Life As a Book: Chapter and Verse


Life As a Book: Chapter and Verse
M.D. Wright
3.25.2015

Life is one huge book. Well, for some. Sadly, for many, it is but a pamphlet. For others, it is just one long, unending, run-on sentence. For others, it is a sprawling, well-conceived and manifested epic novel. The beautiful thing about this life/book axiom is the fact that the great majority of us can dictate its contents. Even when life throws you a curve, you have the choice to decide how you deal with that curveball: bunt it, swing for the fences (miss or hit a sizzling double or home run), or just watch the curveball pass you by (along with precious months and years of life; which we can all agree in reflective tones, is SHORT). However, at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, life can often be described as a book, chapter and verse.

And in the spirit of reflection, most of us, if able to sit and contemplate, can carve out several explicit lines of demarcation: periods of perfunctory action, the halcyon days of youth when everything seemed utopian in restrospect, but wasn’t; zeniths of pleasures, triumphs, and “good times”, and the absolute  nadir of disappointment, depression, despair and dejection. It is what makes life worth living. It is what dictates that making memories is what makes reflecting upon life a pastime for some, and painful for others.

I challenge anyone who reads this to take some time out from whatever consumes you — sports, school, a 60-70 hour workweek, constant socializing, being consumed with ignorantly discussing “politics” despite not knowing what you think does not matter one way or the other and reflect on the distinct periods of their lives which can be codified into “book” form, with clearly defined chapters and segues. Not necessarily written, but ponder this. It can help restore an understanding of your individual purpose (if you have lost sight of it), and even help regain a passion for something which you once enjoyed doing in the days of yore, but life’s difficulties sidetracked you in the process.

Personally, I could neatly divide each chapter of my life to this point — as I embark on 36 years of age next week — into four to five year periods. Each of those periods contained apogees, nadirs, peaks, valleys, wilderness experiences which taught me life lessons which carry me to this day, and allow for me to dispense knowledge and wisdom to those who desire to obtain it, and so forth.

From the time I was born until I began college, my family literally moved every 3-4 years on average. My parents had high expectations for my sister and I to achieve academically, professionally and socially. As such, they made several leaps of faith and major sacrifices in order to put us in the best position to do so. The moves were always with an eye on reaching the point where we would be able to achieve and set us up for adult life. It worked. However, to delve even further, you can look at each of those periods before I began college (which then meant that I moved once again within a four-year period, as we had moved just before I began the 9th grade).

I was a bundle of energy, always smiling and a ham in front of the camera when I was little. But I was always studious. I have loved to read since I became capable of reading. It has never been a chore (until law school), and all of my grade school teachers were impressed and loved my desire to read. Not only that, the reading, and articulation of what was read, even to the point of explaining the nuances (obviously later in grade school), which hatched the desire to always be a teacher/coach/instructor/advisor of sorts; obviously one of my chief passions in life. This piece is just another instance of that desire and ability.

Once I hit kindergarten, I became sickly. I had chicken pox that year, and began developing harsh allergies to certain foods and respiratory irritants. I spent most of my 1st through 5th grade years dealing with these things.

From 6th to 8th grade, however, I hit a growth spurt and became athletically-inclined. From that point until I broke my back when I was 28 (“spinal, couldn’t ‘boxth’, play basketball, or even walk/run without significant pain, requiring surgery at age 29), I played sports year-round, either on a club team, city league or some church league when other demands precluded me from playing in other leagues. However, once I hit the 10th grade (1994-1995), I was stricken with a weird skin affliction. It lasted throughout the remainder of high school and into my first year of college. The problem was, it gave the appearance of poison ivy, yet none of the treatments for poison ivy served as remedies. This went on for nearly five years, but in the midst of those five years, a major cyst developed at the base of my skull, and I was bordering upon becoming gravely septic. The doctors were able to catch it in time, but it was not until after the fact was I informed that I had a severe case of Erythrodermic Psoriasis. After the doctors flushed my system and restored my skin’s integrity, I gradually got better, until any trace of the ailment mysteriously disappeared literally overnight in April of 1999.

High school was an utter waste, 1) because I couldn’t pinpoint five things that I learned which were worthwhile, in retrospect, 2) because I did not want to go to high school in the area that I did. I had planned to go to a specialized high school, which catered to my academic strengths in Manhattan or the Bronx, but that was squashed without any further discussion. Coupling that with the health issues, and not only was I angry and miserable, but I lost out on any chance of playing college football due to the illness and septic injury (which occurred just before I began the 12th grade in 1996).

