Thursday, December 27, 2007

hijab hubbub

For a long time, my hair was my signature – not because I wore a particular style, on the contrary, my hair was very versatile and I rocked many a “do’s”. I watched my mom do my sister's hair and I tried to pay attention when she did mine (when I wasn’t falling asleep that is). As a result, I learned how to handle hair at a very early age. In my wonder years, I wore my hair mostly braided or pressed, but in high school I discovered the miracle of natural texture and I never looked back. Afro puffs, gel-induced curls, head wraps, two-strand twists (referred to by a childhood friend as my ‘fake locks’), etc; I even colored it. Once while sitting in English class, my teacher looked out over the class and asked if I was present. When I raised my hand, she doubled back; told me that when I change my hair, I look like a different person (yeah, it was that deep). In college, my hair expanded and changed shape, along with my thoughts and perspective – full out afros, conditioner-saturated chignons, Iverson-inspired cornrows. I did neglect my hair a bit in college because I did so much braiding/twisting for my peers that when it was time to treat my own tresses I was too tired (in college I also discovered that I have a nice head for hats).

When I became Muslim, I’d been exposed to many sisters who practiced their deen differently – some covered, some didn’t, we all accepted each other and it was no big deal. (Some of the brothers thought it was a big deal, but that’s another post for another day…) I was comfortable with taking my time. “I would cover one day,” I told myself and others, “When I’m ready, I will do it. I don’t want to rush and then backslide later.” I felt very strongly that modest appearance does not a Muslim make, so I was content in my heart to take my sweet time. Years passed (really, I think two) and I still wasn’t covering – still not an issue. Then, one year I went to homecoming and stayed with my sister friend who was living with a Muslim family. In this family there was very inquisitive, outspoken young daughter. She asked me when I arrived if I was Muslim, and I said yes. Then she asked why didn’t I cover, and I had no answer for her. So I started covering that day. That was October of 2006. I’ve worn my hair out maybe 3 or 4 days since then (just to let it breathe, you know). And I’ve seriously considered not covering anymore. Some mornings the scarf just won’t lay right and it’s so frustrating. Some days my hair looks so fly that I just want everyone to see it. Some days I just don’t want anything on my head. So the plan was to stop covering when the new year came. The new year’s not particularly significant. It’s just easier to let on-lookers think it’s some sort of resolution rather than to explain my religious-internal-modesty-versus-vanity-versus-self-image conundrum. I just want to feel the most like myself that I possibly can.

But here’s the thing, somewhere over the course of the past 14 months, covering has become a significant part of who I am. Sure on a lax day I will wear a hat, but I cannot imagine going out without my hair covered. It would be uncomfortable – I would feel exposed. I told myself that in the new year I would be finished with my persnickety preoccupation with my hijab. Either I would stop covering and be fine with it or I would continue covering and shut up already! (Because, really Teresa, it’s only as deep as you make it and nobody wants to hear it any more.) I used to think that it wasn’t so big a deal; I do all the fundamental stuff, so what’s a hijab? Then it occurred to me, if the other components of this deen come easily to me, then that’s all the more reason to strive for this one. Others have substance abuse, fornication and heavier things to overcome, but I have this issue of vanity with my hair. It is my very own struggle, and maybe Allah (SWA) will be pleased with me for making the effort to submit in a way that would seem small by comparison but is so big to me.

So days before the new year arrives, I’ve made my decision. My hijab is here to stay. (And that’s all I have to stay about that. Seriously.)

Monday, December 10, 2007


You help raise them. For the first few years you’re praying not to drop them on their heads or give any permanent damage. Then they start school and you hope they make friends and catch on to the lessons quickly. They get to high school without being retained a grade and no one’s pregnant or has contracted anything. No negative statistics here; in fact, they’re thriving. Good grades, good athletes, confident, socially well adjusted and possibly trend-setting. A couple of years from college – it’s gonna be alright. Then they get assaulted by cops in the hallway of their school building. Everything is turned upside down. You want to hit something, shoot something, burn that bitch to the ground. You want to spit in the faces of every pig you see. You want to make somebody pay. More than anything, you want to go back in time and keep it from every happening.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Respite Housewives

I stayed home yesterday – just straight up took a vacation day. Okay, not purely for the sake of vacating; we had a furniture delivery (yay for something besides the couch to sit on!). I dropped Homeboy off and kept the car because I’d planned to run all these errands. When I got back home, it started to snow – no pansy snow either – I’m talking flakes the size of __________ (insert name of random large insect or small rodent here). So I thought to myself, what if I used this Paid Time Off as… time off! Novel idea, isn’t it? I’m a genius. Once I accepted the notion of relaxation, I had a very good day. What did I do?

1. Perfected my one-hand pancake flipping skills
2. Took a bath
3. Read various blogs, access to which are denied at work
(“Access to which…” I bet that’s all wrong grammatically)
4. Was held hostage by a Law&Order SVU marathon
5. Shoveled our backyard pathway, front steps and sidewalk
(This work I liked doing. Besides, we’re homeowners now and that’s our responsibility and I’m not risking somebody pretending to fall in front of our house so they can sue.)
6. Drank hot cocoa (Damn, I’m such a bad television commercial.)

I guess it’s what some would call a “mental health” day. I didn’t have that purpose in mind when I did it, but I’m glad I did. It wasn’t all bon-bons and daytime television, but dammit I was close!

ANTM – PS – Bianca’s gone! Hooray! IN YO FACE! (more on that later…)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

the closest i may ever get to being on Inside the Actors Studio

I would LOVE for you (whoever "you" are) to repost and reply to these questions - in the comments or on your respective blog spaces (just please let me know if you do, so I can come look.)

1. What is your favorite word?
(You ask this of a writer? Are you serious?) "love"

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?

4. What turns you off?

5. What is your favorite curse word?

6. What sound or noise do you love?

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
awkward silence

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

9. What profession would you not like to do?

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"I understand."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We are not aMUSED… Let it burn… [mis]fortune cookie…(ANTM)

Is it possible? Am I really going to do it? Can I really review last week’s episode before tonight and stop cheating you guys with two-fer entries? Try like hell, I will. Now, what happened last week…

This week (well, last week…you know what I mean) the girls were paired with fashion design students. Each model had to dialogue with her designer so that the designer could create a garment that reflected the model’s personality and style. The catch? The garment had to be repurposed from a light blue, church-lady-looking, polyester-rayon blended, two-piece dress suit. (I’d swear it had shoulder pads and everything!) Then, the models were put on the runway to show off the designs. The catch? The girls had to create a 2 or 3 line statement about their garment and how they inspired it. (And the walls come a-tumbling down…)

Everyone did a good job of modeling their garments; the speaking part is another monster entirely. Saleisha, Bianca, Jenah – all sold it. (Except, Bianca who said something about, “Cleopatra Jones with an attitude.” Excuse me boo-boo, but Cleopatra Jones had attitude to spare. What I think you meant, especially considering your dramatic eye make-up, was the actual Cleopatra. Moving on…) Saleisha – flirty and girly – check. Jenah – ballerina rock star – check. I don’t remember Chantal’s get-up, but I do remember Ambreal played up the “fun” in her style a little too much. Giant lollipop accessory? The tops. Skipping down the runway? Over the top. Lisa blundered the speaking portion, and I so don’t know why. I hate to think she didn’t take that part as seriously as the walking, but what other excuse is there? And Heather – poor Heather. Until now her slight awkwardness has been a bonus, but she completely blanked and bombed the speaking portion of this challenge. The words! They wouldn’t come! And she stood at the end of the runway with her mouth slightly agape – like she was waiting for them to fly in.

