Sunday, July 31, 2011

New goal in life:

To be as undeniably fly as this woman when I am older and grey:

Reblogged from As far as I'm concerned
Can I PLEASE go grey JUST LIKE THAT?!
A friend had this as her profile picture. It was evidently taken by a fellow Princetonian. My classmates are cool.

Reblogged from Sister Outsider:

"10 rules for brilliant women people
1. Make a pact. No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

2. Imagine it. What does a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park life look like for you? What is the career that seems so incredible you think it’s almost criminal to have it? What is the dream you don’t allow yourself to even consider because it seems too unrealistic, frivolous, or insane? Start envisioning it. That’s the beginning of having it.

3. Gasp. Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenalin flowing. Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

4. Get a thick skin. If you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes. Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Get used to wins and losses, praise and pans, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of needing to be liked and needing to be universally known as “a nice person.”

5. Be an arrogant idiot. Of course I know you won’t, because you never could. But please, just be a little more of an arrogant idiot. You know those guys around the office who share their opinions without thinking, who rally everyone around their big, (often unformed) ideas? Be more like them. Even if just a bit. You can afford to move a few inches in that direction.

6. Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.” I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.

7. Don’t wait for your Oscar. Don’t wait to be praised, anointed, or validated. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to share your voice. No one is going to discover you. (Well, actually, they will, but paradoxically, only after you’ve started boldly and consistently stepping into leadership, sharing your voice, and doing things that scare the hell out of you.)

8. Filter advice. Most brilliant women people are humble and open to guidance. We want to gather feedback and advice. Fine, but recognize that some people won’t understand what you are up to (often because you are saying something new and ahead of your time). Some people will find you to be not their cup of tea. Some will feel threatened. Some people will want to do with your idea only what is interesting or helpful to them. So interpret feedback carefully. Test advice and evaluate the results, rather than following it wholesale.

9. Recover and restore. If you start doing the things that make you gasp, doing what you don’t quite feel ready to do, and being more of an arrogant idiot, you are going to be stretching out of our comfort zone–a lot. Regularly do things that feel safe, cozy, and restorative. Vent to friends when you need to. Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken. Watch your tank to see how much risk-taking juice you have available to you. When it’s running low, stop, recover and restore.

10. Let other women people know they are brilliant. Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time – when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns."
 Original source, though I'm not sure she'd approve of me making it gender non-specific. TOO DAMN BAD. 

Hair Porn

I wholeheartedly approve of this project. I kind of wish I could get involved.

Reblogged from Currently Obsessed With...
Reblogged from Treasured Tresses 
The following three images are all reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Remembering my namesake for a moment

"Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?"
--from Still I Rise by the glorious Maya Angelou

On my wish list:

  
They're on clearance at Pier One and I <3 butterflies so much. It's a good thing you can't buy online from Pier One...how many decorative pillows do I already own and never use? (Hint: Too many.)

And while we're at it, when I was at Menlo Park Mall I visited a store called Teavana, which has some of the coolest tea sets I've ever seen in my life. Examples:
Totally reminds me of the lamp from Aladdin
Dragonflies!
Cast iron with elephants and $150. Sheesh.

I can haz hipster? Puh-leeeeeaaassseee?



The Black Ivy, reblogged from Street Etiquette

I want some of everything that's happening in this photograph. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

So I discovered about a week ago that I've made a grevious error in my life:

I have been sleeping on Raphael Saadiq. I downloaded something like 20 of his songs the other day to remedy this, including the following song, which I'm worried will be background music in my head during every relationship I'm ever in for the rest of my life. This isn't about baggage. It's about reciprocity.
 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ain't-Shit Brothas

Someone please explain to me why Negroes men of various races but usually Negroes who ain't shit are always tryna talk to me. What about me gives any suggestion that you are worthy of my time and attention, ain't-shit men? You would think my don't-talk-to-me headphones, neat afro, pink lacy dress, pink hair flower, bead-and-seashell jewelry, and Black Snob bag would do the trick, but noooooooo. You sir [though a sir you certainly are not], will still stare at me while we're on the platform waiting for the train, then follow me up to the same area of the double-decker train, then halfway through our ride move back so you're sitting across the aisle from me, then tap on the seat next to me [where the bag is riding] and ask if you can sit there. Actually, you'll basically whisper it so that I have to take my headphones out. And then when I say I'm good, and try to put my headphones back in and continue my life before I was so rudely interrupted, you will continue talking to me. And because I am incapable of being so directly rude, I cannot bring myself to put my second earbud back in. And suddenly we are having a conversation, though I am trying to be as monosyllabic in my responses as possible. 
Let me explain that you, sir, are wearing jeans, sneakers, a plain white tee, a chain, a cap, and sunglasses. SUNGLASSES. INSIDE. AT NIGHT. ON THE TRAIN. 
Why do you think it's okay to just start asking me all these questions? Like where I'm going and where I'm coming from and where I go to school and what my major is etc. etc. Hmm, our conversation surrounding where I go to school needs quoting:

Juve [this is evidently what his friends call him]: Where you go to school?
Me: Princeton.
Juve: Oh, what school you go to?
Me: Princeton.
Juve: Oh that's a school? Princeton College?
Me: -___________________________- Princeton University
Juve: Oh, but you said you live in New Brunswick? Why you ain't go to Rutgers? Your GPA wasn't high enough?
Me: Princeton is a better school than Rutgers.
Juve: Oreally? 
Me: It's the number two school in the country. It was the number one when I got accepted...
Juve: WOOOOOOORRRRRRRDDDDDDD.

...I can't. This man. After thus establishing that I was way out of his league, he proceeded to tell me his life story about how in high school his GPA was a 2.5 and he wanted to go to Rutgers but they said his GPA wasn't high enough so he went to Bloomfield College but only for a couple years and now he's trying to go to Kean.

