Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year of Tyler Durden



Happy New Year to Everyone.

I am declaring 2008 my Year of Tyler Durden. It's about time I served some omelettes in my life, so I am going to break some eggs. My goal this year is to let my voice be heard, ensure my needs are fulfilled and my dreams realized.

My first act of 2008-- ginger ale and caviar...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deal Alert


I just found an amazing deal on a LeCreuset 5.75 quart oval cast iron dutch oven. They are on sale online at JC Penney for 89.99 -- of course, they are on back order but completely worth the wait. Now I have to decide whether I'm going to keep the 2.75 quart I got last night from Macy's for 79.99 -- also a great price. On the one hand, I would have two...on the other, it's just me, I only need one.
What do you say?

edit-- OK. Completely ignore what I posted the item on sale at JC Penney is for baking. It is not the cast iron dutch oven. It is still a good price, but not what I wanted. So it seems Macy's has the best deal on this one. But I'm keeping my eyes open for the 5.75 quart. Let me know if you see a good deal!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Coup...

Ooooh weee. I was very, very naughty. While I was looking for a present for Santa, I saw these!!! I've seen them before, but this time I saw them in a different light.

Sigh, ever so often I have a twinge, a pang of discomfort when I realize that --gasp-- I am getting older. My winter clothes from last year don't fit very well. So I have been re-evaluating my wardrobe on many levels. As much as I enjoy fashion and beauty products and hair stuff, I have to admit I go to work looking pretty schleppy most days. Unless I have a meeting planned, I'm pretty likely to throw on jeans, flat boots, and a sweater or pullover for work. If it weren't so cold, I'd wear a skirt and tights. But it is cold.

Anyhow. A few shopping excursions ago I found myself making some last minute, quick purchases and during the bus ride home it occurred to me that a woman over thirty-five maybe shouldn't be buying clothes at a store called Forever 21. That Amanda Bynes cords from Steve and Barry weren't exactly the desired fashion statement I should be making--though I wear those pants twice a week! And then I watched my Tim Gunn episode...It was the last of the season. A woman of 43 who wore very slutty, junior-sized clothes because she thought it made her look young and sexy. Ugh. She looked tired and played out and-- as Veronica Webb so poetically described-- like a desperate old cougar heehee. Now I definitely don't have a slutty problem. But maybe I am dressing too young. And maybe even though I do spend most of my day in my office, I really should dress like a grown-up at work for sure and even retire my t-shirts for the weekend. As Meg Ryan said, I'm going to be forty...one day. I don't want it to catch me with my slip hanging... I want to be fly. And I need to start now so I can build up momentum.

So I've been editing my closet. Taking out things I don't like, don't wear and don't need. Wrong size? Easy to get rid of--divide into worth altering and donate. Haven't worn? Also not too painful, usually I look at the item in question and think "what was I thinking when I bought that?" Or I ask myself, "does that look like something you're going to wear in the near future?" The hard category are semi-formal dresses. Note to self: no more 'one event' dresses. That was for my twenties. If it isn't fabulous enough that I want to wear it again and feel more fabulous rather than like I'm re-treading. Don't need...Now that's emotional. These are things that maybe I AM wearing, but need to let go of... I've been trying to get my friend J over for some tough talk about my wardrobe--you need someone who loves you enough to tell you "you look a fool in that." But I haven't been able to pin her down. So I'm trying to do it myself.

But what not to wear is cake compared to trying to figure out I want to wear and how I want to look. The only way to figure out what I do want to wear is to look around. Look at myself critically. Look at the clothes I'm attracted to and at the clothes I've been overlooking.

Staple, core items have been a hole in my new wardrobe. The foundation pieces that hold everything together have just been hard to find. Classic, tailored styles are great. I'm a sucker for weekender suits--jacket, pants AND a skirt. So I'm always on the look-out for those. A couple of great pairs of jeans. Black pants, skirt. Brown pants, skirt. Gray pants, skirt. I'm on the hunt for navy pants and skirt. Tops are traumatic...I'm not ready to talk about that yet. It's really bad. Really bad. And I am entirely devoid of good belts and handbags.

But shoes have triggered an identity crisis too. Many of the shoes I bought in Virginia are just all wrong for the way I live in New York. I'm not one to tote a second pair of shoes around. So I have all but abandoned stiletto styles. My beautiful shoes are packed away unworn. Unless I am driving, I just can't wear three inch heels. I could very well end up walking uphill or a few flights of stairs. I am not the kind of woman who is willing to have sore feet to look cute so... I need comfortable shoes. At first, I was getting an unhealthy preoccupation with Aerosoles. They are great for flat boots. In fact, I alternate between my black leather and brown suede flats most work days. Very practical. And I am very practical. But I'm also very against-the-grain. I like things that embody both sides...

I been realizing way too frequently that I don't have a good pair of fall-winter shoes that can go dressy or office or weekend effortlessly. I have some suede booties--Aerosoles--that are great. But not shoes. I love Mary Janes. They are practical and against-the-grain. I wanted some ponyhair, open-toed Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes-- those are the business! But I am not detached from reality. I cannot afford these....yet! Just wait till I pay off these damn credit cards and student loans. I am going to put hurt on the shoe departments at Nordstrom's and Neiman Marcus. But I digress... I do need a pair of Mary Janes that are so fly that they can look grown-up and funky. And lo, the Fara Pump from Coach! Whoo hoo. I take very good care of my shoes, so I hope to enjoy these for many years to come. Yes, the black ones are nearly sold out-- Coach always does these maddening short runs on shoes, but that also means everyone isn't rocking your shoes-- but I snagged a pair on the low. Yes, indeed. These will do till I get my Manolo paper straight...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kara Walker...



Today I was hoping to go to the Whitney Museum--today is pay-as-you-wish admission--but the weather is bad, so I'm playing it by ear. They are exhibiting the work of one of my all-time favorite artists, Kara Walker.

If you will be in NYC anytime before February 3rd, by all means go to the Whitney and check out her installations. If not, there are published images. But her work is really best seen as a large room size installation.

Her images are provocative and bold. There is no way to look at her work and remain unaffected. What I like best about her work and choice of medium is that it puts the responsibility of interpretation squarely upon the viewer. What you see in her work is largely a product of your own beliefs, prejudices, fears, and desires.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ha ha ha

When I told Mrs. Claus about my new television, she laughed. "Your television is smaller than your laptop screen!" Indeed. Mrs. Claus insisted I return the television I had and let Santa pay for one at least as big as the one that died. Wow. Thanks Mrs. Claus!
So back my set went. Now I have a bigger one. Just in time for the special holiday episode of The Closer tonight.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Santa and Mrs. Claus

When I told Mrs. Claus that my television was broken, you would have thought I told her I was being evicted. Before I even finished talking about trying to find a repair person, Mrs. Claus announced that Santa would be getting me a new one. Really? Now... Mrs. Claus just made Santa reimburse me for my airline ticket--which he grumbled about--Santa thinks I'm too old for gifts, especially since I have a job. But what Mrs. Claus says...goes. I have helped Santa paint. I have helped Santa lay down a new wood laminate floor. All because Mrs. Claus said make it so. I have seen Santa hang his head on Christmas eve and go out for a gallon of milk, a quart of oysters, a dozen eggs...Because I told Mrs. Claus I needed it to cook whatever it was she put on her holiday menu. Yep. Santa had to jump to it. He's lucky he didn't have a cell phone or Mrs. Claus would have called him while he was out to get more things that she thought of while he was away. And when he got back, Santa dare not go to bed before he started Mrs. Claus' pot of gumbo.

Even though The Clauses are going to give me the money, I still thought it would be unnecessarily extravagant for me to get a fancy TV. After a lot of internet searching, I figured out the features I should look for and the size I was comfortable with and decided on a price I was willing to pay. I headed out to Big Box Retailer in New Jersey--because it's too hard to park in Manhattan and because I wanted to take the drive. Sigh. Even though I lived in New Jersey for four years, I still managed to get lost...for like an hour. But finally I got there.

