Fro Life

My fro is sort of like my calling card.  When I met one of my internet friends for the first time, and I had my hair pulled up, she said “Awww, I thought I was going to see the fro.”  It’s almost like a living breathing thing.  Once upon a time, on a weekend getaway, I’d flat ironed my hair to do something a little different for my sweetie.  He was very polite about it, but said, “But…you know…I prefer the fro.”  I think if I could send my hair to social engagements, people would be cool with that.

I kind of feel as though I’ve always had it, though it’s only been five years.  I’ve often thought about locs, because I think they’re gorgeous, but at the end of the day, the fro is me.  It’s not about this being “better” than any other style of hair.  It’s about me choosing a style that says everything you need to know about my personality: wild, thick, and a little bit crooked.  When my mood is frazzled, the circumference of my fro is almost always off.  When I’m having a good hair day, typically I’m having a good everything day.

I fell in love with the idea of having a fro when I saw Cindy Blackman playing the hell out of the drums behind Lenny Kravitz in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” video.  Everything about her exuded power and confidence.  The desire for froness was only exacerbated with the emerging Ms. Lauryn Hill.  Her striking features were framed by this kinky halo, which I decided felt like cotton candy and smelled of coconut.  “I want my hair to do that.”

After years of hemming and hawing, I had my big chop.  It was a defining moment, because I wasn’t trying to see what being natural was all about.  I decided that whatever my hair was going to do, was perfectly okay with me.  It was for life.  I have “relaxer-mares.”  They’re the strangest dreams.  I’ll go to some stranger salon, and leave with silky, processed tresses that I flat out don’t want.  Suggestions to flat iron it are sort of met with an ultimate nose scrunch. It would be long, but it wouldn’t be me.

Cheers to the ladies whose hair is totally lay-inable.

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BASSEYWORLD LIVE!

For those of you who have noticed my absence this week, it is due to me being a very very busy girl.  Part of the reason I’ve been missing is because I’ve been so tied up with this:

It’s a great kind of tired when it’s due to your own work.  I’ve just been missing my regular posting and reading your blogs as well.  I’ve missed it so much, I had to blog to you guys to keep you abreast of things.  Soon I’ll be posting pictures of tomorrow night’s awesomenss.

Bon your Sweethearts!

What the world needs now

…is hugs, deep hugs.

My parents used to call it “skin food.”  They firmly believed that hugs and affection were essential to our growth into healthy little people.  Finge, now too cool for everything I do ducks out of the hugs I insist on giving.  That’s his problem.  I’m gonna hug my kid every day he’s in my company.  BB still loves her hug time.  In fact, every morning, we have a couple of minutes where she still sits (hangs off) my lap and we talk about our plans for the day.  That’s the good stuff.

There’s silent honesty in hugs.  One of the favorite parts of my trip home is the first hugs I get from my father and stepmother when I walk through the door.  They contain so much love.  My friends and I hug tight.  None of that side arm hugging jazz.  We are a hug hard or keep it to yourself crew; this holds true for my new friends as well.  The fact that it’s always just been understood is amazing.  It’s almost as though love attracts love.

If you want to discuss intimacy, you don’t know anything about life until you’ve lain in silence locked in an embrace.  Just thinking about hands moving in sweeping motions from shoulder blades to the small of the back and back again makes me shudder.  It’s subtly defiant against anything that would challenge your union.

I can’t even explain why I enjoy hugging so much.  Maybe it’s the sense of being both vulnerable and the protector.  Maybe it’s feeling the rhythm of another heart to remind you of a world totally independent of your own.  Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of them.

Felt like Forever

There are people that you meet who meld into your life seamlessly.  I’ve only lived in Maryland for five years, and the friends I’ve made here, it’s hard to remember a life where they weren’t here.  I have those strange flashes of memories in New Orleans where I think, “Why wasn’t X with me? Oh…that’s right!”  I’m a fierce friend.  The term is virtually synonymous with family, and my heart is like the mob: Once you’re in, you’re IN!  Even when my friends and I aren’t hanging so tough, I still love them dearly.  I still want them to be okay and happy.

