Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today I went to the funeral...

of a woman I do not know. It was so poetic. To see the tears of her relatives. Young people crying narcissistically as they contemplated their own mortality. Older people crying weary tears of resolve. Babies just crying because they were confined to a lap. I felt like a spectator, but not a voyeur. I was looking at a familiar, intimate ritual.
Funerals are very much for the living. The minister conceded he did not know the decedent very well at all. His eulogy, about due time, was meant mostly to comfort the woman's elderly siblings. They all seemed tired of living themselves. Envious that their sister had gone first. There was no fear of death in the room. The young people feeling too invincible still to really grasp it, the older so worn they were ready to embrace it.
And I sat there realizing that I had no fear of it either. I like life. Breathing it in and out, but I do not fear the day when I will close my eyes and leave this world behind. My understanding of death has come in stages. As a child, it was like peek-a-boo. I resented that life would go on as I lay, left behind and forgotten. That angered and frightened me. Made me feel small and unimportant. Then as I grew older, I came to obsess about the stillness of death. That I would be at rest while others were in motion, that worse I would be confined while others we're unfettered. For awhile, I thought I would have to have a tomb or mausolem. That I could face death only if I knew I would not be placed in a claustrophobic grave. Six feet under and certainly consumed.
I'm still not sure about the burial...But today I realized that I now really see death as part of life. As the next thing. Not to be feared or avoided or rushed. But a certainty. Which is almost comforting. In my life, so uncertain, that one thing is both certain and inevitable. One day will be my last. And when that day comes I will move to that next thing as we all will. I do not have to study for it or prepare, when it is my time, I will go and I will be sufficient. I will be taken as I am, where I am.
There is a certain poetry there. And I embrace it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Alphabet Soup...

It's the end of the month. That means it's time to call some government agency, right? Today I was on the phone with the nice people at SBA. I don't say that sarcastically. Maybe it's just because I'm comparing them to FEMA...but they are actually pleasant. When they don't know something they say so and they go and get someone to try and help me. Except for the first woman I talked to, but I'm not going to write them all off because of her.
So I'm all psyched because even though it's damn near February, it seems like I'm about to make some progress and get some dough. I start reading through all this paperwork and it wants to provide proof...of flood insurance. Well, I am not a homeowner so where the hell am I going to get that? So that's what I ask the first woman I talk to at SBA. So she says, well they need to see proof that you have insurance on your personal property. I, without skipping a beat, reply that I can't provide proof that I've already insured property I haven't replaced. That's why I need money from them. That stumped her. So then she tried to transfer to me to the legal department. And I got disconnected...
So I called back. So the second guy is very nice. He eats up all my minutes putting me on hold. But it's because he's trying to get his supervisor to explain my situation. Which I don't mind. He sees that I am not a homeowner, so he also wonders why I'd need flood insurance. So he gives me the phone numbers to two people in legal who worked on my case. What a sweetie! So that's what I'm doing tomorrow. Calling SBA's legal department to find out if I can send this paperwork back without proof of flood insurance. I'm saving FEMA for later...

I can't believe it's exactly five months after Katrina and I am still in limbo. Gotta love it!

But it makes me wonder...and I'm only partyly rationalizing. How the hell could I have held down a nine-to-five when I am still spending big chunks of time managing this situation. I joke. But this stuff takes a awhile. I'm not super efficient, but I haven't lollygagged about getting my paperwork in or anything and it's taken months for me to get to this point. When I got a loan number, my SBA adjuster told me I was kind of at the top of the middle of the pile. Which to say most people still hadn't gotten an inspection and therefore hadn't gotten to a point where they were being considered for a loan. It took about eight weeks from my inspection to process my papers and who knows how long this will take and how long till I get some money...
So how could I possibly walk into a leasing office and get an apartment and furniture and food.
It's probably imprudent to say so here, but I haven't received any housing assistance from FEMA. If it weren't for the fact I was with my parents and grandmother I would have nothing more than the clothes on my back. I am also blessed to have the best friends ever and some kind strangers. But Uncle Sam hasn't checked on me since September.
Some would say that's how it should be. But I don't see it that way. I've been paying taxes for a good long time. Long enough to get some damn respect ina time of natural disaster I'd think. I am a single, no dependent, no deduction having citizen! I deserve some respect! I paid my hsare dutifully with no shelters, no credits, no write-offs, no nothing... And now I'm just a number...
Anybody know someone in VA who is familiar with the tax ramifications of the hurricane? For real...I got no receipts...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Just a gripe...