Even with a list, I nearly got pulled into the vortex. There were so many TV's! I'm so glad I did some research first. I was already aware of the change from analog to digital that will take place in 2009, but I was not at all clear about the alphabet soup--SDTV, EDTV, HDTV, CRT, LCD--sheesh. I had some minimum specs for resolution so I ruled out about six sets right away. Then there were three pathetic sets nobody was interested in--they were not up-to-par technically and therefore 'not worth buying-- and they were HEAVY. Everyone was crowded on the opposite end of the display aisle. When I got there, I found one of the models on my list...but right next to it was a larger version from the same manufacturer. Ay caramba! Unfortunately, the larger one was sold out. Darn it. It would have been worth the extra money. But that meant I was distracted by the larger sets. I put the model on my list in the cart, but I started thinking how much more I would be willing to pay for a larger set. I found a set that's about as big as I could carry or need in my apartment, but it was twice the price of the one on my list. In the end, I stuck with my budget and got the set on my list. It was reduced an additional $25 too! So at the end of the day, the amount I spent on the TV could be deducted from my cash allowance for this month--especially since I'll be spending part of the month eating at the Clauses. So now I'm catching up on Oprah, cool. Did y'all see the show with the hoarders?!

It started short...

Unfortunately, it is possible to get bad work from a consultant...for a variety of reasons. In some cases, I think they get lazy. In others, I think they get arrogant and figure they know what they are doing just as well as 'that JoAnne' and they are going to what they want to do.

I just wish that these 'consultants' would tell their customers that they make this deviation or that change, so we can make informed decisions.

I wrote awhile back about an amazing braider that I know. She was actually teaching me to braid. She had developed her own parting pattern and her braids were unique and beautiful. She decided to use HER braiding pattern when she did 'sisterlocks.' The problem--her pattern did not leave straight, grid-like parts. It didn't look bad. But it wasn't the Sisterlock pattern. The shape of her parts meant you ended up with fewer total locks and no center or side parts for styling... But she didn't tell her clients about her variation. It was only because I met a consultant using the correct technique that I even had a point of reference. The braider felt that because of her considerable experience as a braider she could make whatever variation she wanted.

And I've talked to other locticians who feel the same way-- I sat next to a very obnoxious woman during my consultant training class who was openly talking with her companion about the changes she was going to make to the technique--if she even offered it at all-- back in her own lock shop. She wasn't going to do all that parting...she wasn't going to make locks that small...she wasn't going install so many. She hadn't even left the room! I can only imagine what kind of mess she's up to now-- and she IS a trainee consultant because she did, in fact, take the official class.

If at all possible, talk to a few people before choosing a consultant. Sometimes the best person for the job is a trainee. Like doctors, sometimes there are quacks and sometimes newly minted MDs are more up-to-date and careful with their technique. But we also know that trainees make rookie mistakes too.

I think the common denominator are personality traits...no offense. I think stubbornness and/or a lack of humility and/or vanity and/or carelessness lead to this problem.

Is this your consultant?

1-- If you don't listen to anybody else and always digging in your heels, you are going to make mistakes...you have to listen to learn the Sisterlocks technique.

2-- Relatedly, if you cannot bear to have people think you don't understand (a classic case of I-know-expertitis), you are going to make mistakes...you have be willing to ask questions and start learning the technique comfortable with the idea you are learning something NEW.

3-- If you think you should be JoAnne Cornwell or Taliah Waajid, you are going to make mistakes. YOU need to create your own system or product and stop swagger-jacking --LocLoops, sorry couldn't help it. Offering someone a service is NOT about you and your need for people to recognize your hair genius.

4-- If you are careless or just not a details-oriented person or you just have poor motor skills (smile), you are going to make mistakes. You need to have an acumen for doing close work, you need to ENJOY the idea of being precise, and you need to have the capability to understand and do the technique. If you have a little arthritis...this is not for you.

5-- If you get easily frustrated or if you don't notice when you make a mistake until someone else tells you, you are going to make mistakes.

So...did I just describe your consultant?

Lastly, if your potential consultant offers other services than Sisterlocks --palm-rolled, nappylocs, etc.-- I would ask them SPECIFICALLY if they follow the Sisterlock method during their installations. I would ask them what they thought were the differences between the techniques they offered. Usually those kinds of direct questions will give you an opportunity to find out whether the person is straightforward and/or ethical about what they are doing. 1) Do they use the Sisterlocks tool? 2) Do they use a Sisterlocks sizing chart? 3) Do they start the installation in the front of your head? 4) How many locks do they typically install?

Even if you don't know the answers to these questions yourself, you are looking at their demeanor... Does it seem like this person is trying to blow some smoke up... anyway. That loctician I met who tried to convince me that my Sisterlocks were going to break off because they were too small...eventually you'll meet one of those too. It's rite of passage like having someone rush up and TOUCH your hair without asking.

As soon as I asked her HOW she knew that...Then her game was blown..."Oh cuz somebody told me that they knew somebody who had Sisterlocks and they broke off and you don't ever see anybody who has sisterlocks longer than three years." Really? Really? Sure enough, this dizzy chick didn't know a damn thing about Sisterlocks--the technique or the logic beneath it. She wanted me to get scared and let her --of course-- fix my hair. That's one of the reasons JoAnne Cornwell says she is growing her hair so long--so people can see that they do not break, that they are not too small.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm coming to join you, Elizabeth...

So my TV is not quite dead. It unpredictably will come on for around 45 minutes to an hour, then fade out. I don't have a remote so I don't know if I inadvertently set off a sleep feature--or if it even has a sleep feature...

Anyway...I've decided to ask Santa for a new set. This weekend if I can figure out a game plan, I will try to take this behemoth to a repair shop. Maybe it just needs a swift kick. It says it was manufactured in 1998, so I am prepared for the worse.

Why didn't the set die last week when I was off from work and could have caught one of those Black Friday sales?

I will not be defeated though. Even though it's absolutely wretched, I am watching America's Next Top Model on my emergency TV...

I can hear you asking...What is an emergency TV?? It was gift from my mother who picked it up probably from Rite Aid or a 99-cent store. It has a five-inch B/W screen, an am-fm radio, and an antenna. It runs on D-batteries or with an AC adapter. It's no joke. Whenever I leave my house for a drive of more than forty miles from where I live, the emergency TV is in the trunk. When New York had that big blackout, I was sitting in my car watching the news. Reporters saying over and over how dark it was... Anyhow, I brought the emergency TV to work but I feel weird listening to Wendy Williams in my office. And I can't watch Maury either. So I figured what use is it there anyway and brought it home.

I am sincerely hoping I can stick it out for a month at least if I can't get this set repaired. Then I could catch an after-Xmas sale or a pre-Superbowl Blow-out sale. I am an optimist.

Why am I blogging about my TV? Well, these mundane things are manageable. And small. It's just a TV. But my TV is my alarm system, my cat-sitter, my entertainment center, my time waster...so I care about it. Stay tuned...haha.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm really scared...

ok...not scared but concerned and perhaps prematurely concerned. I have a potential situation...

There is something wrong with my television. This all kinds of wrong for all kinds of reasons. Not the least of which is timing. This is the absolute worst time or year for my television to blow. I have to buy gifts for other people, I have charities appealing, all on top of my my usual expenses. I have not budgeted for a new television set.

The first thing I did was plug it into a different outlet. It worked for about 45 minutes then faded out again. Sigh. I have no idea how old this set is or what could be its problem. I suppose if its really fading, I'll take it to the repair place around the corner. But that's going to require lots of orchestration. This thing is huge. I can't carry it. So now what? Find some kid in the building to help me I guess. Sigh. i really am slipping into spinsterhood. I can see it now. "Come here sweetheart. I need you to help me with something." It even sounds like an old lady appeal. It worked when I needed my car shoveled out of the snow though...

In the meantime...what will I do about my favorite shows? Actually I think they are still OK. They'll just get backed up on the DVR.

But a new TV....

A new TV would mean I don't have to carry the TV anywhere. I could put it out next to the incinerator chute, where I'm sure it would be immediately rescued. Or I could put it in the kitchen and turn it into a place to sit my plants on a stick post-it notes to until I did find a mover. And...I would be ready for the switch from analog to digital which happens in 2009. And...I'd probably end up with something lightweight and stylish. Hmm.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What can I say...