Another excerpt, though I can't remember this part verbatim:

Juve: When's your birthday?
Me: January.
Juve: January what?
Me: The 29th.
Juve: Oh so what sign are you?
Me: Aquarius.
Juve: [some of this part is a paraphrase] *pronounces Aquarius incorrectly* *repeats it* Y'all are some good people. Strong and confident. I got this cousin who's an Aquarius. She lives in South Jersey too. She's real good people. She always tellin me what I need to do and helpin me make plans and shit. Yeah Aqauriuses, y'all good people. You seem like real good people too. *pauses for two seconds* Why you ain't ask me when my birthday is?
Me: ...You were still talking.
Juve: *looks skeptical*
Me: When's your birthday?
Juve: Oh, now you ask!
Me: YOU WERE STILL TALKING!
Juve: March.
Me: So you're a...Pisces?
Juve: Yeah!
Me: I had this friend in high school who was a Pisces.
Juve: Oh, was she--she or he?
Me: He.
Juve: Oh. Was he good people? Did you like his personality and stuff?
Me: Yeah, he was my friend. 
Juve: Oh. Well look, I ain't even tryna really talk to you or nothin, but I think you good people, and I could learn from you, cuz you focused, and you could learn from me, so I'm tryna ask if I could be your friend.
Me: -_______________________________- 

Then I get off the train and try to powerwalk away from him but he catches up to me and asks, "Damn why you walk so fast?" and tries to see if I'm catching a cab so we can split it and asks if we're going to exchange numbers and I just look at him. SIR. HAVE YOU BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO ANY OF MY BODY LANGUAGE OR MY SINGLE-WORD-RESPONSES? WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE FRIENDS. I WANT TO GET AS FAR AWAY FROM YOU AS POSSIBLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 

Me: I don't give my number to strangers, sorry.
Juve: But how bout if I call you tonight and we can talk and then we won't be strangers?
Me: I don't give my number to strangers. It's a rule.
Juve: Okay then I'll give you my number...
Me: *rolls eyes*
Juve: You ain't gon call me. How we gon be friends if I can't have your number? 
Me: *crickets*
Juve: We ain't gon be friends are we? 
Me: I'm sorry. I have to get home now. *walks away very quickly, laughing to herself about what a great blog post this will make*

MEN WHO AIN'T SHIT, CONSIDER THIS YOUR WARNING. YOU WILL NOT GET MY NUMBER. YOU WILL GET ON MY LAST DAMN NERVES. YOU WILL BE PUT ON BLAST. So the next time you see a fine-ass woman who obviously has her shit together reading on the train with her headphones in, LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE.

This has been a public service announcement.
"Today, take in the life you have now for all it has to offer. Soak in every bit, the joy and the pain, because someday you’ll want that old thing back." --Leslie Pitterson, Clutch Magazine

I sent this email to my girl J...

...but I want to share it with the rest of you too, because this is something I've been wrestling hard with for the past 24ish hours:

So I've been thinking long and hard about this over the past 24ish hours, and this is my plan. There's no way for me to have the total up front like I did last year (most of my savings from the summer will go to the Maya-has-to-buy-a-new-laptop fund), so I'll have to get on the monthly payment plan. I've already emailed my supervisor at my library job at Lewis right now about continuing to work maybe 10 hours a week or so; haven't heard back from her but there are lots of similar jobs I can apply for if for some reason she says no. I'm slightly worried about trying to manage a job and the rest of my life, but I should be able to use a desk job as mostly homework-doing time anyway, so it should be alright. I'm almost positive it will be alright, but if after a month or two I think this arrangement makes my life too stressful, then I reconsider and hey, I tried, and I'm only out [whatever the monthly amount is x2] and I've had two more months of great times with my 'Drangler family. But I really think it will be manageable.
My mom's going to freak out when I tell her and tell me it's not worth it and I won't have time and I'll be way too stressed and lots of other things I've been tossing around in my head, but it's my life. And over this past year, Quad became my life [though I want to make more of an effort to stop ignoring my pre-Quad friends and commitments this year, haha], and there's honestly no way I can imagine choosing to walk away from it. It was only by the grace of some administrative oversight that I got to build my relationship with this club entirely on the University's/Mellon May's dime last year; I'm thankful for that because I don't think I would have started it otherwise, but everything that the club has given me is certainly worth the absolutely non-crushing amount of money I'll need to make working [the University/Mellon will still cover most of it] to stay in it. I don't need any extra help; this plan is feasible.
Thank you so much for all of your help and whatever strings you were willing to pull, though. You made me feel all loved and valued and whatnot. Basically you're the best, but I hope you already know that.

FCFCQQQ!

E> Maya <3

PS: Besides, I can't trust B**** to run study breaks or not insult everyone all the time or, you know, live a successful life without his other half! 

I will hate myself more for not trying than for "unnecessarily" spending this money now; I know I will.

Quoted from BougieLand

"Romance will bite you in the azz, blind you and make you stupid if you let it. You can't be in love with love - it just doesn't work out. Love the person, love the relationship... not the idea of them.

You have to take a step back from the emotion and the cocoa and the laughter and say - is this what I want? Is this going anywhere? Am I getting what I need or am I settling thinking he'll eventually give it to me?" --OneChele

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This video is too sexy for YouTube.

I'd heard some things so went to check it out but all the links had been removed due to violating YouTube's terms of service. Of course that piqued my interest, so I had to scour the internet and find it. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll hip-hop? Coming right up:

C.R.E.A.M.

[For those of you who aren't hip-hop heads/in the know, it stands for Cash Rules Everything Around Me.]

T and I were talking last week about how savings accounts are basically useless at this junction of our lives, because all the money we make we spend. She earns her money and spends it all on important necessary-to-sustain-life things like food and rent and gas and tuition. I...have been spoiled recently and given far more money than I need, so I have gotten accustomed to treating myself to life's small luxuries. I should have been saving. I should have known that the good life is fleeting. 

Ohhhh the never-ending struggle between my bank account and those costly things in my life that fall somewhere between a want and a need. Actually, this line isn't that hard to draw. A new laptop is a need. A twenty dollar pair of earrings is a want. An eating club membership is a...[grey area]. 