But conversely, when you’re out, you’re out.  I’m a very sentimental person, so it takes a lot for me to decide that you no longer belong.  There are people with whom I share a connection that no one will ever understand.  I have exes and past lovers for whom I’d lay down in front of a speeding train and they have proven that they would do the same for me without hesitation.  So when I decide there is no more space for you that decision, however rare, is final.  And just as my friends seem to have always been there (I’ve made new family, and I feel like I’ve known them for YEARS), those outside seem to have hardly been here at all.   “X was there, Y was there and…___? Word? We were still talking? Wow.”

The other day, I was asked about a person with whom I severed ties.  My response was that I had no idea, which was not strange, but I also did not feel the slightest twinge of interest to gain an idea.  Not talking to them feels probably five times longer than actuality.  It dawned on me that based on their attitude, they’d NEVER have a place in my life again.  It was such an odd realization.  I don’t feel happy or sad.  I don’t wish them joy or pain.  I just find it unfortunate that they chose to make themselves obsolete.

How do you cope with ended friendships?

Tip Your Waitresses…and Janitors

I’ll dive right in.  Today on Twitter, I became rather angered by the some narrow minded views toward drug testing as a prerequisite for public assistance.  There was quite a bit of, “I had to take a drug test to get my job, they should have one to receive public funds.”  Bologna.  Not all jobs test for drugs (I keep a “good” job, and I haven’t taken a drug test since 1997).  Additionally, all public monies require some sort of re-certification process.  This could open individuals up to the bureaucracy of being tested on a regular basis.  Only a small percentage of jobs effect random and regular drug tests.

Additionally, the sentiment that angered me was of people receiving public assistance being “lazy.”  I have a sister in nursing school, working two jobs simply so that she can meet the hourly requirement to receive food stamps.  When I lived in New Orleans, I worked full time for two high volume attorneys, carried a nine hour course load, and received WIC and Medicaid for my children.  Assistance doesn’t equate unemployed.

And on the topic of income, I had a “good” job (well above minimum wage) and still qualified for these assistance programs.  Minimum wage is $7.25.  Having spent the first 28 years of my life in a city built on the backs of service industry workers, I know people who have held down a full time job, and still couldn’t make ends meet without assistance.  Many will retort, “Well, don’t have children you can’t afford.”  You can’t tell me that a man or woman breaking their back to earn a meager living somehow has less of a right or desire to procreate.  So on top of being paid insufficient wages, they have to hear, “Yeah well, sucks for you, pee in this cup because your kind likes to do drugs.”  How people believe this is a more palatable option than paying hard working people a living wage boggles the mind.  How much are YOU willing to pay your janitor?  Could you live on such wages yourself?

The reason companies don’t test you for drugs unless you are a shoe in for the job is because it is an expensive and involved process.  But rather than take those funds and use them toward urban improvement initiatives, let’s take one more dig in.  In addition to that, denying aid to those with positive tests prohibits those individuals from receiving the aid they need.  This ham-fisted, short-sighted approach is not one that I can support, nor will I.   Spout all the rhetoric you want, this is just another tactic to make scapegoats of the poor.

Sell crazy elsewhere.  We’re all stocked up here.

My best writing lesson

…came from an American History teacher.

When I heard that Mr. Bronson’s AP American History class was comprised entirely of reading, discussions, multiple choice tests and essays, I was sold. These are all things that I excel at.  Reading? Talking? Writing?  I DOES THIS SON!  And with multiple choice tests, the answer is right there.  Additionally, I was simultaneously taking a creative writing class, which would further aid me in padding my essays with flowery language.  How could I lose?

Easily.