I'm curious to have a discussion about this, so I figured I'd post this and get some of your reactions.

Andre J is on the cover of French Vogue with model Carolyn Murphy. Of course, there is a flurry of discussion about this. As you read this, I am doing a little more internet research on Andre J. I have seen his picture for months, but I don't really have a clear idea of what he's about yet.
Perhaps some of you know more about him and can leave some comments.

Of course, there is the obvious, the 'problem' of black-man-in-drag has been on my mind since I was in graduate school. I'm sleepy now, but the earliest example that comes to my mind is Flip Wilson as Geraldine all the way to Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence, and the embarrassment of Eddie Murphy. I've always been deeply offended by these 'characterizations.' Not because I can't take a joke, but because I find something deeply problematic about black male performers mocking black women to get laughs. I find it grotesque and vicious. It is the literal emasculation of black male comedians by way of a misogynist assault on black women. Dave Chappelle offered a blistering critique of Hollywood's fascination with this type of spectacle when he appeared on the Actor's Studio. He refuses, he says to 'put on the dress.' Chappelle describes this critical moment when black male comedians are goaded to clown in drag and how he absolutely refused to participate. I love Dave Chappelle. Anyhow, to me it's like a reformulation of blackface.

But on the other hand, there is a very subversive tradition of black gay men in drag that is NOT about misogyny, but about subversion. RuPaul's MAC campaign, the Paris is Burning documentary exploring ball culture in the late 80s...that is undeniably about fascination and exaltation and exploration of black female representation. With absolutely no misogyny against black women. These acts are about aspiration and celebration. Black female representation--and to a lesser extent black women themselves--represents a challenge to the restrictions imposed by society based on class, race, sex, and gender. It is an upset where black female representation instead of occupying a role of degradation, is set up as subversive and superior. The ultimate reversal.

Andre J is not aspiring to 'realness' like the kids in Paris is Burning. He is obviously a man in a wig and a dress. He wears a beard. And while he summons some of the 'fabulousness' of RuPaul, he is not 'performing' or in character. RuPaul often appears and acts in roles out of drag--so "RuPaul" has become a character that he assumes.

No, it's not Andre J that bugs me. It is trying to figure out what cultural work Vogue is trying to put his image to that bugs me. Is it similar to that of the comedian in drag or is it something else? And is Andre J controlling his representation or being taken up into something different than his own intent? And what does it mean that Andre J is positioned next to a white woman on a magazine franchise that is legendarily stingy about using black WOMEN models? And what does it mean that a black man is editor in chief of American Vogue at the same moment? Hmm.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Outlast, outwit, outplay...



These were taken on Day 23- Tuesday.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

So much has happened in the past two years. Some days it feels like another lifetime and others it like a blur. Tuesday at Thanksgiving Mass-- our pastor joked that he was not going to stand in church alone on Thursday, so service would be two days before --we were challenged to be grateful for our lives and the people around us. There is no way I can say that some days are not difficult. But I know, if someone rewound time and gave me the opportunity not to have been in New Orleans--not to have lost what I had or to have seen some of the saddest days, memories that can still make me cry-- I wouldn't change anything. Because I was there, I have my family. And they have each other. This year has been a bit more abstract, but in time I will be confident that the choices I made were also worth whatever disappointment I have experienced.

This morning on the Today show there was a rabbi who said it is possible to be both disappointed AND grateful--and I understood exactly what he meant. There is so much more to do, but I am so grateful for where things are right now. My parents are back in their home, my grandmother is with them--not always happy about it--and she has their support. Their house is rebuilt and it is home again. I even got my scalawag cats back! Everyone on my parents' block is on a first-name basis with Sam, and he comes and goes as he pleases. Nairobi is here everyday when I get home from work. And as, ahem, eventful as my job has been, I am so grateful that I have been able to start the work of re-establishing myself professionally and financially; that I have INSURANCE and I have been able to deal with the post-traumatic stress symptoms that made last year so very challenging. I am grateful for my friends. They have been so supportive and each in their own way has helped me get through these days. And I include anyone who has read this blog and left a comment.

When I started doing this, it was just a way for me get writing again. To express myself and figure out if I could reconnect with writing. But it literally became a lifeline. This blog was literally how my friends found out I was even alive. How I stayed in touch with the outside world when my family and I were living in a motel room, my parents and I sleeping on the floor for three weeks so my grandmother could have the bed. It was how I stayed sane during so much this year.

But the greatest gift was being able to NOT write about what was happening. Of all things, writing about my hair gave me something else to do and think about for awhile. There were familiar faces--Brunsli and RDP--that I got to reconnect with and so many new friends--some I've met or talked to offline, others I just ''know" virtually. Chatting with you all about hair and the other silliness I write about here, has gotten me through a lot of days. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I have been inspired, annoyed, enlightened, and amused by the people I have 'met' through this blog. So I want you to know that. Reading the comments you all leave, following the links to the maze of blogs I like to follow, commenting on the mundane and amazing things you all write about has been wonderful!

So...I have washed and re-set my hair...lol. I am off to express my thanks to some other folks. To scam some turkey and finally wash my daggone dishes and wash my daggone clothes. Yes, I plan to do laundry today--I'm out of clean underwear...lol.

ENJOY your Thanksgiving. Laugh at your crazy relatives and the overcooked turkey. Eat the mystery casserole. I'm still on culinary strike...but maybe next year I'll be back in the kitchen making oyster dressing, turkey AND ham, stuffed peppers, okra gumbo, pumpkin pie, rum cake and eggnog. Makes me tired and hungry just thinking about it. But I am going to stick some Glad-loc containers and Zip-loc bags in my purse and have a great time eating someone else's cooking this year! Yes, I'm the guest who brings her own containers. It's polite, I don't want to take yours...lol. *I'm kidding, I was told in advance I should take leftovers! I'm not that nutty.*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Question...

How do you know it's time to do laundry?
Renea: You run out of underwear.

How do you know it's time to wash dishes?
Renea: When you open the cabinet to get a bowl, it's completely empty.

How do you know when it's time to make groceries?
Renea: Hey, cher, you must be from New Orleans too--making groceries and all....You make groceries when you open the refrigerator door and see the bare bulb.

So, last question, how do you know when it's time to wash your hair?
Renea: I used to know. When my hair goes flat. But now I'm having a terrible problem...I set my hair on those Wrap-A-Locs 22 days ago. It's still curly. So I haven't washed my hair...I haven't thought about it at all.

So now I have to set an arbitrary day to wash my hair...even if it looks good?! Frown. I looked in the mirror this morning and realized my head needed a good scrubbing, fluffed my ponytail curls and headed out.

What next? Doing laundry every week and washing dishes everyday?! These Wrap-A-Locs are going to completely upset my chi.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Truth, opinion, fact, libel

NewlyLocd said...

Hello Renea

Just wanting you to know that I assumed that the soft spikes product wasn't seen by Carole. She never told me that she hadn't seen the product. I feel that this has really received a lot of attention (both harsh words & good discussion) over something that was merely something that I wanted to do to get the name out.

Well get the name out I did, but I never wanted anyone (or felt that anyone in our community) would start harrassing or saying negative statements (even libel I believe) towards another community member.

However, just wanted to clarify that I never discussed if it was original or not but what I personally felt (because that's all I can respond too).

6:29 PM

@newlylocd--
I guess you'll have to clarify about the harassment and libel. Nothing I have written is libelous. I am posting your comment rather than leaving it where it can't be seen because you are relaying that your comment about an exchange you posted on LockItUp (Message #51084) is inaccurate. In that message you said specifically that you had a conversation with her and that she said it was an "original" idea and that it was made for "non-european hair."

If that anyone has relied upon that as true, then I wanted them to see that you are correcting that. Just like I wanted them to see the entirety of my messages to Carole and the entirety of her response. So everyone can form their own opinion of what I said and what she said and of her product. It was not libelous for me to say what you posted before, it WAS said. Everything that I said took place, did. And truth is not libel. I was very careful to preface that someone posted to the list that she had not seen the product. I concluded that she hadn't after seeing the order confirmation.

But even if you hadn't posted that and I hadn't seen the order information, I would have thought she saw the other product because they look the same and I don't believe that is coincidental. A lot of people reacted the same way and their comments weren't libelous either. I published my own writing which I have the right to do and I gave Carole fair warning that I would convey whatever she wrote to me.