We had a similar conversation last year, when I was being consumed with guilt about not using my financial blessings to help my struggling mother and was instead paying 8k a year to be a 'Drangler. But this is different. This is me shooting myself in the foot by spoiling myself with new clothes and an awesome hair accessory collection and handcrafted one-of-a-kind jewelry. This is me expecting to keep getting more than what I need handed to me in spite of the fact that our country is a gazillion dollars in debt and people everywhere are losing their jobs and their pensions and their aid. This is me being a spoiled little bitch. (It's crazy how fast you can get used to something. I grew up so used to going without; when Princeton started throwing money at me, I couldn't resist the urge to have have have.) 

The Financial Aid Office basically figured out I was two-timing them by getting lots of extra money from them and lots of extra money from my Mellon Mays Fellowship, and has now basically set it up so the money I get from my fellowship replaces a large part of the money they would have given me for Board. [I'm not sure Mellon would stand for that, but I haven't always been honest on certain forms about the money I get from them so I'm not going to start any fights.] This is understandable and I can't really be mad at them for it. I'm still getting a nice chunk of change for absolutely nothing and I don't pay a dime to go to the second-best institution in the country. I have nothing but gratitude. 

And see, I've been cheating the system a little more by not even using all that extra money I was getting for the right purposes. You see, Princeton has this need-hate relationship with the eating clubs, and part of that is they say that the University will not fully fund an eating club membership. Well, between the extra money FinAid gave me, and my money from Mellon, I paid for my Quad membership last year with lots left over to spend however I wanted. 

Those days are over. My family evidently owed the school about $600, so that was detracted from my aid for this year, leaving me with a combined total credit from the FinAid office and Mellon Mays of $148 less than the cost of my eating club for a semester, ignoring the fact that I need to buy books and, you know, live, which costs money. [Even if I totally cut out all the spoils, I will need pads and deodorant and conditioner and highlighters.] And when I first realized this I was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. Even if I'm kind of scared it will be weird being around you-know-who, Quad is my LIFE (to the chagrin of my pre-Quad friends) and I was not prepared in any kind of way to lose it.

But then I remembered that I didn't always used to be this spoiled bitch who is used to getting things handed to her. I used to be accustomed to hard work and struggle for even life's basic necessities. I remember that paycheck-to-paycheck hand-to-mouth existence. I can hone in on those strategies again. If I cease and desist all frivolous purchases now, I can end the summer with about $500-600 after buying my new computer. More if I can get MS Office on ebay or somewhere instead of paying lots for it from Best Buy. And I emailed my supervisor about keeping my boring library job during the school year. And I will resume my ritual of regularly pimping my brain out to the Psychology department for experiments if I need to. And maybe I'll actually sell some of my old dresses on ebay like I've been saying I should for a while. So I guess I'll get on the monthly payment plan, and whatever it takes to make ends meet, I will do it: A) Because under all this frivolousness, that's who I am. B) Because some things are worth struggle and hardship. Life isn't always going to be easy. C) Because I am resilient and I don't let shit get in my way. Not even money.      

OMG WANT.

So much wanting. All kinds of wanting. Accessories are my bank account's worst enemy.

BUT LOOK HOW AWESOME THIS STUFF IS. And it's all made from recycled materials!

http://purposerosa.bigcartel.com/

Disney Doing What It Does Best.

Dealing with problems of race ambiguously at best, not dealing with them at all at worst, right? Wrong. I'm used to Disney ignoring racial issues. Even being marginally racist at times (going back in history there's all kinds of animalization of black peoples--the baboons in The Jungle Book, the crows in Dumbo, etc., and don't even get me started on everything that's wrong with Aladdin). So evidently, in an effort to combat these issues in the company's past, or maybe just riding along on this recent American wave of post-racialism/colorblindness, Disney has now chosen to IGNORE AMERICAN HISTORY COMPLETELY and mark the struggles of African-American soldiers (like my paternal grandfather, a decorated WWII veteran) entirely irrelevant. Great choice.

What am I talking about, you ask? I had the night off from work tonight, so I decided to go see Captain America with K and a couple other friends. [No major spoilers coming up, I pinkie promise.] We trudge along through America's involvement in WWII, from the volunteer army to the Uncle Sam posters and the war bonds...then suddenly we're in Italy facing the 50 or so members of the 107th infantry who didn't get captured by the evil Germans...and there are Black and Asian faces intermingled with the White guys. Huh? Hold up. Wait just one goddamn minute. No they didn't... 

Dear Disney, the United States Armed Forces were not integrated until President Linden Johnson's Executive Order in 1948. During the second World War, African-American soldiers were segregated into their own troops, who were rarely sent to battle, and if so sent into zones considered too dangerous for their white counterparts. They were grunt workers, easily disposable. Their officers were not widely respected, their men treated with more respect by civilians abroad than by their own countrymen. Do I need to bring up the Tuskegee Airmen? (Don't even get me started on Tuskegee in general!) I don't care how many billions of dollars your company is worth; I don't give a shit how much easier it is to cast your movie without regard to race; if you thought it didn't matter, it does. I will not stand by and let the honor of my grandfather and the thousands of African-American men like him who had to fight for the right to fight for their country, and came home to find no honor, no love, no respect, and certainly no veteran's benefits like the GI bill (which could have singlehandedly erased the Black-White wealth gap, had Black veterans been given the opportunity right to go to college or purchase homes as were their White counterparts) be trampled upon. In the same way I cannot tolerate history textbooks that relegate Blacks', womens', or LGBT-persons' histories to colorful boxes and side notes, if they mention them at all, I cannot and will not tolerate you erasing the struggles these men endured. I cannot and will not sit idly by while you piss all over their legacy.

Aren't there people whose job it is to make sure you don't do anything blatantly ignorant like this? Shouldn't someone be checking these things when you're casting? Doesn't anyone care? Minor historical inaccuracies like the details of a uniform or the use of a car that didn't exist yet don't bother me; I realize that it's not actually possible to travel back into time and get everything perfect. But we're not talking about something minor like that. We are talking about the struggle for basic human dignity endured by my father's father, Black peoples of his generation, of previous generations, and to an extent even of today's generation. We are talking about civil rights. We are talking about the way the media likes to subtly cover up the sordid details of our nation's past and pretend everything is all hunky-dory. 

