Thursday, August 30, 2012

If you are going to be in your orgasm, be in your orgasm. Let it permeate through your body & wrap itself around you. Feel its warmth, it’s unconditional love. Don’t hide from it; surrender to it.
You may as well do it right.
When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.
--Elizabeth Gilbert
(via La Bella Vita) 
When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?
--Sandi Toksvig

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How the way we show bestfriendship changes as we get older

When we were kids, showing who was your best friend was easy. You spent every moment possible together. You shared even your favorite lunchtime snacks. You went through the whole ordeal of asking your mom to go to their house on the weekend even though you knew she'd make you clean your room first. When we were kids and some grown-up person would ask us, "Who's your best friend?", there was one clear and decisive answer.

Then we got a little older. Say, middle school and early high school. Suddenly there were these things called telephones and we wanted to be on them all day. It wasn't enough to perhaps be in every class all day with our closest friends--we now had to call them as soon as we got home and again after dinner very little other than hog up the phone line. SH and I used to watch Friends together and take the deepest joy from being able to laugh at the same things at the same time. We used to listen to the radio and sing with each other. We'd do whatever we'd be doing if we were alone, except that we were together (but not really). [I just realized how much of a precursor these activities were to my later/current internet-heavy lifestyle, always talking to someone, yet simultaneously #foreveralone.] By this age, your best friends have become those people whose mere presence comforts you.

This continues through high school. Now you've got a friend group. This is the big leagues--it's three or four or seven people you can count on to hang out with. If you're going to the movies, or the mall, or to play mini-golf when you get out of school early after taking your AP Gov exam, it's with these guys. You do all the same extracurricular activities, so not only do you see each other at school all day, you also see each other afterschool, and then call each other to figure out the Calc homework and your lives. These are the friends you have deep serious important life conversations with for the first times. This has begun the era of seeking advice from friends, advice about that person you're interested in, what class you should take, what schools you're thinking about applying to, how to convince your Mom to let you do X-thing-you-know-she-won't-approve-of, etc. This is when your friends become partially responsible for keeping the pieces of you in order when you're freaking out. This is the era when your friends have started to surpass your family in terms of importance to your daily functioning as a social being. You show this by passing notes and lying to your mom to hang out with them.

In college, friendship begins to revolve around food and proximity. Your closest friends are maybe your roommates or the guys down the hall. They're probably the people you can call on to eat dinner together on a semi-daily (or actually daily) basis. They're the people you'll wait to go to events for even though being late is your biggest pet peeve. They're the people you have impromptu dance parties in your common room with. The people you don't mind overhearing conversations with your parents. The people with whom doing homework together becomes having incredible conversations til 3am and THEN starting the paper you have due tomorrow. They're the people you agree to stay up all night with for moral support when you don't have anything to do. They're the people that you know will come to your peformance. They do all of the advising and pieces-putting-back-together that your high school friends did, except on a higher level because this is real life shit. Your willingness to put pants on and do things with them in person, or let them come over to your hideously dirty room, talk soothingly to them when they're sobbing, let them borrow your shit for indeterminate periods of time, and to act normal in front of their parents are how you show that you care about them.

From what I have gathered so far of post-grad life, you show that you care about people in the real world by making and actually keeping Skype dates with them. By fitting them into your otherwise crazy schedule for dinner and/or happy hour if they live in the same city as you. By gchat and Facebook chat. By occasionally picking up your telephone to do something other than text and hearing their voice, which will inevitably make you realize how much you miss them in one knotty ball of want. By planning to buy plane/train/bus tickets to see them. By actually buying them.

But I have recently been introduced to what feels, to me, like it trumps any and all the myriad ways I have shown friendship for someone in the past (besides, perhaps, the not inexpensive roundtrip ticket to Denver I will be buying sometime before March). At its simplest, it means wearing this dress (without the black sash)

and standing in front of a room full of people who mean either very much to my dear friend and once-roommate, MJP, or her soon-to-be-husband, my friend CW. It means helping to organize the bachelorette party and the bridal shower. It means helping her get dressed, making sure her hair and makeup are perfect, and being there to tell her that she looks absolutely stunning, as do the decorations and the place settings. It is staying-up-to-watch-the-sun-rise-for-moral-support-alone on crack.

These are the things it is tangibly. The things it is practically. The things it will be in terms of real world actions and responsibilities.