If you are implying that anything *I* have done is harassment, I would respectfully disagree. I wrote my opinions on LockItUp and my blog, and posted copies of messages I sent to Carole expressing my views and asking for her reply. The content of these messages was that I was not going to buy her product because of the price, that I had questions about the representation of her product as unique, that I thought she had a poor business plan and a weak basis for a patent. I also wrote that she had changed the content of her blog and posted a link to an earlier iteration to verify that. None of that harms her business in anyway.

When representatives of the beef industry claimed Oprah Winfrey had libeled their enterprise by saying SHE was not going to eat it anymore and claimed that her comments had harmed their industry, they lost. If Oprah can express her negative opinion to millions of broadcast viewers who hang on her every word, I can certainly say what I don't like or won't be buying on my little blog. Since everyone who read my comments knows that I have not purchased or used LocLoops, they can decide for themselves how useful my comments are. I said the price was high, because I think DOUBLE the price of a competitor's product is high. I reacted to the black-owned marketing strategy and I stand by what I said. I do not appreciate any black owned business coming half-ass into the marketplace. If people think that describes this business based on what I presented, ok. But they could just as easily decide that they disagree with everything that I wrote and totally dismiss me and my opinions.

I posted a copy of my message to the list because the conversation started there and I wanted people who were participating in the discussion to see what I wrote to the owner of the business. I also wanted to wind down the conversation on the list. I did not post anything else about the product on LockItUp. I waited five days before sending a second message and I did not call attention to my posting on LockItUp. Two contact attempts does not constitute harassment. And I posted the content of our messages because I thought it was only fair for everyone to see not only the response, but what I asked and how I asked.

As I said to Carole, there is a difference between someone saying things that another doesn't like or care to hear and being attacked. I have every right to say what my opinion is of a product or a business or a marketing strategy. I can say what I don't like and I can say why.

Businesses are not entitled to only having positive comments written about them or their services. What I posted is no different than sites like Yelp, where people share their opinions about restaurants. I could write here that I believe Wal-Mart is a blood-sucking parasite that has systematically crippled every community it has moved into...if that is my opinion, that is my opinion.

So now I am even more annoyed by the topic of LocLoops. EVERYTHING I wrote is going to stay on my blog. My opinion of the product, price and marketing strategy remain the same. I am not going to buy them. And if anyone asks me, I will tell them why.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Longest post ever...the case of LocLoops

This post will be a long one. I hope--if you are interested-- you will slog through it. I have spent the past week getting more information for this post. Why? Because I was bothered about LocLoops. So if you read this entire post, I will relay everything I found out. And I will post the reply of Carole Pearson--owner of LocLoops--to my second email to her as well as my last message to her.

I tell you about all the hair and beauty products I try. This was the first time I had something critical to say so I wanted to make sure I had all the information I could get. Honestly, I hoped I would learn something that would change my initial reaction. But I didn't. You can think what you want about all this...I was going to do a price analysis like I did about the expense of SLs...but y'all can add and subtract...sigh...

Some of you know that last Wednesday a new group member posted on LockItUp about the 'new' product their stylist had 'created,' called LocLoops. Being curious, I followed the link. When I got there I was surprised because they looked exactly like a product I bought over two years ago called SoftSpikes. The product looked the same, heck, the style photos looked the same. Then I saw this and my face scrunched because I was accustomed to this.

So I went back to LockItUp and wrote that I thought these products were the same except that these 'new' ones were more expensive. And I asked for clarification...Did you say the person selling LocLoops created them? Doesn't she know there is a product exactly like that called SoftSpikes? And the customer came back to the list and wrote that the stylist said, 1) she had never heard of SoftSpikes and, 2) she created LocLoops herself and developed them for over a year by testing them on her clients. Really?

Well, that was all the customer knew. So it became clear I would have to check this out on my own...

I went back to the site. And I read this. And I grew increasingly annoyed. Why was I annoyed? Well, let's read together. In the first sentence of the first paragraph, we are told that this is a black-owned business...ok. And then we are told this product is a "new" way to style locs. Really?

Onto the next paragraph..."LocLoops are made from a special material specifically designed for the heavier requirements of locs. Using a material that is 'closed cell' to prevent absorption of any liquids or hair products..." Really?

You all know I used to teach black feminist theory, literary and visual analysis? Didn't I tell you that? Anyway...I spent many, many years learning, and then teaching others, to look very closely at all kinds of texts for what is really being conveyed to them through what is specifically denoted and implicitly connoted. Fancy words for what is said and what isn't. And these two paragraphs were something to chew on...

From MY reading, by my interpretation, the most emphasized points on this page are 1) this is a black owned business, 2) this is a NEW product, and 3) it is made of something UNIQUE for locked hair. But there is a problem...it is not a new product and it appears to be made of the very same material as its predecessor. In fact, there are three things different about LocLoops compared to SoftSpikes-- 1) it is a black owned business, 2) it has notches in it that are supposed to lock them closed, and 3) they cost more.

Last week, the website also said that LocLoops was a trademarked product with a patent-pending. It no longer says that. But it has been evasions like this that have bothered me about this whole situation. I'm sure Ms. Pearson is aware that every iteration of a website remains accessible thanks to the marvels of Google. So you can read what the page used to say for yourself here.

I am giving you all these links and encouraging you to look at them yourself. Ms. Pearson suggests --in her message reprinted below-- that I will not be fair to her. I am a lot of things. Unfair is not one of them. So I feel it necessary to give you these links to illustrate the path that brought me to my opinions. And that makes this very long...But I digress...

I said everything I wanted to say about the black-owned marketing strategy on LockItUp. In sum, I think in this case it as an appeal to sell a product. I was disappointed by that. Growing up, I was taught that minorities have always had to achieve a higher standard to compete. I not only internalized that, I embraced it. So when I patronize a black-owned enterprise, I have high expectations that I will have a positive experience based upon the owner's desire to offer a superior product. When I get that, I tell everybody--EVERYBODY--about that business and that product. I patronize them. I do all I can to support their success. But it's a two-way street. If you want my business, I expect that you are offering a superior product and a superior experience. Based on price alone, LocLoops was not offering that. When I heard this story about the owner having no prior knowledge of Soft Spikes, I thought either it wasn't true or that if it were true, the business owner was in way over her head--manufacturing and attempting to patent a product that she then had to retail at a significantly higher price than her competition... not good. I was leaning toward it not being true. But I wanted to be wrong. So I reached out to Ms. Pearson by posting my questions about her product development and writing her through her website. I also wrote to the owner of Soft Spikes because I wanted their perspective about all this and because she had been so responsive to the locked community's interest in her product...

That's when things got more interesting. I was sent the shipping confirmation number and order information that showed Soft Spikes were purchased and delivered to the same address as Ms. Pearson's business on November 12, 2006. Though she told her customer last week, that she never heard of SoftSpikes. Now Ms. Pearson is certainly free to say whatever she likes. But it seemed odd to me that she would go to such lengths to deny knowledge of a competing product and that she would say such a thing to her own customers.

Maybe it was because Ms. Pearson claims to be seeking a patent on her product. Brunsli is far more capable of giving an expert explanation of patents. All I did was a little internet researching. What I quickly found was that in order to patent a product, it had to be original or modified in a way that is not obvious. So which was the basis for Ms. Pearson's patent application? I asked her. And she won't say...So, here's my opinion. If your SoftSpikes slip open--and mine don't--it wouldn't be a leap to cut a notch in them to stop that from happening. Of course, it would also make it more likely your roller would break at the weak point...so I don't know if that's necessarily an improvement either. Oh well, you can still get a patent on a new product, right? Maybe that's why Ms. Pearson emphasizes that her product is new. But she knew about a similar product since at least last year. Hmm. But they are made of a special material, right? Maybe. But it's not a material Ms. Pearson developed. So she can't be patenting that either. In fact, her competitor's product is also made of a 'closed cell' material. Sigh.

Patent applications aren't cheap. I know Brunsli could give more specific information about that too. But I imagine that's the impetus behind the price of LocLoops. Someone has to pay the lawyers. I guess it as well be whoever buys the product.