Captain America can't be shown as fighting for an America that actively denied its citizens the very "inalienable truths" it was founded on, huh? That's not gonna sell tickets. Disney, I love you, but this is not okay 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stephen Colbert is winning so hard

in the game of my affections right now. 

I wanted to blog about these ads last week, but didn't know how to type STEREOTYPICAL, RACIST, and CULTURALLY INSENSITIVE in large enough letters. Or how to convey that I'm fucking sick and tired of women being told that their bodies aren't good enough at every damn turn. SUMMER'S EVE, YOU ARE CREATING A PROBLEM HERE TO INCREASE YOUR REVENUE (and exacerbating lots of other problems in the process). So much shaking my goddamn head here. 

But that's just me whining. Colbert did something so much better than whine. He launched a counter-attack [though I must say that the fact that simply making a very similar ad tailored to men reveals the ridiculous nature of the situation just goes to show how accustomed we've become to women's bodies being problematized in the media...]: 

 

Chillin with no makeup on

Something about my skin before I went to bed last night...I felt pretty. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Tears

It's not hard for something to bring a smile to my face. It takes a lot more finesse, though, to bring one from so deep within me that it brings tears to my eyes. It takes a lot of love to feel a warmth so strong I have to let it out of me like that.

I got a text message while I was on the Dinky on my way home tonight. I was expecting it to be that guy I've been talking to. So imagine my shock/surprise/rush-of-joy when, instead of being him, it was GREG!!!!! Out of the blue! [Those of you don't instantly make the connection with the name, click here.] 

He just texted me to ask how I was doing. He asked about school and the summer and reminded me that if I ever need anything, he's there for me.

And you know, with a lot of people, statements like those should be taken lightly. They don't really mean much, they're just things you say to people you once had some sort of substantive protector-protected relationship with. From someone you felt cozy and safe with even in the middle of the most heated debates. From someone whose arms and scratchy stubble still feel like home. From someone who made you feel valued and respected as an adult, on a we-are-equals level, before anyone was supposed to. From someone who teased your 8th-grade-dinner-dance date and tormented your first boyfriend. From someone you would have given the world to call Daddy.

It's strange how I've managed to compartmentalize how much losing him hurt me. My sister and I were more depressed than my mom about their breakup. I remember sitting on the shore at the beach with my friends and hearing the news (via text message or voicemail or something) and totally shutting down, just crying and not having any fun at all. I remember my sister and I commiserating up in our room alone for weeks, not wanting to push a sore issue by revealing our sadness to the rest of our family. But now it has progressed to the point where I rarely even think about him, unless something triggers a memory--then missing him feeling emotionally heavy about him overtakes me like a big wave in the ocean, tossing me around like I'm weightless. I can't really call it missing him, because this feeling isn't primarily one of sadness; I get taken back to all the wonderful things he did for me and all the ways he made me feel and while not having that anymore does hurt, all the beauty of it is what remains.

My mom was always worried that our relationship was too close for the not-actually-stepfather-daughter thing we unofficially had going. Given that my only other stepfather-daughter relationship was with The Spawn of Satan, I can't really comment on that--I can only say that this FELT the most like what I imagined a normal father-daughter relationship would be like. In a way TSoS never managed in 9 years [longer, really], I felt that I was undeniably his and he was undeniably mine even if we didn't have fancy official titles in each other's lives. I understood what it was supposed to mean to be a daughter. I wanted him at events in a way I hadn't wanted my mother since I was a little girl and had never experienced having my father at. I wanted Part of me still wants my father-daughter dance at my wedding to be with him. I read him my poems and he listened. I talked/argued with him and he listened. He tried to teach me things and I let him.

It means so much to me to know that he still cares. I mean, who does that? Who keeps in touch with their ex-girlfriend's daughter two years post-breakup? [At the end, I think he and I were closer than he and my mom were.] Who continue to gives love and concern and a desire to protect long after it's not socially warranted? Someone who loved me as much as I loved him. Hold on, make those present tense. Someone who recognizes that the family you choose is the family you will never lose. Someone who came into your life for a reason. Someone who MATTERS. 

I don't even have any pictures of the two of us. Part of me very strongly wants to meet him for dinner and/or drinks when I go home, just so I can experience being around him again. I want to whoop his ass in Scrabble again. He and my mom have been friendly recently...they might not be good for each other, but I will always have my fingers crossed that their hanging out might someday lead to our hanging out. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mini-Rant About Media Portrayals of Engagement

I really like Jennifer Hudson's song No One Gonna Love You:
The video, however, pisses me off a little bit. It's just an example of what can accurately be described as a mass-media trope: There's a relationship. Good loving girl/woman, distant standoffish bad boy/man. Man doesn't appreciate woman's love/treats her like crap. She finally realizes that he might not love her like she loves him. She gets all angry and thinks about leaving. He comes back with a sad puppy dog face and an ENGAGEMENT RING in lieu of an apology and all of a sudden she's all smiles and giggles and blinding herself in the reflection of the diamond.

...Really people? Is that the message we want to send to young impressionable minds everywhere? That it doesn't matter how a partner treats you as long as they're willing to "put a ring on it"? That the ring and the status it imparts is of obviously higher importance than the strength of the relationship it's supposed to be representing? That the end game is a white dress and a big cake and a new house and a new last name, rather than a loving caring equal partnership built on trust and respect? Smdh. In my opinion, Jennifer's character should have smacked that Negro across his bald head. 

OMG CUTENESS OVERLOAD

Now y'all know I will never be the kitten in a teacup kind of cuteness-exclaimer. My cuteness-exclaiming is over an excerpt from an NPR interview with President Obama:

MARTIN: All right. Well, before we let you go, you've got a big birthday coming up in two weeks. And it's the big — can we mention this? — the big 5-0.
OBAMA: You know, I feel real good about 5-0. The – obviously, I've gotten a little grayer since I took this job but otherwise, I feel pretty good. And Michelle, you know, says that, you know, she – she — she still thinks I'm, I'm cute, you know. And I guess that's — that's all that matters, isn't it?

