Monday, October 25, 2010

Natural Hair Ramblings... hair has been doing all sorts of wonderful beautimous things lately, and I think I am slightly turning into a product junkie. Not a great thing, since I live in an apartment with limited space, but if I don't try a bunch of things, how will I know what works for me...right? Right.

So, for this past week, I've been wearing my hair in 2strand twists....which I absolutely love, because I don't have to wet and comb the bush, and the twists are so versatile. I curled the ends of them using just a spritz of water, then slept in flex rods overnight, and the curls are still there. (That's THEE best!) I invested in a great, cooking grade coconut oil and have been applying lightly here and there. Last night, I untwisted and shook, then "loose bunned" them for sleeping(I did this so I wouldn't mat them while sleeping). I just let the bun down,and am in love with my hair today. Just thought I'd share.

The plan for the hair this week is to wear the twist out for as long as I can, as long as it still looks good. Then I need to deep condition, and might either retwist, or braid this mass up. I'm thinking of adding a little bit of baking soda to the conditioner, and letting it sit for a few hours, possibly even overnight before rinsing. I have a new product that I'd like to try...but its one of those "big name" products, and honestly, I'm a little scared. I can't pinpoint why...maybe I'm afraid I'll be disappointed...who knows, but I am.

My hair is the longest its been in years now. When it was twisted, it had the weight it needed to hang down...and its almost reaching BSL (Bra Strap Length). I am excited to see how my hair has grown, and can't wait to see what all I can do with it. 4 years ago, I had completed my cancer treatments, and ended up cutting off my hair to keep from shocking myself when it all began to fall out. Lucky for me, I didn't have the usual baldness associated with cancer...but still, after having shoulder length locs, any loss was a big one. So today, I am celebrating what I do have.

Yeah...just like me...a rambling blog. Ha. Funny. Hope you was just on my mind.

Until next time...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boredom Breeds (a repost from MySpace)

I was going through some of my MySpace blogs from back in the day (while was in college), and came across this one, which I remember so vividly. Take a look:

May 15, 2007 - Tuesday

Boredom Breeds...literally, in this case
Current mood: distressed
So for the past week, I haven't been around, as you may or may not have noticed, because I was in Idlewild, Michigan, performing my play "The Colored Museum". We take a play from Eastern Michigan University up there every summer, in hopes of helping to revitalize this once booming Black Community back into what it was in its heyday.

After one of the shows, I was speaking to an beautiful elderly woman (her silver hair was so shiny and neat...I hope my gray hair turns out as beautifully regal as hers did), and she told me how much she liked the show, but she didn't think that very many people understood it. The play is a satirical account of the black experience in has funny moments, but was written to make black folks uncomfortable enough that they think about their own lives (If you've never heard of it, look it up. "The Colored Museum" by George C. Wolfe)

You see, Idlewild is based in Lake County, Michigan...the poorest county in the state. That means that unemployment rates are high, and not many folks go to, or have gone to college. We come there, trying to persuade the high school students to get out of there, and see the world-through college first. We do this by offering a workshop a few weeks before we get there, and then even having some of the high school students work on our show as interns. One of the girls who interned for us 3 years ago just finished her freshman year at EMU, and we are so proud of her.

Anyway...this woman and I were chatting about how the we changed some of the language in the play, to make it more PG than the PG13 it had been before...and she told me that her favorite scene was one where a man was throwing out all of his childhood items, because he had to conform to society...but the boy inside of him was torn over the issue. The boy said "you can't forget your past...its always there with you", and it made a great impact on this woman. She went on and on about it, but was disappointed that not too many others 'got it'. Then she went on to ask me what the high schoolers thought of it, since we did a private show for them. I told her that they laughed through most of it, since it was funny, but they didn't really understand most of it...with the exception of a scene called "Permutations"...a scene about a teenage girl, who had sex with the garbage man, and instead of having a baby, she laid an egg, and then had to defend herself from her mother.

This was sad, but true. Many times last week, my fellow actors and I spoke on how boring being in Idlewild was. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to see. No cable to watch. Cell phones barely had any service. The nearest McDonalds was a half hour away, and the highlight of their week was driving a half hour to the nearest WalMart. The high school kids really had nothing better to do than lay down and get pregnant, so that they'd have something to do...if you have a baby to take care of, you're not bored anymore!

The woman and I stood there discussing this for a few minutes. I told her that we do our best to set a good example, and try to encourage them to come to college...she said that's great of us to do, but it won't work. Their mommas don't want them to leave...if a child leaves, that mean less money from the government. If that child stays and has a baby, that's more money. She said that in most households around there, you had 5 generations living in one house, the oldest being 65, then 45, then 30, then 15, and newborn. (Sad, isn't it?) And all because they know that the more folks you have in a household, the bigger your check is. Even one of the interns we had this year was celebrating her first Mother's Day.

