06 December 2013

Madiba

Madiba.


Nelson Mandela was know to those who loved him by that name. I use it now to try to honor their love for him.

Obviously, I did not know this man. However, when I heard about his passing, I felt like something had subtly dimmed. Like a light had gone out in the world.  His story is one I knew before I could understand, before I could tell it back to anyone else. All I have available to me are stupid, pretentious words, but I mean them wholeheartedly. I feel like his life has shaped mine in some indescribable way, although a thousand miles and a continent, a lifestyle and a family completely unknown to him separate us.

His story echoes in my head today. I feel its telling in my blood, and I am moved. I find myself mourning. It's as if his experiences - dramatised a hundred times by writers, film makers, and media partners the world over- have somehow been inked on my skin. Beneath it maybe. Because in a way, the tale and the man both- the life that has become a story, are part of me too. They're part of all of us. Even so many miles, so many lifetimes away. That story created the world I know, and it made the one I'm struggling to achieve possible.

I am honoured.


25 August 2013

Meatless Monday?

I haven't been enjoying cooking lately. In fact, with all the stress of writing my last essay, starting my new job, and finding a flat, food has just become this nuisance to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

ugh.

I love to eat, and I miss enjoying the whole process of cooking and eating, so to spice up my food-life, I've been trying to find some recipes to have a go at. I was watching Jaime Oliver today (I know. Don't say it.) and it took nearly the whole segment before I realised that he was doing a meatless dish.

Quick tangent: I'm a true omnivore, I relish trying to get the perfect balance between meat and side, and get fairly annoyed when either one is too much or too little.

Back to the topic.

It got me thinking: should I try having a meatless monday? Normally I'd scoff at the thought, I like my meat! But I like a creative challenge even more. What would I make on meatless day? And how would I make sure my belly's full? The more I think about it, the more I wonder if it isn't worth having a go.

During Lent last year, I decided to observe the 'No meat on Friday' rule. It was fun actually, when I managed not to forget (I'm not religious. It was all a bit of a whim). And that's where I got that lovely (tasty!) picture of my seafood pasta. I made up that recipe in desperation one night and it was actually really good, so the idea of going meat-less every week again isn't so farfetched really.

I think I'm going to try it. All these changes in my life make me want to start almost everything afresh. It's time for change! So meatless Monday's will start from next week- I'm going to need a new section on HM for whatever I come up with :D

11 August 2013

Dating Hell: Episode 1

So.

I am, as I've specified already, a 20-something singleton living in London. This essentially means that I am in what I like to think of as "Dating Hell". The time between "Met Someone" and "With Someone", also known as the space before "Significant Other".

What it's significant for is being shite.
Eff this ish. 


I have, as it were, "met someone", but in the process of getting to the 'with' part, I've been bruising my shins on all the idiot stumbling blocks along the way.

We'll call him, Zebra.


Zebra and I met during a non-mutual night out- which is probably why there's so many issues already. We are trying to plan our very first meet up since that fateful weekend night, and he keeps suggesting the event take place at his house.

Now for a number of reasons, I haven't already run screaming into the distance, but I'm really starting to get uncomfortably close to the "You know what, I just don't damn-well think so" point. I'm not against going to a guy's house, but I like to know the guy.

Otherwise, he might as well pay me for services rendered.

You may find that somewhat harsh considering we've at least met before now, but I just don't do the whole "I'll get to know you round at mine" thing. Or rather, I know what it can imply. And while I don't know Zebra, I damn sure remember Trout. And we're not doing that again.


Some things are just not a Status

What is Facebook for?

For me, it's like my address book for keeping up with all the people spread across all the states, and all the countries that are friends and family I couldn't reach any other way. It's not for bereavement. 

Like probably everyone, I've lost people I love. I've felt the need to talk to someone- anyone, to help me deal with grief, and I've scribbled out my feelings on tear-stained scraps of paper that still make me cry when I occasionally come across them. 

I haven't posted on Facebook. 

It's not for me to tell others how to handle their suffering. It's none of my business if it makes you feel better- in fact, if it helps you cope, then DO IT. 