From that point, some 18, 19 years later, you can almost perfectly write a chapter for each of the subsequent four-year periods.

From age 18-23, I flourished. I felt better than I had in years, once the ailment cleared up, I enjoyed the last few “REAL” summers in New York City (before 9/11/gentrification/paranoia, etc. basically, for all intents and purposes, destroyed the city as we previously knew it), bought and paid off two cars, was signing to buy my first house at age 20, before deciding at the 11th hour — just as I was about to sign for the mortgage — to not do so; as I felt deep down that I would be moving around a great deal both for professional and academic reasons. Along with an 800+ credit score, a decent (but boring) job which paid remarkably well for a college dropout (although the decision to leave school was not of my making in any way, shape or form), in the form of a nice base salary, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock options given to us annually, bonus wages, and the ability to make a good amount in “light lifting” overtime, which was the least stressful overtime anyone may ever work. I shopped when I wanted, copped new sneakers literally every week for about two or three years, every designer cologne, jewelry, ate wherever I wanted, made spontaneous road trips and went anywhere I wanted for the most part. It was a good period of freedom.

From age 24-28, the stakes were raised. I (foolishly) turned down a full scholarship at St. John’s University, because I had developed an anti-college mindset, while hustling both at work and on the side and making near-six figures without more than a high school diploma for the previous half decade. I bought my first sports car, which I had desired to do years before, but my father thought it was best for me to build up to my readiness to drive something with 400+ horsepower. Once I finished with modifications on my Nissan 350Z, it had just under 400. I had that car for four years, before deciding to let it go and focus on college full-time, since I had been back and forth between New York and North Carolina often and obviously did not need the car in New York City.

I transferred from Long Island University in Brooklyn to UNC Greensboro, which is where I had lived before, and completed undergrad during this period. Socially, things were fine, although, as mentioned before, at age 28, things changed drastically when I broke my back. That period from age 24-28 saw my great aunt (who I was extremely close to) and my paternal grandmother (who I was just as close to, and miss her one-liners/wise axioms, etc.) pass away, from having the most money that I had ever up until that point, and achieving as much freedom as I could have wanted, to, by age 28, having suffered a debilitating injury — the pain from which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — and rendered me a homebody for the following 10 months, before the pain became too great and no other remedy was available other than surgery.

However, once I had the surgery in September 2008 (at age 29), a new period began. The economic collapse made the prospect of returning to the workforce full-time upon graduation in May 2009 tenuous at best. Worse yet, as I would not find out until years later, a man with the same first name, middle initial, and last name, with the same birth year, had committed several felonies in the states of Georgia and Florida in the previous few years, which came up in lazy background checks conducted by employers. It baffled me, in one instance, how nepotism didn’t even get me a job that I was a shoe-in for; both because I knew the hiring manager, who was passing me through, and because it was the same job that I had done at my previous employer for seven years. Little did I know, this clown down south was the reason why.

Once I realized I was not going to have any prospects by hanging around after UNC Greensboro, I came back to New York and started the next chapter. For about five years, I moved a total of seven times, and had done some wild and crazy things with the fairer gender which shall not be printed here, and been in rich places, the worst of hoods, been the driver for a former drug kingpin, you name it. It was a period nonstop hustling, since full-time employment was a a curse word from 2009-2013. I did everything from real estate, to business development, some under the table work, some off the books hustling, while completing two masters degrees and starting law school. It was after getting to Charlotte (for law school) that I realized that the way I had been doing things for the previous four years was not going to serve me well in regards to achieving what I had actually set out to do when I originally finished high school in 1997. I had gotten so far off track, and it culminated with being caught out of place at that school, which was not worth ever attending, never mind draining myself of $35,000 of my own out of pocket cash (not loans), while also giving up my apartment back in Harlem in the process. If there was a regret in my life — and I admittedly don’t have any more than one or two — it was doing this. Whenever you leave New York City, it becomes extremely difficult to move back each time, because the cost of living skyrockets, while wages remain stagnant or even decrease. Add to it the dearth of employment opportunities, and it made moving back prohibitive.

I moved out to Long Island to live with a friend, hoping to jumpstart my career again, but without a car, and having blown through my entire savings in Charlotte, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place even when I had made inroads at North Shore LIJ hospital. Whenever opportunities arose, the lack of a car (which I had sold, as mentioned before) came back to haunt me. The entire year of 2014 was the end of that chapter, however, as it was a year of several transitions; going from Charlotte, to Long Island, to North Carolina and now back to being in New Jersey on a daily basis for the first time in nearly 20 years.

