when it comes to contributing food items that most of the other staff would eat and enjoy, you choose to bring the flimsy, white, dentist office cups.

5. YOUR GOSSIP HAS CREATED A LOT OF OFFICE TENSION – Since you’ve been working for the same company for so long, you seem to know the personal and professional business that’s associated with the admin, supervisors, newcomers, janitors and support staff. Although you don’t maliciously cause drama by sharing people’s business with others in the office, you certainly don’t stop yourself from gossiping either. Since you spend more time walking by everyone’s cubicles than you spend sitting at your own, you tend to catch the tail end of personal conversations. Anything you hear, whether it is accurate or only the partial story, you take the information and tell it to anyone willing to listen. If you see Tony tap the vending machine with his fist to help Janet retrieve her soda that was stuck, you’ll begin telling others that they’re dating. Your mouth and half-truths are always found at the center of controversy that ignites between your co-workers. When people approach you to ask why you said certain things about them, your first and immediate response is always, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where did you hear that?”

4. YOU DON’T RESPECT THE OFFICE CLOCK OR OTHER COMPANY POLICIES – As far as you’re concerned, everyday is casual Friday and your ‘lunch hour’ is merely a title that has little to do with a set, 60 minute time period. Despite the fact that you work in a fairly business-casual environment, the outfits you decide to wear to work are always inappropriate. You will come into the office on Monday wearing thong flip-flops and a wrinkled, graphic tee. Sometimes, your explicit body art and other piercings are blatantly on display. You have violated the dress code so often that for you to actually be dressed appropriately for an office environment would appear abnormal to the other staff. Meanwhile, though a five-minute grace period is in effect to give employees time to return from their hour lunch break and settle down, you return to your desk at your own leisure. Often times, without notice to anyone on the administrative staff, you’ll leave for lunch fifteen minutes early and return thirty to forty-five minutes late. Not only do you return from lunch way beyond your scheduled period, you’ll also then sit at your desk and carry on the cell phone conversation that contributed to your lateness. You’re loud, laughing and talking to the top of your lungs. Never mind the fact that cell phone usage is only permitted outside, in the break room or in case of an emergency – your desk is used as a phone booth. Your co-workers know the intimate details that surround the lives of your family and close friends because they’re exposed to your “personal” conversations on a regular basis.

3. YOU THINK YOUR POSITION IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT IT REALLY IS – Sweetie, though you’ve been employed with the same company for three years, you have never been promoted beyond your entry level position. You hold the same title as all of your co-workers who were newly hired or brought on board permanently after completing a temp assignment. However, you make it your business to send out mass emails and other memos that detail what others in your same position need to have completed and processed by certain deadline dates. You’ve taken on this self imposed leadership position over individuals who have completed higher levels of education than you’ve achieved. These same co-workers have also garnered just as much experience working at other companies. You wear your job title on your sleeve, but you aren’t willing to actually do the work that is attached to your position.

2. YOU’VE TAKEN CREDIT FOR TASKS YOU DID NOT COMPLETE – Often times, it’s other staff members who have had to show you how to use the new programs, software and other equipment. You’ve grown so comfortable with the tools and resources that were used years ago, that you’ve never adapted to the system updates. As a result, you’ve been unable to effectively contribute to the projects that have been assigned by the higher ups. However, you’re the first person to volunteer to turn in the completed projects, as to receive credit for the organization and presentation of each assignment.

1. YOU IGNORE ALL HAPPY HOUR INVITATIONS & OTHER OUT OF OFFICE ACTIVITIES – You love being the center of attention inside of the office, but you’ve made it perfectly clear that you don’t want anything to do with your co-workers or boss after work hours. When everyone is going out for cocktails and wings on a Friday evening to celebrate someone’s promotion or new job offer, you’re the first to say, “oh…I have a doctors appointment”, or “wait…I have to pick up my son from daycare”. Everyone knows that you’re lying to simply get out of attending the out of office functions, especially since you don’t have children. Even during times when everyone has donated a dollar or two to purchase a wedding gift or flowers for a co-worker who lost a family member, you opt out of contributing anything. You don’t enjoy socializing with your co-workers outside of the office, but you will certainly make their lives a living hell while on the job.