BIGGEST AWWWWWWW IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!
 

There are few things in the world I hate...

...like soggy cereal. It's an abomination to mankind, in my humble opinion. It takes all that is good and right about breakfast and demolishes it. And unless eating your cereal faster than a speeding bullet is your everyday superpower, it's unavoidable, right? 

WRONG. 

Introducing the very first item on my Christmas list (because I can't justify spending $20 on a bowl): 

Introducing Obol®, the Never-Soggy Cereal Bowl. It is also known as THE NUMBER ONE ITEM ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST. I saw this at Brookstone about two weeks ago and have been fantasizing about it every time I eat cereal since.

I HEART THE INTERNET

IT GIVES ME THINGS LIKE THIS:

http://boobsdontworkthatway.tumblr.com/

It may be full of idiots spreading ignorance, sure, but there are revolutionaries radiating righteousness from some corners. Like whoever runs this blog. He/She (probably she) deserves hugs and chocolate.

A Celebration of All Things Curly!

So, sadness: I broke my string of publishing at least one post a day every day yesterday. I didn't really plan to start out doing that, but once I realized I was doing it I wanted to see how long I could go. 41 days isn't bad. ESPECIALLY because of WHYYYYY I didn't post yesterday. 

[Warning: the rest of this post contains sheer awesomeness. Be prepared.]

Yesterday I went on a NYC adventure! [Fact: it is impossible to meet someone at Penn Station if only one of you has a cell phone. Kids, don't try this at home.] With the help of a payphone and a helpful boyfriend [on her part obviously], my friend C and I finally found each other and made our way through the heat back to her apartment. We hung out for a little while while I shared the sad news of Amy Winehouse's passing, checked out her apartment, and changed into my bathing suit. Then we left to walk to a park to get lunch, and then it was off to the subway to go to the main event of the day:

Curly Pool Party 2011--Curls and Water do mix:
presented by NaturalSelection and NaturallyCurly 

C and I heard about this event about a month ago and were super-excited. We bought our tickets three weeks ago and have been tittering with excitement ever since! We knew we were in the right place when we opened the front doors of the Grace Hotel to see women of all shades rocking their curls waiting in a long line to get through the checking of IDs and registration numbers. [Tell me why Mr. Big Black ID Checker Man called me back to double-check my ID. I have been 21 for SIX MONTHS thank you very much. Makin' me feel all young and shit. Anyway.] Then we were bequeathed awesome gift bags containing products from all four brands that were represented at the event: Ouidad [whose leave-in conditioner I got from Sephora a couple weeks ago and fell in love with, if you all recall], Shea Moisture [whose products I've heard very good reviews about and have been wanting to try], Jane Carter Solutions [similar to Shea Moisture, but they're MAD EXPENSIVE which is the reason I haven't tried them; Jane Carter and her family were there!], and Hair Rules [which I hadn't heard of before, but hey, that just goes to show I'm less of a product junkie than I used to be].
Then I grabbed a strawberry from a table full of hors d'oeuvres as we made our way up from the first level (the bar) to the second level (the pool) on our way to the third level (where the action was). We stashed our stuff on a chair behind a huge sign and almost instantly were approached by a woman who asked if she could take our picture. We said sure, just give us a second to put my flower back in (I had taken out my hair accessories due to the impending swimming) and she said to take our time and come back to her whenever we were ready. Then she was busy when we got out of the bathroom, so we started wandering around from table to table, talking with women and stylists and company representatives. Begin the never-ending string of "GIRL I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!" "What do you put in it/What products do you use/How do you get it like that??" here. Another woman with a fancy camera wanted to take our picture, so we did, and then eventually before getting in the water we found the original lady who had asked to take our picture. She took a few shots of us together, then each of us separately, then sat us down at a table and took shots that focused on just our hair. [She complimented me on my flower. Lots of people did.] Then she revealed that she writes NaturalSelection and WORKS FOR ESSENCE MAGAZINE and had us sign release forms to be entered into consideration for publication in the "Street Style" section of the magazine!!!! A) This confirms it, we're gorgeous, and B) WE BOUT TO BE FAMOUS Y'ALLLLLLL!!!!!! She was so nice too!
So after that ego-boost, we decided we were too hot to handle and had to go cool off in the pool. I took my clothes off upstairs and then walked downstairs to the pool in just my bikini (and got some appreciative stares) but C wore her dress down. The water was fantasticccc (she was cold) but I wish the pool had been bigger. It was hard to do any actual swimming. [That doesn't mean I didn't take FULL advantage of the limited space. C was all I don't wanna get my hair wet so didn't go under, but I certainly did.] I even intentionally had a couple Baywatch-esque rising-from-the-water-and-slicking-my-wet-hair-back moments, one of which was appreciated with a smile and a thumbs up by a rather attractive and very (too, in my opinion) built Black man with dreads. [I have a not-so-secret weakness for men with well-kempt dreadlocks. It just makes me go Mmmm! When I get older I may rock grey dreads like BTD.] We met some cool ladies in the pool and then I eventually got cold (as C got acclimated to the water, haha), and we decided to go downstairs and check out the cocktails at the bar. 
They were SIXTEEN DOLLARS (wtf world?) so you know we didn't get anything. Then we went back upstairs and bumped into a guy wearing this awesome shirt, which he told us was for sale, so I bought one! 
And while I was putting my shirt in my bag, a woman from NaturallyCurly asked C if she could interview us for the website! We would up doing about a five-minute interview on camera [in just our bikini tops and towels, oops] answering such questions about what we thought of the event, what our hair regimens were, whether we were skeptical about the pool aspect, etc. AGAIN, WE GON BE FAMOUS Y'ALLLLLLLLLL!!!! After that we meandered over to the Ouidad and Jane Carter stations to "test" some products on our wet hair and ashy-cuz-we-just-got-out-of-the-water-skin and starting talking to one of the stylists from Ouidad, who leaned in to whisper to us that we should take any product we want when we leave. DIDN'T HAVE TO TELL ME TWICE--C and I FOUGHT over that leave-in, haha. I won this fight, though, and she got some gel because she uses gel sometimes, and two things from their kids' line for her 3-yr-old niece. Then we met some more really cool people and exchanged tips and tricks, and got our pictures taken again! This time by regular event-attenders like ourselves; one liked my new shirt, which I was wearing by then, and the other just thought we were cute doing model shots in front of the Ouidad backdrop.
Then at the very end, right before Mr. Big Black ID Checker Man came around to tell us the event was over and we needed to leave, C got the honor of being bestowed with a giant jar of Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream, and I was am INSANELY JEALOUS because I've been wanting to try that for MONTHS but it's $32 plus shipping. :( She tried to say we're even because I got the Ouidad leave-in, but she got stuff from them too and I already HAD that, I WANTED this. Oh well. I got a little sample jar in my goody bag. And we bugged Jane Carter's husband until he gave us sample jars of Nourish & Shine, a product that can be used as a body butter or a twist/loc butter. 
Then we walked back to her place, discussing what we liked and didn't like about the event. C liked the free products, the pool, and seeing so many black women exuding confidence about their hair and their bodies and overall reveling in their natural beauty. I appreciated all of those things too, but I wished this event had been more interactive and less demonstration-driven. Also, there weren't vendors here like at the BGLH Meetup I went to in Chicago last summer, which was somewhat lame but also meant I didn't spend my money as freely, so that was nice, haha. She really didn't like that multiple people asked her and/or I about our "nationality" or straight up "what we were mixed with"; this led to a discussion about whether or not we are mixed individuals a-la-my-post-from-a-week-and-a-half-ago. She answered the question for both of us most of the time, saying we were just Black, but I'm on the fence about how I feel about that as an answer...I know that I'm somewhere between 18 and 30% non-African, probably more, but none of it is any more recent than my great-grandparents. Those are both significant enough percentages that they probably deserve addressing...it's complicated. But she raises a good point about how when someone asks about your racial/ethnic background in conjunction with comments/questions about your hair/skin color, they may very well be implying that the part(s) of you that did not descend from Africa [that they assume must exist, which she has a problem with, but I mean, look at me--I would never get mistaken for an African. Ever.] are inherently of more value than those that did. Le sigh. 
All in all though, it was a fantastic event. It just felt really good to openly appreciate the lifestyle choice we have made and to openly be appreciated for it. It's great to feel the vibrancy of the natural hair community, which can be felt on blogs but is brought to LIFE at events like this. There was no sense of what-kind-of-Black-person-do-I-have-to-try-to-be-in-this-room-full-of-Black-people; I could just be me. It was great. Here are some pics, including one of all the free stuff I got!



