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    Personal Note: So I Went Home To Cleveland This Weekend

    I use to wonder why I got beat up so much in elementary school. It's because my high-top fade was unmatched!

    Sometimes you just gotta go home to get some perspective of where you are.

    I seldom give people I personally know, a glimpse into my personal life. Not to mention you kind folks who only exist in an online capacity. Consider this post and that horrifying image above, a rare occurrence. I've been writing about games, movies and other odd interest for a while. Three years ago, I decided to bring my talents [or lack thereof] to this very blog you're reading. 

    As a result of my need to make some kind of connection to people, while keeping them at an appreciated distance -- opportunity struck. I've been fortunate to write for a handful of sites and make a little pizza money on the side because of it.

    Photography gigs popped up and more writing opportunities followed. I began to start believing in whatever manufactured hype, that only I see in this little corner of the internet. It took me going home to Cleveland to celebrate my mother's birthday to slap some sense into me.

    I was already heading in to this trip with an ominous black cloud hanging over my head. My fully functional car managed to get more problems thanks to a visit to my local mechanic, leading me to spend hundreds of dollars that I didn't have. Which lead to less gifts for mom and a son feeling -- inadequate.

    There is still something so powerfully male and dimwitted about a guy, almost thirty years of age, thinking he's proven himself in life and is fit to present an image as a provider. Luckily, last week's misfortunes lead to this week's, I'd like to call it, article of clarity.

    My rambling is getting ahead of the events of importance.

    So, I'm good and broke going into last week. Feeling nice and inadequate. But there needs to be an event that pulls this man-child out of his comfort zone. The fates, karma, several religious entities gathered at a round-table [I'm sure] and decided, "What could further emasculate a man who seems to to be taking for granted his recent small fortunes?"

    How about a break-in?

    Luckily my photography senses weren't too shaky to capture my shirtless neighbor, and the downstairs barbershop owner grilling the drunken thief in the cop car.

    The Robbery

    Nothing says, "clutch your pillow and call mommy," like a break-in at three o'clock in the morning mid-week. It was all very scary. Picture a six-foot-four, barely two hundred pound, black man armed with a smartphone and mildly-sweaty boxers. Pretty sure it was sweat.

    Absolute darkness. Hearing broken glass being trampled upon by several footsteps. My nervous ears were able to deduce the sounds coming from my kitchen.

    No. It's the back porch.

    No. It's the back porch, next door to my kitchen. Someone is breaking into my neighbor's place.

    "Why'd they skip me?" Even in events of absolute terror I'm both narcissistic and neurotic.

    I hear glass being broken downstairs at the local barbershop I stay above.

    "How many of them are there?" I say to myself.

    I open up my kitchen door to darkness. I could only make out the back of a blond head. I see dirty, untied work boots kicking in a door. I look to my left and see the window he and his companions entered. I look up and see a police cop helicopter shining it's LED rays into my 3 a.m.-weary eyes. I look to my left and he's looking at me.

    Fuming with alcohol. He's scared. Maybe he drank before he agreed to do this with friends? I hear my neighbor shout.

    "I've got a gun! You better get away!" He sounds faint. Why isn't his dog barking?

    Maybe I've been playing too many video games. Maybe the six kickboxing lessons, of which, resulted in me being the one being 'kick-boxed' in recent weeks, is responsible. But I stepped out on that back porch. He's in arms reach.

    He runs to my neighbor, who flashes his gun. But at his age he'd call it a 'pistol'.

    He runs at me. Three thousand thoughts enter my head:

    "What if my neighbor shoots me?"

    "What if I fall and hit my head like Hillary Swank did in Million Dollar Baby?"

    Paralyzed for life, because I wanted to feel like a tough guy? I could hear my mom crying from two hundred miles away.

    What happened was something out of pure fear and mild-ignorance. I put my hands up as he ran into me. His weight was less than mine. He was clearly trying to get out the window he came in. My hands clutched his lightly sweat-through t-shirt. I felt the shock of my knee hitting his chest.

    I let go. He fell. Puked.

    Not me, him.

    The cops explained to me that there is less glory in knocking down an assailant that could have easily gone down if someone merely tapped them. I, unenthusiastically, concur. Did they really have to say that though?