I - personally- because this is my damn blog- can't do that, and won't do that. To me, that's not what Facebook is for, because I feel like Facebook is secretly making an arse of me. 

And that's fine- I'm okay with it. I get on there and FB-stalk people, "Like" cat GIFs, and post pictures from my holiday and cryptic statuses that passive-agressively handle my internet biz-naz, and that's all good. No big deal, but when I want to share my grief, it's not something for people to hit the 'Like' button on. It's not a Like moment, and I'm not going to Like your status mourning your loved one. 

I just can't. 

We all handle grief differently. That's okay. Some people use Facebook for different things, and different reasons, and have different feelings about it than I do- that's okay too. 

This is just how I feel. Maybe I'm old school, but when I'm dealing with feelings like that, with emotions that big and unwieldy, I'm going to put pen to paper. I'm going to cry all over it and screw it up and anger because it doesn't do it justice. Then I'm going to hide it away where only I will ever find it again, and read it sometimes to remind me to hold tight to the ones that are here now, and hang on to the memories when they're not. 

But that's just me. Thoughts?

06 August 2013

Vengeful Shopping

I am missing the Matalan sale!

I mean I can't even- I just don't want to- *sigh.*


This is the time of year I'd usually spend rolling around in a pile of clothes in Primark, Top Shop, Matalan and River Island: the end of summer sale is on. Let's not kid ourselves, we all know summer is already technically over and the current sunshine is just window dressing, the air's already got the sharp tang of ice and rain in it. Classical hallmarks of a typically British August.

The sales at this time of year are pretty spectacular too- particularly in River Island and Matalan. Fury does not begin to cover it when I think about how this interim jobless period is punishing me.

If I scurry down to the job centre, I might be able to find work just in time to catch the tail end of the sale-a-thon, but the shopping loses it's charm when I consider that all the best deals have essentially, already gone.

I hope you snagged them.


Until next time,



03 August 2013

*Squeal* Jay Park! *Squeal*

I  know. I'm so late.

Maybe it's because I don't live in LA, but I feel like I miss out on all the best things to do with people who are not categorically the same damn thing I've been watching on the telly for ages.


In the spirit of celebrating the fact that I have managed through dint of Facebook (it really wasn't that hard) to find him, I'm going to go ahead and make Jay Park August's Person I love. This is kind of big, because August is my birthday month, and holds a special place in my heart.

I love a boy in tattoos


COME TO LONDON!


So much hawtness.





31 July 2013

On The Tube

I love when things like this happen:


video



Everywhere is a good place to party.



10 Tips For Having a Better Day

We all have crap days. Well, maybe not Sir Richard Branson. But everyone else definitely. Having a hard day doesn't mean that you have to keep having a hard day though, so I've made a list of some of my favourite ways to de-stress, perk up, and not kick anyone up their backend to do it.
Sir Richard definitely *not* having a bad day.


1. Remember that every day has an end. Whatever's eating you isn't going to gnaw on you for the next seven years, even if it feels like it might.

2. Treats. Possibly the most undervalued way to brighten up a murky day is to treat yourself to something you like. Small somethings are particularly good, like a chocolate bar or a biscuit. I love a food related treat, but if you don't, try quietly playing a song that makes you feel good, or having lunch outdoors if it's a sunny day. Giving yourself a little something special- even if it's just grabbing a nice glass of wine at home - is a good way to salvage an otherwise bad day.

3. Exercise. Feeling like you just want to scream/break things/attack the printer with a Louieville Slugger? Get up and move. Walk down the corridor, stretch your arms and roll your neck and shoulders. Skip if there's no one around to see you. Moving your body will make you feel alive again, and is a great way to get rid of some pent up energy.

4. Laugh. Take a minute and look up that silly youtube video of the cats or the talking babies. Have a giggle. Even if it's something you've seen before, find something that you always find amusing and have a bit of chuckle over it.