I had worked hard to put some things into place during 2014, that, while the skeptics couldn’t see the manifestation of the seeds that were planted at the time, now see the fruit, as I have turned the page and began a new chapter that cleanly began on New Year’s Day in 2015. Everything (other than my slumlord and disgraceful excuse for human beings/”neighbors”) is flowing; school is a breeze — despite my now full-fledged fatigue — I am finishing my second thesis, and have a pending application at Florida State University School of Law, and several options regarding my next major move, which will be on tap come June 1. I also have two business projects that I will be rolling out once I am free from academic obligations in May. The goal, in all of the quiet toiling and reaching out to several key people in 2014 was to have several streams of income before 2015 was over. With a now healthy savings and some side work ensuring at least one stream for now, the goal is to have two or three more of them in place by this summer, which will happen.

I cannot say, however, that I would have re-centered myself if I had not taken the time out to reflect upon what had taken place in the previous “chapter”, learned from mistakes, bad decisions, and seized opportunities that fell in line with my goals. Some people can spend years — even decades — flying by the seat of their pants, withering in the wind like chaff. I was taught early on to do everything with excellence and with purpose. I had a purpose to make 2015 — and beginning a new chapter in my life — a highly successful one. I would not have done so without purposeful reflection and then planning the best way to bring those plans to fruition.

I hope this time, however, that this next chapter is longer than four or five years, and ends up being a decades-long run-on sentence, because that is the pace in which I am running nowadays and I don’t plan on slowing down again.

Happy Reflecting.

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2015 Super Bowl XLIX Bettor’s Guide

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2015 Super Bowl XLIX Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
1.30.2015

We have reached the finish line (sadly, in some peoples’ eyes) of the NFL season. While we can get caught up in national signing day in college football, the NFL combine, the first wave of free agency (March 1), the NFL draft and OTAs/training camp, there is nothing like the NFL regular season. Except the Super Bowl. And we (on paper, at least) will finally have a great Super Bowl for the first time in three years.

Unless New England finds themselves overwhelmed by Seattle’s defense like Denver was last year, which could happen.

New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, Arizona
Arizona Cardinals 3

SUPER BOWL XLIX
Sunday, February 1, 2015
6:30 PM
My Call: SEA +1
Over/Under: Under 47.5

Analysis:
This game is actually a very simple call, but made complex, because the only thing that will likely swing this game is turnovers, which are impossible to predict going into a game. New England will look to use the short passing game to set up the run game. Seattle predominantly plays Cover 1/3 (about 65% of total snaps, the rest in variations of man coverage), but when they are in those zones — particularly Cover 3 — the short passing game is left open, where Seattle relies on its defensive team speed and sure tackling to limit yards after the catch, which they have done well all season, while leading the NFL in fewest PPG, rush yards per game, and passing yards per game. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin will leave their stamp on this game in some fashion.

Kam Chancellor is the focal point of the Seattle defense in this game, because the majority of what New England will either have success doing (or fail to do) is whether or not Chancellor can match up with Rob Gronkowski, and how well Seattle limits the short routes to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola — where Chancellor is often in the box in Cover 1. When in man looks, New England will resort to “legal” pick play to gain separation from Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. However, Chancellor is often no more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, and cleans up the plays along with Earl Thomas.

Thomas and Sherman’s health is of relative non-issue at this point. Both will play and be as close to full go as can be expected, not limited.

Seattle will employ several looks to take away Gronkowski, but they will not leave Edelman, Amendola, Brandon LaFell and the seldom-used Tim Wright or Michael Hoomanawanui. LeGarrette Blount is a battering ram of a running back, not one that gives Seattle’s fast and sure-tackling defense many problems. Patriots’ Center, Bryan Stork’s health is of concern, as his reach blocks allow for him to take away defensive tackles and open rushing lanes for Blount and Shane Vereen (and some Jonas Gray, at times), while buying Tom Brady time in the pocket. Seattle does not get tons of sacks — itself a relatively overrated statistic — they get off the ball extremely quickly and force QBs off their spots and rushing throws without setting their feet; something that the New York Giants did extremely well in defeating the Patriots in both of their most recent Super Bowl wins over New England. This is a major issue for New England, and given the Patriots’ struggles with similar pass rushes (New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions) it does not bode necessarily well for them facing Seattle’s front seven/eight. Bobby Wagner is too rangy for New England to get much done over the middle of the field, which is something that is being overlooked by most pundits. Wagner does not blitz (Seattle rarely does), so he is able to use his 4.4 speed to run sideline to sideline to take away the intermediate action, which is what New England does 90% of the time. This plays into Seattle’s hands.