And speaking of bomb…

The photo shoot for this week was with a smoking hot accessory – no seriously, there was a car and it was set on fire. The ladies had to pose on/near/around/ (insert preposition of your choice here) said car, and they were in the middle of the desert no less! Bianca, Saleisha and Jenah (again) really impressed with their photos. Saleisha didn’t look sweet; Jenah looked distraught but still beautiful; and Bianca’s attitude worked for her (but it still doesn’t work for me). Miss Jay said she looked like she’d set the car on fire! (I think – maybe she did?) Lisa’s shot was too much about being in distress and not enough about being in THIS DRESS. Her best shot was sitting in a heap on the ground. Where are the lines, the silhouette in that pose? Exactly. Nowhere. Heather was still so defeated by the muse challenge that she couldn’t perform her best on set. Did she look good in her picture? Yes. Was it the worst one she’s taken so far? Yes. Unfortunately, I do not remember Ambreal’s picture, but I do remember the panel was not impressed. It came down to Lisa and Ambreal, and I bet I don’t need to tell you who went home.

The saddest part is that during panel, while Tyra talked about the “fabulous prizes”, we could see these traditional Chinese dragons popping up behind the judges. (You know, like the big costumes used during the Chinese New Year?) Well, Tyra announces to the girls that, “Seven girls stand before me, but only six will continue on to China and in hopes of becoming America’s Next Top Model.” So not only is Ambreal eliminated; she has to see what she’s about to miss! That sucks.

*I’m no cultural anthropologist or anything, but… um… I’m pretty sure those were dragons and not lions, Tyra. I’m just saying…

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

party like a rockstar…vampire…rockstar…whatever (ANTM)

I’m not going to pretend to remember much details from the other week, but here’s what I do recall:

Lisa – stepped it up
Heather – rocked it out
Saleisha – turned it on
Bianca – puckered it up
Ambreal – had a twitch
Chantal – had a ‘tude
Sarah – wasn’t comfortable

If you saw the episode, this summation makes sense to you (perhaps), but if you did not (which would be the reason for reading this) the above makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. So let me ‘splain…

The lesson of the week was in sexiness, taught by Tyra herself. The girls practiced 3 “distinct” techniques: the sexy runway walk, the seductive crawl and the wall slide (really, they slid down the wall and came back up). These were the creative names that Tyra gave to said techniques – that writers’ strike is more apparent than ever! Perhaps there was a little method to this madness, but I think Tyra just wanted an excuse to play out her FAME scenario.

The girls did not have a traditional photo shoot; they were in an Enrique Iglesia video. The concept was an underground vampire nightclub (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…). There was much green background and tinting; also there was lots of silver studded embellishments, black patent leather and mesh-y netted things.

Lisa was chosen as the principal girl in the video, which is good because I am thoroughly convinced that she was on her way out the door. Heather’s pale skin, dark hair and deep gaze was perfect for this video; she did a bang up job, but also, in the tradition of rock stars, she suffered exhaustion on the set and nearly passed out. She later said that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I appreciate her wanting to be a trooper and all, but damn girl! Eat a sandwich! Saleisha was in a group setting with Bianca and Sarah where she definitely stood out. She gave wonderful eyes, and even though she didn’t do much she kept it interesting. Her whispering something to Sarah (who sat beside her) was good improv. Sarah, while giving great eyes, was not very comfortable in her super revealing ensemble; though it wasn’t apparent to me during the shooting, she did mention it during the outtakes. Bianca, Bianca, Bianca – we all know your lips are there. No need to pucker them incessantly and bring even more attention. I thought that the strong/sexy/attitude that the video called for was right up her alley, but Bianca was trying way too hard. Her look was fierce, but she modeled like an amateur. Chantal was annoyed that she wasn’t chosen as the principle, so she didn’t seem to try very hard. Ambreal, on the other hand, had to prove that she deserved to be there, so she danced her little heart out. Unfortunately, in the final edited video they showed at panel, she had too little burlesque and too much bop.

At panel, the judges reviewed stills from the video shoot. They were ga-ga over Lisa (especially that leg action), enamored with Heather and impressed with Saleisha. Nigel brought Sarah’s weight into the discussion again, but the panel thought that Sarah was not comfortable enough in her own skin. She was eliminated.

What do I think? She wasn’t big enough for plus size and not small enough for regular runway. So, they copped out; they claimed the big girl/ little self esteem thing and let Sarah go because they couldn’t figure out how to market her. Sarah was really broken up about it (I don’t think anybody’s ever cried that hard!), and I felt for her.

*wow, i remembered more than i thought! how do you like that?

Monday, November 05, 2007

another poem...draft #1..."Soldier's Hands"

*I've had the first line of this poem for at least a year. It took a timed writing exercise to get those other lines out of me; it still doesn't feel finished to me - far from it in fact. Thank God birthing human creations doesn't take as long as the artistic ones. Read. Enjoy. Feed back (if you please).

"Solider's Hands"

He doesn’t have a soldier’s hands--
no calluses
clean fingernails.
These can’t be the same hands
toting M-16s
digging ditches
slinging Cammo net,
and yet
four plus years of his life spent
on this mission.
Now, his touch is his only ammunition.
And I’m the poet in this outfit,
But when he touches me, I listen.
A caress worth a thousand words,
and I’m an avid reader.
And I’m a firm believer
in communication being
ninety percent non-verbal.
So I study the language of his hands
and speak it fluently.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

i know, i know, but let me try to recap...(ANTM)

who else is gone?

Janet: It's the curse of the red-heads, I tell you! They dyed her hair black during make-overs, but the curse couldn't be stopped. When they wouldn't stop calling her "Liza Minnelli" I knew she didn't have a chance. But Janet is a good sport, and she has a genuine love of the industry. Perhaps she will find herself behind the scenes instead of on the runway. Either way, the industry should welcome her passion.

Victoria: Good riddance to cerebral rubbish! I hate to have called it, but let's face it, the really smart girls can't get over themselves long enough to win this competition. I'm not stating it as fact, but the research of previous cycles supports this theory. Victoria was well aware of this, yet she found herself on that academic high-horse - calling the modeling world ridiculous or ludicrous (or some other PSAT word). When she was eliminated, she kicked her shoes off before she even left the judging room. We heard her give thanks for no more heels and make-up, that she could return to sweats and sneakers and get back to the library. But what if Victoria returns to gibes and jeers for having entered such a competition? That's what the academics would call "irony".

In attempts to atone for my slacking, I have a new approach for last weeks episode. A friend/coworker of mine also watches ANTM, and here's our virtual banter regarding last week's episode:

Soo, did you watch "TYRA MAAAIL!!" last night? Seriously, do they ALWAYS have to yell it in unison? Is it in their contracts? I missed the first 20 minutes or so, but saw the rest. What the--?!

yeah, girl. i've been slacking on my updates, but i haven't missed an episode. i don't know what's up with all that models-in-stereo unison-talk either ("Looove Tyra"). the girls were split up into teams of 3, and they had to write and perform a 30 second PSA for the winning group (Heather, Jenah and Ebony, I think) received $500 gift baskets from Carol's Daughter. those 3 had their names put into a basket, and the name that was pulled got the chance to do a photo shoot for Carol's Daughter - art directed by Mary J. Blige. Heather's name was pulled, and she was super geeked-up and excited. She met Mary and did some really beautiful shots. she used the opportunity to practice her front-on angles. (sure paid off at panel!) out of nowhere, Ebony tells the girls that she wants to go home. "what the--?!" my sentiments exactly, but you saw how they played her, right - showing her audition video at the end of the episode? oooo! i bet she feel burned!