5. Fortress of Solitude. Go into a quiet place where there aren't many people and breathe in the silence. Put your feelings to the back of your mind and simply take in the quiet. Even if the only place you can find to be alone is a loo stall, get in there and get yourself some quiet time. Hold your nose if you have to.
I freaking WISH I worked here. Peace and quiet and books: can you say perfect?

6. Phone an ally. Call up a friend, sibling, parent or partner who makes you feel good. Find someone who will have time to listen quietly, so that you can get the rant off your chest. Don't talk too long- you don't want to work yourself up, and make sure that the other party understands that you don't want them to offer advise or argue with you, you just want them to listen.

7. Pledge. Make a big, soapbox pledge to yourself that you will NOT allow any nonsense to spoil your otherwise brilliant mood. Refuse to internalise the crapload of suckerism that is coming from whomever your glorious self is unfortunately forced to be polite to and determine that tomorrow you shall emerge renewed like the great, beautiful, sexy thing you are. Grudges are beneath you.

8. Plan your dinner. You'd be surprised at how calming it is to do something domestic and ordinary like planning your dinner. Come up with a recipe you want to have a go at, try to remember what's been squirreled away in the back of the fridge/freezer that you might fancy, and get all posh about it if you like. It's peaceful.
You know, I don't think I want anything with this.

9. Do your job. I always feel better- regardless of what's happened during the day- when I know I've been productive. When you feel like your day is going poorly, block out the distractions, get your head down, and focus on being the amazingly productive, efficient, good-at-what-you-do person that you know you are. At the end of the day, you can look back and say: "You know what,  I still got loads done today- who cares if so-and-so was a bit of a git?"

10. Be nice. Find someone- anyone- and simply be nice to them. Compliment someone on their shoes or outfit, tell a friend how amazing they are, or remind a colleague of what a good job they did on the last project. Being kind to someone else always brings a little something special to my day, no matter how much of a crappy one I've been having. You never know, it could be just the little pick-me-up both of you need.


25 July 2013

Viva Jamaica!

I'm back! At last, with an update for HM!

And boy what a good one it is: I can still feel the breeze coming off the waves after my very first trip to Jamaica.



It was amazing, beautiful, rich, lush, and glorious. I feel so very lucky. To make the best time even better, I got to wear my entire summer wardrobe - a thing I had forgotten thanks to the rather unpleasant weather we'd been having in London- up until I left of course.

Anyway, I'm a nice chocolatey toasty brown courtesy of my new tan, sporting rope twists courtesy of a little round Jamaican lady and just under five hours in her care, and feeling ready for just about anything.

Fuzzeh! But it's me anyway. 

Which is good really, because the 'anything' that I feel ready for is threefold: moving house, getting a full-time job, and figuring out what to do if the latter is not going to turn up for another four months. Being a recent graduate is tough these days, and being one fresh off the best holiday ever is even tougher. I've been lured into a false sense of security.

Still, I saw what life is like outside of the welfare state, because there's no handy benefits in Jamaica. People get by any way that they can, and the word 'struggle' just doesn't seem to do it justice. It left me feeling a complicated mixture of guilt, remorse, and determination.

If they can work hard then so can I. I've had my rest, and it was a good one, and now I'm ready to get back to work.


21 May 2013

Is now Tumbling...


I'm feeling a bit sheepish: when I started this blog I promised that I'd faithfully keep it updated every day.  That has clearly not been the case.

It's been nearly a month- A MONTH- since my last post.

To be fair, I've been super busy.

School's been a nightmare!

I've been reading so much :(

My hair's been frizzy :( :(

It's been raining D:

*sigh*.

So anyway, as if to make myself even more guilty, I wound up starting a tumblr. Don't get me wrong! It'll never replace HM and blah blah blah

I think I'm just a social media WAG.

Can't stop myself- I just keep getting on.

Blast.

So this is it: it's full of pictures (some of them are of me) and quotes and stuff. It's not like blogger though. It's not an actual, like, blog or anything. It's more like a photo-album, a snapshot of snapshots of things I like. Like Instagram, only bigger.

You may recognize some of the pictures.

Have a look and see.