There were MORE BLACK WOMEN than White women in this ad, and 3/4 of them had natural hair! It was SHOCKING.

       

Friday, July 22, 2011

Psst...it's a secret:

Sometimes I fantasize about/really really want to dye my hair. I think it would be interesting and fun to have a light shade of brown like this woman's curls. BUT I have made a commitment to never willfully inflict damage to my hair again after having wronged it for so long, so that will never be me. I owe my body better treatment than that.


I couldddddd, however, go for a more reddish tint using henna, which is, in fact, the only all-natural hair dye. I am not as tempted by red, though. We shall see.

Color Consciousness

So I go off on racism a lot...I'm gonna switch things up a little bit and talk about colorism amongst peoples of the African diaspora in the United States, though it should be noted that it's a worldwide problem affecting peoples of many different races.

Wikipedia says: "Colorism is prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color...The term colorism refers to when lighter skin tones are preferred and darker skin is considered less desirable or darker skin tones are preferred and lighter skin is considered less desirable."

Urbandictionary is more limited and more blunt: The discrimination of African Americans by Skin tone in their own community, usually subconsciously done, as most Blacks dont realize they're doing it until some dumb rapper or famous person makes a stupid untrue statement about darker toned women. Perpetuated during slavery and by the media which seems to suggest lighter skin females to be of a higher stance than darker ones. Perpetuated by rappers who often show more lighter skinned women in videos and hardly any darker ones. Perpetuated by some Black men who treat lighter skinned females in a higher regard than darker toned ones. An untrue Inplication that darker skin girls cannot be as fine as lighter ones. Bullshit.