As you pack your bags at the end of each day and unplug the portable heater that’s not allowed and hidden beneath your desk, you don’t even realize that you’ve alienated everyone sitting around you. You’ve become so set in your poor professional ways that much of what you do and don’t do in the office is acceptable as far as you’re concerned. The vice president of the company thinks the world of you and his supporting staff simply follows his lead. As a result, you’ll never be reprimanded for your bad office habits and that’s the only reason your co-workers need to hate your incompetent guts.

The Complex Kiss That Changed Everything Between Music Producer, Tariq Muhammad & Rapper, Kaldrick King

KT2

In early 2012, I began watching a new, CW series called, “The L.A. Complex”. The one-hour drama focused on the lives of a group of young adults who were all chasing their artistic dreams in Los Angeles, California. I was initially drawn to the showcase because of the central theme of twenty-something’s all residing in the same apartment complex; each aspiring to become the next big actor, actress, writer or music star. I could relate to the synopsis directly, as many of you know that I relocated to California six years ago in an effort to change the direction of my life as well. As I watched the first full season of “The L.A. Complex”, I never fell in love with the entire cast of characters. However, I was very drawn to the storyline that surrounded the personal and professional life of Benjamin Watson’s character, TARIQ MUHAMMAD.

KT7

Tariq works as an intern for a major music producer. With aspirations to create his own beats and establish himself as a heavyweight amongst the music industry, Tariq hustles his days away doing any and everything inside of a Hollywood, recording studio. While completing one of his assigned tasks to forward a series of beats to the team of famous rapper, Drake, Tariq intentionally sends one of his own creations along with the specified samples. Drake’s management team falls in love with Tariq’s work, which then prompts Tariq’s boss to request that the up-and-coming producer contribute to KALDRICK KING‘S forthcoming album. When Kal and Tariq meet for the first time, a flame is ignited that erupts into a bonfire of emotions. The series follows the complexities of their loving and tumultuous relationship.

KT4

Despite the fact that Andra Fuller’s character, KALDRICK KING is a famous rapper who doesn’t publicly acknowledge his same-sex attractions, his character isn’t treated to the typical, “down low” storyline. The internal struggles that Kal endures to balance the external challenges of his career and public persona are so poetically delivered on screen. The personal and professional dynamic that exists between he and Tariq plays against the sensationalized & over sexualized interests that often umbrella same sex couples.

It was also very refreshing for me to watch Tariq’s character especially, as he totally represents the ‘middle men’ in the black, gay community that are hardly ever portrayed in mainstream television or film. Tariq’s character is given three-dimensional development. The ‘L.A. Complex” audience is given an opportunity to peek behind Tariq’s artistic passions, professional endeavors, everyday friendships and romantic relationship with another black male.

KT3

I have never shared the below posted video footage previously because I assumed that the large majority of my audience had already been exposed to this on-screen relationship. However, as I was reading a message last night in response to my ‘Derek J Effeminate Gay Black Men In Mainstream Media’ post, I realized that many of my readers and viewers might not be familiar with this very intriguing storyline. I encourage you to spend some time today or this evening, just really watching the relationship that forms between Kal and Tariq. You will smile during some of their scenes together and you will certainly cringe while watching others. The acting is very fluid, the outpour of emotions is realistic and the structure of their relationship is quite infectious from afar.

Jarod Joseph

I also think you will be very impressed by the way the series portrays the openly gay, black, male attorney, CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR. Played by Jarod Joseph, the attorney is very outspoken, confident, proud of who he is and desiring a monogamous relationship. For the first time ever, I saw certain elements of myself in this fictitious, television character.