There would be more photos on my site right now if it weren't for the second-choice camera I got. Well, I guess I'm going to have a love-hate relationship with it. After I got home from the store with it, I did a little research on the model. As promised, it is displaying a low battery light after taking about 20 shots! I can't believe it. I love taking pictures, Buying batteries everytime I want to monkey with my camera is just not cool. So I got some rechargeable batteries. But I just realized I'm going to need to get more so I'll have charged ones on reserve. This sucks...Twenty frames isn't enough to keep a party going. Someone needs to answer for this...
I went back to check on the other model and they hadn't restocked. So I may be stuck...or have to leave fair Warrenton to do better.
Today I have done absolutely nothing. It's not Superbowl Sunday... didn't feel like shopping...sigh. I ate watched Monk on TiVo and went back to sleep.
I heard this is the last week to apply for housing assistance through FEMA so maybe I'll call and yell at them. Since they still haven't given me any housing assistance...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Beside myself...

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself today. I should probably look online for a T.J. Maxx. Mom, Gram, and I went for a ride to Falls Church yesterday and ended up at the cheesiest Ross ever. I found a summer dress and another suit-like affair which I supposedly put a moratorium on. How many work clothes does an unemployed girl need? Really. I have more than enough suits and I've already discussed the shoe situation. We found a Loehmann's and I got a dress there...a rather dramatic thing with fur cuffs. It matches the boots I got. What can I say? Sigh...
I am honestly trying to find the dresses I keep going out for and I keep not finding them.
But I need to go out because I need a little space. She doesn't mean to do it, but my mother has been picking for the past three days. I'll point out that I'm agreeing with her, she'll agree I'm agreeing with her but she'll still persist with saying I am 'being difficult' with her. Which I don't understand if I am agreeing.
This morning I've already been to the post office, two drug stores, and the car wash. While I was making one stop, I cleaned all the papers out the car and put the new sticker on the windshield. I haven't eaten. I get home and mom made...beans. Which I hate. Hmmm. Think she's mad at me? Maybe. So I don't know why. But I think I need to take a little drive.
It's hard being in not-so-close quarters I guess. Everybody gets the brunt of each other's emotions. Which, of course, I understand rationally...but I'm not going to volunteer to stay still while it's happening.
And I lost a lock! May it rest in peace. It was nine inches long. I'm not sure why it broke but it's gone. I know some people with thicker, traditional locks sew theirs back in when that happens. I haven't looked at the spot, but I've not ever attempted that. First of all, what would I do about the color difference? I'd have to find thread the same color as my hair. And since this one broke at the root. I guess I'd have to hold on to it until there was enough new growth to attach it. Well, that will take awhile. I'll put it someplace.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What a coincidence?

So the past couple of weeks, I've been lazily following links between Sisterlocks blogs--apparently another by-product of sl'ing is an uncontrollable desire to blog and display one's progress. Today I got an email from a woman whose blog I visited brunsli.blogspot.com . It turns out of all things, we went to college together! Who would have guessed? I think that's amazing. Though I didn't know her then, I hope we'll stay in touch now.
Back in college, I was going to serious hair drama. When I first started, I had a super short relaxed do. That was just way too high maintenance for words. Between the lack of an accessible, affordable stylist and a traumatic climate change, my hair was wrecked before the first semester even started. It was my first trip to the East Coast and my first introduction to braid extensions...which were derisively being called "Bag o'Braids" by some of the guys on campus. A vicious cycle...young women were self-conscious about the appearance of their hair and its failure to match favorably with the unrealistice aesthetic, then when they tried to meet it they were critiqued or even ridiculed. I wore the braid extensions pretty consistently, with breaks when I ran out of cash or lost track of a given stylist. The quest for braids was actually the reason for my first trip to Harlem. In between, I also ill-advisedly experimented with relaxing my own hair. Senior year was not a good scene for my hair. I had way too many things and expenses to upkeep my extensions. Between exams, thesis, work, and major life changes, my hair got lost in the mix. So right before graduation activities, I got an extremely close cut afro. Since I find my natural color rather dull, I was constantly saturating my hair with activator to try and make it shiny and define its curl pattern.
As soon as I got to grad school in LA, I found someone to put my extensions back in. I moved to Providence and was pleasantly surprised to find that amongst the students at neighboring Johnson & Wales University, I could usually find a student, therefore affordable, braider. I was fortunate to have one young lady do my hair for about four years. Her name was Astu. I used to tease her all the time that if I was as skilled at braiding as she, I would abandon academia immediately. Probably the seed of my desire to take the Sisterlocks Consultant class. I always imagined--mostly from my late grandmother's example--that being a stylist meant being an entrepreneur and having complete discretion about one's time and clientele.
I first saw Sisterlocks in a magazine around the last year or so of my time in New England. But I had neither the cash nor the courage to do it...
It wasn't until I got my first teaching job in Memphis that I was finally ready. My first appointment with my future SL Consultant was a minor disaster. She didn't remember it, but I made an appointment with her year before I actually got SL'ed and she didn't keep it. I took her no-show as some cosmic sign and avoided her for a year. I even toyed with getting them done in New Orleans by someone who was not registered, but I decided that was a bad idea. Who knew what I'd get? And even though hair isn't like a car battery, I felt having a certified Consultant was important so I went back to Blenna at Salon Naturelle who by this time not only had a new location but a practice dedicated solely to Sisterlocks. By that time I also had gathered the courage to leave academia--a career choice I was not happy with--which was perhaps no coincidence...That was May 8, 2002...So my sisterlocks are coming up on their fourth birthday! I am so happy with them. Blenna was great. She even encouraged me to take the Re-Tightening class when I reached six months. I was petrified I would mess up my hair. But instead I am completely in control of my hair! Perfect.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Is this better?