25 April 2013

Cheap and Cheerful: The London Bus Tour

I think only people who haven't spent their lives in London, or who have been away for awhile will really appreciate this one, but it's one of the things I really enjoyed about moving back here:

London is beautiful via bus.


You'd be surprised how much of the city you can see that way and how nice it can really be to get on a bus with some good friends and just ride the route to the end.

I started to notice during shopping trips and while going to visit family- the buses are the best way to see a lot of the city in a short time. There's nothing to see on the tube, and the overground is good, but doesn't go past a lot of the best parts.

Riding the buses gives you enough time to spot those little restaurants to try, shops that you can visit the next time you're in that area, statues, architecture, even landmarks.

One Saturday, there was no one on the top level with me, and I happened to be going over London Bridge. I couldn't help myself- I started taking pictures like a tourist.

It's relaxing, warm ( the weather is dastardly lately) and really, really cheap, and if you pick the right route, you can go right through central and see all the big touristy places (like Picadilly Circus and Oxford street for you non- Londonders out there).

It's great- you should try it sometime.







23 April 2013

#1 Don't Let the Sauce Do All the Work: and Other Lessons My Mum Taught Me About Cooking

Mum would be proud!

On Sunday mornings as a kid, I used to get up early, creep into the kitchen, pour some juice and watch.

My mum would be cooking.

One of the most interesting things in this world, is watching my mum cook. My dad and I both do it: we sort of sidle in and stand there, inching closer and closer to bubbling pots and sizzling pans, watching my mum literally zip around the kitchen with a dozen arms and legs, limbs flying in every direction while she prepares six or seven dishes at the same time.

If we were lucky, she'd banish us to the breakfast nook, and we'd get to stir things.

This particular honor was one of the highest a person could hope for in our household. I still thank my lucky stars that my siblings are older than me, and we didn't have to fight over it. The only remaining contender for it was my dad, and we had several unspoken agreements:

If he was doing the lawn, and therefore more work than me, he got it.

If he was up first, and I came down too late, he got it.

If I managed to be the first one in the kitchen when mum started cooking, no matter who was up first, I got it.

If he had to go out, I got it.

The reason for it was simple: if you got to stir, you got to eat. The two went hand in hand, except on holiday occasions when a massive breakfast was prepared for everyone, or in the rare case that mum was in a particularly good mood and both dad and I were able to benefit.

For the most part though, the person stirring got to eat: little bits of chicken fresh out of the frying pan, left over pasta and sauce that wouldn't fit into the baking tray, extra sausages, and so on.

There was no telling what or how much- it depended on the menu for the week, mum's mood, and how much would be left that wasn't enough to worry about sticking in the freezer for another time.

My mum was like an artisan, spooning, whipping, chopping and mixing, making up baking trays of different meals that would then go into the freezer to be taken out and eaten during the week.

The honor wasn't just in the eating, it was in being the one to label, and sometimes even put together a meal that the whole family would sit down to enjoy a few days later. I always got a thrill of pleasure when we'd take a tray out of the freezer and it would say "Chicken Parmesan" on the tin foil in my handwriting.

The pride in it was unmistakable, and mum would always tell us over dinner who the lucky party was that had helped prepare the meal. I'd sit there grinning like a cheshire cat every time.

Food brings people together, in so many little ways, and I'm proud when I think about how much I enjoy cooking and eating and sharing thanks to those busy Sunday mornings.

This is a multipart post, so look out for part 2 soon!

05 April 2013

Life Updates #2: Stress and Stuff

Lately I haven't been doing much with my face- no make-up, no nothing.

I've been on holiday, so I thought I'd give my skin a break. The other day, I was doing something in the bathroom (you know how you just end up in there, fussing with the vanity etc. etc?) and I noticed lines on my head.

It was the light.

My bathroom is dark.

Or too bright for that matter.

It was the angle.

It doesn't really matter though, because they were there. I'm 22 years old, and I noticed the lines on my forehead for the first time.

Not from angry frown-y faces; these lines run horizontally just above my eyebrows, which is what caused them: worry.

