She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I just finished watching the entire series, The Wire, this evening.  Yes, I know I am behind.  When the show first aired on HBO in 2002, I had a hard time following the storyline and felt the plot was too slow.  Fast forward to the present day and here I am glued to my HBO Go every day, concerned about the characters and outcome.  This evening I wrapped up the series with Episodes 9 and 10 of Season 5. My overall verdict:  this was a well-written, beautiful, honest, realistic and bitter-sweet scripted program.

With all due respect to those who enjoy "reality t.v.", I am over it.  These shows feature people I do not really care about.  Individuals who I would not want to hang around in real life, acting under the guise of "reality".  When in fact they are usually goaded by producers looking for something interesting in an uninteresting situation.  I enjoyed The Wire.  Just like I enjoy Mad Men, Breaking Bad, House of Cards and others.  I love to see a good story come to life.

Whenever I see some 5-bundle-weave-wearing, red-bottom-Louboutin-sporting, false eyelash having, beat-face on a Tuesday afternoon "woman" cursing someone out or having lunch on a patio, revealing secrets that lead to commercial breaks, I find myself absolutely bored, sometimes intrigued, but in the end, always bored.  I have no interest.  As a writer, I marvel at and get easily sucked in by good writers.  I want a story that stays with me, that gets me pumped and excited.  A script that has me quoting fictional characters on Facebook, or looking for someone whom I can talk to about what I just saw.  I want a show with a good storyline and believable characters portrayed by flawless actors.  I know reality t.v. is cheaper, but can we bring back more good scripted programs?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Self-Absorbed, You Say?

Yesterday, as I waited at the bus stop headed home, a young man approached me.  He had just crossed the street, walking in my direction talking to another man who was shaking his head "no" and moving away from him.  The young man, dressed in all white with a toothy smile, said:  "Please tell me you're going to be the cool person I talk to today."  Here we go... I was not in the mood, and knew whatever he was about to say would have a request for money wrapped around the end.  "Oh no, please, not today."  That was my response.  To which he said, "you know what?  And don't take this the wrong way.  But, overall, people in Chicago are very self-absorbed.  That has been my experience since I've been here."  "Well, you're in the financial district, so that's why."  In hindsight, I am not really sure why I said this, or what it exactly means.  I guess, my point was, this is the business epicenter of the city.  People have short patience when it comes to handouts and pretty much everything else.  When you work downtown, you lose interest in a lot of things that go on downtown.  You are no longer in awe of every little tweak in the day.  Instead, you are just trying to get home (in my case), get something to eat (quickly) or grab a drink (because you need it).

He walked away and I thought, well he's not going to get too far with that attitude.  When I woke up this morning, I had completely forgotten about my exchange with this guy.  Instead my thoughts were on a very vivid dream I had that revolved around me, brace yourself... choosing the right nail polish color for my mani and pedi that I need to get by tomorrow.  Hmmm... he might be on to something.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Maasai

I have been staying at my mother's house for the past week dog-sitting.  Her dog, Chancey, has been banned from my building after his previous month-long forbidden stay at my apartment.  The condo association got wind of his furry presence and have been on the lookout for any signs of him.  So when my mother left town to go to visit family in the D.C./Maryland area, she needed me to watch my little canine "brother".  Typically, I do not watch Chance.  She will ask my cousin or even a family friend.  My building's rules, get me marked off the list of choices.  This time around, we came up with the most sensible and logical idea of me just staying with him at her house.  So that has been my whole week since two Friday's ago:  twice-daily walks, feeding and preparing the apartment for my departure.

I have to admit, the morning and even some evening walks are no joke- energy-wise.  Since he is usually confined to a cage for the day (in hopes of avoiding accidents), I try to provide decent length walks both times.  Last Friday, I actually just started letting him have free reign of the living room and kitchen area and he seems to do well throughout the day.  Regardless, it can be a lot trying to take care of him and get myself ready for work.  Not to compare him to a child, but I feel for both the doggie parents and human parents alike.  Being responsible for a living being, whether animal of human (obviously) takes a lot of commitment. 