KT1

Naturally, as with any scripted series that focuses on the lives of gay men of color, the show was canceled after only airing for two seasons. However, during the nineteen episodes, I think the writers did a great job of answering viewer questions and wrapping up solid plot points. Very little is left on the shelf about what happens between Kal & Tariq or how they face their personal challenges outside of their romantic relationship.

EPISODE 1

EPISODE 2

EPISODE 3

EPISODE 4

EPISODE 5

EPISODE 6

Home

(SEASON 2)

EPISODE 7

EPISODE 8

EPISODE 9

EPISODE 10

EPISODE 11

EPISODE 12

EPISODE 13

EPISODE 14

EPISODE 15

EPISODE 16

EPISODE 17

EPISODE 18 & EPISODE 19

KT8

BENJAMIN WATSON Discusses His Character of TARIQ MUHAMMAD

andra fuller2

ANDRA FULLER Discusses His Character of KALDRICK KING

KT9

JAROD JOSEPH Discusses His Character of CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR

Please feel free, as always, to contact me via TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or EMAIL – XemVanAdams@gmail.com to share your thoughts about the characters specifically and/or the relationship that exists between them.

Xem VanAdams Responds To Derek J’s Facebook Post About The Dominant, Effeminate Image Of Gay Black Men In Mainstream Media

TrentBreeter

This morning, I woke up to the Facebook post that has been embedded above. Written by an obviously frustrated, gay, black male, I certainly understand his point of view. While I do not agree with all of his piercing statements, I certainly empathize with his feelings regarding the image of gay, black men in mainstream media. Derek J, Atlanta based hairstylist and on-air, BRAVO personality, shared the online post via his Facebook wall. I read Derek J’s thoughts in response to the original writer, and have publicly replied to both. I am sharing my feelings with you below. If you have followed or supported my platform over the past six years, you’re already very familiar with my thoughts and ideas regarding this particular issue…

DEREK J’S POST: So this post by Trent Britian Jéter was brought to my attention. The points that are brought up in his post are valid and very well understood, but it always amazes me when people pick and choose what they want to support and stand for. You don’t want to support a feminine man in media because you feel like we are not a good representation of the black gay community. But on the other had you would support a black woman that has rape the gay culture for their lingo, fashion sense, and beauty creating skills. Or better yet you would support the rapper that don’t even see the lifestyle at all in a positive way for the black community. I can on speak for myself, before I was on tv I was and still a black gay business man who owns a successful salon, that also mentors gay youth and give back to the community. I am also a gay black man that’s not trying to be a woman, who is comfortable in his skin and don’t mind being who I am. So with that said I challenge all the “masculine” men that have a problem with the representation of black gay men on television to stand up and do something about it. Ooooooo I forgot you didn’t want anyone to know you were gay.