When I worry, I apparently make a 'pleading' sort of expression, with my eyebrows up and my mouth compressed (I spent five more minutes in the bathroom for no reason, figuring this out).

The lines are there because I've been extremely worried lately, and to make matters worse,  I hadn't even realised. I thought I'd been fine.

So how do you come back from stressing too much (and by extension, make those wretched lines go away)?
Listening to Frank helps. 

One thing has worked for me: rest.

I don't mean sleeping either, I mean the kind or rest where you do what you have to do, and then as you feel yourself starting to get tired, or ache, or get hungry or cold, you stop.

That's it.

You just stop, and find something else to do- and here's the kicker- it has to be something that you enjoy doing.
Watching anything with him in it is something I enjoy :)  



You don't stop and do more work.

Please note, this isn't a cure all, and I'm certainly not a doctor, but I know how bad anxiety can be, and I've found that giving myself a proper rest when things start to freak me out is extremely helpful.

The downside is, I had to be on holiday to do it.

The upside is, I feel better about life in general.

Cheers,




02 April 2013

Music for Listening: Why I Seriously Dig Frank Ocean

Frank is April's Person I Love:
Frank Ocean: Huffingtonpost.com


As much as I love music- and I do- definitely,

I listen to it in two specific ways: first, when I want a song- any song- and I want to dance, or wail at the top of my lungs, and second, when I want to listen.

Most music falls into the first category for me. It's for dancing, or singing out loud in the car, or for playing on your iPhone when you're on the train.

The type of songs I like best though, are for listening- really listening. The kind of listening where the lyrics trickle through your mind stirring up all kinds of feelings, where you feel as though something in your heart has woken up and it's keeping pace with the music. Where, as the melody fades, you feel refreshed, as though a weight has been lifted, pent up energy expelled, a breath let out.

That kind of listening.

There are only a few songs that fall into that category, and Swim Good, for me, is one of them. It's beautiful: hauntingly so.

The refrain lingers in the back of my mind, and I find myself randomly humming it at moments of high stress or anxiety. It's the kind of song that makes me conscious of my own thoughts.

Frank Ocean is doing something that I wish more musicians would do, he's making the kind of music that takes a image, a feeling, something more intangible than just words, and builds a whole song out of it.

The content doesn't revolve around procuring ones sexual favours in exchange for expensive or monetary gifts- a fine tradition in its own right, but preferably not one to be continuously written into every song since music began.

Instead, you get feelings: love and lust, fear and pride, and in Swim Good, the kind of raw, aching sadness that you only know if you've been in love. It's the kind of feeling that makes you reckless. When you realise that it's not going to happen, it was possibly never true, and you can't cope with the gaping wound in your heart- reckless. It's something I've only known once in my life, but it's a feeling that I never thought could be so perfectly captured in music.

That song leaves me breathless.
Frank Ocean: soulculture.co.uk

This man is obviously a writer.

You know how I feel about words. 

And writers for that matter. 

Frank Ocean's music is lyrically beautiful, it's one of the first things I noticed about it. You don't get a lot of oooh baby  - which is good. Because sometimes, all us babies out there get really sick of the oohhs.

Ocean's melodies are also achingly glorious- I'm gushing, I know, but I like this guy, and this is really one of the reasons why. It's hard to find a song that doesn't remind me of "that other song where he goes like..." and hearing his lush, beautifully composed pieces you realise there's a perfectly unique experience- in each and every one.


But it's not just the lyrics, or the beat, or the melody- it's all of them, the entire piece is that surreal something plucked from the heart, or the mind, or the soul.

It's why some songs can't be played on a rainy day when you're not feeling 100 per cent. It's why others make you smile no matter what kind of day you're having.


Frank, you are amazing. Seriously.

30 March 2013

The Pursuit of Genius

It's been a long time since I've really thought about this but it's been on my mind lately, and you know where things like that end up.

I once thought I might be a troubled genius, brilliant writer and creative thinker. It's quite possible that in the ever thickening fog of my pubescence, this was just a way to cope with the fact that I was really just an ordinary child looking for a way to be 'normal'.