    Eventually more cops would arrive and the drunken thief's cohorts would high-tail it. They probably heard the sirens and three grown men shouting above them. But this one guy? He was caught. But plead drunk on account of him failing the breathalyzer test in grand fashion. Apparently he was 'just goofing off' and 'was going home' but got lost. Don't know a lot of summer time bar-goers who wear work boots, but who am I to judge one's fashion sense?

    So here we are. Feeling good and broke and emasculated. The last thing I want to do is write an Infamous 2 review or comment on how 'we won' a gaming-related court procedure. I managed to carry on through the work week and put on a face that wasn't one of fright of humanity or my personal fave, overly-isolating.

    There was a festival which I managed to go to the day before my mom's birthday [you can find some candids here]. I figured being around my friends would help. It did. Seeing how life carries on, unbeknownced to the minor events in my realm, certainly put things in check for how 'we all have our problems.'

    Here we can see my mom, no doubt, sharing more embarrassing pictures of yours truly.

    The Trip 

    Something happens when I'm in a car by myself. I sing. It's loud and awful. I rap. It's off pace and almost a hundred percent of it is undecipherable or vaguely coherent. We all need to have that place we go to don't we? It's momentarily freeing.

    Once I made it to Cleveland, I found myself going through my old neighborhoods. Seeing my old high school, still there in the same gang territory. 

    I went to Lake Erie and found my little hiding spot that me and my mom would go to, when I was younger. I still don't get what's calming about seeing a large body of water that could easily swallow me up, if I slipped on an algae-infested rock. Maybe it's the non-religious acceptance that, yes, there is something larger than you, and no, you don't stand a chance against it.

    My mom, my sister and my uncle rode to a great-aunt's house. We shared stories. We laughed. It was at that moment I took that photo at the top of this very lengthy post. I realized that I'm a son. Isn't that amazing? Well, I think it is. 

    In Columbus, I'm just some guy with a job making enough to keep the lights on. In Cleveland, I'm Janice's son. On the internet, I'm that guy who writes meandering articles. In real life, I'm Janice Taylor's boy.

    Why did it take me so long to accept this? What does it mean to accept this?

    In a personal conversation that I shared with my mom; I won't go into detail here. I asked her advice on future plans. I ate her barbecued ribs she made at the crack of dawn. She asked me advice. Astonishing. She values my opinion. She holds it in high regard. Now, I understand that this shouldn't be a surprise. We're family. Why wouldn't a mom ask and give advice to her son? Maybe you need to know more about my family? Maybe you need to understand that me and my mom take our privacy very seriously?

    But what you probably have already deduced from the millions of words I've posted on the internet. Not to mention the videos, I so voraciously expose you to, it's true -- I'm an idiot.

    There is no logical reason for me, as a 29 year-old male, to be taken seriously. I dance. I majored in art. I even thought it was a smart idea to step outside, in front of a thief and a gun. But there I was, sharing advice with the woman that I hope to be, just a fraction of, in life.

    There were times that were really hard for us. I have no idea how my mom made ends meet in my younger days, but somehow, it worked out.

    One of many great things that came out of this trip. My mom's friend is letting me see if this Minolta XE-7 is still any good. It's in pristine condition and I can't wait to put film in it. It's been years since I've used a film SLR.

    The Return 

    I know people who dread seeing their parents. Sometimes I dread seeing my mom. Not to the point of me avoiding her, just to the extent of me not wanting to hear: "you know you need to get a haircut, right?."

    On the way back home, I didn't think of how 'less of a man' I may be. I didn't think of how to become a better provider. Neanderthal thinking that's perpetuated by a man's world.  I thought about how to become a better son. A better friend. I thought about how to work on humility.

    And just then, at 70 miles per hour. I saw a little fawn in the dead of night, run out on the freeway, and struck by an SUV just a head of me, in the lane to my right. I had to do a quick maneuver, in order to avoid the spinning, road-rashed young deer. The SUV pulled off the road.

    I didn't even see the deer until it was milliseconds away from being hit. "That could have been me." I said to myself. "I could have done that." Even as I write this, I don't know if I was talking about the SUV or the poor young deer who blindly, through caution to the wind, before making that last decision.

    I want to thank my friends and family for helping me put these recent events in perspective. You are loved. You'll never know what has been going through my mind these past couple weeks -- months even. But all of this blather you've read? It's a huge thank you wrapped in bad grammar.

    This is the backyard I grew up in. I mowed this yard for years. Now my mom pays someone to mow it for her. Rightfully so, I wasn't that great at it.

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