XEM SAYS: I partially AGREE with the writer, Trent Britain Jeter. The mainstream media carefully and very specifically features gay men of color on nationally televised platforms who wear high heels, carry handbags, adorn makeup, work as cosmetologists and hail Beyonce as their holy grail. While the effeminate male is a very necessary and immediate figure amongst the black, gay community, he is always only painted as a one dimensional caricature. The viewing audience is NEVER given any real insight into his romantic life, relationships with biological family or his lifestyle outside of doing hair, makeup or styling for the lead, female characters. THAT IS MY PROBLEM. The focus of his character is centered on his over-the-top, outlandish antics, and never geared towards the struggles he has faced to feel safe in being so open or free. I love effeminate men, as I too possess feminine and masculine qualities. However, when placed on a television screen, gay men of color are ONLY EVER cast as the over-the-top, “clown-characters” – mostly one dimensional and realistically flawed. The writer wants a bit of what I’ve been fighting and pushing for over the past few years. WE should have the privilege of seeing ourselves in the light under which many of us live on a daily basis. I have been pushing forever to have gay men of color centered in media as three dimensional characters who have healthy relationships with both parents, professional jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with fashion, makeup or hair, working out at the gym, studying in a typical, college setting, enjoying happy hour and brunch with male friends or interacting with our female counterparts who don’t snap and label us “miss hunni” or “gwarl” upon greeting. I want to see the representation of myself and the others I’ve met over the past 13 years featured on screen; those who fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. I believe THAT is why so many individuals are creating these online reality and scripted, web series showcases. It’s because the black, gay community overall does not identify with the lineup of televised, minstrel acts that are shoved down our throats. When young boys growing up in small, rural communities are ONLY exposed to the individuals mentioned in the writers post, it gives them a very false sense of who they are & what it means to be a gay man of color in 2014. If their idea of homosexuality is solely based upon what’s televised under the powerful, media umbrella, they begin to question whether or not they really are gay. WHY? Simply because…as human beings, visual representation and imagery dictates a great deal of how we see ourselves and how we are viewed by others. If I were a 15 year old boy, questioning my sexuality, living in a small, remote area of Mississippi, I’d be a bit puzzled and confused if my acceptance of being gay meant that I was supposed to dress in women’s clothing and carry myself like one of E! Televisions, spoiled rich kids. White gay men are given a balance of images to identify themselves with. The white, male teen characters on the new 90210, Glee & various soap opera’s, combined with the images of white homosexuality on Showtime, HBO, ABC, NBC and CBS allows for white, gay men to be represented in a way that’s balanced, seasoned and three dimensional. We are emasculated on-screen, and I’ve watched it unfold since I began sharing my voice online 6 years ago. I’m tired and frustrated with having my ideas rejected, as I continue to fight for the change that our black, gay community is ready to see. It’s network executives and production companies who band together in an effort to maintain the one-sided, foofoo image of black, gay men that dominates mainstream media. It’s frustrating and completely unfair. I certainly don’t want to see a cast of gay characters that are all hyper masculine, but we do NEED scripted and non-scripted shows that portray the reality of who most of us are – the ones standing in the middle.

My Barber Is BAE – based on a recent conversation with an anonymous friend.

blackbarbershop

He and I have a longstanding, Saturday morning date. I arrive fifteen minutes to eight and park my car directly behind his copper-colored, Infiniti Q70 Hybrid. He owns the popular, mid-city barbershop – Perry’s Place. The modern, two-level building sits on the corner of Sedgewood and Middleton Parkway. It’s directly across the street from Gino’s infamous, pizza & sub shop. I’m always the first customer to arrive, as to secure my spot as Perry’s first cut of the day. He unlocks the glass door as he sees me coming, flipping the white, cardboard sign from CLOSE to OPEN. I greet him with a bass filled, ‘good morning’, and he replies, ‘wassup’. Between the heavy bites he takes from his sausage, egg and cheese, sour dough biscuit, Perry sips from a sixteen ounce bottle of water. He always offers me the half of his breakfast sandwich that is still wrapped. I routinely decline. We’ve never discussed the fact that I’m a vegetarian, but then again, there are a lot of details about my life that I don’t go out of my way to share at the barbershop.

Inhaling the aroma of wintergreen skin oils blended with musk-like pomades and lemon based Lysol, I take the empty seat in front of Perry’s barber chair. A crinkled, five by seven photograph of his daughter hangs above the row of dangling, gray and black clippers. Beside a collection of white, hand mirrors, Perry has a copy of his owner’s permit and license that are framed and on display. His center booth is always the cleanest and most organized amongst the other barbers who tend to stroll in around nine o’clock or nine thirty.