If New England has to go 80 yards on multiple drives, chances are they won’t find the end zone more than once or twice in this game. If they are able to turn over Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense, they can get shorter fields and capitalize better than most teams. Seattle had the second-fewest turnovers (14) in the NFL this season. Only Green Bay and New England (13) had fewer, and almost all of New England’s turnovers were away from home, for reasons that remain in dispute in the minds of some.

Seattle rushes the football more than any team, and had the second-fewest passing attempts in the NFL this season. That says that the Seahawks go Marshawn Lynch-Russell Wilson/Wilson-Lynch (on the ground) and then Luke Willson/Doug Baldwin/Jermaine Kearse and others after sucking in the defense. New England got trampled on the ground against Baltimore, and Seattle has two guys to account for who can run the football both inside the tackles (Lynch) and breaking contain (Wilson, and Lynch out of the zone-read).

New England will beat up the Seattle receivers on the initial coverage, but when the plays break down, Brandon Browner is a complete liability, and Revis is obviously much less effective (as are most cornerbacks) when they have to cover for 5-7 seconds. Wilson will force New England to cover for that amount of time in certain instances. What New England does in those moments is where this game will be decided. If New England is able to contain Wilson (they have not shown to have the personnel to do so, nor do their statistical tendencies suggest that they are proficient at doing so), they will be in a close game and not facing the Giants for Brady to potentially win the game late. If they are unable to stop the double-headed rushing attack, New England is going to get worn out on defense. Seattle’s defense will lean on New England for the most part, and whether they force turnovers is anyone’s guess. Receivers won’t have big games for either team unless there is a coverage breach, so the game will be played between the numbers on both sides. Seattle is a better bet because the QB is a dual threat. Tom Brady is a sitting duck against a better and more athletic pass rush.

Barring turnovers, Seattle wins.

Call:
New England                         17
Seattle                                   24
FINAL
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2015 Conference Championship Weekend Bettor’s Guide

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2015 Conference Championship Weekend Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
1.16.2015

Missed badly on Denver, which, as it turns out, was in utter turmoil from the quarterback’s health up to the front office and head coach differing in philosophy. Missed on Baltimore (albeit having the game called properly until a late interception). The other two games went as expected.

Last Week:
SU: 2-2
ATS: 3-1

Playoffs:
SU: 4-4
ATS: 5-3
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Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field
Seattle, Washington
Seattle Seahawks 3

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday, January 18, 2015
3:05 PM
My Call: SEA -7
Over/Under: Under 46.5

Analysis:
General rule of thumb in the playoffs is when you have more than one “IF” to factor into a game assessment, the chances are not in your favor. Anything can happen on any given Sunday, however. If Green Bay can turn over Seattle multiple times, they can give Aaron Rodgers more opportunities with the football. If Green Bay can somehow run the football against this defense, the Packers will be able to keep the game within reach going into the 4th quarter. If Green Bay can contain Russell Wilson and prevent him from scrambling for back-breaking first downs and to find Luke Willson, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse downfield, they will have a chance. If Rodgers can beat Richard Sherman on anything more than an inside slant or a back shoulder throw once or twice, they will have a chance.

All of these things must happen for Green Bay to win, however.

Call:
Green Bay                               16
Seattle                                     27
FINAL
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Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
New England Patriots 3

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP
Sunday, January 18, 2015
6:40 PM
My Call: NE -6.5
Over/Under: Over 53.5

Analysis:
The same “IF” corollary works here, although the chances of the “IF” scenarios are more likely in this game in Indianapolis’ favor. This does not mean the smart money is to take the Colts and the points, however. IF the Colts can stop the inside run game by New England, IF the Colts can somewhat contain Rob Gronkowski, IF Boom Herron can both hold onto the ball and keep the Patriots honest against the Colts’ passing game, IF T.Y. Hilton can turn Revis Island into Revis Archipelago, and IF the Colts can muster up another defensive effort like the one they gave in Denver, the Colts will not only have a chance, but will be in good position to win.