I'm glad it wasn't just me! I thought that audition video at the end was pretty spiteful on Tyra's part (as well as that music - give me a break). What if the child really did recognized that modeling was in fact not her passion? I don't think she was disrespectful or took any of the process as a joke. I think it takes a big person to step up and admit that something they thought was good for them turned out to be the opposite. The thing she hates most in the WORLD is a quitter? Interesting... Don't get me wrong, I actually would have like to see Ebony stick it out seeing how she lost that nasty attitude from the first episode, and I would have liked for her to take the criticism and turn it around, but that video and the quitter remark were a tad too much for moi. Come on, Ambreal!!! I soooo hope she turns it around next week and someone else goes home. She seems like such a nice young woman.

And um, Heather is going to win. Yeah, the child takes beautiful pictures, period.

and we all saw the way ebony was crying. she probably felt worse about letting tyra down than going home! but i am glad she spoke up because ambreal wants to be there sooo badly. i think what upset tyra the most was she credits herself with being a great judge of character and very "in-tune". here she had two girls in front of her - one who wanted it so badly and one who didn't want it anymore - and she couldn't tell the difference! that's what made tyra so mad. i know ambreal is grateful that ebony spoke up, though! and how about jersey-girl, lisa? she had better step it up because she's on the chopping block next week... and heather is definitely the one to beat right now. sarah's face is beautiful, so she could be a close second (and she does appear to have lost weight, doesn't she? i don't know if nigel had to put her on blast like that). bianca's steadily stepping her game up, so she may be in the top 3. jenah's photos have been consistently good, but she's not striking the way heather is. saleisha's photo was beautiful last night, but she has not been consistent. is it just me, or are they playing up saleisha like antm's own little version of rihanna? i mean, car parts? rihanna's "Shut Up and Drive" video, anyone?

LOL! Rihanna! Yep, I definitely think the judges are pulling for Saliesha. Bianca is gaining on them and Nigel straight put Sarah on blast!


Know what?
I think you just helped me write my blog for last night's episode. If it's alright with you, I would like to copy and paste our banter. This dialogue is so much better than talking to...say...myself. ;)

ella...ella... eh,eh,eh...

You did not say "ella"!

Sure, do your thing! :-)

Guess I don't have to tell you who went home =)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tight Ropes and Haute Hopes...(ANTM)

I hate that this re-cap is sooo late, but let’s make the best of it shall we?

At the house, the ladies seemed to have gotten over themselves and were befriending Heather. They dressed her and did her make-up. It was cute the way they were connecting, except Bianca, the redheaded grinch from Queens, separated herself and berated the whole activity. Bianca seems to be making her rounds, slowly but surely, through every contestant. This week, she had words with Saleisha. [Basically] Bianca hates the fact that Saleisha has prior modeling experience; Saleisha says [sincerely trying to be encouraging, but still coming across hoity-toity] that the girls should not be intimidated, but that this should make them want to work harder… yadda, yadda, yadda, name calling and yelling…blah, blah, blah, in each other’s faces…end scene.

This week (well, last week by now), the ladies jumped right into the world of modeling and began scaling their way to the top. First, they had runway coaching from Miss Jay (whose entertainment factor increases every episode, I must say). They learned to walk in restricted attire by practicing in straight jackets. Of course they all needed work. The only thing funnier than watching them walk in straightjackets was seeing Miss Jay leave the room while everyone was still tied up. (I think to myself, “What if no one helped the girls out of their jackets? That would be hilarious!” But I digress….) To show what they learned from Miss Jay, the ladies were given a runway challenge where they had to model very complex gowns by designer Colleen Quinn (whose name Roy Campbell butchered at every turn! It’s a short ‘o’ man! He nearly called her colon!). Saleisha won the challenge, and she will accompany Quinn to debut the line in Paris. Oh! Bianca, ma petite chienne! Tu es tres furieux, no?

At the photo shoot, the girls had to wear couture gowns and harnesses, as they modeled while hanging in the air and using the biggest prop ever – a rock climbing simulation wall (there’s probably a more appropriate name for the structure, but this post is about ANTM not L.L.Bean). Jenah rocked it out (no pun intended) because she’s been climbing for years and spent two of those years as an instructor (wow, you think you know a person…). The other photos that really stood out were Ambreal - she took a beautiful photo; Saleisha – her upside down pose; Ebony and Lisa – legs for days, but no facial interest to speak of; Janet – she did the best in displaying the gown; Heather – she’s just gorgeous, and her gaze was so intense! Tyra said she liked Bianca’s photo, but really I think she was lying. None of the other judges had anything nice to say, and Miss Hardcore Brooklyn was on the verge of a brake down. So she had to say something positive, but c’mon Tyra, you didn’t like it that much either, did you?

Ebony’s prophecy did not fulfill itself, as she was in the bottom 3, not the bottom two (as she expected). Bianca and Kimberly were the final two on the chopping block, and while it was surely a humbling experience for the devilish diva – it was ultimately Kimberly who fell from grace and was eliminated.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Last-Minute Lucy...(or) This is What Happens...

Today I have to submit the material I'll be reading at a coffee house next week. I waited, and waited, and waited to prepare - figuring at the very least I could go back to older things if I didn't have the chance to write new ones. Well, I went back, and, besides a little trip down memory lane, I found squat. Zip, zero, zilch,nada, nein... (and I didn't find anything either). So now I have to write something! And I'm feeling a little like Ed Norton in 25th Hour right before he does that awesome monologue in the men's room mirror. I refuse to call the coordinator and say, "I know I said I wanted to participate, but I was temporarily insane. I've come to my senses now, so thank you but nevermind. Okay, bye!" The truth is I want to do it; another truth is I'm a little disturbed that so much of what I've written is no longer relevant to me now, but that's another post for another day - that I'll probably put off writing. Finally, I thought to myself, "Okay, you want to do well, but this isn't life or death. And we both know that the art of speaking poetry is very much in the presentation. So write what's true to you right now." Okay, so I wasn't that eloquent, but looking back I gather that's what my subconscious must have been saying to me just before I was able to write something down. Here's what I came up with:

“Poems Never Come”

Poems never come when you want them.
Like when you happen to wake up early
on a Saturday morning, while the world is quiet
and your obligations are still sleeping.
They don’t show up when you try to impress
that cute guy, telling him, “Yes. I’m a poet.”
and he says, “Really? Recite something.”
In fact, after your first love and adolescent angst,
some poems don’t come around for ages.
And they definitely don’t show up when you have
a keyboard within reach or pen and paper in hand—
ready for them—
waiting and knowing
today is the day I will be brilliant.

Poems arrive at the pinnacle of inopportunity—
Like when you’re going to your car or bus stop
with two hands full of groceries and no scribe in sight.
They show up while you’re walking the dog,
who you can tell the poem to, but
(let’s face it) he won’t repeat it to you
when you get home, so you can write it down.
They pop up in the middle of a lecture you can’t leave,
or a one-sided conversation you can’t get out of,
so you’ve resorted to entertaining yourself.
Poems play peek-a-boo,
flashing the last line,
giving you a glimpse of a theme,
then when you sit down to put it all together…
gone – back into hiding.
The worst time is when Poems show up in your sleep,
all vibrant and on parade.
And if a picture is worth a thousand words,
then every time we wake from dreaming,
gone is another book no one will ever get to read.

God’s speed, Poems, as you fly from me…
And I don’t know when you’ll return,
but I will wait for you forever.