There’s a reclined manliness that shapes Perry’s Place. I never feel as if I have to go out of my way to butch up before coming to get my haircut. I wear my favorite, yellow flip-flops from Abercrombie & Fitch, paired with light denim shorts that are cuffed at the knee. Though I have friends and associates who put on their baggy, high top, colorless boy-drag before they go to the barbershop on Saturday mornings, I’m comfortable wearing the same clothing I run my errands in. Sometimes, tension mounts between the neighborhood boys and myself, as they walk in with no appointments, wearing sweats and other nonnegotiable, masculine attire. I know they see me in my foofoo accouterments of style and wonder where I get the guts to ingrain my expression of manliness into their urban dwelling. Visually digging for the pink cues and soft hues that would normally color a black man queer, these locals aren’t able to make sense of the easy back and forth that flows between Perry and I. Perry is the razor sharp alpha male; father, business owner and big brother figure to many of the patrons.

He scurries around the shop in his black, Adidas flip-flops. Carrying a broom in one hand and his partially eaten sandwich in the other, I watch Perry slide between stations. The telephone has already begun to sound off. Perry dashes into the back of the shop to take the calls. He tosses me the television remote and asks if I can power on the flat screen that hangs above the wall mirror. I always turn to CNN in an effort to create a moment where Perry and I aren’t forced to negotiate conversations that either focus on my love life or his affection for sports. He is more intriguing to me when openly expressing his views about Obama’s most recent executive orders, than he is when he discusses the pre-season, football lineup.

Perry heated the white towels by the deep, basin sink. He raised his voice over the CNN correspondent to tell me how crazy he thinks people are for even talking about impeaching President Obama. I responded, telling Perry that Obama will forever be chastised for basically being a civil rights politician. At that moment, one of the young, neighborhood guys sitting two seats down from me jumped up and shoved his iphone in Perry’s face. He’s one of many who respects Perry’s hustle. “This the bitch I smashed two weeks ago…the one I was telling you about!”, the boy shouted. Perry laughed out loud, covering his mouth with a bald up fist. He then joked in response, “if she has an older sister, you need to find out and give me her name on Instagram”.

Perry is a typical guy on the surface, but then again, he isn’t. His only tattoo is of praying hands, inked onto his upper, right arm. The tiny, black diamond studs he wears in each ear compliment his basic, tee shirt and basketball shorts style. We’re just about the same height, maybe five-eleven. He’s six feet tall at the most. His face is clean-shaven and butternut smooth. Aside from the thin, dark brown hairs that coil beneath his chin and strap across his top lip, his facial hair is barely there. Perry is an attractive man, but seemingly unaware of his physical appeal.

In the eight months that he has cut my hair, I’ve seen a side of Perry’s character that makes me believe it’s possible for gay men to form healthy relationships with our straight, male allies. He and I share similar political views, and are able to discuss our thoughts and ideas every Saturday morning. Perry and I never discuss women or sex, but more so because he doesn’t bring up those topics with me. He may sense that my sexual interest in women crossed the finish line over ten years ago. I just appreciate the fact that Perry does not make me feel like I have to be silent in order to blend in with his other customers.

Despite my attractions towards Perry, when I take a seat in his chair, and he wraps his black, barber cloth around my neck, our interaction is social and professional. (B)efore (A)ll (E)lse, we are two men who have established a mutually respectful relationship. Sexuality does not hinder our ability to openly engage with one another in an environment known to strictly tolerate traditional forms of masculinity. When Perry is done cutting and lining my hair, I pay him twenty-two dollars and I tip him five. I leave his barbershop as a customer who has been provided the type of safe space service that makes me want to uphold my longstanding, Saturday morning date.

