Archive | July 2014

The Ivy League Truth

My friend at work showed me an interesting article the other day as a way of poking fun of my Ivy League background (something I’ve grown accustomed to). It was then posted by two other friends of mine on Facebook, both of whom provided impressively detailed and intellectual commentary on the article.

Here is the link if you want to read:

(As you can see, the title is pretty self-explanatory)

This post is NOT my take on this article – rather a thought that it provoked, one I’ve had since I was accepted into college.

Before I go on, there’s something you have to know about me. There are very few things that make me feel insecure. I find it somewhat easy to be self-deprecating (mostly for comedic purposes), but now after seeing that on paper, having that trait could easily be construed as an in security in and of itself. But, I will leave that to all of you to muse.

I can’t stand telling people where I went to school – to be incredibly candid. It’s one of my legitimate fears.

It started as a playful, post graduation “eh” when people asked me how I felt about it, but now I try to keep it a full blown secret until the very last moment when I’m forced to come clean (which, of course, makes me look like a bigger jerk than flaunting it from the get go).

Today, I say: yes, I went to Yale, and yes I feel indifferent about the whole situation.

“Dude, you must be so smart”

While at school, I met some of the most intelligent people I will likely ever meet, along with some of the most idiotic.

Buddy, we just met. Don’t you think it makes sense to observe a little before you make the lofty claim that I am wildly more intelligent than the people around me? Do you know what that does? It puts people under a microscope.

“…and this guy went to Yale?”

Always a great feeling hearing that phrase. I’ve never been one to sugarcoat my situation, though. Two things helped me get into an Ivy League school: I played a sport (baseball) and yes, you guessed it, I’m a minority.

What benefit does it do to “act” the part if every slip up in logic or knowledge brings on a waterfall of jokes and criticism? You learn to laugh at yourself. I’m horrific at doing quick math in my head. Every feeble attempt to split a dinner check is like getting a participation trophy.

“Hey, you tried.”

Needless to say I’ve mastered the, “I’ll cover it all and you guys can just pay me back” move. Rough on the wallet, but a great way to make true, life-long friends. On the upside, I’ve built up a ton of IOU’s…so I’ve got that going for me. My mom used to promise my brother and I IOU’s (yet to be paid), and no, your hard work getting us into good schools and helping us become the men we are doesn’t count.

My SAT and ACT scores would probably frustrate you.

I wish I could share with you the mental photographs of the faces people gave me when my college was announced in high school (they weren’t good faces). Part of me loved and thrived on the reactions, I had a chip on my shoulder. The other part of me thought, “wow, some of these people truly hate me because of one college decision.” They felt slighted.

Well, read the above article and find solace in the fact that not going to an Ivy League school is not the end of the world. Perhaps you’re even better off.

“If I went there, I would be tellin’ everybody!”

One of my friends from back home said this. Dreams of walking into a club in slow motion with a Yale polo on and having every girl interested in you are exactly that – dreams. Actually, pipe dreams. That might work for some, but certainly not all.

Who could forget that graduation party I went to where somehow going to Yale made me the whitest black guy in the room. That wasn’t even about intellect, but rather the social stigma attached to the Ivy League.

I would go to the YMCA to play basketball and my nickname was immediately Carlton. I didn’t care, I still competed, laughed, and had fun, it’s just who I was. And considering I haven’t changed much since playing basketball last winter, maybe it’s who I still am.

Now when I go to the Y, I like to roll out of the parking lot with my windows down and ratchet rap music playing. Stereotypical, absolutely. But it’s an interesting experience to have people in the gym read my Yale shirt and call me Carlton, then watch the judgmental looks of people watching me go with obnoxiously loud rap music. Maybe that’s just how my mind works.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the direct correlation between higher education and how it makes someone “white.” It’s like a refusal to change a stereotype by deciding that the only logical conclusion is to wholly buy into it.

The eerie truth

I disagree with a good amount of the above-mentioned article, but it also touches on the eerie truth.

I do not believe that the Ivy League is all it is cracked up to be.

In the working world, when everyone is forced to make a name for his or her self, no one cares where you went to school. They care about how hard you work and what type of person you are.

I work in the entertainment industry and have had my fair share of eyes raise when someone finds out where I went to school, but after a while it grows stale. Some Ivy Leaguers can hack it and others can’t. The reasons for dismissal are all-inclusive as well, some because they can’t deal with the demeaning nature of the job, and others, yes, are not smart enough and do not have the common sense to keep up with the pace of it all.

After my freshman year in college, I returned home to countless questions from my friends. One girl asked me what I wanted to major in. My immediate answer was “film studies”. I’ve never seen a face go from happy and smiling to concerned so quickly. “But, what are you gonna DO with that?”

Find a way

It’s not intellect alone that drives one to be successful (in whatever your personal definition of success is), it’s who you are as a person.