That said, I still have to catch a bus in the morning to make it to work on-time after walking him and getting dressed.  This morning, as I was on the elevator going down to the lobby, I pulled up my Chicago Transit phone app to see when the next bus was scheduled.  According to my phone I had one minute to catch the next bus.  If I missed that bus, my next opportunity would not come around for another 22 minutes- making me late for work for sure.  The bus tracker sites are usually 1-2 minutes behind, so I knew I would have to run to get outside in enough time to catch it.  As I got out of the elevator and headed for the front door (where the bus actually stops), I could see my bus come into view and then move on before I could get to the second set of double doors.  Dammit!  Next option, try to catch it at the next bus stop.  So I do what I affectionately call my "fat girl run".  Anyone who has ever been on the phone while I have done this sprint will tell you, it usually involves heavy breathing- and not the good kind.  As I call out to "hold the bus!"  I realize, no one has heard me or cares.  So there I was in the middle of the next block, pissed. 

A cab pulled up and shouted out through his passenger window, "get in!"  As I opened the door reluctantly, I said, "I can't afford a cab ride."  He responded, "no, I'm going to help you catch the bus."  "Thank you" was all I could get out through my labored breathing.  Then, because I thought about how nice it was of him, "thank you, again."  The cabby said, "I saw you sprinting and thought, wow, she must be a Maasai!"  That made me laugh and feel proud all in the same moment.  By no means can I be compared to this beautiful, semi-nomadic group of people found in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  I felt regal, nonetheless, in the moment though.  Just imagining what I looked like running- giving my all to catch something that seemed like I had only barely missed.  Depressing as it can be, I watch the news each morning to start my day.  I hold personal stories like this one dear to my heart, because no matter what is said about the ills of our society, there are still good people who look out for one another.  Two blocks up, I got out of the cab and caught my bus.  I made it to work with a couple of minutes to spare and a good story to tell.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Brain

So I started daydreaming about how I'm going to successfully complete the juicing portion of the cleanse I'm starting the beginning of August.  Then I thought how nice it would be to add cherries to the mix, but where can you find pitted black cherries? That led me to Google, which brought me to Williams-Sonoma who have an OXO Cherry & Olive Pitter. But while looking at that item I discovered their 'Burger Shop' which carries a Stuffed Hamburger Press with Lifter. It was accompanied by a picture of cheddar cheese stuffed burgers.  A1: I'll take each- the cherry Pitter, hamburger press AND the burger itself. B2: Am I the only one who is often captivated by Williams-Sonoma  catalogs?  C3: This is 'distracted' at it's finest ladies and gentlemen!  A sample of how my brain works...

The Pitter

The Press

Monday, July 8, 2013


The creator has disbanded this group...

This is the text message I received two Thursday nights ago.  For about a year, I was part of a group text started by a friend.  The group consisted of high friends I became reacquainted with in 2010.  We had connected on Facebook and started hanging out together.  Whether at someone's house for the holiday or while celebrating a birthday, we always had fun.  For all intents and purposes, the group was solid- or so I thought.  Fast forward to last November, around the Thanksgiving holiday.  I noticed that one of the friends had de-friended me on Facebook.  That was odd.  I only knew because I had tried to tag this person in a comment to no avail.  When I went to the person's Facebook page, I was virtually given the long arm- the site asking if I knew this person.  I thought I did.  Apparently I did not. 