I’m A Single Mother Of Two, Desperately Trying To Motivate My Youngest Son To Get Serious About The Upcoming School Year

SingleMotherUse

I just started following you on Twitter two weeks ago. I saw a few of your posts retweeted in my timeline about praying, but also taking action in your own life to assist with the prayers. It was very interesting to me because my pastor has been preaching the same message lately. You said something along the lines about movement or change comes into people’s lives only when they begin doing the things that we ask God to do for us. And I truly believe in what you’re saying. You said if we do our part using the resources that he has given us then he will do his part and open doors that no man can close. That was the exact sermon in my church this past Sunday. I have been praying and asking God to help me with my youngest son and asking him to give me the proper tools to deal with him as of lately. I have two children. My oldest son is 18 years old and my youngest just turned 14 in May. I’m a young mother of 36 and raising both of my boys pretty much on my own. My oldest son’s father has been in his life since birth as far as spending time with him but I still take care of everything financially. He just graduated from high school and will be attending Mid Michigan Community College in Harrison this fall. He has always been a good student in school, active in our church youth group, works part-time at the Lakeside Mall and has never given me any problems growing up. My youngest son seems to be the total opposite of his older brother and I don’t understand it. This will be his first year in high school and I am trying my best to get him academically prepared. Although his 8th grade state test scores rank in the top percentile, his grades from middle school weren’t high enough to get him accepted into the school he is going to, the same high school my oldest son just graduated from. It’s a college prep type of high school. I had to pull strings with the principal in order to get my youngest enrolled because he plays around a lot. Just too much to really concentrate on his work. I let him go out for the JV football team this summer only because I know that it looks good in the community that my son does have extra curricular activities under his belt like my oldest did. However, I told him that if he starts bringing home grades lower than 80-85 then I will snatch him from the team during the season. I mean that. I have had to constantly remind my youngest son to complete his homework all throughout middle school. Now I am having to keep on him about reading the two summer books that the high school requires for all incoming freshman. He is suppose to be keeping a journal for each chapter he reads but he only writes 3 or 4 sentences that are just general statements instead of the 3-4 full paragraphs that are required. I ask him all of the time why he can’t be more like his older brother instead of me always having to run behind him to make sure he’s doing schoolwork and other tasks. I have tried my hardest to get him to spend more time with my oldest son at the church or even just sitting down to talk to him and he just wont do it. If he fails his English or Math class after this freshman year, the principal will automatically send him to one of the neighborhood schools and I can not have that. Everyone at the church knows our family very well and I was raised in our church. I don’t want my children looked at as being failures or drop outs like some of the others. Years ago the women in the church gave my mother a hard time when I got pregnant at 18 and we were determined to prove to the congregation that I would still graduate from college and make a healthy and successful life for my boys. I want only the best for both of my sons but am having a challenging time trying to get my youngest to understand the importance of his education. Since on Twitter you talked about actually taking action after praying what do you think I can physically do to help my youngest son actually achieve in school this year? They go back in two weeks. Any advice you could offer would be appreciated. I love your website by the way.

 

XEM SAYS…

 

Thank you so very much for supporting my platform by following me on Twitter, reading my articles and now trusting me to offer you advice on issues pertaining to your youngest child. As I was reading your email, the one line that stood out to me most is when you shared the fact that you ask your youngest son why he can’t be more like his older brother. With that statement, you are verbalizing to your youngest son that he isn’t behaviorally, academically or socially as good as his older brother. One of the reasons why your youngest son rebels against spending time with his older brother in church or otherwise is because you have unconsciously created an environment where now your youngest son feels that he is in competition with his sibling. You have somewhat created silent labels of GOOD SON VS. BAD SON. Your youngest child has obviously taken the cue that he is the ‘BAD SON’ and therefore, he acts out accordingly. He is playing the role that he thinks is expected of him. Sometimes, parents assume that hailing one of their children as the ‘golden child’ will encourage the other siblings to model their behavior after that particular brother or sister. However, in many circumstances, the siblings who are being compared to the ‘golden child’ will intentionally act opposite of how the ‘golden child’ behaves. It’s their way of maintaining a forced identity within the household.