So how do you sell a product that is twice that of its competition? Marketing...I've addressed everything else and that brings back to the black-owned bit. But I don't think I need to elaborate on that. I think I've described exactly how I got here.

All that's left is to let Ms. Pearson respond. So here you go...

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Received Thursday, November 14, 2007

Renea Henry,
I was happy to give more information about my product to you, but the
more I read of your note, including the blatant attacks and empty
conclusions, the more I thought otherwise. My heart was warmed that a
customer took it upon themselves to share my product with the
audience at LockItUp. But I have never made claims on my product
outside of my website. Based on your notes, it is clear to me you
have made up your mind about my product, and I do not feel that any
information I provide will be presented fairly on your blog. Your
conclusions are based on assumptions, they are false and your claims
are clearly biased. However, for the sake of closure, I will supply
some information below.
Here are my responses:

1) "Similarity in Design & No prior knowledge of other products"
I made no such claims. You're trying to make this about Loc Loops and
one other product, but this should be about creating rollers that
work. Loc Loops is a product that I created because other products on
the market did not work for my hair. I then shared that creation with
my clients around the country.

2) "High" unit price
This is relative. The price of this product reflects the durability
and lifetime of the product based on other rollers/curlers on the
market.

3) Patent Questions
I am not willing to discuss patents with you. Our lawyers are
handling our position as it relates to the market.

This should bring our discussions to a close.
Regards,
Carole Pearson
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carole,

There were no attacks in my message toward you and I was candid about
my response to your product because I was being honest. Based on the
representations of your product on your website, I do not think its
design is original. That isn't an attack. That's my opinion. There is
no bias either. There is a difference between someone giving their
opinion and having a bias or launching an attack.

Your customer reported you told her that you were unaware of the
SoftSpikes product as of last Friday, and that when asked, you said
you came up with the idea for the product 'yourself.' The posting of
your customer was the source of the information, not your website.
When I contacted SoftSpikes, I was provided a copy of the shipping
confirmation you received when you ordered their product last year. So
that is the source of that information. There is nothing baseless or
assumptive about me saying that you had prior knowledge of the
product. Your own customer reported that information to LockItUp and
subsequently, I saw your shipping confirmation which clearly lists the
address of your business and the date of your purchase.

As far as denying there is a similarity between your product and the
other, that strains credibility. After the posting with your website,
every person who went to your site reported on the similarity. If you
are saying that you can't see it, you are alone in that assessment.
Since in your response you acknowledge that you are aware there are
similar products on the market and the photographs of your product
reveal no difference in composition, you should see how I would
reasonably seek out an explanation. I asked you what it is about your
product that is unique for locked hair--as you describe on your site.
If you had responded to that question, I would have printed exactly
what you said. That would have been the only source of a description
available to me. As I said, I think your product is priced too high
and I'm not going to buy it. That is a statement, not an attack. I
also asked if anyone could provide me a first-hand comparison of the
two materials. It was not directed at your product maliciously. I buy
all kinds of hair and beauty products. Many have similar
functions...but in every case I have patronized these businesses and
bought these products because I felt good about the exchange and I
cannot say that here.

Which leaves your patent...It only took me thirty seconds to find out
that patents are based upon the claim of an originally designed
product or process or a non-obvious improvement to a product or
process. I was honestly curious what the basis of your patent could
be. Acquiring patents are very expensive, so I hope you are getting
excellent counsel about the viability of your application. Especially
since in order to offer your product on the market, you have decided
to price it significantly higher than competing and almost identical,
pre-existing products.

My negative reaction has been to the situation of a black-owned
business coming into the market place with such a precarious basis for
existence. Your marketing is misleading and your price is not
competitive. As someone who does support minority-owned businesses and
entrepreneurs frequently, I was very frustrated and disappointed with
your strategy. I would be falling short as a potential customer not to
give you my reaction. That gives you the opportunity to respond to the
market you have targeted. If I went to a restaurant and disliked the
experience or was served poorly, I would let management know. If I was
looking for a product, I would comparison shop and choose the best
value. You may not like what I have to say, but it is honest and
unbiased...and I SINCERELY hope that before you go further with plans
to expand your business, you think about your pricing and marketing.
You could do a lot better. In order for minority-owned businesses to
succeed they have to be MUCH better than their competition, better
with service, better with product, better with price. All that on top
of having a sound business plan and knowledge base.

I was also reacting to the fact that your endeavor is undercutting
another. I don't believe you didn't know about SoftSpikes and I
haven't seen anything to change that reaction. Your representation is
that you are going to all this effort because you have inadvertently
developed the same product someone else's family-owned business has
been selling for eleven years...I guess that's your story and you're
sticking to it. But since you are so isolated, I hope that finding out
all this has been helpful. As a small business owner yourself, I hope
no one ever does to you what you appear to be positioning yourself to
do to someone else. After you have invested time, resources and
capital into developing and manufacturing a product; establishing a
market presence and building a clientele, I hope no one comes along
and tries to set up shop in front of your endeavor and reap the
spoils...That's the view from over here. But I hope, at least, when
CuteCurlers or whatever they might be called is asked, they give you
credit for whatever you contributed to their enterprise.

While you 'fear' you won't be fairly presented on my blog, I assure
you I will deliver exactly what you presented to me. You have record
of our exchanges and access to any of the postings that were made on
LockItUp. If you decide in the future you would like to comment, you
are certainly welcome to do so.

Regards,
Renea

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My second unanswered email to Carol Pearson of LocLoops

Last week, after participating in a discussion about a product called LocLoops that generated provocative questions about how black-owned businesses interact with their customers, I decided I would post a commentary about the subject on my blog. I thought it would be valuable and fair to give you, as owner of this business, the opportunity to comment about your product and company, the LockItUp discussion, and my own commentary. Especially since, according to your website, Ms. Pearson is marketing the LocLoops product directly to Sisterlock wearers. To date Ms. Pearson, you have not responded to me, so today I am writing you a second email message which I am reposting here:

Dear Ms. Pearson and Curls and Coils, LLC,
I wrote you a few days ago to let you know I will be posting about your product on my blog Friday. By now, I am sure you are aware that last Wednesday, one of your customers posted information about your product and website on the Yahoo discussion group LockItUp. After following up to see the site and product, I was struck 1) by the similarity in design and function of your product to another that is very widely known in the LockItUp group and amongst the blog community called Soft Spikes, and 2) by the disproportionately high unit price of your product in comparison.

By way of the list discussion, it was conveyed that you have claimed no prior knowledge of the SoftSpikes product and that your product was made of a materially specially designed for 'locked' hair. According to the account given to the group, you have reported that you designed this product sui generis and that you have been testing it on your customers for a year. This intrigued me, to say the least. I contacted the owner of the SoftSpikes company to get her reaction to your product and website and from there the situation has become even more intriguing.

I have seen the proof of shipping information that shows you purchased, and obviously was aware of the SoftSpikes product since at least last year. That company has been selling their product for 11 years. Since your site claims that you have a patent pending for your product, I asked you what type of patent you were seeking and why you were telling your customers that you had never heard of SoftSpikes. Surely, since you were indeed familiar with the SoftSpikes product, you realize that neither the design nor (from the pictures and description you posted on your site) the material of your product are original or significantly improved.

While I usually purchase all of the products I review on my blog, I am not willing to purchase yours because of the price. However, I was interested to find out from you the nature of the special design and composition of your product and what about it that is unique for locked hair. I also inquired about the price difference.

I would really like to give you the opportunity to comment on your product and the chronology of your research and development. So I am writing you again in hopes that you will respond. I would be willing to quote you directly if you respond to my questions as posed. Please respond by tomorrow evening if you want your comments to be included in my posting. As you may be aware the Yahoo discussion group and blogging community is very interested in information about new products useful for Sisterlocks grooming and styling. I also have Sisterlocks and try to find out as much as I can about the products I use and businesses I patronize. I hope you will take the opportunity to share your comments with us all.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wrap-A-Loc Results...II


















Ok...You all wanted a review and a comparison. Friday I had somewhere to go and I didn't think the whole "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" look was what I wanted to go with...So I separated the coils. It is now Sunday and they are still quite nice. I have been wearing a sleep cap at night.