My dad has engrained in my mind that knowing how to treat people with respect and be liked is of paramount importance (I got that phrase from my current boss – love it). Anyone who is close to me has heard me say this before and I’ll say it again:

I would rather be considered an idiot who people like and respect for who I am, than be considered someone of divine intelligence who people hold to some highly exalted, unreachable standard.

This is not to say that I am not proud of my achievements. I am very proud of what I’ve done, but that pride comes from the person I feel like Yale made me. My college experience is far different than any other person I went to school with, not because I’m special, but because we have different goals and expectations for our lives.

The Ivy League was created by us and is condemned by us. It means nothing.

But it is really fun to think about.



The Pretty Ricky Of It All

As I write this post, I’m listening to George Strait’s It Just Comes Natural. You know, because he’s the king.

Of course that song has nothing to do with this post, I just thought you should know. Also, it will make this post that much more weird knowing that song is playing in the background.

So, Pretty Ricky.

I tweeted this the other day: “You could legitimately make a case that Pretty Ricky should take some blame for the rise in teenage pregnancy.”

Ignoring the wildly inappropriate nature of the tweet, I think we can elaborate on our taste in music when we were about 13 years old.

Given a conversation I had at brunch today, I feel like you should know the names of Pretty Ricky’s members:

Baby Blue, Spectacular, Pleasure P, and Slick’em

Not only are these names phenomenal, they’re perfectly fitting for the racy, raunchy music they created in the mid to late 2000s.

So, Grind With Me came on in my car the other day and got me thinking: “What the hell was I listening to in my early teens?”

You would think that the tail end of the chorus is enough with the emphatic “now come and sex me till your body gets weak.” But trust me it gets far worse. Here’s Grind With Me lyrics:

Go crazy and understand that this is tame for Pretty Ricky, their other songs are even more ridiculous.

I was 13.

How does one defend Pretty Ricky?

“I just listen to it for the beat.”

Although I’m a firm proponent of this, no, you don’t. Think about the number of songs you really love. Songs that you simply cannot skip when they come on your iPod. Now, of those songs, think of the ones you legitimately don’t know any of the lyrics to. The answer is probably none.

Even hipsters who claim, “these lyrics are so stupid, I like them ironically” can understand that EVERYONE loves to belt “POPPED A MOLLY I’M SWEATIN'” when All Gold Everything comes on. No matter how idiotic the lyrics are, we listen to them and they factor into whether or not we like a song.

When Grind With Me comes on, no part of the chorus goes unsung and we’ve been doing it since we were pre-teens. I would say that’s somewhat problematic but the jubilation I feel whenever I hear the song provides a strong deterrent to those sentiments.

“Kids don’t do everything songs tell them to”

They kinda do. Have you heard the phrase YOLO lately? Thanks for that one Drake.

As I get older, I am faced with having to look back at the foolishness that was my teenage years. I can’t help but think about that time I lost my favorite hat sticking my head out of a sunroof trying to be cool like rappers. Maybe you were completely put together and composed at 13, but I DEFINITELY wasn’t (and I’m still not). Kids are impressionable, and I guess after what I just said I have to add in that so are 22-year-olds.

I remember the first time a girl “attempted” to grind with me. It was hectic, stressful, “my mind was telling me no, but my body, my body was telling me yes” (that is R. Kelly’s Bump and Grind – he knew what was up).

The 7th grade dance was all going according to plan. I had already picked out the song I wanted to break dance to (I used to spin on my head at school dances – middle school was an odd time for me) and I had studied up on all the popular dances so I could bust ’em out at a moment’s notice. Apparently for the girl I was dancing “near” (key word – near), the time for innocent, honest and true face-to-face dancing was over. She was ready to kick it up a notch. She turned her back to me and ever so slightly arched her back and stuck her butt out towards me. As she inched closer and closer, I panicked. I knew what was happening and I wasn’t ready for it. I had seen it in the Turn Me On video by Kevin Lyttle but never in a million years did I think I would have to deal with it so soon. The immediacy of it petrified me.

Moments later I’m in the bathroom splashing water on my face – it was too real for me. Of course, I used an opportune “white people song” to escape. Side note: there were in fact white songs and black songs. I can’t make this up, the races would legitimately split up based on the song that was on. At the time I was afraid to admit that I liked some of the white songs, so I would walk out with the rest of my friends when they came on. Because being a follower is cool, right?

When I look back, all I can think about is how insanely disgusting it must have been to be a chaperone at these dances and watch kids from 12-14 humping each other in clothes like they saw on TV. I’m sure they had nothing better to do on a random Friday night.

“They’re not the only ones”

Let’s be honest, there really is no excuse for Pretty Ricky. There’s also no excuse for why unedited Pretty Ricky songs were played at my school dances but take that up with Fort Wayne Community Schools.

Obviously Pretty Ricky is not to blame for the rise in teenage pregnancy. Someone also told me they thought the number of teenage pregnancies had fallen, but who does actual research before they say something completely unfounded on Twitter am I right?