Intangibly, impractically, in the amorphous world of my feelings, it may be the highest honor that has ever been bestowed unto me. It is you-are-significant-enough-to-who-I-am-and-how-I-got-here-that-I-want-you-to-be-beside-me-as-I-declare-that-I'll-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-doing-this-new-thing, specific-role-ified. It never occurred to me before that wedding parties are as much about love as are the weddings themselves until she asked those seven words and I started to cry. We all know how I feel about weddings and marriage for me, but that doesn't lessen my desire to want to be part of her wedding at all--she's the happiest I've ever seen her, and to be chosen to be a part of making that official? I think it might be the pinnacle of bestfriendship-expression.    


Reblogged from Choosing Pancakes


Reblogged from tudo bom(b)

Last two people to look at my blog, you are awesome.

We have crossed the threshold of over 30,000 all time pageviews! Woooooooooo!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I generally claim to be against tattoos because I can think of nothing that I would want on my body now that I'll still want at 82.

This photo has proven me wrong. I could rock Audre Lorde til I DIE.

Reblogged from tudo bom(b)

Another picture of the haircut I'm drooling over

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

White privilege is not having a specific category for porn.

(via come correct
Courting friends can be just as thrilling and crazy as courting a new lover. You want to spend all your time with them and know their histories, their families, and their friends. You’re getting to know and love a whole new person, which is so exciting! I get butterflies just thinking about the possibility of finding a new close friend! As much as I think I’ve closed up shop on my social life, I also know that one can never have enough friends in this world. I hope to never be too old to go on a friend date.
  -- Ryan O'Connell, here
Often, being a black woman often means either:
  1. Spending an inordinate amount of your life exhibiting an insane degree of self-control and emotional-detachment so that you can chase an ever-moving narrow target that there is no guarantee you will ever hit. Or …
  2. Screw this. I’m grown. I do what I want.

--Danielle Belton, Clutch

I went to an African Diaspora International Film Festival on Friday night

kind of on a whim. It was a meetup for my Black Film and Media Meetup group, but it didn't seem like very many people were going to the showing on Friday night, but Friday's showing was the only one I could make, so I decided to make EY proud and go by myself.  

I knew the general area that the festival was being held in, so I figured I'd just get off the metro and walk up the street until I found the address. It was definitely on the Chinatown side of the Chinatown/Gallery Place area (not that our Chinatown is *remotely* authentically Asian, by anyone's standards), but imagine my surprise when I realized that it was at the Goethe Institute, better known as the German Cultural Center.

...So that's how Diasporic we're talking, huh?

There were these delicious African meat pastry things that I had at an AKWAABA meeting once but don't know the name of, and the people standing around eating it at the pre-film reception were mostly Black, some white, some in African or African-inspired clotihng/jewelry, some in general office attire and/or jeans. There were like only two women with straightened hair, though, which I thought was an interesting commonality between the otherwise quite diverse-looking crowd.

I saw another girl sitting by herself, so I crossed the room to introduce myself to her and she became my buddy for the night. We talked about being new to DC, her job hunt, our blogs, and other getting-to-know-you stuff. She was pretty cool.

The film was called Lover's Rock. I was expecting some sort of romance story, I suppose, so was more than a little surprised when it turned out to be a documentary about a softer form of reggae music that was popular among Black Brits in the late 70s through early 90s. To be honest, when I realized this, I was expecting to be disappointed. To the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised by the film as a whole, but altogether intrigued by some specifics...

1) The Sus Laws: a series of litigation in England and Wales similar to many "stop-and-frisk" practices in the US, whereby the police had the power t"o stop, search and potentially arrest people on suspicion of them being in breach of section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824." (source) I couldn't listen to the musicians and producers talk about the fear Black men carried in them walking down the street in the late 70s without  seeing Trayvon Martin's face, without thinking about the fact that there have been more stop-and-frisks of Black men in NYC than the entire population of Black men in NYC in 2011. I don't know why this similarity surprised me--institutionalized racism is everywhere, duh--but perhaps due to the particularly police-brutality-rife time we're in, seeing these connections hit me deep. George Zimmerman is not the only man to automatically equate Blackness with suspiciousness. The US isn't the only place where "neutral" laws promote this kind of behavior among those supposedly protecting and serving.

2) The bombing of a sixteen year old Black girl's birthday party, which resulted in 9 deaths and upwards of 30 injuries. I couldn't set up a clearer parallel to the four little girls who lost their lives in the 16th Street church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. Watching footage of the riots that began when the entire city of London protested police inaction on this case, I felt a surge of pride. Pride for a people and a place that are in no way my own...or are they? I felt pride, and at the same time a hint of dread, as I wondered if it would take another such tragedy to move us to action.