I immediately called this girl, who did not answer, but instead texted me stating that she was on another call and would call me back.  She never did.  I knew something was wrong.  Unfortunately, we as a society have become so ingrained and dependent on social media, that you can safely take social cues from your interactions or lack thereof on social juggernauts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such.  I knew that this individual whom I had hung out with in person both in the group or separately on our own, was sending me a major message:  We are no longer friends.  I could easily go through the timeline of awkward events that solidified this truth, but I do not want to give anyone undue credit for a very small sub-chapter in my life.  That being said, when I confronted the person about the unfriending, she, in giving me her reasons for dissolving our friendship in a very passive-aggressive way, said that she did not want to "be a shit starter" nor did she want to upset the group by saying anything to the others.  I, being the ever-loyal-sometimes-to-a-fault type of person that I am, followed her lead and decided not to mention anything to the other girls either.  With the exception of a very vague, non-descript, yet, in context re-telling of a small portion of the entire conversation with no names mentioned to exactly one person, I have, to this day not spoken a word about the incident to anyone else within the group.  My side of the story has not been provided.  I have not discussed with anyone my thoughts and feelings about the situation.  Or the details involved.  From the bizarre and reduced interactions, whether on social media or via personal/direct texts and phone calls, I have the feeling I was the only one who kept up her end of the deal.

Overall, my role and positive position in the group's dynamic has changed.  This obvious fact has not made me lose any sleep, but it has caused a bit of anxiety whenever I would receive a text from the group.  I wanted to pull away and no longer interact with the girl who had initiated all of this.  I hate to be uncomfortable and hide my true feelings in an effort to be the "bigger person".  I would rather disassociate myself from certain activities.  Like recently a get-together that was to take place at a restaurant, had been moved at the last minute to the girl's house.  How crazy would that be?  Hey, I know you don't like me, but I decided to show up anyway.  What should I bring- wine?  Um, no.  Since my gut tells me I have been discussed, I am confused as to how this became a suitable option anyway.  If everyone wants to keep the peace.  Why not host events in neutral settings?  Maybe that's me just overthinking things with my analytical self.  I do still have ongoing and positive contact with one of the girls.  For that, I am grateful.  She has not changed and I am appreciative. 

Which brings me to that final group text message.  It gave me a peaceful, internal giggle.  I thought it fitting that the term "creator" was used.  Sometimes, God will rock the boat to get your attention, to move you in a different direction.  Because He does not come down physically to talk to us and hand feed us His plan, we have to listen and listen carefully.  I, in an effort to flex my loyal friendship skills, trying to build upon relationships, which maybe should have stayed more casual, missed key early warnings.  I can look back on conversations with the individual and think, that was a red flagThat should have been your sign that this was not going to end well.  Hindsight is indeed 20/20.  At the time, what I thought were little quirks, I now know were future problems being formed.  Molding resentment towards me for things that are less about me and more about her.  But that text though.  The group has indeed disbanded.  I still enjoy hanging out with that one remaining friend, but I would not be surprised if I do not receive invites to events from the others.  I am confident in saying I do not believe I have done anything intentional to alienate the group, but at this time, it seems we have run our course as friends. 

When I told another girlfriend the complete story, she said, "yeah, you've been iced out."  She continued with a shrug, "besides going to high school with these people, what else do you have in common with them?"  Not much, if anything.  She went on to share some of her own woes with friends who did not stand the test of time.  Friendships can be difficult; they should not be, but they can.  Friendships with women can be even more complicated.  You mix in the insecurities a lot of us deal with that come with trying to be perfect, polite or humble at all costs, and you have the recipe for a troublesome friendship.  I like meeting new people and gaining new friends, but situations like this remind me to tread lightly and keep my eyes open.  Keeping your friend list short and tight seems like the best answer, but even that can be a bit non-progressive when you think about it.  How do you grow, if you have the same group of individuals as friends and never look outside of your circle to let others in your world? 

Whatever the case, I have learned a real strong lesson about taking time, gaining trust and what true friendship really means.  It is not fickle.  Tell me you all did not stop talking to me because someone else stopped talking to me.  It is not random.  I thought a genuine friendship was built, however, it must not have been important enough for you to tell me your feelings in person or at least over the phone.  You just deleted me- via Facebook no less.  It can only thrive if both parties are on the same level mentally and emotionally.  When someone tells you they are crazy, please believe them.  Are there any groups or friendships that you are part of that need to be disbanded?  Do tell.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trina, Naturally: An Interview About Business, Dreams & Hair

Trina doing what she does best.