“Five Minutes”

I’ve got five minutes to write this poem.
Can’t handwrite it – my penmanship is awful.
Can’t type it – I’ll need four and a half minutes
just to find the home row keys.
Please, Something, come. Muse, if you’re listening
I could really use some help right now.
Give me the words to say and show me how
to arrange them in a way that will still make sense
when I reread it the second time around.
What’s it called? Timeless and universal,
but I’m on the clock so I’ll settle for relevant
and slightly witty. No time to be picky – beggars
can’t be choosers.
I’ve got five minutes to write this poem,
and all the ideas in my mind are too common or too private,
too politically incorrect (though that poem would be a riot),
too simple, too complex, too much about myself,
too soft, too loud, too much like a poem
I’ve heard somewhere else.
What’s the delay?
How can someone who’s always talking really have nothing to say?
Maybe that’s just it? With spoken words, they’re said; they’re heard;
they float up through the world and I’m done with it.
But it’s a lot easier to change my mind than change my print.
So how can I get it done, when by the time I’ve told my truth
I’ve discovered another one?
I’ve got five minutes to write this poem.
And if it doesn’t come quick,
I may have to cut the open mic and call in sick.
The symptoms?
My nouns are weighted down; my verbs keep running;
my prepositions are flaring up, and I’m seeing adjectives everywhere I look—
not to mention I’ve got commas coming out all over the place.
It’s too late now to save face
because I had five minutes to write this poem,
And I’ve got nothing.

They're not mind-shattering or life-altering pieces. Hell, they may not even be all that thought-provoking, but they entertain me. And I hope they entertain you too.

"...And I have this litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write -- every day, no excuses. It's so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they'd rather clean the toilet than do the writing."
- Octavia Butler

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

smoke and mirrors...(ANTM)

This week the ladies had their first photo shoot and challenge. The shoot was an anti-smoking ad (here goes Tyra, taking the high road), and the challenge was to find some essential wardrobe pieces in Old Navy (okay, somebody's brand is on the come-up).

The anti-smoking ad was actually two (two! two!) shoots in one. The first pose depicted the glamorous side of smoking; the girls were beautiful and sexy with cigarettes in tow. The second shot depicted them with one of the MANY DISEASES OR SIDE EFFECTS CAUSED BY SMOKING. Mr. Jay, with the help of technology, then combined (or as he likes to say "composited") the shots into one photo. He used the set-up of a mirror and it's reflection to show both images (one as "real" and one as reflected). Everyone looked beautiful, after all that's how they made it this far, but only a few really showed any modeling chops. (Granted, they haven't really been schooled yet, so these would be baby chops at best.) Sarah and Victoria did an excellent job, and so did Chantal. Lisa also rocked it out, and that's not even my favoritism talking. Heather didn't really pull off anything extraordinary, but luckily she's already striking. The panel did like her ghastly reflection though; Heather and Saleisha modeled together - showing the effects of secondhand smoke, and they were even called up together during panel. The two were nearly foils of each other - Heather the awkward beauty, and Saleisha the valedictorian of T-Zone Camp or "Self-Esteem U." By the way, Saleisha won the Old Navy challenge. Tyra told the girls that, overall, everyone's diseased/sickly images were really well done, but they need to work on being more convincingly pretty (I thought that was pretty funny considering...) Unfortunately, things weren't much prettier off the set either.

Ebony's role as villain did not play out this week; she was actually kind of timid and unremarkable. Bianca, on the other hand, had her colors flying high as Lisa's nemesis. In hair and make-up for the photo shoot, and again afterwards, she made off the cuff remarks about people's attitudes and their abilities. While the others ignored or kept quiet, Lisa was not trying to hear it. So she would respond in a manner that made it clear she wasn't backing down. As a result, Bianca had to go for the jugular after the photo shoot. Everyone was standing around when the two got into it, and Bianca tells Lisa that nobody wants an exotic dancer as America's Next Top Model; "What kind of role model is that?" she asks rhetorically, and proceeds to tell Lisa that she should just pack up and go home. Well! It didn't get physical, but Lisa was crying and yelling and swearing and the whole nine (for a minute I thought I was watching VH1). In a confessional, Lisa says that hers is a great story to be told, for how many people come from nothing and have to work hard to get to the place they want to be. Tu che, Lisa; I'm cheering for you even more. Lisa and Bianca's interaction so far has appeared to me like the personified relationship of these 2 great places, New York and Jersey.
Heather has been catching hell in the house as well, the girls wasted no time in preying on her unique position. Their lack of sensitivity is appauling. Do I expect Heather to receive special treatment? No, but saying stupid things like, "I don't want her to cling to me", and demanding that she educate your dumbass on her condition is totally unacceptable. I so hope Heather rocks it out, and I especially want her to be around longer that Kimberly (cling to that, heifer).

At panel, the girls were all critiqued, as usual. Ebony's timidity caused her to be in the bottom two, but it was Mila's chances that went up in smoke.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

can't spell autumn without ANTM...

With the lull and relaxation of summer behind us. We move forward into the fall – deep, rich color pallets; warm scents of sweet and spice; frosted mornings, shorter days and chilly nights; the sound of ice cream trucks replaced by the sound of school buses. For many of us, this means it’s time to get back to work, but for 13 girls, in particular, this time means, “You better work!” (That’s the first and last time I quote RuPaul)

America’s Next Top Model returned last night for it’s 9th cycle, and I couldn’t have been more ready. I wanted to live-blog during the show (trying to step my blog game up), but the computer is upstairs and the telly is downstairs and I haven’t remedied that yet. I missed the first few minutes which means I haven’t heard how the theme music has been revamped (as it certainly has), but I was along for the ride during most of their 1 hour tour…their 1 hour tour…
The 30 ANTM hopefuls found themselves on a cruise ship this time, where they were individually interviewed and assessed. [Disclaimer: I will try my best to keep the sailing references to a minimum, but I make no promises.] Of course, tears, attitudes, antics and motion sickness abounded. Tyra, J1, and J2 did not disappoint in their random behavior. (Simulated butt waxing? Really Tyra?) The ship made a stop in Antigua (I think), where the first elimination was made; the 20 girls with “passport” photos were allowed back on the ship while the 10 others were marooned on the island. The second and final elimination for the night appeared to happen on deck. The girls have made it through the first cut, so going home may hurt a little more at this point (but, um, not really). There were 2 girls who left last night that I was actually sorry to see them leave, Anchorage and Boston Bartender (I don’t remember their names, but they’re already gone so give me a break). Anchorage was super tough and very grounded; Boston seemed a little tough too, and I could have listened to that accent all day.

Now, on to those we will see next week:

Ambreal – is a student from Dallas, TX, who rocked denim legwarmers last night that looked like the bottom half of some bootcut jeans - definitely homemade. She even kept them on when she modeled a swimsuit. Maybe that’s her take on chaps? (Maybe she should take them off).

Bianca –is also a student, but Bianca is special because she is from Queens, NY. Note the early Keisha Cole-esque two-toned hair – Kool-Aid on the top and black on the bottom. Bianca has already established her adversary and claimed her domain because let’s not forget Bianca is special because she is from Queens, NY.

Chantal – is a student; she’s from Austin, TX, and has decided to make good on what people have told her all her life – that she should be a model. Mr. J is on the boat as well; he’s already called her out by saying her movement and features are model-esque. She’s conventionally beautiful and all, but show and prove, Miss Chantal; until then I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid.

Ebony – is a nursing student from Chicago, IL, and wasted no time establishing herself as the…um…oh…(what’s the word?) b*tch of this cycle. At one of their first meals together, Ebony says to the group, “Let’s play a game called ‘Who has an eating disorder?’” Like I said, b*tch (not my words – her actions). The most upsetting thing is that I know plenty of people from the Chi, and they are all hella cool. So she’s a poor ambassador indeed.

