99 Problems

*Written early in the morning of Christmas Day 2011 in the Chongqing North train station whilst waiting for my train

My Friends,
   Anyone among you has ever done dirt with me (or hung out wth me for any appreciable amount of time) probably knows that “99 Problems” by Jay-Z is one of my favourite songs of all time.  The beat, the lyrics and the delivery combine into one dope package which never fails to pick me up. 
   I have often wondered though, “What are these fabled 99 problems which allegedly plague Jay-Z’s existence?”  Sure he gives some examples during the verses, and to his credit he does take those few examples and really run with them, painting vivid and nuanced pictures.  However, if only for the sake of the verifiability of the claim in the song’s title I have long thought he should have provided a numbered list of each specific problem (in the album cover perhaps for all of us true fans who bought it). 
   Since I can’t comment on what that man’s problems might be (prolly not being able to wear skinny jeans cause his “knots” don’t fit) I thought long and hard about what I could provide; namely, a similarly itemized list of my own prblems. 
   Now I must qualify this list before I kick it off: For starters, many entries are very introspective as I like to think my greatest strength is a realistic appreciation of my limitations and shortcomings.  Second, some of these things are problems which do not currently afflict me but which I try and remain constantly vigilant against.  Finally, as I wrote it while traveling, many of the problems may seem a little pecualiar and applicable only to someone living a similarly transient lifestyle.  However, I think even these entries have some applicability in everyday life (we all want a safe place to sleep even if we take it for granted)..
   So without any further ado:

If you havin’ girl problems I feel bad for you, son.  I got…

1) My Woman’s dog. A useless toy poodle named Lacy
2) Too little time in life
3) Too many options in life
4) Never enough money
5) Maintaining my street cred
6) On again/off again athlete’s foot
7) Turn the other cheek & feel like a bitch or fight and feel like an asshole
8) The shitty state of the world
9) Not seeing my family enough
10) Changing the mindset of those around me
11) My mother and her whole side of the family
12) Self-doubt
13) No career
14) Stolen rhyme-book
15) Negative self body-image
16) A certain constantly-evolving relationship in my life;  I never quite know where I stand in this one
17) Zipping my beard into my coat
18) No shower in over a week (as of Dec 24/11)
19) Getting Portuguese citizenship
20) Liquor
21) Pipe-smoking
22) My uncertain future in the military
23) Finding a decent place to shit
24) Keeping my feet warm
25) Remembering the words of my favourite songs
26) Suppressing feelings of superiority
27) Not behaving wretchedly when I feel wretched
28) Keeping my finger out of my nose in mixed company
29) B.O.
30) Speaking only English
31) Blank pages in my passport
32) Thinning hair
33) Mangled feet and toes from a lifetime of wearing traditional shoes
34) Naivete
35) Cynicism
36) Finding safe place to sleep
37) Losing my composure when I’m excited about something
38) Sentimentality/”hoarding” tendencies
39) Cops
40) Not being able to wash hands after dookie
41) A picture of my dick that may be floating around from Mardi Gras 2009 in New Orleans
42) Disdain for flaws in others which I see in myself
43) Crooked Jaw
44) My shitty Riddler tattoo
45) My right knee
46) Laziness
47) Restlessness in stable situations
48) Conspicuousness in foreign lands
49) No patience for differing points of view
50) Stubbornness
51) Incomplete private pilot’s license
52) Keeping my rhymes fresh
53) Internet porn
54) Making extraneous attempts to curry favour with those I view as gate-keepers
55) Short-sightedness (not literally, but in life)
56) Quick temper
57) Braggadociousness
58) Trying to make certain rituals/events too perfect (“The perfect is the enemy of the good”)
59) Thinking of new experiences (and life in general) in terms of what would make a good facebook status or profile pic
60) Judging those I care about particularly harshly
61) Over-complicating simple things
62) Relating every situation to a rap lyric (maybe not a problem in itself, but someone who’s upset prolly doesnt want to hear, “Well, it’s like 50 Cent once said…”)
63) Taking too much satisfaction in deconstructing and manipulating social situations
64) Wanting to be liked by everyone
65) Being variously too stingy and too generous
66) Jealousy/Hating
67) Lack of ambition
68) Losing touch with friends and those who have helped me along
69) Getting discouraged after a failed first attempt
70) Enjoying the companyof people who make me feel better about my life relative to theirs
71) Preaching at others about my beliefs (not religious)
72) Getting quickly bored after initial enthusiasm
73) Enjoying garbage television
74) Swearing too much
75) Being automatically resentful of authority
76) Insensitivity
77) Always playing devil’s advocate for the sake of arguing
78) Dwellling on the path not taken
79) Dwelling on past mistakes
80) The inability to receive praise or admiration gracefully
81) Not remembering the names of my extended family (unless they’re on facebook)
82) Waiting for my turn to speak in conversations
83) Letting my mind wander while ostensibly listening attentively
84) Being slow to swallow pride and apologize
85) Fitting oddly shaped objects (read: bottles of wine) into my carefully organized backpack
86) Lack of hiding places on my person for wads of money and passport
87) My travel sensibilities often take me to ghettoes
88) Overzealous third-world types who aggressively try to sell me their wares and/or swindle me
89) Curious foreign types (or “local” types as I’m in their country) who invade my personal space to get a closer look (Looking at you, Chinese people)
90) Blisters
91) Losing pens
92) Never knowing for sure what the meat/food substance in Chinese snack foods is when I buy them (sometimes even after I eat them)
93) Talking too fast
94) The constant work (twisting) that goes into maintaining an exquisite handlebar mustache
95) The gigantic balls of belly-button lint which accumulate when the only time you take your shirt off is for your (bi)weekly shower
96) Killing time at airports, train and bus stations before departure
97) Finding stores which sell English-language books
98) Countries with travel advisories (or who declare a “state of emergency” after I have already entered the country)
99) The ultimately self-destructive compulsion to engage in, as an adult, all the mischief and stupidity I did not partake in as a relatively well-behaved and rule-abiding child

…but a bitch ain’t one!

Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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