As I said before, I really like the Wrap-A-Loc results. It did take longer than soft spikes. Which makes sense because they are much, much, much smaller. On the website, there are people wearing the tool itself as a style. I would only do this over the weekend, not to work or anything. But that's just me...I slept with them in and they weren't terribly uncomfortable. If you don't like sleeping with anything bothering your head, it might be annoying.

The most obvious difference between soft spike rollers and the wrap-a-loc tool is the size of the curl. As the pictures show...you can get a very good set on either product. It been awhile since I used the soft spikes but if I remember correctly the curls gently fell over the course of a few days. If you separated the coils or as they relaxed, you be left with a very wavy, loose curl.

As the pictures show, the wrap-locs left me with coils about the diameter of a pencil. When I separated them, I was left with distinct spirals. They were so tight I wanted to sing Donna Summer songs for a minute. I tied them back for awhile. Yesterday-Saturday- they were very pretty. That's when I took the pictures above. I remembered my five-head and pulled a few forward.

The option of wearing wrap-a-locs as a style may be appealing to some. You can't go anywhere with a head full of soft spikes.

I was able to teach myself how to properly use the wrap-a-loc tool. Even though I had the wrong size--see earlier post--they were very forgiving and I got an excellent set. The size description on the site helps you choose the right size. Don't be like me and second guess it. The only thing that confused me was the wording...that it would take up half the length of my hair. I interpreted that to mean that the tool should be half the length of my hair. If I would have gone solely with the length suggestion, I would have been less confused.

As I said before, I think using a hair dryer had a LOT to do with my good outcome. I never used a dryer with the soft spikes...I didn't have one...and it took forever to dry. I couldn't guess how long it would have taken my hair to airdry on the wrap-a-locs.

Not for nothing, I have been setting my hair on some kind of rollers since I was 12. And because I'm type A, it always looked like someone else had done it for me. I am an excellent hair setter! I say that not just to brag, but as a disclaimer. Both soft spikes and wrap-a-locs can be time-consuming, but the wrap-a-locs didn't take an unreasonable amount of time to use. It would have gone much quicker if I wasn't forcing my hair onto 'too small' rollers. If I could go back I would have gotten one set of medium--for the front-- and three or four long. The instructions for traditional locks are to use one tool per lock, for Sisterlocks I used about four each but I wasn't obsessive about it...some may have had more.

For hold, with both products, I would use a maximum hold mousse or diluted Lottabody in a spray bottle.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Soft-Spikes v. Wrap-A-Loc



Just for contrast, I've dug up some pics of me with Soft Spikes sets for comparison. You can't say I don't go the extra mile for my Sisterlock family...
These are both dated. One I took in Virginia and the other was last winter...
It is definitely a matter of scale. And we'll see how long the curls go...

Wrap-A-Loc Results...




OK...So Monday morning I took down the Wrap-A-Loc set. Here's the results. They are very tight. After work Monday, I put them in a cap while I was at exercise class. They were just as tightly coiled on Tuesday.

I think the set was successful because I sat under the dryer. I used a little diluted Lottabody. But I was not very consistent about applying it. I probably didn't put any on the back.
If it weren't for the heat of the dryer, my hair wouldn't have dried uniformly...and certainly not in time for me to go to sleep at a decent hour. So once again, I love my new hair dryer.
We can track how long the curls last together, ok?

Today--because I was too lame to actually wear a costume--I stuffed my hair in a knit hat and wore lots of make-up....Spooky. I told anyone who asked I was a smooth criminal.

Really I just wanted an excuse to try blacking my eyes out. I have all these MAC paints that I never use and eyeshadow colors that I never really experiment with...So today I did. I used Fluidline liner in black, Carbon and Tuxedo shadow with a thin dusting of Vellum over the top. It was fun. If I was still in high school, I might totally go Goth for awhile...But I'm not in high school. So really, it's just about time for me to wash my face.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

And so I find myself...

Sitting under the dryer with Miracle Whip on my face...yeah, yeah, I'll get to that...

I lollygagged most of the day. Shredding paper, violating my lease by drilling a hole in my ceiling, watching the football game in London...I didn't start coloring my hair until after 5pm. I used the old stand-by...Hi-Res Copper Shock. But it's not shocking. It's pretty tame. At least I don't have two-tone hair anymore. I've been using this color so long, I just feel like it looks normal again.

So I started in with the Wrap-A-Locs pretty late. Like around 7pm and I didn't finish until 10:30. The woman who created Wrap-A-Locs-- Sister Nandi--has the patience of Job. After I ordered 5 large sets and received them, I decided I had the wrong size and sent them back un-opened. She and I talked on the phone a few times. She assured me the large size were right for me. But I'm a mule-headed stress-ball right now, so I asked for two sets of medium size. So I finally open them, start setting my hair and realize...yup, I needed all larges. Sigh. I made due with what I have though. I've been under the dryer for thirty minutes. If I had all large size, I actually do think I would leave these in over a weekend, but I won't be wearing them to work

I love this thing! It's a Hot Tools Model 1059 Salon Style Dryer. It says "Purple People Heater" which is pretty cute. It has an ionic setting, two heat settings and three speeds. I know it's listed on Amazon and there's a seller on E-bay. I paid $99.99 at my neighborhood beauty supply which is actually a very good price. They also had a Conair brand one that was $25 more. I was hoping I could adjust it and recline in bed or at least sit in my cushy chair, but I had to use a kitchen chair. An irrelevant inconvenience. I may never go to a salon again. I can now give myself hot conditioning treatments and drastically reduce my drying time--great motivation to actually set my hair and stop with the constant ponytails. I can't hear the television-darn it!- but I can surf the net, read a book or a magazine...Fab. If I would have gotten it together and done this earlier, I could have watched the football or baseball game...Don't need sound for that. Oh well, incentive to start earlier next time.

So you want to know why I have Miracle Whip on my face. I know you do. Well, I had gotten my skin under control last month. But with all the stress, I've backslid with my regimen. I had been having great luck with aspirin facials. Don't laugh...aspirin is salycylic acid on the cheap. I just dissolve about three in my palm, mix with a little moisturizer and voila! a great blow to oil and would-be pimples. I was on the net and saw quite a few posts about the exfoliating property of Miracle Whip and thought I'd try it. Apparently the tangy kick in the Miracle Whip is what distinguishes this from just sitting around with mayonnaise on my face--that would be weird...lol. The vinegar in the Miracle Whip...along with the egg..helps to moisturize and unclog pores at the same time. I'll let you know what happens...Since I'm all clogged again, I figured it would be a great time to try it out...can't hurt. I've been using a facial from Lush called Cupcake that I really like...but I'm all about cheap. Can't beat a jar of Miracle Whip and some store brand aspirin.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Roots...The Next Generation




I haven't posted in a loooonnng time. Sigh. Life has been a little too much to blog. Lately it's taken all my mental energy just to get from Monday to Friday, then on weekends I just decompress. But life has been busy...

So last Saturday, I went to the beauty supply store. Like most black women I know, I think beauty supply stores are magical places. Even though I don't need many products, I find myself leaving with armloads of things anyway. So last Saturday I had bandannas, crocheted caps and a snood. And then I looked up... Now that the weather is getting cooler, I can't just wash my hair in the shower and go on my way. And now that my hair is longer it takes forever to dry. If I don't wash my hair pretty early in the day, it won't be dry before bedtime. Wet hair and pillowcases don't mix...wet hair and damp rollers makes a funny smell that usually requires a vinegar soak to remove....so what's a girl to do. I have a blow dryer and a diffuser. But I am too lazy to stand around waving it at my head and it's useless if I want to set my hair with rollers. I got one of those soft bonnet style dryers but the blower part fried out. I tried attaching it to the blow dryer but it got way too hot and it was so noisy I couldn't take it. So I started fantasizing about the salon-style dryers I saw in the beauty supply store window. Sigh. I even priced them out on Ebay.

So I'm in the beauty supply store... I look up, see the hair dryers and remember that I want a new one. I left with my bandannas and a firm resolve. So it seemed kismet when I went to the beauty supply store right up the street from me...looked down...and saw two salon style dryers, both around the same prices I saw online. But I had no money so no dice. I've been thinking about it all week and today I went back and got one!