OK...forgive the bathroom posing studio. I tried again to get some decent shots. One thing is clear...my makeup is ashy. The truth may hurt but it's better to face it. And I guess I could live a long life without a chin...
And though I am petrified to cut them. I think I need a haircut. My hair is just shapeless. But I still love that color.

I do my own color with an over-the-counter brand. I alternate shades using one in summer and another in winter. Prior to getting my Sisterlocks I had two bad coloring experiences both ended in tears and major breakage. You'd think I quit. But my natural color is oh...dirt. So I continue. It's important to keep my hair well-hydrated and conditioned. The one that comes with the color does not fit the bill because it has a detangler. Obviously I don't want my hair detangled.

As soon as I figure out how, I'm going to add links to other Sisterlocks sites I've found. It also looks like I could take the class in February and go to J's party. So all I need now is to get my hands on the money. So I can't really blame the camera for my ashy makeup and oily skin, But I'm going to keep checking for the other camera.

What's wrong with this picture...

I got a "real" digital camera. It is not the one I wanted. And when I returned from the store I find out it is not even the most recent model. So there's a strong possibility I won't be keeping it. But what really gripes me about it is....

Is this how I look?

My forehead is shiny. This is the only shot where my eyes appear open and aren't crossed. And I have no chin...violin lessons are out!

Before I saw this I was happy with my makeup...but I look ashy and uneven and --que horrible-- I have dark rings under my eyes.

All that aside...I like my hair color!...but those roots need touching up. This is the second day after the set. Next time I'll do it damp and use some setting lotion. I must say it's much cuter in person...me and my hair.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Funny you should ask...

So on the left you can see how the spirals came out. Forgive the photo quality. Cell phones are just not good for taking pictures, it doesn't pay to lie about that. And my camcorder has some strange disease. The picture on the right, also awful is how my hair has been looking from day to day, though it was taken before yet another color change.
My verdict: I need to use more rollers. But it's cute. I guess I'm getting sensitive about my age. My first reactions were 1) Awww, these curls are like the cute ones in my kindergarten picture (Now gone, boohoo!) and 2) Maybe I'm too old to have curls like I did in kindergarten. But instead of styling the coils I put a headband on and headed out Red Lobster. I think they're cute. And I'm curious to see how long they'll lest. I also think I may need to go ahead and touch that color up....hmmmm

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Twiddle no more...

So I finally received my rollers. I'm gonna go spiral crazy while I watch TV tonight.
I finally got my freelance assignment instructions. In true over-achiever, perfectionist, moderately autistic style, I managed to work on a 45 minute assignment for nearly two hours. Only to find out, it really was as simple as she first described. so I redid it, resent it. The draft I did is actually detailed enough for the second stage release...so I'll keep it and if she uses me I can use it then...
And I broke down and IM'ed one of the guys I've been chatting with because I was tired of waiting for him to IM me. And what the hell...It's all for giggles.
So now I can get start on the volunteer letters I've been procrastinating on...that is after I set my hair...

Twiddling my thumbs...