Because I discovered that the book we were reading was one of the most boring books known to man.  I can’t remember the name of it, but for me to call a book flat out boring, is saying something.  I read cereal box ingredients to pass the time.  My strategy was to take notes, read those, bluff my way through essays and get what I could from the multiple choice.  (Yes. I was precisely this dumb at 16.)  So, I took my first multiple choice test.  Have you ever had the answer to something staring you in your face, and you STILL couldn’t hit it with a bat?  Fifty multiple choice items, with four answers that looked like the same answer. Meh.  I’ll knock it out with the essay.

I used flowery words and my best prose.  The essay referred to Native Americans and my thoughts on manifest destiny.  It was a masterpiece of bullshit.  But bluff writing is what I do.  I accepted my graded essay the following day with a smirk.  I knew it would average out that whopping D I received on the multiple choice portion. “D- – Be more diligent.  This class moves fast.  Keep up with your reading.”  Was the “-” really necessary dawg?  A “D” would have been totally sufficient.

So, I tried…a bit.  I’ll be honest, gaining information comes to me rather easily typically.  When it doesn’t, I’m not always good at dealing.  Another test rolled around, and I tanked yet again.  Another D, minus the minus this time.  Another warning:  “You can articulate very well in class, and you’ve got the ability.  What happened in this essay?”  As time marched on, for some reason, it became a test of will.  He was determined to bring out the best in me, I was determined to ace by coasting. I managed to eke out an A- (with a note which said “Great work. Let’s make this habitual.”) on one test, and it fueled my lazy resolve.

By the end of the first semester, we were equally tired of one another.  For the first semester final, along with my straight up “F,”  I got a more pointed note.  This was 18 years ago, but along with tiny question marks in the margins, it ended with this general sentiment:

You’re too smart to provide me with this four pages of BS. Did you do the reading?  I know you can write. Show me that you can write informatively.

Yeah. He went there.  And he was right.  I really wasn’t putting forth the effort.  I’d decided that my writing was a tool for coasting, not a skill to develop.  Yet, I still couldn’t get into that class, but refused to drop it.  At the end, when I was ineligible to take the AP test, which would have provided me with college credit, he assigned a book to me: Shelby Steele’s The Content of Our Character.  I rocked the shit out of it.  I agreed, disagreed and challenged effectively.  I researched and poured everything into that essay. He was so over me and my big bag of bullshit, I knew he was going to pan it and give me a C.  Irrespective of my complete lack of effort, I’d convinced myself that he flat out didn’t like me.  So I thumbed through the essay looking for the familiar “??s” and “Don’t BS me here. Substance.”  I saw none of that.  A few sentences were underlined for emphasis, and I saw the unfamiliar, “GREAT OBSERVATION!”  I remember what I saw on the last page, I remember as though it’s right in front of me:

A++ AMEN!  This is what I knew you were capable of all year, and would have loved to see you try.  Write like this, informatively and with substance.  It’ll take you far.

I still get misty when I think about that.  I’ve always loved words, and had a knack for writing them down, to the point that I’d come to take my talent for granted.  But I always look back at that time in my life as the period when I actually became a writer.  I’ve been in love ever since.

Faith’s Declaration – Tumblr Hangover

I believe in sunrises

and beginnings

I believe in earth

I believe in the beauty of water

running through my fingers

I believe in air

I believe in trees and mountains

I believe that laughter fortifies

and forgives

I believe in the stars

I believe in lightening bugs

and other wing’d creatures

I believe in horizons

I believe in the bones

which support my body

I believe that for the purpose of this day

I am exactly as I should be

I believe in the strength of tears

I believe in the strength of heart

I believe that my bare skin

was meant to be touched by loving fingers

I believe that my children will properly

reflect my legacy

I believe that my children will create

their own beautiful destiny

I believe in a God who loves me

more than I could imagine

I believe that love is not only

for the select few

I believe that love is a dance

I believe in long hugs

I believe kisses are magic

I believe in giggling

I believe in late night conversation

I believe the eyes speak

I believe silence holds power

I believe in lazy days in bed

I believe in flinging my arms wide to greet the day

I believe there is a time for both

I believe in sorrow

I believe in joy

I believe in life