3) A major theme of the film was the expression and, in some ways, even creation of a Black British identity through this genre of music that was distinctly originally British and Black in the same way jazz is distinctly originally American and Black. And this is the part where I shocked myself with my US tunnel-vision. Black British identity isn't really a concept that I'd ever explored, perhaps that I'd ever even recognized as being a thing. One of the musicians talked about feeling like there were social spaces for either Black or British, as if the two were mutually exclusive, and all I heard was Du Bois writing "and one ever feels his twoness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder" (The Souls of Black Folk, 3). I was instantly taken back to the first pages of the first book that I read in my first African-American studies class with my first Black teacher (the honorable Dr. Cornel West) and was surprised to find myself hearing myself in this man, just with different words. Double consciousness is diasporic.

4) The concept of dance as symbiotic, creating a tiny space of figure-8 hip movements wherein the rest of the room falls away, leaving the dancers in a world composed of nothing more than beat and bodies. The way you feel when you fit with the person you're dancing with. ...Brought back memories that made me catch my breath.

5) The first reggae song to break number 1 on the popular music charts in the US was British. It wasn't Bob Marley. It wasn't any Jamaican artist at all, despite the fact that generally our entire concept of reggae is as a Jamaican art. I've actively participated in the perpetuation of a single story I didn't even know I was oversimplifying. I think that the amount of times this happens in a life, in a week, in a day, would astound me.

6) This quote. "Whether you know about it or not, it's part of your memory." I saw myself in these young Black Brits. If they saw a documentary about my life and our times, I think they would see themselves in me. We are part of each other's memories. I think that's what the Diaspora means.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friendship is like a snowstorm

It’s crazy, because I don’t even know when you became so important to me. It’s like watching a snowstorm. You see the flakes falling, but you don’t realize how they’re adding up. Then suddenly your whole lawn is covered. All these little things have added up, and you’re my snowstorm, baby.

(via Free Bird)

Soooo, this is basically how I feel about every single person I call a friend. Especially about everyone I call a good friend. In an almost overwhelming manner about anyone I call a best friend. If you mean something to me, I promise you that I've had some moment where we've had some conversation or done some thing together and I've stopped to think, 'Hmmmm, we're close enough for this? Evidently we're close enough for this. I'm okay with us being close enough for this, but I am nonetheless surprised.' As you become increasingly important to me, I try to look back and chart how we got to where we are, but I can never remember. It's as if it has always been this way, when I know that logically, it hasn't. Your snow covers my world and I can't quite remember what it looked like before the blizzard. 


You know how housecats once upon a time ran wild and free and did whatever the fuck they wanted until humans came along and fed and litter-trained them into domestic complacency? Well, I might as well start practicing my "meow," because it's getting serious--I'm becoming increasingly domestic.

And before everyone who said I'd change my mind about not wanting things like children or perhaps even a husband open their mouths to say they told me so, sit down. That's not the kind of domesticity I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is my newfound urge--and occasional even *desire*--to clean my house. It has been overtaking me since the moment my housemate first handed me my keys.

My mother and grandmother were basically appalled at the degree to which the house needed a thorough all-over scrubbing before they would deem it liveable. We started this with a broom, some rags, and a trip to Target for cleaning supplird. There, my grandmother demanded that I purchase stainless steel cleaner for the kitchen appliances. Yeah, right, as if I would ever touch that can after they drove off, right?

False. I use that shit on the REGULAR. I voluntarily get on my hands and scrub the kitchen floor. I sweep all of the hardwood floors and the steps once a week. I find it difficult to go to sleep without washing all of the dishes in the sink if I contributed to the pile in any way. I regularly get tiny broken curls all over the bathroom on Saturday mornings as I deep condition/detangle, and regularly sweep every nook and cranny of that bathroom on Sundays. I sometimes even fold my clothes immediately after they come out of the dryer.

And if all of that wasn't enough to make me stop and question who the fuck I'm becoming (note: it is), the most ridiculous part is that I get sooooo angry at my housemates for leaving messes. I come home and start muttering to myself about the mail being spread all over the table (when we have canvas totes for it to go in, separated by person!) or dishes being left on the coffee table from the night before or two or three nights before. I curse them out under my breath as I put their dishes in the sink. I wonder aloud how they can stand to live in such squalor. I...realize that I have switched sides in the epic battles JA and I used to have about cleanliness in common spaces.

When the fuck did that happen? When did I become this person who can't stand to see other people's messes fucking up our shared space? I certainly wasn't in college. Hell, I didn't keep my own space clean. 