My plan was to retighten, wash and try my new Wrap-A-Locs (yes, I bought those too). But when I looked in the mirror, I realized I had another dilemma... You all know I dabble in the dark art of hair-coloring. But I've been good and haven't touched the stuff for months. The proof is that I have over an inch of uncolored growth. I don't like it. Luckily I'm prepared. I have two boxes of the color I usually apply and one of the brown shade of Feria I tried when I decided I wanted to go a shade darker. I'm wondering though if I should hold off on the color until closer to Thanksgiving so it'll be fresh for the holidays. Decisions, decisions....I didn't have an answer after I finished assembling my new dryer, so all I finished was the retightening. One thing I know, two-tone hair is not my thing. So I am either going to use one of the colors I have or make my whole head something closer to my natural color. Given that my natural color is a depressing shade of dark brown that does absolutely nothing for me, I predict this time tomorrow my hair will be copper again. If it's too much of a jolt, I'll cover it with the brown in a couple of weeks to tone it down...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Things are looking up...


Even though I can't sleep...I feel much better. This has been a crazy week. But it's over. I know thngs are better because I have been trying unsuccessfully to Simpsonize myself for over a week. I figured it's four in the morning, take a chance. It worked! I finally got through. So here I am in all my Simpson glory. I think I look pretty cute!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to gain back the weight you lost....



When I'm stressed out sometimes I rationalize having a treat. I don't really have a problem with emotional eating as they call it but I can see how things can spiral out of control.

Now that the semester has started, my favorite dining services cafe is open. Yesterday they had a surprisingly spicy paella with huge shrimp, mussels, and even a little squid. And the squid wasn't tough which is usually my complaint about squid not served as fried calamari...Anyway. Last night, I was still feeling funky. I decided what I really wanted was some mashed potatoes. So I got the bag of frozen-don't open unless emergency-mashed potatoes. Instead of buying quarts of milk and letting them spoil--because I am lactose intolerant and only use milk to cook-- I started buying those little milk boxes that don't need refrigeration. So I mixed two boxes of milk with the frozen potatoes. Because I still refuse to cook...but that too is another topic. It was definitely not the best mash I've ever had. I mean it's really lazy not to mash my own potatoes...it's super easy. But like milk, I stopped buying potatoes because I cook them so infrequently they end up growing eyes. I used excellent portion control with the mashed potatoes. I really just wanted a taste...but since there's milk involved, I can't keep it indefinitely.

No...my downfall has been the fact that there is a McDonald's in front of the bus stop. Right in my face when I come home. Last week, I was thinking how empty my refrigerator was and went into Mickey D's. I wasn't observant enough to see the sign that advertised buy one, get one free Quarter Pounders...and ended up buying the new Angus burger (with Swiss and mushrooms). I enjoyed it so much, two days later I went back for another. And today since I waited over 30 minutes for the bus-- I just don't want to ride the train, I decided I deserved another Angus burger. The third one was not as good as the first one. Yesterday, I tossed back a soda and today I had a Snapple. You know over time the calories would really accumulate.

This summer I ate lots of vegetables and ramen. Because it's cheap and because there is hardly any cooking involved. But the fast food is dangerous. There's nothing wrong with a splurge every now and again. But having a huge burger then coming home and sitting on my duff is a really easy way to gain weight. So I'm going to cut it out. Hopefully, my soda craving will also pass.

Today the dining hall was hosting a local Korean restaurant. I had mac and cheese--it always makes me sick after-- and some really spicy beef dish. Yum.

Great meals...But I haven't been eating rice or potatoes all summer. The desire for comfort food in the winter, along with fewer outdoor and physical activity is a perfect storm. But I'm curious to find out if I can keep these pounds off.

OK people. It's past my bedtime. Ambien awaits.

The best laid plans...

I was planning to blog about stripper culture, but then life got very serious for a moment. Thank you for sending good thoughts and messages.

Like I said, I can't be specific on my blog about what happened...But what it boils down to is that I can't tolerate a lot of volatility in my life right now. When I look back though, I wonder why I ever tolerated volatility. Right now, I have a very slim margin of error. As Jay-Z says...I cannot lose. So for maybe the first time in my life, my instinct for self-preservation is extremely sensitive. There is no one and no thing that I am going to let have control over my peace of mind. I handle that in different ways. Sometimes I shut things out, sometimes I push through, and sometimes I run like hell. What I don't do is nothing.

So that's all I can say. Things are cool. It's been a tough seven days, but I got through it. No one and no thing...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Send Positive Energy Please...

I am worried about something that, unfortunately, I can't blog about here. But I would really appreciate it if you all would say a prayer, send me positive energy, whatever you call it. I just need to borrow some strength, some optimism, and some courage.
Matthew 6:27 and 6:34 are foremost in my mind now.
Just join me in hoping that, indeed, there is nothing to worry about at all.
r

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The cost of Sisterlocks...


Apparently there is an ongoing discussion about how "expensive" Sisterlocks are. I have been doing my own hair for the past five years and really don't understand how this has even become an issue.

In my opinion, there are Sisterlocks to be had at any price range...some consultants are expensive, some are not. In different parts of the country, consultants are hard to find and in others there are more to choose from...But in every scenario, I don't think Sisterlocks are expensive.

Even if you go with a very high-end price for installation---I've heard $700 tossed around--and factor in the cost of retightenings for six months to a year every six weeks--let's say at $150...even then the cost of Sisterlocks works itself out--in the long run.

If you are willing to pay from $150-200 every six weeks to get braids--that's what I was doing before I got Sisterlocks-- in a year's time you would have gotten your hair redone 8.67 times...let's say 8 times. That's $1,200- $1600 for the braids plus the cost of whatever kind of extensions you use-- from Kanekalon at about $20 more per session to human hair which might add say another $100 per session...

Over that same year if you got Sisterlocks installed January 1st for $700, then got 8 retightenings over the course of a year, that's $1900 for the year. A difference of as much as $500....

But what happens after a year?

If you continue to get braids done at the same interval by year 2, you have spent $2,400 -$3,200 on braiding. But if you had Sisterlocks, you would probably be able to take the re-tightening class...which is now $250. After that, you could do your own maintenance. So year by year 2 with Sisterlocks, your expense is $2,150...you've saved at least $350...

Beyond year two, if you had braids, you would continue to spend the same amount each year while your Sisterlocks would cost you nothing...I occasionally go to a salon for conditioning treatments, but I could do them myself...

And I'm not even going to touch the cost of chemical services over the same time...

The point is...however you choose to wear your hair, if you need a stylist, there will be an expense. Even 'traditional' locticians charge. If cost is an issue for you, and I think it is for just about everyone, do the math. You will probably have Sisterlocks for several years. Consider not just the initial cost, but the real cost of how you choose to style your hair. You may find that Sisterlocks are not as 'expensive' as you think.

I did these calculations using the highest figures I've heard. If you are willing to use a trainee consultant or live where there are more consultants available, you may spend less than my calculations.

Stripper Culture...

Consider this a tease...
Later today...or maybe this weekend...I want to get some things off my chest about the state of popular culture right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fashion Alert

I bought a pair of these...now I'm afraid to wear them!

It's Britney, Bitches...



Well, I did post about Lauryn Hill...

Britney Spears. Sigh. Last night on the VMA's. Sigh.

I have a real soft spot for this young woman. Maybe it's because she's from Kentwood, LA-- a place that I will forever associate with goodness because of the natural springs there. Mostly though, it's because she seems so utterly lost, defeated and vulnerable and I can't help but feel sympathetic to her. Despite the fact that she is at least the figurehead of a multicorporate brand of music and merchandise...despite the fact that she has toured the world as a performer, Britney Spears is an obviously unsophisticated, untutored young woman who seemingly has never had the opportunity to find an identity outside the entertainment machine that she has been so lucrative to for the last ten years. She has spent what would have been any other young woman's formative years being packaged and distributed. While other young women her age were going to high school and college, Britney Spears was on the road making money, for herself and everybody around her with no vacations, no room for error, and no one who wasn't also on the payroll. In the same way that I see Lauryn Hill's so-called unravelling as a rebellion, so too do I see the undoing of Britney Spears.