Heather – is a college student from Valparaiso, IN (don’t know where that is). She’s been diagnosed with ADHD and a mild form of autism that makes her posture and movement awkward at times. Tyra and the J’s think that she’s beautiful (I agree), and that her condition could make her a force when it’s time for couture posing. She’s quietly confident and made a good first impression. I like this girl.

Janet – is an Aesthetician from Bainbridge, GA. (I don’t know where that is either.) She’s one of the elders here, at the ripe old age of 22. (Can I say that without laughing? No, I can’t.) She’s already got her look pulled together; Mr. J complimented her buy saying, “I love when we have a girl that we don’t have to make over.” Janet left her mark (or should I say left me scarred) when, upon Tyra’s request no less, she performed a simulated butt waxing. (Sometimes at night, I can still hear the screaming.)

Jenah – is a student from Farmington, CT. I don’t remember anything else about her. Lucky for Jenah, I’m not a judge (technically). ;)

Kimberly – is a student from Ocala, FL. She brought Tyra a gift when she interviewed – a little horse statue. “I’m from the horse capital of the country,” she says. Did anyone else think Kentucky? I’m not the only one, am I? Yeah right, liars.

Lisa – is a bikini dancer from Jersey City, NJ. (Not to be confused with an exotic dancer because apparently there’s a difference, right? She was clear about it though – not nude or topless.) Lisa comes across as fun, unassuming, confident (but not cocky). She didn’t strip tease during her interview, thank goodness. I disclose my hometown favoritism right now.

Mila – is a recent college graduate from Boston, MA, but her look screams that her origins are from someplace far more northern and colder and European. There’s a naïveté in her face; she’s got that hot foreign exchange student thing going on (which is funny because she’s from the states).

Saleisha – is a receptionist from Los Angeles, CA. Saleisha also thinks that she is special because she attended Tyra’s T-Zone camp when she was younger. Tyra says that she will be harder on Saleisha because of this fact. I believe neither of them. When asked about her worst feature, this chick couldn’t think of one (oh boy!) When asked about her favorite feature, she said her hair. Dear ANTM, please cut all of Saleisha's hair on the make-over episode. Thank You.

Sarah – is a college student from Heath, MA, and the trio cannot figure out how to peg her. Sarah’s got a beautiful figure and great proportion (says Mr. J). But she’s bigger than a typical model, and very small for a plus size model. She may actually need to gain a few pounds. (Whoda thunk it?)

Victoria – is a student from New Haven, CT. This Yale girl looks like she just walked out of a Jane Austen novel. She was quick to tell the judges how smart she was but equally as quick to admit she didn’t think all of the girls were too bright. (Somebody get her a PR tutor, quick!) Hopefully, she’s not too cerebral in her approach. That hasn’t boded well for brainy beauties in previous cycles.

There’s no shortage of egos in this group. It’s too early to tell, but here are the girls I think will be around for a while:

09/26 - retraction: i was wrong about Saleisha. anonymous informed me that she was not the one who thought her hair was her best feature (i could have sworn...) Dear ANTM, Don't cut Saleisha's hair off. I was just playin' ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Roaring Twenties...

I love books, but I can’t make myself read anything. I guess I’m still romantic in that way; I have to be “called” to a book, or it has to “come” to me. The last two books that I’ve encountered were TWENTY SOMETHING: The Quarter-Life Crisis of Jack Lancaster (by Iain Hollingshead) and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIE: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties (edited by Emily Franklin). See a pattern? Perhaps I am a little self-centered right now. As I don’t spend much time around other 20-somethings at work, I want to know what other people were/are doing at my age. Sure I talk to and email my friends and acquaintances, but that doesn’t fulfill my need to read does it? These books and I, we’ve spent some quality time together in the last 2 or 3 weeks. Maybe you should invite them over as well.

In Twenty-Something, the narrator/protagonist has all the fixin’s of a posh, urban London existence. He’s a well-paid investment banker, he’s got a beautiful girlfriend; he’s got the artsy-fartsy roommate (who happens to be a bit of a slacker, but his wealthy father got them the great flat that they live in, so there); and he’s got the cool group of co-ed friends who are all familiar enough to be comfortable yet attractive enough to stir that sexual tension that makes any gathering fun. Despite the glamorous, glamorous life (thanks, Fergie), Jack finds himself on New Years day no longer in love with his girlfriend, pudgy and unhealthy, and desiring a job where he actually knows why he gets paid. The novel is the journal Jack keeps for an entire year as he gets himself out of this proverbial rut. There’s poignant introspection, romantic pining, and many a hilarious drunken scene. (Quoting Braveheart as your being “escorted” from your former place of employment – contemporary classic.) It’s a man’s perspective, and it’s Brit wit – a bloody good read.

It’s a Wonderful Lie is a collection of commiserating essays all from women who have made it out of their twenties alive (promising already, it’s it?) The book is separated into sections that debunk the prevailing fairytales so many have about this coveted decade, from the material “I’ll have an amazing apartment and love my job” to the far more complex “I’ll know myself and what I want.” The writing is highly informal, but sparing no detail – with occasional swearing for authenticity. Some of the more memorable essays included one woman who was an indentured servant to major universities (i. e. an RD) because the apartments were beautiful, prime real estate and she lived rent/ utilities free. Another woman addressed the difficulty of making friends at the age of twenty-four; she attests to the importance of shared experience, and admits that without the sandbox or dormitory, it’s a lot tougher. Still another recounted the few years she spent searching for meaning after graduation, just to find that where she belonged was back in a classroom at graduate school. My only beefs with this book are that most of these stories take place in NYC (which I guess is accurate because what twenty-something doesn’t want to be there at least for a time?) Also, I would have liked a few more mahogany moments mixed into all of these alabaster encounters. Lastly, I wonder if there isn’t a bit of cowardice in only writing about something after it’s over? Isn’t hindsight always a prettier view? Still, a pretty good read; I recommend it.

Before I started picking up books again lately, I was reading a lot of magazines. Among my repeat offenses were MORE and O. Both of these are good mags, in my opinion, but they are geared toward older women. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was reading them and becoming eager about being that 30+ or 40+ woman that these magazines celebrated (you know, the Angela Bassetts and Rachael Rays of the world). In the meantime, I’m kind of living over my twenties, which is a bonehead move because I’ll never get them back. So while I’ve never been and never will be all sex-drugs-and-rock and roll, I still am curious and resilient and (relatively) adventurous. In addition to all of the “I know, right?!” moments that Twenty-Something and It’s a Wonderful Lie gave me, those books reinforced for me this very important point – none of their stories are mine. So while I have half of this decadent decade left, I’ve got some serious living to do.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

"east west home best mean house"...

well, it's official. we are home owners. it's been official for about 2 weeks now, and why haven't i posted sooner? that's right - there's just that much to do. it's a beauty, though: 100+ year old victorian, 2.5 stories, 1 car garage, storage shed, nice deck, and the most beautiful backyard tree. now don't be fooled. it still needs work, but we are a young, able-bodied, hard working couple (alhamdulilah). so i have every confidence that we will bring this house into it's potential, and our "sweat equity" will mean dollars in the future. would ya' listen to me? "sweat equity," it just means hard work. (Like pulling staples out of hardwood floors, one by one, after removing carpet from a room that is 13'X13' - that kind of hard work.) it's one of those real estate code phrases that we've picked up. here are a few others: "character" - "it's old"; "charm" - "some of the style is probably outdated"; "fixer-upper" - "RUN!!!" our house has "charm" and "character", not to mention the previous owner was fond of hunter green (bless her heart). so we've got our work cut out for us, but we will pace ourselves and learn a lot in the process. bet you want me to stop talking and show you some pictures, right?

there used to be another house on this corner, but it was abandoned for a while and the city eventually tore it down. soon after, the previous owner (we'll call her Miss Green... in the library with the candlestick!) bought the adjacent lot. what does all this mean? we hold the title for both properties. (sweet!)

here's one view of the deck. reminiscent of Jumangi, i know, but Miss Green moved out months ago. so the house hasn't had regular upkeep (not the detailed kind anyway). let me find a better shot...