A confession: like many things, colorism isn't something I really had a good idea of until coming to Princeton. Blame it on never having really had close black friends [with one notable though short-lived exception] growing up. Well, rephrase: I had a distorted understanding of colorism. Let's go through notable color-related memories/experiences; they all have to do with my family, because let's face it, they're the only black people I ever really interacted with. 
1) If my father was a woman, soooo many things would make more sense he would be called a redbone. Light Bright. [Sn: Evidently these terms are androgynous. I've never heard them used to describe men before. That touches on an issue too big for this side note...] I remember when I was a little kid, I legitimately thought he was White. My mom noticed that I colored him with the "apricot" Crayola crayon as opposed to the brown I used for the rest of us, and called me out on it when I was a little kid, which led to my first discussion about the fact that Black people come in all different shades of beautiful. [I'm sure that's not what she actually said, but let's go with it.]
2) Starting in middle school I began to get the "Are you mixed? What are you mixed with?" questions left and right, and people never seemed to believe that I was just black. [Well, okay, we've been there already. I am an eclectic mixture of backgrounds that combines into Blackness.] 
3) My mother avoids the sunlight like she is a vampire. She hates going to the beach, and always has an umbrella and some ridiculous hot whenever my grandmother would drag us to Atlantic City's historically black "Chickenbone Beach" (I kid you not) while I was growing up. It wasn't until the beginning of high school that I finally asked her about this bizarre habit, and she said very nonchalantly that she was trying not to get any darker. 
4) Fast-forward to the summer after freshman year of college, when my friends made me realize that I do, in fact, love the beach when it does not involve other members of my family. I would come home from a day full of sun, sand, and surf with a tan (I tan easily) and the first thing any member of my family would say upon my return is "Daaaaaang you got dark!" If that family member was my sister, she would probably make some joke about how we should take a picture before I lose my tan, I "actually look like I belong in this family." Which meant that within the course of my daily life, I looked like an outsider.
Now let's go beyond my family to the Orange Bubble. My freshman year roommate was pretty color-conscious, and whenever we would talk about things like makeup or fashion choices, she would bring up the I could/she couldn't wear this thing or that thing because I'm light-skinned/she's dark-skinned. When I went natural, a lot of conversations with black women of various hues about how my texture varied from theirs, with either implications or direct statements about the amount of White/African/etc. in our heritage. Somewhere along the way I began eschewing the term "light-skinned" and calling myself "caramel" colored, a term I'd first heard in a hip-hop song in elementary/middle school but had never thought of as applying to myself before, an example of the common practice of fetishizing black people skin colors (as came to light recently in the Naomi Campbell Cadberry chocolate ad scandal). Skin color came up as a groan-inducing topic in meetings of various Black cultural organizations and was a featured tough-topic in student-written plays. When I changed my profile picture to one of my Ghanaian-American ex-boyfriend and I, my best friend of 7 years commented not on how cute we were, but that in all that time, he'd "never noticed how light-skinned" I really am. My friend of 14 years liked that comment, as if she agreed. And I couldn't even get mad, because I couldn't deny that holding his hand made me feel like the lightest-skinned person in the world. Little by little, I started to recognize that it was kind of a big deal. 
But it's still kind of hard for me to wrap my head around all of this. When I hear about Twitter battles between #teamlightskin and #teamdarkskin I don't know where I fall--well, okay, I fall on #teamantidiscrimination, but you know what I mean. Do I "pass" the brown paper bag test? It depends on what season you're testing me during. I tan as actively as any white person during the summer. Back when I used to wear powder on my face, I had a winter shade and a summer shade. But beyond any of that, THIS IS SO FUCKING POINTLESS. I have two words to say here, INTERNALIZED RACISM. That's all colorism is. Like the belief that straight hair is any better than nappy/kinky/curly hair or the desire to walk a little faster when there's a lone black man behind you on the sidewalk at night, any belief about the shade of one's skin implying something about their character or inherent value is damn foolish and racist as hell. 
If I hear one more sister talking about how she has to marry a light-skinned brother (or a White man) so her kids won't bear the stigma of being dark skinned, I am going to SMACK THE SHIT OUT OF HER and say hey, why don't we work on changing the societal norms that say your skin color isn't beautiful? Rihanna is the woman with the most fans on Facebook right now. People are calling this a victory for black women everywhere! ...Oh but she's light-skinned. Of course. Womp womp. Or everything about how Michelle Obama changed the way dark-skinned Black women are seen in popular culture, and the people who have the nerve to say they respect Barack more because he married a dark-skinned woman? NEGROES PLEASE. I can't even. Why can't both of these women's achievements be recognized as victories for black women everywhere, regardless of their complexion? I don't think Dr. King knew imagined had to be talking to his own brothers and sisters when he dreamed that his four little children would grow up in a world where they would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Whatever shade of brown my skin is, whatever delicious food item I want to relate it to, at the end of the day, I am just a Black woman, like all the rest of you. These divisions are pointless and downright counterproductive...and those are the hardest kind to get rid of. Le sigh.



Do you know what I see here? 3 different shades of gorgeous. The end.

I took a "Love Language" test from Clutch Magazine earlier

which you can find and amuse yourself with here.

My highest scores were Physical Touch and Quality Time, at 9 and 8 respectively. Your highest score represents your primary love language, and if you have two that are very closely ranked very highly, like mine, it indicates that both are supremely important to you when it comes to affairs of the heart.

This is so true. It manifests itself in my general touchy-feely tendencies and the way I try to worm my close friendships and relationships into as many nooks and crannies in my life as possible. And it's why I can't do distance.

Anyway, it's entertaining when random quizzes provide accurate results. Similarly, I took a personality test the other day, and that result was also pretty damn accurate, imo:

INFJ - the counselor You scored 45% I to E, 42% N to S, 29% F to T, and 26% J to P!
Your type is best summed up by the word "counselor", which belongs to the larger group of idealists. Only 2% of the population share your type. You are so empathic that you often know what others need before they know themselves. You are a complex person who can deal with complicated issues and people, almost prefer to, as you love problem solving. You can be something of an idealist or perfectionist, and should try to take yourself a little less seriously.
You are a supportive and insightful romantic partner, encouraging your mate to have dreams and work hard to make those dreams come true. Because you are so creative, you have a wealth of ideas to help them toward those goals. You need harmony so much that you are driven to resolve conflict quickly, as long as the terms don't violate your ethics. You feel the most appreciated when your partner admires your creativity, trusts your inspirations, and respects your values. It is also vitally important that your partner be open and emotionally available - in other words, that they be willing to share themselves completely.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I don't do casual well.

Let's talk about short-term/casual dating. What exactly is it? How does it work? Is there a difference between say, dating exclusively and being in a relationship? What level of emotional investment should be placed in it? It inherently contains a lack of commitment, right, so does that mean it's okay to be sort of ambivalent about it from the start? Is it, objectively, a good idea or a bad idea? Is it anything other than pointless to date someone who you know you don't want around for very long, who is cute and sweet and fun but not your "type"? [Is cute and sweet and fun and interested in me not enough of a type? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?] Is any relationship social interaction ever really entirely pointless?

The sitch: So there's this guy I've been talking to. We exchanged a few messages, then numbers, which led to these awesome really long text convos we've been having for the past few days. We've been talking about doing things like going on actual dates and cooking for each other. He's decently attractive, taller than me, sweet, cutesy in the way I'm trying to never get caught up in again, into learning even if he didn't go to a great school, and he is easy to talk to. I enjoy having conversations with him and he makes me smile. Oh, and he is arguably very very interested in me--texts everyday and has expressed his desire to "pursue this further" multiple times. 