If Andrew Luck does not throw foolish interceptions (which go excused by his staunchest supporters), that is. Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks must continue doing what they did in Denver by moving the sticks and taking the pressure off Hilton to make every play in the passing game. The Colts haven’t had much of pass rush, and you generally need that to beat Tom Brady and the refs in New England. Don’t bet on it.

Call:
Indianapolis                                         27
New England                                        34
FINAL
__________________________________________________________________

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My Favorite TV Character Personalities Since 1985

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My Favorite TV Character Personalities Since 1985
M.D. Wright
1.9.2015

Instead of making bland lists, which bloggers are often wont to do — impossible to narrow down to a Top 5 or even Top 10 (especially with a topic like this) — I’d rather do a reflection on the chronology of my TV viewership since 1984-1985, which is about the earliest I can remember things concretely on TV.

My parents are obviously influential in my early TV, because I watched mostly what they watched, and we weren’t allowed to watch much outside of what they either watched with us, or signed off on (no expansive cable channel platforms and profane programming; although my aunt was one of the first with a satellite, and it was the size of one of those that you see outside of TV stations). My grandmother also influenced my TV viewership, as I spent a lot of time watching TV with her growing up. She was heavily into police dramas like Hill Street Blues, In the Heat of the Night and Law & Order. She actually got me into the original Law & Order when we were visiting back in 1990. I put my parents onto the original, and they watched it religiously until it went off the air for good. One of the best shows of all time, anchored by the very realistic (to real-life NYPD detectives) portrayal of Lenny Briscoe by Jerry Orbach.

I can go all the way back to Hill Street Blues with Michael Warren and Veronica Hamel, to L.A. Law with Jimmy Smits (one of the greatest actors of all time), to In the Heat of the Night (which was one of my grandmother’s favorites), featuring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins. Anne Marie Johnson and Bubba (Alan Autry), which was what got me really into cop dramas. We would watch In the Heat of the Night whenever we visited my grandmother. That, and Law & Order in 1990. I was immediately addicted to L&O, particularly because of the on-scene filming in areas that I had either ventured into and/or lived.

The best cop dramas were in the 1990s, though. Homicide: Life on the Street, featuring Yaphet Kotto, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson and Kyle Secor. That show was gritty and hard-hitting, just like the city that it depicted (Baltimore). It was about as real and accurate as can be. I wish it had lasted longer, but the writing and actors’ portrayal made the show fantastic.

The same can be said about Law & Order, and especially NYPD Blue (after David Caruso left). Detective Andy Sipocwicz (Dennis Franz), Lieutenant Arthur Fancy (James McDaniel) and Detective Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) made the show. The ancillary characters’ personal life stories on the show came across well. It is part of the reason why the show lasted so long. Excellent writing, strong actors and deep life storylines for each of the characters made it great.

Shows like Chicago PD have potential to enter this realm if the show can last for five or six seasons, and there are several others that have come and gone in the past 15 years, but while my personal favorite isn’t even the best cop drama (or one that I would say was the best), no cop drama hit home like New York Undercover. From the hip hop edge, to the relationship between detectives JC Williams (Malik Yoba) and Eddie Torres (Michael DeLorenzo), the lieutenant (Patti D’Arbanville) and detective Nina Moreno, to the storylines and the great cameos from guest stars — added to the fact that this show ran during my halcyon years (high school), there was nothing like it before or since. There have been better shows, even on the very night that New York Undercover aired, but not one that had both a strong cultural and personal impact than this one.

All in all, in reflection, my favorite shows have been cop dramas for the past 30 years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Did not realize that this was the case until reflecting back and noting what my favorite shows have been since my earliest concrete memories.

Report: Oregon suspends Darren Carrington for National Championship Game


Mr. Wright 212:

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I bet he won’t be bragging like he was in that interview earlier with ESPN. How’s THAT, bitch?

Originally posted on CollegeFootballTalk:

Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota is running out of options to throw to even though the National Championship Game is still three days away.

After receiving news that Devon Allen has been ruled out of the biggest game in the school’s history, the situation worsened for Mariota and the Ducks.

CSNNW.com’s Aaron Fentress reported that team’s second-leading receiver, Darren Carrington, is suspended for the National Championship Game due to a failed drug test.

Carrington has been Mariota’s favorite target through the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Rose Bowl.

According to Fentress, Carrington didn’t make the trip to AT&T Stadium in Arlington with his teammates.

Carrington finished his season with 37 receptions for 704 yards and four touchdowns.

Mariota will…

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