(that's better.) with this jazzy deck/stage set up, i can see hosting artists' reviews and readings and whatnot...

and here's the beautiful tree. it's great for shading the deck, hanging a tire swing, stringing white christmas lights for aforementioned artistic gatherings, doing pull-ups... (HomeBoy has already tested that last one.)


forgive the cliche, but this is a new chapter...blah blah blah - i can't even say it, but you know where i was going with that. it's exciting but not overwhelming. i'm anxious but not worrisome. i am grateful for this house and love it as it is, but i can't wait to see what it could be. interior pictures of the queen mum in the next post. (yes, i named the house; i do that with cars too, but not all inanimate objects - like i don't name refrigerators or microwaves or anything. no, HomeBoy doesn't know i named the house...well, i guess he does now.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

it's a virtue (or whatever)...

we were ready. we were so ready. we'd kept it to ourselves for a long time, spilling no more than 3 beans at a time. afterall, buying a house is a big deal, and we're not superstitious or anything but you know the old adage of counting chickens and such. house inspection and reinspection? check. repairs completed? check. earnest money and all intial payments prepared? check. insurance policy? ... um, hello? insurance policy? ... the agent we spoke to weeks ago, who seemed like a really cool guy and was a referral from a friend and colleague and was oh so eager to get our business, has suddenly fallen off the edge of the earth! called his office and cell phone to no avail. so now what? won't be closing on a home on wednesday. (grrr!) i'm much better than i was yesterday, but let's just say that if this was jersey i might have to call in a favor. (okay, i don't really have that kind of pull and maybe i watch too many mafia movies, but i was tempted.) dude is f*cking with our investments - not a good look. but i think to myself, "t, what happened to your patience? you used to be so much better at it? wait. you have no power here. just wait. what is for you IS FOR YOU, you already know that, and nothing and no one can keep you from having what God has prepared for you. foolish girl! putting your faith in man! God is ALL the insurance and assurance you need. He is the best of all planners. be still and know..." so now we may not close until thursday or friday. and we may use a different insurance company (we will definitely use another agent). and God is for us, so who can be against us? lemme go. me and God, we gotta go get this house.

below is the email i just sent ol' boy. it is professional, no? consider the situation handled. *all names and stuff changed to protect blah blah blah...*

Greetings You,

I hope this email reaches you in good health and spirits. I'm writing to let you know that my husband, HomeBoy, and I had to work with another Yummy's Ins agent to attain our policy.

Yesterday morning, I received a phonecall from our advisor saying that she had yet to receive the proper paperwork from our insurance provider. Following that conversation, and for the rest of the day, I attempted to call your office and cell phone but to no avail. We were contracted to close on Wednesday, and could not move forward without proof of insurance. So, this morning I called the Yummy's office again, but I spoke with another agent to solidify the policy. We will not be able to close on Wednesday, but hopefully we can close on Thursday.

I inform you of the details because it is important that you understand we were in a precarious position, and we had to find a way to close as soon as possible. It most certainly is not a personal affront; I think you are personable and easy to work with, and perhaps we can still come to you if we switch our auto insurance.

"The Lady Who's Way Less Pissed Than She Was Yesterday"

Friday, August 03, 2007

in the moment...a haiku...

It's raining outside
I couldn't be happier
Finally release

Monday, July 30, 2007

break the chain... just for fun... but i'm not kidding...

There once was a little girl who loved to read. She read everything – twice! She read cereal boxes when she ate breakfast. She read the nutrition information on the back of her lunch. She read the newspaper over dinner. She read herself to sleep each night. It was more than an affinity; it was a compulsion. She literally could not stop herself. One day, the girl checked her email and had a message about another young girl with the same problem. The girl in the email had come to a bitter end. Her compulsion to read was so strong that she never blinked. Eventually, her eyes dried up and she went blind. So then she learned to read Braille. She read so much Braille that she rubbed her fingerprints off. One particularly noisy day, the girl went to the store. She tried to cross the street and, because she could not hear the sound of the approaching horn, was hit by a bus. It knocked all of her teeth out, and she died. Without fingerprints or dental records for identification, the girl had a pauper’s funeral…

That story was not true, but I'm sure you knew that. This is an anti-chain letter. It will not bring you luck or misfortune. It does not ask you to send money or say a prayer. It does not try to cheer you up or make you look on the bright side. It is simply a statement of malice for chain letters and their propagators. (Okay, malice is a bit much… How about disapproval?) Have you any idea how annoying it is to receive these things? Do you know how big of a let down it is to see a message from one of your cool folks just to open it up and find out that they’re trying to get a free gift certificate from Applebee’s? It is not amusing. Countless seconds and metacarpal strength are lost everyday deleting chain letter emails. You wouldn’t spend the postage to send such messages out to people for real, so why send pointless mass emails? Enough is enough already. Cut it out. Seriously.

If you send this message to 4 people – nothing will happen.
If you send it to 8 people – NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.
If you send it to everyone in your address book –Something may happen…but it won’t be because of this dang blasted message.
If I get this message back – [dude] you were so not listening.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

the ranting eyebrow thread...

It’s kind of sad that after all this time I return to my blog with a post about eyebrow maintenance. But when I develop slight anxiety at the thought of trying to find a suitable aesthetician in this city of fountains; and when every time I go home, I visit my old spot like they’re family; and when I actually consider working 2 or 3 annual trips home into my budget for the sake of my eyebrows, it’s serious.

I am a diehard advocate of the threading technique. Since my sister turned me on to it about 5 years ago, I’ve been hooked. (Cue background music…) Sure I’ve gone back to waxing once or twice when I was desperate, but I’ve always come back. What threading and I share is too strong. (Stop music.) Generally, I don’t wear makeup, and the proper eyebrow means that I don’t really have to (not to mention that my allergies cause such intense eye rubbing that I’d look like the only raccoon 10 minutes into my day). I thought that I didn’t like a dramatic eyebrow; this is not true. It just has to be the right kind of drama, and threading does it every time.

How perfect is threading in general (and my aesthetician in particular)? She remembers me when I go, and I never have to specify what I want. It’s exactly as it should be EVERY SINGLE TIME. Both times when I’ve tried to come out of my comfort zone and go to someone recommended by a friend or coworker I’ve experienced a range of emotion, from unsatisfied to down right disappointment. I give explicit direction, but to no avail. The first time I went to someone out here, I was so disappointed that I felt like I was making a donation when I left. “I can’t be compensating for services rendered,” I think to myself, “she hasn’t done anything!” The second time, I will admit, the outcome was decent. But I’m not used to decent; I’m used to the best.

So what have I decided to do? I am going to try to learn the threading technique because even though I could never thread my own eyebrows, far be it from me to deprive these Midwest women of a different (better?) way. (And for a fraction of the ridiculous price that others are charging.) In the meantime, I will search for an Indian population in the city of fountains, and my tweezers and I will continue to fight the good fight as we try to maintain the shape given to us the last time I was on the East coast.

(IOU: a substantive post)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

suspicion closed...