Granted, these messes (besides the mail) that I cannot tolerate are generally food messes. I hate food mess. Always have, always will. We are not the only things that eat food. Insects and rodents eat food. Leaving food out will attract insects and rodents. I don't *do* insects or rodents, as a rule of life. Thus, clean your shit or I will clean it for you. 

So, the dishes can be explained away fairly easily. Maybe even everything related to the kitchen. But the sweeping dust dogs (too big to be bunnies) down the stairs? The stainless steel cleaner? The mail? Something in me has changed. I have come to know that peaceful satisfaction that arises from your space being clean and orderly. I still hate the cleaning, but afterwards when I look at my shiny kitchen and bathrooms and house, I feel...good. 

And I've been trying to get a handle on that for basically as long as I've been here. Does some switch magically flip on the day you move out of your parents house that makes you care about the little hairball on your floor or shaking out the welcome mat so it looks less dingy? Is holding your diploma generally associated with a growing desire to dust? Ironing my clothes in the morning is attributed to being a working person. Ironing my clothes on the weekends could be called a force of habit. But devoting my Sunday mornings to cleaning the damn house when OBVIOUSLY my two housemates don't give a combined shit (one actually has the nerve to complain about how her boyfriend never cleans his apartment and wants me to sympathize, while I just sit there like BITCH DON'T YOU EVEN)...

I think it generally comes down to I'm spending BANK to live here. Granted, my rent is actually pretty great for DC prices, but still, that check I send off every month makes this bedroom the most expensive thing I've ever paid for. And if nearly $12000 of my good money is gonna go to living here over these thirteen months, then it had better damn well be a place I want to be. It had better damn well be a place I feel ownership over (regardless of the fact that I'm renting). It had better damn well be a place that I don't have to be embarrassed about or make excuses for if I bring someone over. Having chosen this place and paying that $833-plus-utilities every month means I damn sure ain't gon live in squalor...even if that means I feel strangely domestic. I suppose I *should* as this is *my* domicile. Not my mom's house. Not my dorm room. Not a place wherein I'm renting a room for two and a half months. This is my motherfucking space and I'ma do right by it.

[I should say that my older housemate will at least do the dishes from time to time, especially on her days off. The one who's only two years older than me cleaned our shared bathroom once...the day after I'd cleaned it...smh.]  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Who says graffiti does no good?

A lovely message I passed on 14th Street betwen S and T when I was walking to meet AF and his friend for dinner last night:

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Reblogged from La Bella Vita

I would be a very loyal customer...

Reblogged from Indie. Radiant. 
It would be amazing to stick with the same subject over a period of time and go through increasingly higher prices to see how the idea can develop. But it would also be fascinating to pick a different subject every day for the same price. I'm not a coffee drinker, but if I were and passed this guy everyday, I would totally fork over that $3 for coffee for a poem instead. Poems are forever.


Reblogged from Indie. Radiant.


Reblogged from Indie. Radiant.

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.

A Curious Case of Flirting Failure

I had an interesting encounter with an unknown gentleman last night.

I went to see Chrisette Michele at the Howard Theatre. I didn't go with RG. I didn't go with my Live Soul Meetup group. I didn't reconnect with a friend I hadn't seen in a while at a show. Nope--I went all by myself. If EY read this blog, she'd be proud of me. I'll admit I was kind of nervous about it, though, especially because it was a seated show, and I wasn't looking forward to being awkwardly placed at a table with people who knew each other well (or were tryna get to know each other a little better)...

Luckily, I got there early enough to snag a seat at the bar. I was sitting by myself, not looking at the drink menu because I knew what I was going to order, and rather reading Asses to Asses, Bust to Bust on the Kindle app on my fancy new Android MP3 player (on which I'm currently writing this post). So there I am, reflecting on my experiences with casual sex as I read the first chapter, when a guy comes and sits to my right. I'd been angled a little to the left, so I turned to face the bar so as to size him up in my peripheral. He was cute enough and had some style--I decided I would definitely talk to him.

He initiated the conversation. He'd been poring over the drink menu for a few minutes when I ordered mine. He said he'd been thinking about getting that and asked if I'd had it before, which led to who we'd each seen at this theatre before, which led to how long we've been in DC, what we do, where we went to school... He was 25 and had just finished getting his Master's in Education. My alma mater wowed him, as it tends to do, and he applauded my decision to take some time between undergrad and grad school, because he didn't and it wore him out.