OK...This morning I am sitting, almost literally twiddling my thumbs.
I am waiting for several things to happen, only two of which have any dignity associated with them at all.
One, but not first, I am waiting for the mail. I am hoping my new curlers arrive so I can play in my hair. But that is no big deal. That's not distracting me...
I am waiting for an email. One of the people I contacted in my networking offered me a small freelance job. I am waiting for her to email my instructions so I can do my thing and send it back. She said it should take less than an hour. But I want to get started as soon as she sends it so I can turn it around in less than an hour. That is somewhat distracting. I keep pressing refresh on my browser window so I'll see when it comes in....That is moderately distracting....
What is really distracting me is....Here's the back story. I decided...God help me...to join an online dating site. I feel cheesy even admitting it. But I did. so for the past three days I've been 'flirting' and 'chatting' with complete, online-no-less, strangers. and I feel like I'm in the 8th grade. Signing on, checking to see who's viewed my profile....Sigh...
But that's the deal. This morning I am twiddling my thumbs...distracted.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sisterlock inspiration

So I am fired up about my hair. I few days ago a nice woman with a blog about her sisterlocks wrote me http://mysisterlocks2005.blogspot.com. Her name is LaChanda and she has a host of links to other women's sites about their Sisterlock journey. Especially that of a woman in New York named Leighann http://mysisterlocks.blogspot.com.

LaChanda and Leighann are both absolutely gorgeous and so are their Sisterlocks! LaChanda encouraged me to take the consultant class I've been sneaking up to for the past two years and on Leighann's site I saw these fabulous rollers http://www.softspikecurlers.com. I liked the way Leighann's turned out so much. I ordered my own.

I had just begrudgingly bought some perm rods to replace the ones I've lost. But I was dreading the prospect of using them because my hair is so much longer now. Without a real dryer. I feared wearing perm rods would be a Sisyphean waste of time and energy. But when I saw Leighann in her curl spikes and saw the fabulous result I knew I had to get some.

I ended up talking a long while with the woman who makes and sells the Soft Spikes---I wish I had the moxie to be an entrepreneur! She is white and originated the product for her daughter's Irish dancing recitals. Probably because of Leighann's beautiful photos, she said she's been getting a lot of requests from black women. So you know how I love to talk about hair and especially Sisterlocks. I ended up telling her all about the blogs I found--though I've never met these women. Told her everything I knew about the history of Sisterlocks and Joanne Cornwell. I suggested that she contact them in San Diego and find out about the Homecoming. I told her with a product that works across ethnic hair types, she could be like the woman who invented that ponytail doo-hickey---was it a Topsy-Turvy?--like Dave Chapelle says ree-otch!

So in anticipation of the arrival of my soft spikes, I drenched my hair---I do mean drenched from scalp to tip--with the funky smelling Wonder 8 oil. While I do HATE the smell, I do think I should use it up because I bought it and can't take it back. And rather than letting it turn rancid I figured I'd make good use of it. I read an editorial from Daily Candy about this DC salon that charges an arm and leg to drench your hair with camellia oil that you then leave in 24 hours and figured I could do that myself. So I braided it last night, soaked the scalp, dipped the tips in oil, and stuffed the whole mess into a plastic cap. I covered my pillow with a towel and went to bed. I figure around lunch time I'll wash it out and see my handiwork. I wanted to touch up the color, but that's just me being fastidious. The roots aren't showing that badly and I need to limit the exposure to the color. Maybe to three to four times a year. I would gladly do it every four to six...but I don't want my hair to dry up and fall out. I'm hoping the oil soaking will help with my dry scalp and slow any breakage on the ends. I need to contemplate a trim...but I haven't had a haircut since I got my sisterlocks. I'm going to end up like those women on the Maury show who haven't had a haircut in a decade and look like mops.

In general, my desire to get my hair looking good and the shoe mission yesterday are interconnected. I am trying to getting my inner and outer selves in sync. And since I am doing so much adjusting and re-evaluating and replacing and redefining, it makes sense to me to check on everything and make sure I like it and it's what I want.

I went back and checked on the Sisterlocks consultant schedule. Philly in February is still my first choice...but if not, I'll take it in April in Newark! I'm claiming that as my new skill and I'll let the rest of it figure itself out...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nascent shoe fetish...