The first time I saw a commercial for the new tbs series "House of Payne", I had the strangest feeling that it would be horrible and I would hate it. Though I trust my intuition, I thought this feeling may be a personal bias masquerading as intuition. So, I watched the premiere last night (well, one episode of it), and sure enough - it was horrible, but I didn't hate it. I felt too embarrassed to hate it; surely the creator believed in this show. The network believed in this show, and here was the first episode failing miserably. Even the automated laughing sounded forced (either that or a live studio audience was half asleep), and the guest appearance of Madea didn't help. Her ignorant humor doesn't translate too well on the small screen; Perry's inexperience is evident, and his jokes are over articulated. (You know, like when a cornball says something he thinks is funny, but gets no response so he repeats himself with the hope that people will hear it and laugh the second time?) The high points? Keke Palmer as the school yard bully and China Anne McClain as Jazmine Payne, whose character can be described in one infamous word "fresh" (as in "don't be fresh!"). It had that car wreck appeal the first time around, but I won't be watching it again. There are some things, apparently, even a big black man in a dress can't save (i.e. see also "Norbit" and sequel to "Big Mama's House").

Poor tbs, they've agree to 100 episodes of this nonsense.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

it's that time again...


Your sign is the only double sign in the zodiac and because of that, it is fascinating. This double aspect is both a source of benefit and of conflict. Yes, you can both like and hate at the same time, be both excited and bored. In short, you are full of contradictions. These create numerous tensions and are the source of many conflicts with your surroundings.

Your personality is thus subject to assault by many sensations, sometimes leading to delicate situations, especially in the area of feelings, (which are difficult for you to handle). How many times have you not been driven past enthusiasm to exhaustion, from an exaggerated life-style to the temptation to leave everything behind ? Your air element makes life difficult for you. You have a tendency to create complications because you have needs beyond those which others can satisfy. And you are not content with half-measures, or mediocrities.

You have a vivid imagination which you want to make into reality, sometimes even though this is not possible. In this sense you are often disappointed by life, disappointed by others. In the domain of action, you either want to let go completely, or, you want to do one thousand things at a the same time. You start projects that you don't finish or that are impracticable.

On the other hand, you will take risks to alleviate boredom and this could be very profitable. But you can sometimes waste chances and it is solely because of yourself.

Yet, with your planet in Mercury, you inherited charm and the capacity for action. (But also for often wasted chances). Your relations with others are often difficult, leading to few long term relationships! Yet you have great potential and qualities that you may waste uselessly.

Your main fault is a lack of constancy and combativeness. Sometimes when your difficulties are real, you can get yourself easily out of it when you decide to take things in hand and not change your view. You usually come through these situations well even though you have to fight against yourself.

Just because I don't believe in the stuff doesn't mean that it isn't, sometimes, incriminatingly accurate.

Photo from here. Text from there.

chaos, mayhem, pandemonium...frenzy!

While perusing the newly added posts of, I came across this call to creative writers, dreamers, and procrastinators everywhere; it's a month long, international project called script frenzy, and, my friends, it is exactly that. In thirty days, all participants are charged to write 20,000 words in the form of a screenplay or stage play. Fade-in was 12:00am in June 1st, and fade-out is 11:59pm on June 30th. Everyone who meets the word count is a winner; everyone who tries is a celebrated participant. There's no cash prize, and they (the script frenzy people) have a computer program that does a word count when you submit the writing, so there's no real danger of plagiarism. I discovered this automated muse on the evening of the 31st of May - not much time to think it over, but I decided to jump in. So why did I decide to do it? Why not? There's motivation without pressure. True to form, the first 24 hours have come and gone, and I have no more of a script than I did when I discovered the project. But what am I doing? I'm telling you all about it instead of getting to work. Call it a part of my "process." Perhaps this will be the proverbial fire under my a*s. I'll be sure to keep yous guys aware of my progress- however shameful it may be.

Friday, May 25, 2007

hell breaks loose in jena... you didn't get the memo?

This is my disclaimer: I do not want to swear. I will try not to swear, but considering the circumstances - if I do, please understand. That being said, I would like to share a troubling story with you; these event's occured a long, long time ago (september 2006) in a land far, far away (jena, louisiana). In a local high school that is 80% white, 3 of the 85 black students in the entire school asked school officials if they could sit in the shade under some tree in the school yard. *(First eyebrow-raiser: it is an intergrated school; students share the courtyard. why in hell are they asking permission to sit down under an MF tree? but the students know their environment way better than I do, and I guess they were just making sure.) The powers that be told the students it was fine; they could sit wherever they wanted. And they did. The next day, the same tree had three nooses (Yes, i can spell. Yes, you can read.) hanging from it. Apparently, some of the majority students did not agree with the school officials. While the principal wanted the students expelled, the superintendent felt the nooses were a "youthful stunt" that deserved nothing more than a slap on the wrist. *(Second eyebrow raiser: did anyone notice if the superintendent had a white hood sticking out of his collar?) All kinds of violence and calamity ensued. Yet delusional Murphy McMillan, mayor of Jena, Louisiana, had this to say: "Jena is a place that's moving in the right direction. Race is not a major local issue. It's not a factor in the local people's lives." If by "right direction" he means "backwards", and if by "major" he means "acknowledged and addressed, and if by "not a factor" he means "totally affects everything we do, whether we are conscious of it or not." - Then hell, I totally agree. Either Jena has a small Af-Am population,, or this isn't an election year....Some BS...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

so close, and yet so far...

Thank you Canada - free healthcare, the Toronto Film Festival, and now a television series that addresses Muslims living in the west IN A REAL WAY. Don't be fooled by the title, which I believe is an intentional juxstaposition of terms that are unabashedly American and expectedly "foreign." "Little Mosque on the Prairie" clues us in immediately to the worlds that will coexist - not collide - in this series. It has good writing with characters that I came to relate to, and at the very least recognize, before I even got through the first episode. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to view some of this cutting edge and yet so timely sitcom (I guess it qualifies as such). The experiences are intensified because the setting is a small town where some people have a mentality of the same name; the entire community is not Muslim, so we see Muslims interacting with non-Muslims as well as Muslims with different perspectives interacting with each other. What I really like is that in just the first episode 3 Muslimahs were distinguished as important characters, and each woman is of a different ethnic background. I am not an Islamic scholar by far, but speaking as a writer i think it's a strong concept that handles the subject matter in a way that is respectful, open-hearted, and clever.

I do not know if such a series could survive in the states, but I would hope so. Sure, some of the humor is esoteric, but hey ask a Muslim friend or acquaintance why it's funny. Better yet - make one, then ask them. This is what I hope the show will do. It's not as important to make Muslims palatable for public consumption as it is to demystify and rehumanize us. It's more than no pork, people. "Little Mosque on the Prairie", like any sitcom, is fiction; you may be offended or misguided if you look to it for the absolute truth or a general consensus about all Muslims (though, you would be misguided to do that regarding anything). Yet, I have to admit that it made me feel good to see a Muslim woman being clever and candid and covered. I saw her and smiled and something inside said, "Me too!" I don't even know what percentage of the cast is actually Muslim, but that doesn't matter. She is there. she is not invisible. People can she her, and therefore people can see me.

But let me warn you now that if you go to YouTube to watch, avoid the comments at all costs because they range from highly supportive to intensely hateful and disturbing. This is common throughout the www, I'm sure, where people can show their asses without showing their faces, but I just don't have the stomach for it. And if you don't either, then don't bother with the comments.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

how many of us have them?

Been thinking about relationships and connecting lately, especially as it pertains to friends. All of these internet connecting spaces make it quite possible to never lose touch with anyone you've ever met in your life (I am not exaggerating). When the encounter is more that haphazard or singular, say, seeing the same person in high school everyday or sharing a campus for 4 years (give or take some time if you were a mover), then it's reasonable to say that a rapport may have developed. I don't assume a friendship but at least the pleasant acknowledgement of another's existence. Add to that the fact that we tend to remember things more fondly as the time between our present and said past increases (that maybe an assumption), and we arrive at this strange space where everyone is "friends" and very few are substantive. If this at all applies to you, weigh in on it; if not, feel free to tell me how big a deal i'm making about nothing.