The intern asked me about my family. I told her I had 3 babies, and it was no shock to her. The other 2 women in the cast, 23 and 20 had none, which did shock her. Then I told her that all of my kids had the same father. AND we were married. AND I was 'of age' to have them...(she thought I was 24...and 'bout near pissed on herself when I told her my real age)

I guess the point of my story is this; why wouldn't a parent want better for their child? What would I look like telling my kids "no, you cant go to college, you cant make yourself better, i want you to depend on me and this welfare check for the rest of your life!"

Have we really become so complacent in this world? Our elders feel like they cant trust the young people, because we haven't been taught well by our own parents (in most cases, their children), and that we aren't teaching our children to lead in the way They (the elders) need them to.

I don't want to be this way...


True, I wrote this 3 years ago, but it still hits me so hard. I look at my life now, and see the girls I teach. I see my own kids, and I see the kids I go to church with. Its amazing how your environment can dictate your outcome, if you allow it to.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Please share...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I am (not?) my hair...

Yesterday, I went to program with my hair out. Its HUGE right now. Of course, Saturday, I had an audition, and its common to have your hair the same way for the audition that you have it styled in your headshots, and because my hair is pretty versatile right now, my headshots were taken with the big hair. Of course, it can always be pulled back, so I have a smaller shot on the resume' side showing that. Its been kinda rainy and humid around here these past few days, so I thought nothing of just letting the fro go until the weather dried up. yesterday was another rainy day, and because I don't really cover my hair in the rain (its just hair...and its just rain. They go well together), and it just got bigger as the day went along.

I must admit,it felt good to not having to pull it back or up and out of the way.

When my students walked into the room (only 1 of our returners came yesterday, so it was all of the new girls), they all reacted in some way. Of course, I had prepared for that, and made sure I didn't make a big deal of it. We make sure that when they walk in, the focus is on them, not us. So I would just comment quickly, and change the subject to something about them.

One girl had a big reaction..."OH WOOOOW"....I said "yeah. How are you? How was your weekend?", quickly changing the subject. She couldn't stop gawking at it. It was a little uncomfortable, but I didn't sit and think about that much, I had students to tend to.

As the day went on, she began making comments about my hair. "Who did your hair?" I did. "What did you do to it?" I just wet it, added a little bit of product. But it gets curly with water.

And then she said "Girl please...those are tracks. I mean, its cute, but those are tracks".

Right then, I wanted to breathe hellfire on this child and shut her up. Like, seriously...for real? Tracks? For real?

Now, I have seen some really cute weave/track styles around here...and right now, everyone does want the curly fro style, so they add the tightly coiled tracks and pull the curls I can see how she'd confuse me with this. However, our lone returning student told her that it was my real hair. She then asked me again if it were tracks, and I told her no, you can scratch my scalp and everything (not that I'd really let her though).

She kept going on and on about the tracks, and I actually had to turn my back on this girl, because I was really getting angry about this. Then she asked my co-worker about my hair, the one Ive been working with for almost 2 years now. "What did you think when you first saw Miz Rayawwwwna's tracks?" "That's her real hair..."...I later found out that co-worker had heard her talking about these 'tracks' all day, but never realized she was talking about me, and found it funny.

I am very protective about my hair. I tell people to please ask before touching it, because it bothers me when you just stick your hands all up there. I don't let people 'play' in my hair. I believe it comes from losing it to cancer treatments...and then being so scared when it grew back.

Something no one knows (this is my first time ever admitting it) doctor told me to cut my hair off after one of my locs came out in my hands. I was already in radiation, and it was breaking down the keratin in my body. I had nails that fell off, and my nose and ears bruised easily, feeling mushy even. I had known for a few weeks that my hair would be next...he said I may no go chemo bald, but I should expect to lose hair.

I made it sound like I was wrestling with cutting off my hair...I guess, looking back, I really was. I didn't want to do it, not at all. When I finally got the nerve together, I went to Dwight and had him cover the mirror as he cut my locs off. I still have a small handful around here, in a bag. For the first few weeks, when things were ugly and uneven, I wore scarves, exclusively. I was so ashamed of having no hair.

When I finally did reveal it, I got a few shocked glances...but that was it. Mind you, I was still in college at the time, and a few of my girlfriends had all just shaved their heads too, but for fashionable/personal reasons. I guess everyone just thought I was going along with the trend, and honestly, that was cool with me. I didn't have to explain this to anyone, not even my roommate. Basically, I allowed my silence/indecision on the matter to lie for me, and not let anyone know what was going on with me.

I had to think about why this girl's comment about tracks made me so angry, and I think that's it! It took me so long (4 years almost to the day) to get my hair back to where I am completely comfortable with it. For someone to insist that it was fake offended me completely. Did she know that? No. Would I let her know? Absolutely.