These normal getting-to-know-someone-new questions quickly grew into a legitimate and interesting conversation. He asked me how I was liking the diversity in the District, and was "fascinated" by the fact that I'd found my first Black community at Princeton. We talked about how DC seems slightly Southern to me (I am living in a land of Krispy Kreme stores and wherein strangers will say "Good morning" on their way to work) but radically Northern culturally to a North Carolina-born, Georgia-educated brother like him. We talked about how it hurts him that he could never invite his gay friend to his hometown.

Our conversation drifted back to music a lot, which is natural given the circumstances and the fact that musical tastes were where we had the most in common. He had seen Chrisette's show the night before with friends, and enjoyed it so much that he had to come back. (#impressed) His favorite concert of all time is an artist whom I *crave* the chance to see live. My best concert experience is near the top of his list, and we were blown away by her for the same reasons. We realized that we're both planning to come to the same concert in a few weeks.

He asked me if I was eating and I admitted to having had dinner at home before. He had too. We both paused for a few seconds before both saying we could go for some fries. I hipped him to the bar menu rather than the dinner menu, and he declared that he would buy an order of fries for us to share. He got up to use the restroom and told me to go ahead and put the order in for him. We shared our fries and had a conversation about opening acts (hers wasn't that great). 

He'd mentioned earlier that he was an Alpha, so I brought up how I don't know anything about Greek life because of eating clubs and he showed me a picture of his line brothers while telling me about how much his involvement with the Alphas meant to him. We talked about how moving he found the MLK Memorial and how "DC" I felt on the 4th of July when I watched the fireworks from the Lincoln Memorial. I told him about the great brunch place I've discovered in Dupont Circle and we discovered a shared love of breakfast foods at all times of the day/night. 

He complimented me on my hair and we talked a bit about the "natural revolution" that's going on. He loves it and has been trying to convince his mom to go natural for years. This led to him showing me an old family photo from when he was 8 on his iphone (which had a case that looked like an original GameBoy! +2). I told him about my mom's recent battle with cancer and subsequent head-shaving. We talked about our siblings, how he didn't get close until his older sister until he went to college, and how my little sister was moving in tomorrow (today) to start her freshman year. He later complimented my necklace and we discussed where he might be able to get more bracelets from. 

Our conversation wasn't constant--we were distracted by phones and the music itself, but still, the conversation was good. I realized while he was in the bathroom that I don't think I've ever just opened up to a complete stranger like this in places that aren't the internet. I was surprised by how well our conversation was going, and kind of reassured that maybe I could do first date small-talk less horrifically than I imagined. And then Chrisette started and we stopped talking, but let our knees lightly rest against one another when we turned to face the stage.

About halfway through her set, he called our bartender over to ask for his check. The bartender brought mine as well, and when I dug in my wallet for my debit card, I also got out one of my special business cards with my cell number written on the back. He'd told me earlier that he would probably have to leave early because he was running orientation for parents and students tomorrow at work. I transferred the card to the inside pocket of my purse for easy access when he asked for my number. He kept his phone and wallet out on the bar next to him for another song or two, sometimes picking his phone up trying to sneak some video before he left. I thought about covertly placing my card on top of his wallet, but sneak tactics didn't seem necessary. We'd been getting along great! So I watched Chrisette and waited for him to make the move...

...but he didn't. When she got into her gospel music, which meant she was almost done for the night, he slid his wallet into his pocket, hopped down from his stool, said it was nice to meet me, and was gone, leaving me to wonder if after two initiations on his part, it had been my turn to push things further, or if I'd said/done things to make him reconsider between our fries and our goodbyes, or 498734984 other things. I'm not like, super sad that I'll likely never see him again or anything--I wasn't *that* caught up in him. I'd just thought that things were going well, so was fairly disappointed when things stopped as suddenly as they'd started. #wompwomp

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
--E. B. White 

Monday, August 13, 2012

An analogy that explains why "friendzone-ing" is a bunch of patriarchal bullshit:

by Lavender Labia
*man walks into a store and finds employee*
Man: Alright, I've had enough. Why haven't you guys hired me?!
Employee: Uh...well sir, when did you put in your application?
Man: I never filled out an application.
Employee: Well sir, we can't consider you for employment if you've never filled out an application.
Man: No, that's bullshit, because I've been coming here for years now, and every single time I tell you all how much I love this store and how much I appreciate your customer service, unlike some of your other customers might I add!
Employee: Well, but that doesn't-
Man: AND I even told you that I didn't have a job!
Employee: But sir, that doesn't indicate to us that you would like a job at our store. And again, if you've never filled out an application, we can't consider you. Besides, we're not hiring.
Man: OH! Not hiring, HA! What a laugh. I see your store go through seasonal workers all the time. They come and go like nothing, but you won't consider me as a part-time employee even though I KNOW you've been looking for workers to fill positions? That's insane!
Employee: Sir, we've been looking to hire a few people for management positions. Do you have any management experience?
Man: Well no, but what does that matter?
Employee: ...Well sir, that's what we're looking for. You won't be suitable for the position without management experience.
Man: Oh that's such a load of crap. You know, you'll be waiting around a long time for a manager if you don't lower your standards a little. Who cares if someone knows how to manage a store? I LOVE this store and I'm willing to work here, that's all that should matter to you.
Employee: That...doesn't make any sense.
Man: NO! I'm done. This is over. From now on, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
Man: Fuck you, slut.
Words are small shapes in the gorgeous chaos of the world. But they are shapes, they bring the world into focus, they corral ideas, they hone thoughts, they paint water colors of perception.
--Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

(via  happinessruns...


Reblogged from The Write Curl Diary

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.
If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.
--Audre Lorde
Reblogged from Racialicious

But I think it’s intoxicating when somebody is so unapologetically who they are.
--Don Cheadle

(via  Indie. Radiant.
My love is a beast, an epiphany, a whisper, a roar; if you can’t rumble, don’t attempt to make love with me.
--Stacyann Chin 

Style Crush

Girl with Curves

There is a Brazilian artist, Anjelica Dass,

who is trying to photodocument every skin color in the entire world. She's naming them according to something called the Pantone color scale, which gives every hue a numerical code, and posting the pictures to this tumblr. It's hard for me to figure out which number I am (especially because the numbering system doesn't really make obvious sense to me), but regardless, I think this project is cool. Evidently some critics are asking what the point is, but I think it's simply--the diversity of the human form, even in one little aspect like this, is so beautiful that it should be art. Documentation need not be about quantification and separation--documentation can simply be recognition.  

I Skyped with my mother for over an hour today

after talking on the phone with her for almost an hour and then talking on the phone with her again for about half an hour afterwards. The purpose of our video chat was so that I could see her newly shaved head, so as to be able to weigh in on the topic of whether she should wear her bald head to work when school starts again in September or hide under hot ass wigs for the next two years or so until her hair grows back to a length similar to what it was before. 

As soon as the video connected, a smile slowly spread across my whole face. One of those genuine full smiles that I try not to do in pictures because I don't like the way it makes my face look. 

My mom: What?

Me: I think you're beautiful.

My mom: Stop lying.

Me: No, I'm serious. I think it looks great.

This is about how much hair is on my mom's head right now. It's salt-and-pepper, but mostly salt. She's "...getting used to" it. I feel like I'm finally seeing her for the first time, and I love what I see. I love the unencumbered view of her face; it says "this is me. This is all I am and all I have for you." It is vulnerability and beauty all wrapped up into one. 

Maybe I'm romanticizing it. This isn't happening to me. It is, however, making me remember how wonderful it was to feel like I was seeing myself for the first time when I went natural. It's making me revisit the idea of getting a (fairly drastic) haircut. 

I am intrigued by tapered fros, a la:

My mom and Choosing Pancakes love it. KS doesn't think I could pull it off. EY is hesitant to say maybe. What say you?  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

i am a lover without a lover. i am lovely and lonely and i belong deeply to myself.

Once upon a time, I was a more science-y type of nerd.

Like, Math Club President, Academic Team (akin to Quiz Bowl) Captain, co-founder and VP of my high school's Astronomy Club nerd. 

...Shocking, I know. 

I also held leadership positions in Habitat for Humanity and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, so when I grew up and turned into a full-fledged a social justice nerd, I basically said, kthanxbai science. But sometimes, given the right confluence of events, that science nerd part of me comes roaring back. Last weekend was one of those times.

First TN got me tipsy and then took me to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, where there are awesome dinosaur skeletons (and those of lots of other prehistoric beasts and creatures), but dinosaurs were my favorite when I was a kid. I had dinosaur figurines and dinosaur stuffed animals (the tail of one of which later became my first dildo-like object because I was a freaky kid) and dinosaur books and I could have told you anything about any dinosaur using its scientific name. I watched The Land Before Time whenever it came on TV. I wanted to be a paleontologist so I could think dinosaurs are cool for a living. And all of that rushes back to me whenever I'm in a natural history museum to this day, except that it's all accompanied by an overwhelming sense of awe at how people can find these things and put the skeletons together and understand the life and habits of creatures that lived millions of years ago. 