Have I ever mentioned how much I despise that word? What the heck is normal anyway? But that's for another post.

It's weird that people never stoop to such heights of hubris as to proclaim themselves 'genius', and for a long time I've believed that the designation is subjective, anything that can't be applied to you by your own thinking is in my mind essentially irrelevant (who knows you better than you do?), but in my youthful urge to differentiate myself from the increasing 'pack mentality' of my formative years, I (perhaps wrongly) assumed on a subconscious level that my serious nature, and reticence to participate in more 'traditional' teenage past-times was a demonstration of genius.
pic: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk 

I took my writing seriously back then, I was going to be a journalist and an author, and the world would understand that my pseudo 'punk' attire and patently stubborn and-at times- obnoxious angst ridden persona masked a brilliant mind.

What happened to that self-confidence?

When did I stop thinking that I might be a genius? And why should I not suspect myself of latent brilliance? What's so wrong with that? It's amazing isn't it, that as we age we lose the ability to give ourselves superpowers at will?

When i thought I might be brilliant, in a weird way, I was...

Re-reading my writing from back then, I cringe a lot. Not gonna lie. It's not all great, but there are some hidden gems, a line here or a phrase there, even a paragraph or two that are simply inspired. It seethes with the confidence of the young, the intrinsic knowledge that no one could write this particular thing better than me, and should I deign to let you read it, you'd be impressed.

Where did that go?

These days, my writing cowers. It hides underneath a rock made of missing information, half hearted attempts to be clever, and obvious struggles with inspiration and originality.

My confidence is gone. Now I need to get it back.

As a child, writing was fun: it was my 'talent', my single 'natural ability' (or so I believed) and it was mine to command at will. Since reaching adulthood, it has increasingly become my paycheck, my future happiness, my personal fulfillment, and my ambition.

It fills some weighty roles in my life, but at the core, at my core, I know that the only way to make it fun again is to remind myself of what I used to think way back when: I am a writer. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn't, or didn't write.
pic: dlkoontz.com

I am the bane of stationary shops everywhere, the owner of many pens, and the fastest keyboard fingers in my household.

I am the user of vibrant verbs, astounding adjectives, and nefarious nouns. I am a lover of onomatopoeia, a word that I can spell without using spell check thank you very much.

I am subtle with alliteration, verbose with grammar, and excitable when it comes to sentence structure.

I am a writer, and by heaven a writer I shall be.


16 March 2013

Budget Beauty Quick Tips #2: Clean Your Brushes!

Budget Beauty Quick Tip #2: Using a make-up removing face wash to clean makep-up brushes

I'm a masters student currently, so that means skint. I'd been meaning to buy some brush cleaner for ages, but never seemed to have the money (read: spent it all on contact lens solution- that stuff is so expensive!)

Using my face-wash to clean my brushes gets the job done: they come out clean and still soft and flexible. The best part is, my extremely sensitive skin doesn't get irritated because its the same stuff I already use on my face.

Take a little face wash- preferably one that contains make-up removing ingredients. (It should say so on the bottle).

Soap up your brush! I used Neutrogena face wash (I'll do a post on my skin care routine eventually) and I didn't need a lot- just a tiny amount, even less than you'd use to wash your face with. I rubbed the face-wash into the hairs of the brush without splaying them out.


Now rinse until the water runs out clear.
Important: try not to bend or scrub too hard at your brush. You don't want to mess up the bristles! I just gently soaped mine and held it under the faucet to rinse.



And you're done! All you need to do now is dry your brush and it'll be ready to use next time. I used a paper towel to soak up the excess water first




Then wrapped it around the brush to dry for a full day before using it again. Be sure you aren't going to need your brush until the next day before you do this- you want it to be completely dry before you use it in your make-up!



15 March 2013

D.I.Y: Studded Clutch!

I picked up this leather clutch when I was charity shopping, and it looked like the perfect 'project piece'. I had some bits and pieces at home that I knew I could use to jazz it up a bit. A little black bag is always  a good accessory, and this one cost me £1.75 at Oxfam Dalston, on Kingsland Rd.