This is the second time I have featured my hair stylist of 16 years, Trina, on my blog.  She is a wealth of hair care and style knowledge, so there is always endless insight she can provide.  The first interview, we touched on some of her hair care tips.  This time around, I wanted to focus more on the business side.  I mean, after all, when we hear politicians discuss small businesses, how often does your local hair salon come to mind?  Every time you have sat down in a swivel chair, been adorned with a cape and put your hair in the hands of someone wielding flat irons, smoking hot barreled curlers or a pair of sharp shears you personally supported a small business.  For some, their support comes as often as weekly or as little as annually for special occasions, trims, chemical treatments or color.  Regardless of the frequency of your visits, the hair industry is big business.  Whether the stylist is renting a booth or owns the “shop”, those individuals act as their own CEO, president and operations team all rolled into one.  The competition within the industry has always been fierce, yet in the wake of the natural hair “movement”, women are becoming less dependent on their stylist and more self-sufficient and knowledgeable about their own hair.  If you stopped 10 random natural-haired women on the street, at least 7 of them have done their own hair.  With YouTube videos, meet-ups, product swaps and natural hair bloggers infiltrating your Facebook and Twitter timelines, there is so much information and there seems to be less of a need for going to the salon.  Visit your local Target, Walgreens, CVS or even Whole Foods and you are sure to find an end-cap or two featuring natural hair care products.  So with all of this information and DIY tips floating around, where does that leave our beloved stylists?
I took the opportunity while having my hair finger-twisted at Trina’s N.V. Hair Studio, located in downtown Chicago, to delve deeper into the subject.  I wanted her opinion.  When I first met Trina, I was a junior in high school; I just wanted my hair to be cute and manageable.   At that time, she was renting a booth.  Now the salon I go to is hers.  This year marks Trina’s 29th year in the hair industry.  She graduated from Wilford Academy in September 1984.  Growing up, she was fascinated with hair.  She recalls her mom sending her to school with her hair looking one way and at some point throughout the day she would change it.  As early as the 3rd or 4th grade, she would do her sister’s hair and make “concoctions”, but back then she never “really claimed it”.  Since Trina has been in the business almost as long as I have been alive (she is not old, just started her career right out of high school), she has seen many changes take place in the hair care industry.  Some of the changes that stand out to her are the number of products and product knowledge by customers.  There has been an increase in choices for both salons and products.  One change she is not happy with is the “assembly line” mentality of some stylists these days.  Trina wants to put the “care back into hair care.”  
Trina has fully embraced the natural hair movement.  She has even started N.A.P.E.E. (Naturally Attractive Proud Energy Empowerment) Cakes a name she has created and hopes to brand to be synonymous with healthy hair.  The goal is to change the negative thoughts attributed to nappy hair and to use N.A.P.E.E. Cakes as a source of education and a forum for those with natural hair.  Trina admits the so-called natural hair movement has changed the hair industry a lot.  Especially for the professional who did not “jump on the train”.  She regrets that there are hairdressers who are “turning [natural hair] clients away because they can’t do it.”  What are the benefits of the movement?  “It’s great that women have embraced their hair.  [But] it’s a lot of work.  It’s good work.  Most heads need a break from the creamy crack.  That’s my campaign.  That is my point.”  Trina hopes N.A.P.E.E. Cakes will encourage women to embrace their hair no matter the coil or curl.  Making what may have previously been considered nappy i.e. bad hair, into the “new good hair”.  She wants women to “wear it and wear it well.”  N.A.P.E.E. Cakes workshops feature a wide range of hair textures and, of course, cupcakes.  “Who doesn’t like cupcakes?”