I also got to feel a piece of Mars at the exhibit on the planet, which got me pumped to go to the Air and Space Museum next (after we spent 3 and a half hours at that museum and saw every exhibit). At the Air and Space Museum, I got to marvel again at how ridiculously amazing flight is as a concept and feel humbled by the men and women who started it. I also got into a theoretical discussion about Jupiter with TN's boyfriend because I just don't understand how a planet can BE a swirling ball of gas. 

And then Sunday night, after we'd each rubbed a little piece of Mars at the museum, the Curiosity Rover landed safely on Mars, ready to start its explorations for life. And I suppose I was primed for this kind of a freakout because of the days' activities, but thinking about how we could go from first landing on the Moon the year my mother was born, 43 years ago, to doing something like this now just floored me. It prompted a conversation between the three of us about how TN's boyfriend and I just profoundly don't *get* science/technology.

It started from me reading some article that said that NASA had to wait an agonizing 8 minutes for the message to get from the Curiosity back to their lab saying that it had landed safely. EIGHT MINUTES. Eight minutes for information to go from an automated robot on MARS to a building on Earth. #mindblown This led to us looking up how satellites work, which led to a discussion of radio waves, because TN's boyfriend and I really don't get how information can be turned into waves that go through air and space and time to be received by devices that turn it back into things that make sense to humans. 

It was very reminiscent of a conversation I once had in the Large Library with ChoosingPancakes about how, really, if you want to break it down to the most fundamental level, conversation astounds me. The fact that I can open my mouth and make  a series of sounds and you can hear those sounds, interpret them as having some meaning, and then make a different series of sounds to which I'll react the same way is mind-boggling. The fact that I can do that on paper and we can have the same interaction with little squiggly lines that somehow represent the sounds? Even crazier. And the idea that I can sit here in my dining room in DC typing these words on my laptop (which I have zero understanding of the workings of either--I understand that binary code is involved, sure, but that doesn't mean I understand how 1s and 0s = information) and whenever I feel like I'm finished, click a little button that says publish and then somehow it exists in this space on the internet for all of you to see on computers and phones all over the world. 

I have to spend most of my life not thinking about the technology that gets me through the day, because otherwise I think I'd spend my whole life just sitting on the floor in awe of all the magic that is life.

Science makes me go like this (except that all of my excitement is questions):

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I love about being queer is the ability to grow and transform my sexuality. The recognition that our sexualities are complex and ever evolving, just as every other part of us, is a blissfully freeing thing. Regardless of anything else in the entire world, I am not bound by anyone else’s rules beside my own. Queer is freedom, possibility and space.

I try to be transparent in my assumptions, theories, frameworks, and arguments because intellectual work is political work.
--Chauncey De Vega 

I don't like "meant to be"s...

...but I can't help feeling like I was meant to be where I was on Saturday evening. I went to a natural hair meetup cohosted by my girl @HGKWW and saw a young-ish Black woman rocking a low fade. I made a note of her and how she pulled the style off with elegance--since my mom called me crying after she cut all her hair off after it began falling out in clumps, I've been making a mental note of bald/near bald Black women that I see out and about, so I can say with honesty that that look is in right now when I talk with her about it.

About an hour later, before a giveaway, this woman starts speaking and handing out flyers. Her name is Andrene Taylor. She is thirty three years old and has beaten lymphoma three times already. She's currently preparing for a triathlon and serving as the President of an amazing Foundation called ZuriWorks, whose purpose is to raise cancer awareness in Black female communities. And even more, she is hosting an event this coming weekend called It'll Grow Back! Loving your Hair with Natural Care, which along with dealing out knowledge and tips for naturals generally, will feature discussion about the pros and cons of wearing wigs post-chemo, when hair starts growing back, how the hair that grows back differs from the hair you had before, and how hair and healing are connected mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. 

Here, in a place hundreds of miles from home, at an event co-hosted by a friend I made at a school I had a 9% chance of getting into, which I learned about via a website that I stumbled upon when lamenting the fact that I didn't know how to make friends in the real world, I found just what my mother needs. My eyes started welling up just as I was listening to her talk, and I waited patiently while she had another conversation later in the evening just so that I could speak with her, shake her hand, and tell her that she is an inspiration. 

I want so badly for my mom to come down to go to the event on Sunday, but she has decided against it because it's a lot of travelling for her to do by herself. My Nana offered to drive her, but she's already driving her to Philly for her appointment with her oncologist on Friday and to Dover and back twice the following Thursday to move my sister in to school, so she didn't want to put that on her too. I understand all of that, but I'm still disappointed. This would be so good for her. I might go anyway just so I can pass on the knowledge. 