Budget Beauty Quick Tips #1: With the help of some plastic studs, you can take anything from basic to blinged up!

What you'll need: 


My hot glue gun has two settings: hot and third degree burns. Ouch!


- Some plastic or metal studs (I happened to have these ones laying around waiting for a project)

- A hot glue gun, or other glue that bonds firmly *note: if you are going to use hot glue, pay attention to the type of material that you clutch/bag is made of: hot glue isn't always the firmest bonding agent! Also- watch your fingers, I burnt mine a little!

- A project piece: (n). any item that you can use for crafting- easily replaced, and if you mess it up, it's not going to upset you too much. In this case, it's a black leather clutch purchased for £1.75 at Oxfam in Hackney.

Get your studs out and ready and heat up your glue gun so you're ready to go:
I got these sparkly little crystal studs on eBay for around £0.50? Cheap and cheerful!



First, I laid out my studs in a pattern I liked on the clutch. I like to know exactly where I'm going to put them before I start messing around with my high temperature glue gun.
This wasn't my final pattern, but it gave me a good start!



Next, I started glueing. I glued down all the studs in the pattern you see above, and then I decided to lay out a few more studs and add and change the pattern a little.
I cleaned up any residual glue afterwards- make sure you do as well!



The final result was this:





Tre chic!

12 March 2013

I Cut My Hair (Big chopped)





There's a long, long, looong history between me and my hair. We've been friends and we've been enemies, and for the last few months we've been distinctly at odds, but now we are one.

I cut my hair. I did what black women slowly growing out a relaxer describe as a 'big chop'- I cut off the remaining relaxed ends and now all of the hair on my head is 17 months old. Amaze right? Tots Amaze.

Now I didn't chop down to half a centimeter or anything, 'cuz I'm definitely not that bold.

But I ended my transition and am now sporting the long dreaded short fro.

I hated the thought of wearing a fro a year ago.

That was when I was convinced that my hair would form perfect round 2.5 centimeter spirals all over my head.

I was wrong.

My hair forms perfect, round, .5 centimeter spirals all over my head.

Am I disappointed? A little.

But do I love it?

You bet yur arse.

11 March 2013

Beyonce is Strong And Marilyn is Feminine?

A friend of mine said this to me once, and it stuck in my head though at the time I didn't think anything particular about it.Weeks later I realised why this innocent little statement was knocking around in my brain like a drunk on a bus.

Beyonce is strong and Marilyn is feminine?  Aren't they both feminine, womanly women?
Beyonce: Yeah. She'll totally break your face.

Beyonce is one of the few celebrities today- one of the only female celebrities left- that triggers world wide recognition. Her concert tours sell out, her albums always chart near the top or at the top, she's worshipped as one of the most beautiful women on the planet, and yet she's always tagged with adjectives like 'strong' and 'fierce'.

Donyale Luna: epitome of grace
I don't think there's anything at all wrong with being a strong woman - in fact, I think it's a must. But as a black woman, I sometimes feel like 'strong' is the kindest adjective they can give me.

If our women aren't ever described as 'feminine' or 'womanly' or 'graceful', then in the minds of our heavily male dominated, vaguely misogynistic culture, we're not fully women. 

Black models are described with all kinds of adjectives like 'exotic', 'powerful', 'evocative' etc etc, but how often are we tagged as just plain beautiful? Womanly? Graceful?

Why are the women who are most associated with these terms: Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivenne Westwood, and of course the indomitable Marilyn- all white? Maybe it's because of the era: the words are almost archaic now, as is the image conjured by them, but the residue sticks in all our minds.

Another friend told me how terrified she is walking home at night in her area. She had every right to be afraid of the drug dealers and shady characters lurking around the streets that sometimes actually accosted her, but I wondered, if it was me, would people be that sympathetic? Are black women allowed to go all wide-eyed in terror at the thought of walking home alone?