Trina throughout the years (clockwise):  Top Left- 5th Grade and Senior Photo, Right- before marriage and kids (1995 & 2005),  Bottom Right- daughter (R) and step daughter, Bottom Left- at last years inaugural N.A.P.E.E. Cakes event

With that said, I asked Trina how she competes with all the home techniques.  “I don’t” was her definitive answer.  Instead of making “How To” videos and blog posts the enemy- to hair stylists, she too has learned a lot from them.  Trina takes time to decode some of the products and their uses for clients in need.  “It can get overwhelming.”  Furthermore, she laments, women are spending their “last [dollar] on hair care products, [when] it’s all about DNA.  I want to bring the best out of your hair.”  Although loving hair care and products is not exclusive to Black women, there is something particularly special about our spending habits when it comes to our hair.  Trina says that that kind of attention and affection is not new.  It goes “way back.  We have always based things on hair.  We describe people by hair.  No other culture does that.  We have such diversity.”  She is right, think back to how you describe a Black woman, it usually goes something like this:  She has short hair.  She has a weave.  She’s the one with the braids.  She had a bob.  Her own family was always “fascinated with hair, in particular, her grandparents.  Trina recalls often cutting her hair while in beauty school and her family getting upset.  Her grandmother would tell her to “let your hair grow and wear your lip rouge.”  As a culture, Trina says, we look at “hair as beauty.  Hair can change things, change our moods.”
Trina counts YaYa from America’s Next Top Model cycle 3 as her current “hair hero”.  She adds Diana Ross and daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, “I’m naming all natural women, aren’t I?”  Viola Davis made the cut, no pun intended, for just that- her haircut.  “I love that she cut her hair for the Oscars.  She stood her ground.”  Rounding out the group of hair and style icons is Solange.  “I love her whole style.  She’s got it together.”
With the wave of do it yourself product lines and salons going out of business all the time, Trina simply credits her clients for keeping her small business afloat.  She says most of her clients have been coming to her for over 15 years. “Old clients keep the doors open.”  Her definition of success is “going to work and being happy first.  The money will follow.  God, health, family, fun- surrounding yourself with people you look forward to seeing.”  Some other keys to her success are, “staying focused, learning new things.”  The hair industry is “full circle.”  A stylist must learn to take old “remedies and make them work for now.”
As the mother of an 11 year old girl, Trina wants to pass along the deep-seeded idea that she can do anything in life.  “She’s my inspiration.  She is fearless and coming out of her shell.”  A recent letter, her daughter Brooklynn wrote to her, ended with, “Mom, one day I think you’re going to change the world with the hair [you do].”  Trina, with pride, gushes, “She sees that I’m doing something I love.  I want to make a mark; change lives one curl at a time.”  In the next 5-10 years, Trina wants to see New Vision Hair Studio become incorporated into N.A.P.E.E. Cakes, becoming a household name.  Her ultimate goal is to host and create more style and hair workshops for women and young girls; with the thought that the workshops can one day grow into a fully-functioning hair school, providing young women an outlet and trade.

Trina (Center) surrounded by hair models at the N.A.P.E.E. Cakes event

Trina's Tips for Summer Natural Hair Care
Tip 1:  Hair Mask
If you have never tried a hair mask, this is a great time to do so.  Use a oil hair mask the night before a shampoo.  Include a nice amount your favorite moisture conditioner, don't be shy!  The more hair the more product.  Part hair in four sections (if the hair is natural, you can skip this step).  Apply the mixed conditioner and your oil of choice- coconut, olive or grape seed- to the hair.  After applying to the entire head, add another round of the oil of your choice.  Detangle with your fingers and put on a plastic cap.  Let this sit overnight.  This is a great pre-treatment before you go to the salon or as a DIY shampoo.  From here you can wash-and-go with a PH Balanced shampoo or create a twist-out.  The result is super hydrated, moist and shiny hair.  I love, love, love this!

Tip 2:  Try Color
Ladies, if you are natural and you don't have color, your hair can sometimes appear dull and dry no matter how conditioned it is.  Consider getting a tone on tone color (your natural color), to add depth and shine or go a few shades lighter.  If you have hair commitment issues, try a few highlights to add personality to your style.  Talk to your stylist and get a good consultation.  DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!  

Tip 3:  Enjoy
Have fun!  Let your hair be a reflection of who you are within.