Doesn't sound like a bad situation to be in, right? So why am I so hesitant? 

When I was telling K about this guy on Monday, I was halfway through my description when he interrupted me and said, "Maya, he is not the one for you." I gave him this look like, Well duh and said, "Yeah I know, but...". He thought that was hilarious, that I was fully aware of that fact but still trying to meet this man for a date on Saturday. And ever since then, either inspired by or unsilenced by this exchange with K, a part of me has been wondering what the fuck I'm doing with this. Am I wasting my time? Or am I arguably just having fun? 

I wasn't looking for any kind of "further-going" when I started this. It's flattering but... how much of this is me liking him and how much is me liking the attention? I am deathly afraid of liking being liked more than liking the person doing the liking. He is not by any standards my "type", though some would argue have argued that the standards one must meet to be my type are too elitist-ly high. I feel like it would be really easy to get into a dating-->dating exclusively-->somewhat like a relationship type thing with him...I just don't actually feel like this is something I necessarily WANT. I don't necessarily strongly NOT want it either. I'm kind of ambivalent. But this is not the place for ambivalence. (Is there ever a place for ambivalence?) As I know all too well, people's emotions and interests and affections and desires are NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH. I don't wanna be triflin'.

I like this. It's fun. I'm enjoying everything that is happening right here and now. Maybe I should for once in my life make an active attempt to stop worrying so much about silly projections I'm making that may or may not have any relation to my life's actual events. Maybe I should "go with the flow". But going with the flow is what recently got me and someone who was once near and dear to my heart into so much trouble. As a result, going with the flow kind of frightens me right now; going with the flow can get people hurt. But only if you go with it past your comfort zone, right? Only if you go with it to places you know you shouldn't/don't want to be? So as long as I don't MIND what's happening, as long as it's putting a smile on my face, can I just chug along? What about the fact that he seems to WANT this so much more than I do? Am I being fair?

Maybe in light of recent events or maybe just in light of being who I am, I am not sure that enjoying something is a justifiable justification for doing it. But why not? Why can't the fact that i think i would enjoy something be reason enough to do it? Girls just wanna have fun. WHAT ARE THESE STUPID MORALS AND WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM?!  What separates doing something like this from doing something like my I-suppose-you-must-call-it-a-relationship with J? (A few thoughts: I was using J mostly for physical attention, whereas this guy is entirely emotional crack [for now, at least]; I established an end-date for J before we started, whereas I just have the feeling that this won't last; this guy is 1000 times closer to my "type".)

I have an overwhelming desire to want to do things the right way. I don't believe that all is fair in love and war. I do believe that I could enjoy spending time with this man as much as I enjoy conversing with him, which is a good amount. I do believe in the value of reciprocity and in living my life with integrity, which includes being unselfish in my interpersonal relationships. I don't believe I'm giving as much as I'm getting right now. 

...Then again, we haven't met. Case in point: when I told F I was thinking about ending things with this guy, he replied that things haven't even started. So I guess I'll text him when I get off work. And I guess maybe we'll have ourselves an actual date at some point. And I guess I can make up my mind then? It can't be fair to shut the door in his face when he's only halfway inside, I suppose. I suppose I'll just have to make it very clear that, as excited as he may be, I'm just seeing what this feels like. I suppose I am learning to take chances.             

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dreamcation

I realized the other day that I spend the vast majority of my waking hours in front of a computer screen. Maybe this desire is stemming from that, or perhaps from the fact that I haven't been in a body of water in over a month, or even just as part and parcel of the desire to get back in touch with myself that my readjustment birthed, but whatever the reason, I just want to get away! I would settle for any type of small disappearance from the normal routine of my life, hence why I'm trying to bug T to go to the Delaware Water Gap for a day; I'm hoping my trip to NYC on Saturday will ease some of this restlessness. I might plan a trip to visit my dad at the end of the summer as well, in a similar vein. 

But allow me to dream, for a moment, about what I would do if the possibilities were limitless. It needs five days.

I want a hammock on a white sand beach, where I can go into the water up to my neck and still see my feet. 
I want my beach scene to be complete with a good book, a floppy hat (which would fit on my hair if I pulled the wet-from-the-ocean hair back into a ponytail), and a beautifully sculpted shirtless man to bring me endless strawberry daiquiris and throw me a smile or two.
I want one day of just that: sun, ocean, sand, swaying, reading, drinking, and enjoying my eye candy. Oh, and pulling that hat down over my face for a little catnap or two. Bliss. And that night I want an island party and to flirt and dance with a gorgeous gentleman whom I just might bring back to my room to get my, uh, "groove" back.
On my second day I want to start exploring. I want a city where every building is painted in three different hues to remind me that we are supposed to color our worlds as loudly as we can.
And I want a huge street fair! They take the cake in the Things I Miss the Most about Chicago category. I want live music by a local band, preferably full of drums and in a language I barely speak (or at least with a thick accent). Jewelry and clothing and trinkets made by local artisans, beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces I couldn't find anywhere else. Things that will make me feel original.
And I want to wear this dress while I'm there:
And when I get back with my arms most likely full of presents for myself (and maybe for a couple of cool people), I want to go scuba diving.
On Day 3, exploration will continue. I will wake up bright and early before it gets too hot and hike to the nearby tropical waterfall. 
I want to meditate with that kind of view. With natural nature sounds, rather than those from a recording. And when I get back from taking a million pictures and reveling in the beauty of the natural world, I am sure I will be too exhausted to do anything but sit. So sit I will...in the harness of a parachute to go parasailing!
Day Four will be a day of self-pampering. I have always wanted to go to a spa; I feel like it's an institution where I can feel totally and completely taken care of for a few hours. I want a mud bath while my face still has a mask from my facial. I want a sauna. I want a full-body massage by an attractive male masseuse, and I want to silently fantasize about a happy ending while he grinds his hands into my body.
Day Five will be a repeat of Day 1, and then I will be okay to go back to my regularly scheduled programming. 

...I wonder if I'm a skilled-enough meditator to visualize all of this. Can a braincation make me feel less tense?