Truth be told, she's been coming apart for awhile. Not that it was the cause, but from about the time her relationship with Justin Timberlake ended, she has been on an increasingly determined downward spiral. Not because of the loss of love, but I think because she suffered such a blow to her public image in the wake of the break-up.

Just before it happened, I remember seeing Britney and her mother on the Oprah Winfrey show. Almost exactly like what was engineered around Brandy's pregnancy...but that's another post. Anyhow, Britney and her mother were there promoting her upcoming film Crossroads and fielding questions about her relationship with Timberlake. The press wanted to know whether she was still a virgin--no one's business, in my opinion, and it was alleged that she and Timberlake were secretly living together. Eventually they broke up and her clean, albeit 'not so innocent' corporate image was irreparably shattered. His song "Cry Me A River" kind of solidified this recasting of her public image as false and made her into a villain. She became increasingly more provocative about exploiting her sexuality and misguidedly trying to embrace a bad-girl image.

Seemingly flung out of the protection of her parents, she began making the party circuit. At first her public drunkenness was dismissed as youthful exuberance. But then she 'got married' in Vegas to a childhood friend. She was obviously pressured to annul the marriage within hours which made the coverage even more vicious. From that point on, she seems to have completely turned against her 'handlers.' By the next year, she was married to the second, expectant father-dancer in her entourage (the first was that guy from Stomp the Yard) to even more ridicule and negativity. Predictably enough, the relationship ended in shambles. Now made to look like a laughingstock, Britney was the mother of two and had been off the music charts for quite some time. Hmm, sounds a lot like Lauryn Hill, doesn't it? Unfortunately, she seems to have made all the worse mistakes possible after her divorce-- a traumatic time for many much less a young woman under constant public scrutiny. She fell into the train-wreck of Paris Hilton-Nicole Ritchie-Lindsay Lohan. Nicole Ritchie never was, but Paris, Lindsay and Britney were all photographed panty-less. It seemed to me like some sort of dare between them. And instead of 'just' being drunk, it appeared that Lindsay and Britney were under more serious influences. Britney's divorce remained contentious as she and her former husband fought over money and their children...

And how do we know all this...because other than Princess Diana, I cannot think of anyone who is more viciously stalked by the paparazzi than Britney Spears. Maybe Anna Nicole Smith...but that was for a concentrated period of time. Britney has been stalked like game for the past ten years.

Not that she hasn't aggravated things...going barefoot into public restrooms, making a reality show out of her illicit relationship with a man whose girlfriend was pregnant...again and of course, flashing what should have been covered for all to see on more than one occasion. She shaved her head...I'm convinced to avoid the results of a drug test. She attacked a car with an umbrella. She's ruined dresses at magazine shoots, she's flubbed television appearances...She was even sent to rehab. She's apparently feuding with her mother. She almost dropped one of her babies, she took one out without a car seat. It just never stops. On top of all that, there doesn't seem to be a day of the week that she does not go out to a nightclub. It's wearing me out and I'm not even living her life. I can understand why she looks so worn down.

So last night. I had heard a snippet of the song online. And like that Betty Wright song when I found out she'd be performing it on MTV, my first reaction was "I know you're not going sing that song..." It opens with her whispering "...it's Britney, bitches"...which since Dave Chappelle's Rick James skits seems to be the thing to say. The song is not awful. She sounds bored, the lyrics are trashy.

I actually thought she'd back out...but by 9:45, no cancellation. She was going through with the performance. She came out in a rhinestone studded bra and panty set with fishnets. Her hair was in a more-presentable though still, not great weave. She looked terrified...and seemed high. Her lip-synching was clumsy. There were many wide shots as she half-walked through some sections of the dance. There were no illusions with magician Criss Angel as rumored. While not especially toned, she was not fat as some press coverage has been calling her. Were it not for the fact that she is a seasoned performer, it wasn't that bad. But for Britney Spears, it was not that good at all. The performers in the audience seemed at a loss for how to react. They sat frozen, 50 Cent looked completely perplexed, Chris Brown sweetly sympathetic. Then it was over. Comedian Sarah Silverman came out, and as she had done to Paris Hilton, came out and told a series of cruel, vulgar jokes about Britney. The audience seemed uncomfortable and uncertain how to react. Only when Silverman told a joke about confusing Cee-lo and Kanye West did the tension break. The press coverage has been harsh and heavy-handed. In my opinion, Rihanna can't sing a lick either. The difference? Rihanna came out to a supportive audience...she's the new It girl. Britney was competing against her old image, the disappointment of the public, the weight of all that schadenfreude...Sigh.

My conclusion? Britney Spears looked like she was going through the motions, doing the only thing she has ever known how to do...go out onstage and perform. But my message to her is that she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to anymore. And that's how she seemed...like she was miserably doing the only thing she knew how to do even though she no longer had a desire to do it. I hope she realizes that she is free to walk away from it all...forever or even for awhile. I hope she decides to find and take better care of herself. To discover her own mind away from the image and expectations of the entertainment industry. I hope she separates herself from the entourages and hangers-on. I hope she realizes that getting high really doesn't make it better. I hope she makes peace with her family. I hope she finds peace of mind. But it seems unlikely that will happen anytime soon...the album will be in stores November 13th...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Strangely enough...

...for the past two days, my hair has smelled like food. Yesterday it smelled like Lowry's seasoning salt...today I think it smells like chicken-flavored ramen noodles. I know...it sounds crazy. But it woke me up. I did go to Amy Ruth's last night. I had catfish and cherry kool-aid. Yes, indeed! For some reason those two items aren't on the online menu..they were right in front of me last night! The menu says "Kool-Aid of the Day" but for all the years I have gone there, every time I've been-- it's been cherry. Which is fine by me...I like cherry kool-aid...or as we used to call it...red. But that was a treat, I can't go off eating fried catfish, fried okra, buttered corn and cornbread... wash all down with a big glass of kool-aid and expect to keep off the 11lbs. I lost. But a treat is a treat, so I really enjoyed it. As soon as I wake up, I'm going to wash my hair really good and rinse it until it doesn't smell like soul food anymore...not because I don't like it--I'm sure other people like it too-- no, I going to get this smell out so I can get some sleep already.
As it is I can't stop thinking about going back for some smothered chicken and waffles...but for giggles, I think I'll go here to get them. Wow...who is the genius that put smothered chicken and waffles together? That is like heaven on a plate. You see...this is why it's not good to have hair that smells like food, it pervades your thoughts and keeps you awake all hours of the night...
whoo...I crack myself up...






Wednesday, September 05, 2007

We are lymon people...

I cracked my friend up one day with my observation that African Americans must be particularly fond of the mythical lymon fruit. Then today I saw this, I feel vindicated. I just think there are an inordinate number of lemon-limey, clear, fizzy drinks marketed to black people. There is 7-up (of course), Sprite, Sierra Mist, and Mountain Dew...I almost forgot about Slice... and according to wikipedia, there are several others. When I was little I remember people used to put gumballs in their bottles of 7-up. I thought that was plenty gross...but I don't like gum, so what do I know. Of course, it's not only black people who love the lymon, but I don't know what they like. Why, for example, are we not enjoying Fresca--an oddly grapefruit-flavored concoction?
You know, it might be residual loyalty to the 7-up man campaign of the 70s...you remember the Un-Cola Man....ahahaha! That Geoffrey Holder!...he does the same little laugh in Boomerang...cracks me up...
I just needed a little silliness...

Take that!


I am so proud of myself! I just signed up for automatic banking--I know, welcome to the 21st century--and discovered that some company was making regular 'membership fee' withdrawals from my checking account. What?! So I called them up and got my money back.
This company was pretty slick. They signed me up for their 'services' when I bought a movie ticket online. Pretty sneaky...They gave me a 'free' 30-day membership then started kicking in with the charges. No matter that I never wanted their services in the first place. They had been siphoning off $20 a month. Just small enough that I hadn't caught it on my paper statement. But their number was up today, because when I logged into my account statement they were at the top of a queue of 'pending transactions.' Well, I ain't having that.
Watch out for these hidden agreements...