There have been a few times when the internet has allowed me to reconnect with people i've held very dear to me but for some odd reason we lost touch, or develop a friendship with someone I didn't connect with until my time at an appointed place was nearly over. More often, the internet allows me the opportunity to maintain communication with my homies du jour when we don't speak on the phone. Recently, I've even decided to engage an immensely popular connecting space as a fresh way to build with blood relatives who live at great distances. To be candid, much of what does not fall into one of those categories above is filler. It is true that I sometimes have random musings about a person that I am not close to. I wonder how that person is doing, and I can locate and ask them just that in a matter of points and clicks - that is a great thing. However, this convenience comes at the high price of agonizing over expanding networks and friend requests and such. Why am I wondering how greatly someone will be impacted if i don't accept them into my "cyber clique"? Why don't the MySpace/Friendster/Facebooks of the world have any rejection options that range from "politely decline" to "that's wack - you barely know me"? Especially when a great number of these "friendships" will not go beyond the intial request and the occasional chain letter? And let's not forget the folks who request for the sake of building their numbers up (I wouldn't even have mentioned this if it wasn't true). I don't want to contribute to anyone's false sense of self-importance. Maybe I am overestimating my own.

Before all of this, connecting took effort, and that effort weeded out the proximal companions, for the most part (that phrase sounds so right, but it looks terrible in print) - the ones who were really down found a way to KIT if they could. Sometimes it mean that we lost people as a result of moving away, attending a different school or any myriad of things that cause a change on location. The up side to this? We weren't as cut off to new people because "nobody can make it out here alone." (to borrow from that cinematic breakthrough that was Poetic Justice.) Consider this: how hard do we really have to work at creating new connections if we never have to lose the old ones? How easy is it to stay to yourself all day during work at a new job or new school, if you get to come home and tell your old heads about how different your new digs are? Furthermore, people [are supposed to] change, and maybe staying in the same comfort zone with familiar folks is stunting. There's no room to meet the individuals who reflect who you are at the present, if you're hanging on to people in the past. And by "hanging on" I don't mean simply keeping in touch, that's fine; I mean, everyday, to the letter, tell-me-everything-that's-happened-since-i-moved kind of "hanging on."

Monday, April 23, 2007

check up on it...

If you're in a WalMart store any time soon (not that I am pro-WalMart by any means, but maybe make an exception this time), and you see a collection of six cards in purples and browns, with one word on the cover in funky lettering, and a snappy message inside - pick one of them up. (hell, pick up the whole set of six if you'd like.) It's something i've had my hand in. Take a gander, let me know what you think, and then find someone to give 'em to. Better yet, get one for yourself and tape it to your wall or prop it up on your desk as a daily reminder of how fly you is.

Monday, February 19, 2007

my sentiments exactly...almost...

it's not just birthdays and holidays anymore, people. there's a cardline called "journeys" and it's in hallmark gold crown stores and it covers everything from chemo to coming out. this ain't yo grandma's greeting cards.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the curse of adaptability... and a new clinical term...

one way people identify their “callings”
in life is by deciding what they could never do without – art, music,
math, the newspaper. if something comes to mind, that is at least a
place to start. but what if you don’t know what you can’t do without?
what if you are an extremely, go-with-the-flow, totally adaptable
person? does this mean you have no passion? no ambition? no drive?
let’s take it a step further, pair that adaptability with the ability
to learn things quickly, then toss in a laundry list of affinities.
you’re left somewhere in the middle of possibility, but not the green
hills, sunshine kind of possibility; this is the seedy shadow of
possibility – that bastard cousin, indecision. graduate high school?
check. graduate college? check. get a great job? check. then what the
hell is the problem? I should be thanking my lucky stars, but instead
I’m reproaching the stars – double checking to see if any of them are
my true north or if I’ve been fooled. let's be clear, i am not unhappy
by any definition, but i guess the honeymoon employment period is over...

in other news, i think i may have chronical
dyslexia. (and i probably just made that up, but let me explain) no,
not chronic dyslexia because that would be habitual and that's not what
i mean. "chronical dyslexia" as in, my mentality wants to go backwards;
this sounds bad, i know but it's under control - i'm in no danger of what nas would call a "second childhood." but i think it boils down to wanting to have more "fun" (for "fun" see a billion different things for a billion different people).

see, when i was younger i was 'mature for my age' (or at least i was told). people made this sound like a compliment, so i continued to perpetuate this behavior. looking back, while mature meant "safe and responsible" it also meant "boring." were it not for my younger sister, i probably wouldn't have had the handful of free-wheeling childhood experiences i did encounter. so one day i caught myself saying, "damn! i totally missed my chance to be 'young and foolish!'" well, no take-backs. i'm not underage, so there will be no fake IDs. not in school anymore, so i can't cut class (and hell no i'm not cutting work). there will be no experimentation with mind altering substances. when i told my husband that i missed my chance to do young and dumb things, he said maybe that was a blessing. maybe i would have gotten too deep into something i couldn't get out of (can you believe it? someone more level-headed than me - in this instance anyway). he makes a good point. i guess what irks me the most is that i don't think i stayed so straight-laced entirely because of my pristine virtues or exemplary moral compass. i mean, i wanted to be a good kid, but often times, i was just scared...

anyway, all that to say that if i create stellar fiction in the future don't raise an eyebrow when you see me in person because there's a pretty good chance i didn't do any of it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"meditations on voice"

i am participating in a black history month exhibit. the theme of the show is "we speak [for] ourselves", and this is where the theme led me. hope you enjoy...

fast and furious
slow and slurr’d
dropping consonants
and smooshing vowels

drawling and dragging
screaming and hollering
singing and shouting
tsking and sighing
You dig?

hands on hips
eyes rolling
neck cocked
head whipping
fingers snap
I heard that!

feet stomping
legs hopping
hips swishing
waist rocking
I know that’s right!

weeping, wailing,
praying, moaning,
chanting, resisting…

ancestors and babies
speak to each other
sisters and brothers,
what’s the news?

Funwa L’alafia--
Ashe! Ashe!


so the poet in me, perhaps she is not dead. but she sure as hell is good at playing possum.

Friday, January 26, 2007

where the hell you been? and reading is FUN again...

so i'm saying to myself, "what is it? almost february and you haven't said anything? what's really good?" i guess i just haven't had much to say, or, to be more honest, i haven't had much that i've wanted to talk about...i finished reading mario puzo's The Godfather last night, partially because i was near the end but also because i couldn't put it down. as soon as Grey's Anatomy went off (excellent episode, by the way), i picked up the novel and didn't move until i knew exactly how michael would restore the corleone family. upon completion of this great book, i was left with a few feelings: 1) michael corleone could get it, 2) there are such subtle ways to gain power and respect (that don't include the crime and violence), 3) i wish there were stronger women characters, 4) did puzo have a problem with black people or was he trying to be historically accurate? i've resolved most of these feelings by now. it matters not to me what the fictional characters in this novel thought of black people - only what i think. the women in this novel really irked me; they were all good and passive(aggressive) italian women, sometimes by force. those who were not were whores or sluts. i could not be at peace with this, so i went to mario puzo's website and read what he felt about his own works. mario says the following about The Godfather: "Whenever the Godfaher opened his mouth, in my own mind i heard the voice of my mother. I heard her wisdom, her ruthlessness, and her unconquerable love for family and for life itself... the Don's courage and loyalty came from her; his humanity came from her...and so, I know now, without Lucia Santa I could not have written The Godfather."

oh. that's what i thought.