One of the things I regretted about leaving Memphis was leaving the close proximity of the fine purveyors of discount shoes called DSW. Not a one in the New Orleans area. But here in Virginia, woooooohooooo, I can go to DSW whenever I like. I've even hooked my mother and taken J when she came to visit. I just love DSW. So much so that I left the house today with about $6o of reward certificates. Something about the place just excites me. I usually go straight back to the clearance rack where nirvana can be achieved by finding a cute pair of shoes with an 80% off sticker. Like the time before tonight when I found a pair of Prada platforms and some Coach fur-trimmed boots! Wowee! Tonight I had a different strategy. Last time I was there I scoped out a pair of Chinese Laundry platforms-- interlaced strips of mock croc and leather. I figured there were enough pairs in stock that I could wait them down. That's how I got those Pradas on sale. So tonight I went hoping they were marked down but prepared if necessary to use my reward certificate. See, the thing is, you don't want to outsmart yourself. If the store runs out of your size, the deep discount will never occur. So when I got there and saw there was only one pair in my size, I pounced. Likewise on a pair of Coach clogs that I hadn't seen before. Though they were newly arrived the shoe predators had pounced on them like tasty hors d'oeuvres. There were only seven pairs in the shelf...and hooah one was mine. When I heard I could use more than one reward certificate I was ecstatic.
So I'm thinking I need to take pictures of all my shoes---and other wardrobe pieces--and carry them in a little album. This wardrobe building is hard work. The brown platforms I really wanted, but they are very similar to a pair of Casadei pumps I bought--similar because the Casadei pumps are also brown and have mock croc details...but totally different because they are closed pumps, not sandals. So the things I wear with the pumps in winter, I can wear with the sandals in spring and fall. Aww, the joy of shopping has returned.
The clogs are a different matter. They remind me of a pair of clogs I had in the early 90s. Also high-heeled. Except these are really soft and cushy...ask me again though after I actually wear them out--shoes always feel great in the store. The style name is Claude...and according to eBay I got a great deal with the reward certificate.
But my love of shoe shopping must be checked. what I really need are tops...

My Affirmation...

My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate. My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure. It is my light, not my darkness that frightens me. I ask myself, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”Actually, who am I not to be. I am a child of God. My playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around me. I am meant to shine, as children do. I was born to manifest the glory of God that is within me. It’s not just in me, it’s in everyone. And as I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As I am liberated from my own fear, my presence automatically liberates others.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Personal New Year

So yesterday was my birthday. I am pretty calm, feeling good. I would have even posted, but I was in DC attending an alumni career event. Not the most exciting way to spend my birthday, but I did get to have lunch with T. It was very nice of her to invite me out and I really enjoyed the time and the food.
The career event was also good. This was my second one and once again I left with a positive feeling about folks in the DC/VA area. I have some contacts to follow up on and I volunteered to do some volunteering. I'm ready to start venturing out of fair Warrenton and meet some folks. It is really hard to make a decision...to just say OK I'm going to stay here or I'm going to move to New York. Both places seem to have definite benefits.
I am still in the bureaucratic queue so I have to make an executive decision about the Sisterlocks class. The one in February is closest to me and would therefore be easiest to attend. I think I'll call them and explain my situation. Damn FEMA! Who would have thought I'd still be dealing with them. But I am thinking it might be the best idea ever to go ahead with what I've been talking about doing for the past two years.
Speaking of hair, I bent one of my rules and put some unspecified oil in mine. That Hot 6 or Magic 8 oil which I abhor because of the smell and the mystery ingredients. But my hair is so starved for pampering and Warrenton is so devoid of "ethnic" hair products, I took what Walgreens' had and left with my tail between my legs. So just now I was thinking, why don't I just go into the kitchen and use the olive oil? Duh! I forgot how drastically different the climate is "up north." My hair and skin are is constant need of hydration. And now that I'm "of a certain age" I can't just ignore those cries for water.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Well, well, well. It's 2006. So what have I accomplished so far. I bought some new undies at the Victoria's Secret online sale. I got some pajamas today at Marshall's. I found a new salon for my mother. I'm nearly done tightening my own hair. I had a confab with FEMA. So far everything's going pretty good.
I'm thinking good thoughts, feeling pretty nice. This is good.
I'm thinking maybe the fish oil is responsible for this even keel. I just have to remember to keep it up. I'm supposed to take it 3x daily. That's a lot. But apparently something's different. And it's not anything else that I'm doing. I haven't been feeling anxious. I've been sleeping pretty well.
I did stuff myself witha double patty hamburger from this place Five Guys, so I feel very stuffed. Painfully stuffed. So, of course, the Oprah rerun is this woman who got up to over 500 pounds. I thought about making a weight loss resolution, but ehh why bother. I'm not ready to get a gym membership and its too damn cold to exercise outside. So fuhgeddaboutit. I'll do when I'm good and ready.