As untouchable as Usher is, do we really need to discuss the song “Nice and Slow” or “You Make Me Wanna.” Seriously, Usher made a song where he says “you make me wanna leave the one I’m with and start a new relationship, with you, this is what you do.” What? No, this is not what you do. Perhaps I need to make another post about Usher songs and divorce rates. (How’s that for founded research?)

Kids are impressionable but they’re not dumb. Pretty Ricky never made me want to go out and sleep with every single girl I saw. Again, I was 13. Also, some girls still had cooties and I wasn’t trying to get involved with that.

I’m also sure that Pretty Ricky didn’t plan on having countless pre-teens taking every last word to heart.

If anything, it’s a testament to just how powerful music can be. I still remember how the song made me feel and I associate it with part of growing up. It’s not until now that I truly realize how questionable the lyrics were. Lord knows what will come from what kids are listening to now. How will EDM shape the next generation of kids? (Besides making them all want to do copious amounts of drugs)

At the end of the day, you just have to sit back and laugh at how ridiculous it all was. I mean Juvenile made a song called “Back That Azz Up.” Yes, with two Z’s because he wanted to be considerate to our youth. I mean using to S’s there is just in bad taste.

In some ways we can control who we become and in other ways we can’t. However, I don’t think Pretty Ricky songs are high on the list of influential, formative aspects of life.

I only ask that you think of me every time you decide to throw in Bluestars or Late Night Special.


The Struggle

So, I joined Hinge last week, described by a friend as “the classy Tinder.” This week I’m slowly realizing that I joined much to my own chagrin, which, of course, should be read: “I have no matches.” Normally I would post a picture of myself here and say something like, “see, not a bad looking guy.” But, unfortunately, I just started this blog and have idea how to do anything yet. So, for the time being you’ll just have to trust me when I say that I’m not ugly.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1) Never take the advice of your peers who don’t understand the lives of normal-looking people. Throughout my life, I’ve had a knack for being best friends with the Adonises of the the world. Or would the plural be Adoni? Either way, the point is, I have good-looking friends who seem to think that their fantasy life can be applied universally to us “normies.” This is all knowledge that I wish I had been introspective enough to know before creating this profile, but instead, I went to one of my good-looking friends for advice. After countless hours of sending and receiving picture messages on my phone, we finally agreed on the ordering of my pictures (he didn’t completely support it). I decided to be honest on the sight and give my height. I’m a short guy, but have been told I do not carry myself as such. The jury is still out on whether that can be considered a positive. Nevertheless, “no matches” changes a man, and subsequently the ordering of his pictures. I’ve fumbled around with my pictures about 8 times, thought about taking my height down, but ultimately decided to submit to the whim of my good-looking friend who provided lots of reassuring “dude, trust me” pick-me-ups in the process. According to him the matches should start “flowing in,” but I remain skeptical.

2) Are there any black people on Hinge? I’ve seen ONE black girl so far. Don’t get me wrong, I find all races attractive and have dated multiple races, but I honestly don’t see an understandable reason for this. Someone came at me pretty aggressively the other day and said “well, it’s based on your friends of friends, maybe you just don’t know many black people.” As much as it pains me to do it, this elicits the same response as someone trying to prove they aren’t racist. Simply put, I have black friends. Whether you’re white or black, life isn’t some tally of the amount of black people we know. I feel like sometimes people make it out to be that someone either hangs with black people all the time or not at all. Surprise! There is in fact a middle ground. People exist who can fit into both circles, you know, because we are human beings who can make our own decisions on with whom we associate. All tangental rants aside, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of diversity in choice. Hinge says that over time they will start to recognize your preferences based on your favorites. Seems like everyone’s favorites are going to end up being California blonde girls (if you are in the LA location).

3) Where do we go from here? (if your mind naturally said “turn all the lights down now” after reading that, we are going to be great friends – for those who don’t know, that would be Feeling This by Blink-182) One thing I’ve learned from my one year in the real world is that finding “the right” relationships are tough. You go out to be social and find a girl you like at the bar or club. “Son, I remember when I first met your mom, she looked so brilliant in the neon laser lights. In our drunken haze we laid eyes on each other and the rest is history. I took her home, we hooked up, and three hook ups later we went on a date.” You try to find a girl at work but interoffice relationships are frowned upon. Everyone sits just one bad hook-up away from a tarnished reputation. Or, you swallow your pride and join the eHarmonies and Match.coms of the world. In all honestly, those are starting to seem like the best bet in a big city.

The point is, don’t get discouraged. If I don’t get a single match within the year on Hinge, I don’t care, there are other opportunities and chances out there to meet someone. Being a pessimist is easy, but being an optimist is hard. Understanding the reality and knowing how to avoid letting it deter you is a valuable skill that everyone can use. That’s not to say that putting it into practice is easy, because it’s not, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

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