Though I am never anything but the picture of optimism to my mother, I feel safe enough here to say that meeting someone who has been through this again and again and is THRIVING did wonders for me. I want her to know that her very existence is helping. I want to help her help other people. I very nearly want to *thank* someone for the peculiar series of events that led to us meeting on Saturday, because few other introductions have every felt so wholly right. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Sexual Commandments

In the midst of a larger drunken conversation (the subject of which I'll probably return to shortly because it's interesting) I had with RG Thursday night, somehow the subject of my "rules" about sex came up. 

RG: ...Is there a list?
Me: Yeah, sort of. I don't have it like, written down, but I have rules.
RG: Like what? Condoms...?
Me: Yup. Protection is always rule number one. And I like to have sex in my own space, if possible. And rule number three is possibly even more important than rule number one--I have to actively want to be doing it. 

And then the subject came up of whether I need to change/add rules now that I'm living in  "the HIV capital of the country". ...Which is a legitimate point. More legitimate, I think, than just changing/adding "for the real world," which I'd been debating but had intellectual issues with because I don't like suggesting that Princetonians are less dangerous than the "real world". 

So, without further ado, a list:

  1. Thou shalt always useth a condom. Thou shalt additionally always carry one in her purse, because thou knowest not what might happen. 
  2. Whenever possible, thou shalt sleep with someone for the first time in thou's own space, as it alloweth for thou to be in control of the situation. 
  3. Thou must actively desireth to be engaging in sexual activities with the person(s) with whom one engageths at the time of engagement. Thou is forbiddeneth from being "meh" about sex.
  4. As a corollary to rule 3, thou must immediately cease and desist in all sexual activities with anyone who make you feel anything other than wholly positive about thyself and thy actions.
  5. (This was actually a rule already, but I forgot to list it on Thursday.) Thou shalt not go down on strange genatalia. In the past, this has meant rando dick--in the future, it shall mean all fun bits of whose status one is not confident about. 
  6. Thou shalt not be discouraged from having conversations about sexual health with new partners because it's awkward. The conversations one might have to have because they DIDN'T talk about it are a lot more awkward, I bet. These conversations  may need to happen earlier with girls (if applicable).
  7. Thou shalt get tested every six months or after any semi-risky behavior with a new partner, whichever is more frequent.
This seems pretty exhaustive to me, but if you can think of anything it might do me well to add (and which doesn't go against any of my sex-positive philosophies), please do tell in the comments!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I need to register to vote in DC...

Reblogged from Jack & Jill Politics

To anyone who has ever criticized a Black woman for caring too much about her hair

Have you all gathered here? Do I have your attention? Okay, then let me direct it to the comments that I wish I couldn't believe that people are making about 16-year-old Olympics Gold Medal winner Gabby Douglas's hair. 

Actually, before I do that, let me reiterate: this little girl is sixteen. She's from Virginia Beach and left home at the age of 14 to live with a foster family in IOWA, of all places, so that she could train with top-tier gymnasts. She's one of the five gymnasts on the US Women's Gymnastics Team to just win a gold medal for our country. I have complete confidence that none of you will ever do anything this badass in your lives, so please, enlighten me, how you have the audacity to watch this little girl spin and fly through the air like it's easy and then criticize her HAIR?

People are talking about her "beady beads" (the tiny curls at the nape of her neck), about her "needing a perm," asking why her parents couldn't have gotten her micros or box braid extensions...

This little girl just represented our country in what I understand is, to most people in the world, this epic global battle and KILLED it. She is actually on top of the world. But none of that matters to people who not as an Olympian, not as a gymnast, not as a young woman, not even as a young Black woman, but as hair that must be representative of something (everything) else. The fact that she just landed perfectly from that routine (which could be replaced with any other accomplishment imaginable, let alone one that requires idk, intense physical activity) is irrelevant when weighed against a tiny curl being out of place.

This is what Black women are up against in daily existence. This is why relaxers as a multi-billion dollar Black female consumer market make sense. This is why going natural is a radical act of self-love and societal defiance. This is white patriarchal oppression to the highest--it has done its job so well that we've taken over the responsibility without even realizing it. 

Now, all you critics who are reading these, I would like you to join with me in a gesture of understanding what you have done wrong. Please raise your right hand so that it is about even with your ear. Repeat after me, "I, [name], am ridiculous for perpetuating the idea that Gabby Douglas is her hair and nothing more, and ridiculous further for projecting any sort of meaning onto her hair in the first place." Now, please move your hand rapidly to the left so that it may make stinging contact with your cheek. 



...but actually.