It annoys me to no end that western culture turns black women into angry, brawling, I ain't afraid o' nothin'!  type stock characters. That kind of misinterpretation downplays our very real fears and anxieties as women who live in a world run by men. We're no less afraid of being bothered on the way home, of being mishandled, bullied, and shouted at on the street- but we're supposed to be 'strong black women', so society can do what it wants, and we're just going roll our necks and keep on walking?
Joy Bryant: girl next door.  
 I disagree with the idea that women should have to be 'one' thing- but by assuming that all black women are of the 'break your damn face' persuasion, they're doing exactly that- making us all 'one' thing. That kind of assumption means that as a young black woman who is quite often afraid, I look around and wonder If I screamed, would anyone help me?  That's a scary thought when you're walking alone at night.

Alex Wek: Womanly woman and feminine beauty
I think A. Wek is GORGEOUS- look at that
skin! I'm so jel. I LOVE HER!

If I was a white girl, as evidenced by all the seriously high profile cases of young white women that decorate our news-feeds, if they didn't, there'd be hell to pay later.

All women - ALL WOMEN regardless of race, have the right to be strong and feminine. Most of us have grown up watching our mothers, sisters, aunties and Grans do just that. Racism is emasculating, and women of all races tend to bear the brunt of their men's let downs. So why I ask you, do we warrant a loss of femininity when we are women too? When we come in 'beautiful', 'womanly' and 'graceful' just like other women do? Maybe it is time to redefine the terms, and embrace what is truly the beauty and strength of WOMANHOOD full stop.


10 March 2013

6 Of the Best: Hair Conditioner Stash

This is by no means my whole stash of hair products- I can proudly put my hand up and say I'm a product junkie, but when I counted and realised I had this much conditioner, I figured it couldn't hurt to tell you guys what I use 'em all for (because frankly, I needed to sort it out myself... o.o)


Tresemme Naturals: There are a few different kinds of this particular one - I go for the 'moisture' one for consistency's sake, but I don't really bother to differentiate. Of the six, Tresemme is one of my staples. I always have a bottle handy- and if I don't, it's top of the list for replacement.

  • Uses: A 'combing conditioner' and de-tangler: my hair just seems to melt apart with this, and I love it for my monthly combing sessions with my Denman D3 brush. 



Kiehls Superbly Smoothing Argan Oil Conditioner: This one is the most expensive, and comes in the smallest bottle. As such, I only use it in my hair spritz. It's one of my staples, and I make each bottle last as long as I can.
  • Uses: A de-tangler and moisturiser: I put in in my hair spritz and it keeps my curls juicy and soft as a moisturiser. I also like to make a slightly heavier use of it as a pre-wash detangling spray.


Twisted Sister: This one isn't my favourite. It's a so-so moisturiser, and a so-so detangler. It doesn't have much slip, and it doesn't really add anything to my hair. Plus, I think it smells weird. Not going to buy it again. 
  • Uses: I'm basically just trying to use it up. It goes into the deep conditioning mixture as a 'thickener'. 



Dark n Lovely Deep Conditioning Masque: Another staple- although I wouldn't normally buy a product that's got petrolatum in it. Still, there are no silicones in this bad boy- which is odd as it's what I consider a 'shelf brand'- i.e., you can find it on any shelf. I've even spotted it in the tiny black hair section at ASDA. 
  • Uses: Just what it says: Deep conditioner. I use it as a base, and then add my oils, glycerine, egg, banana, avocado, coconut milk and or whatever the heck else I want to it. It's nice and thick so it takes the lot quite well. 


Aunt Jackie's Conditioner
  • Uses: I screwed up here. This product has silicones. That's right- the 's' word. Probably going to be sold/palmed off on someone who uses a sulfate shampoo. I can't use it at all. 


TruZone Herbal Complex
  • Uses: This one looks great. For starters, it was like £3 for a full litre of the stuff. Yes. And for seconds, it's silicone free, smells nice (a bit soapy though) and feels like it might have some good slip. I picked it up to use as a rinsing conditioner. 

*Credit: Terms 'combing conditioner' and 'rinsing conditioner' are borrowed from Hair Like Me by Terry LaFlesh. My first, last and only hair book!