Instead of saying, “why can’t you be more like your older brother”, I advise that you begin saying to your youngest son, “try YOUR best to pay attention in class and complete all of your assignments. YOU are intelligent and bright.” Remove the focus from simply ‘getting good grades’. We often place emphasis on the end results as opposed to encouraging children to meet the standards at every stage of the education process. Every child should be made to feel like an individual within the structure of the household, school and community environments. Verbal comparisons between siblings create an unhealthy competition.

Additionally, your youngest son may be acting out because he resents you and his older brother. The absence of his father in his life may affect him in ways that he doesn’t verbalize to either of you. The fact that he has watched the father of your oldest son come around for years, probably makes him feel neglected. You didn’t mention whether or not the father of your youngest son is ever in the picture, but I am assuming he is not. Your youngest son may feel like the outcast whenever the father of your oldest son comes over to the house or when your oldest son leaves out to spend time with his dad. Your youngest has been forced in those moments to accept that his older brother has an established relationship with both of his parents. Once again, by comparison, his older brother appears to have the advantage. Do you have open discussions with your youngest son about his biological father and why he isn’t active in raising him? If not, at fourteen years old, your youngest son is ready to hear the truth.

Though I am very confident that you are an amazing mother, I do suggest that you possibly turn towards your pastor or even the JV football coach and ask one of them to begin mentoring your youngest son. Now that he is entering high school, it is crucial that your son begin receiving positive, male energy in his life on a regular basis. He should be receiving this sense of guidance outside of his male, peer group. Since he obviously doesn’t feel a natural attachment to his older brother right now, another adult, male figure that you trust should begin building a solid relationship with him. There are certain issues that your youngest son simply isn’t going to feel comfortable bringing to you now that he will be experiencing early manhood thoughts and feelings.

Also, you may be a little too concerned about public ‘appearances’. You mentioned the fact that you only support your youngest son playing JV football because of how children who participate in extra curricular activities are “looked upon” positively by others in the community. You then went on to say that if your youngest son had to attend the actual neighborhood high school that he was accepted into, members of the congregation would see him as being a failure. I could understand if you suggested you didn’t want your son to attend the local high school for safety reasons. However, it seems that you are encouraging your children to reach for a standard of success that is measured by outsiders. You cannot push your children to make decisions based on how they will be judged by a community of onlookers.

Now that you have pulled strings to have your youngest son placed into the college prep high school that your oldest just graduated from, he is going to face greater levels of academic difficulty than he experienced in middle school. Your son is obviously intelligent, as he performed exceptionally well on the standardized tests for eighth grade students. However, if your youngest son isn’t an independent student, as you suggest he isn’t, the pace of his classes are going to be challenging for him. It would have been wiser for you to allow your son to attend the school where his academic performance matched the structure and pace of the curriculum. If he started to feel out of place or more advanced than his classmates, he may have pushed HIMSELF to earn a transfer slot into the college prep high school for his sophomore year. By calling in favors to have your youngest son placed in a high school above his progress level, you also sent the message to him that he doesn’t have to work for certain opportunities because his mother can pull strings to arrange them. Keep that in mind before calling in favors next year to secure your youngest son a seasonal or part-time job.

Honestly, your youngest son will begin to display academic progress once he is able to sort out his internal struggles, as well as carve his own position at home and in his new school. Give your son room to step from behind the shadow of his older brother. Allow him to develop a positive relationship with his coach and classmates during this freshman school year. I encourage you and your oldest son to attend as many of the football games as possible. Your presence will make him feel that his individual accomplishments are being supported. Do not pull him from JV if he isn’t bringing home all grades above 80 during the first or second quarter. Beyond the physical training, team sports have the ability to build self-esteem, confidence and focus in the lives of many young boys. The confidence your youngest son feels on the field will translate into his determination to achieve academically. He is already a smart young man. People don’t always perform poorly in school because they’re lazy or unintelligent. It’s often that these individuals are dealing with internal stressors as well. Help him to cope by using language and love that is specific to his needs – not as your youngest son in comparison to his older brother, but as a fourteen year old boy who is still trying to find his way in the world.