I also had to think about her and her situation. Was she really making fun of me, or was she admiring me in her own 7th grade way? Both are possible, but I am choosing to see it the latter way. She is a young lady who is maybe 12, trying to fit in, trying to be cool. She doesn't have alot of hair, and usually just wears hers back in a ponytail, nothing fancy, nothing special. Her environment tells her that if you want long hair, or hair that is big and puffy, you buy it and sew it in. She is just coming to me from her own experiences. She may or may not think she's cute (one of her shout outs yesterday was to herself "Because she's pretty"...we find that many of them stress their looks when they are actually very insecure about them, as a false sense of security), and may think I am the opposite of what her personal thoughts of 'cute' are.

By the end of the day, I had calmed down. As we walked out of the classroom to our closet when we put all of our materials for the night, somehow I realized that she and I were ahead of the rest of the group. I told her quietly "It hurts my feelings when people comment on my hair being fake. I used to have cancer, and didn't have any hair, and it took a long time for it to get this long. So it really hurt my feelings when you kept saying that." Her mouth dropped open wide, and she didn't say anything. I told her "see you tomorrow", and smiled.

I shared this with my co-workers in debrief, and explained that I don't know if she really listened to my whole statement, or stopped listening at the word cancer...but they assured me, she heard it.

I never really thought I'd ever be so touchy about my hair...ah well...

Until next time...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is it just me?

Quite a few things have been going on in my life this past week or so...nothing huge or life threatening...but now that things have calmed down, I figured I'd share.

My alma mater (Eastern Michigan University) ran this mess right here, and I had to be a whistle blower on it. I mean, I was APPALLED when I saw it! I wrote an e-mail to the editor of the paper, editor of the comics section and CC'd the University President, as well as the president of the alumni association, Black Alumni Assn., Center for Multi-Cultural Affairs, Diversity Involvement (I used to work in that office at school), Black Student Union, Campus NAACP, as well as the Channel 7 news (who's website you have been referenced to). I received a response from the comics editor, basically citing "freedom of speech", and that I should submit a letter to the editor, to be featured in an upcoming issue of the Echo. Also, he apologized to me...blah blah blah. I am an ALUM!! I appreciate his concerns for my feelings, but what about the rest of the students on campus, who this will actually affect? I let them know in my letter,

"Though I am no longer on campus, I can only imagine the tension this will cause. I am wondering how this racially charged comic was chosen to represent the artist on that day, and why it was then chosen to be displayed publicly. Hopefully, this will not cause so much tension on campus that violence will be the result, but I am more than certain that there will be demonstrations and protests. Please plan accordingly. This is not a threat in any way, but even from here in the Washington, D.C. area, I can see that the result of this posting will not turn out well.

I am hoping that the advisory team and editors of the Echo will use better judgment when it comes to publishing content in the Echo."

The response:

"We realize some readers found the comic offensive, however, we feel the message contained within was worthy of publication. The message in the comic was that symbols people find morally reprehensible, like the kkk and nooses in trees, are adored by a select few, and that same select few assign sentimental attachment to things no sensible person would. The joke is at the sheer absurdity of the situation and directed at the klansmen within it. Therefore, we apologize to those whose sensibilities were offended, but we reserve the right to publish opinions and ideas that might be considered offensive to some in the interest of furthering open and public discourse.
I encourage you to write a letter-to-the-editor to be published in an upcoming issue. Here is the address of our Opinions Editor..." I get the point. However, most of the students on campus are not going to look into the 'point' or 'message'...they will see 'the picture' and GO OFF! They will see Klan hoods and nooses, and TRIP! Honestly, I have to admit that it took a few looks before I even saw the point. I happen to know that the BSU met this past Sunday night, and are probably already laying on floors, drawing out their posters of protest, working closely with the NAACP to figure out the best plan for the day.

I am not a political person, at all. But I could not sit back and let this one go!

Facebook. And Dr. Sistagirl. She sees me wanting to mother/sister/friend/counsel so many in my life...which is why I can't focus on myself and my household. She asked me how many friends I have on Facebook...1274. No...I'm not super popular. I got on Facebook back in 2006, when it first started, and was for college students. I was also the President of my organization at the time, and we used Facebook for all of our advertisements at the time, so all of our members befriended EVERYONE we knew on campus, even if it were just by face. We'd then send mass invites, and always kept a crowd at our events. Over the years, I have gained friends in real life, on MySpace, from shows that I've been in, etc., etc. I just never got rid of any of them on Facebook.

So...I had to make some cuts. I don't need to know all of these folks business, folks I haven't seen in years, folks I have NEVER spoken to...even folks who live next door, but we don't speak on the regular. As I type this, I am down to 675 friends...and still cutting. My goal is to get down to 400 or less...which is not easy. Shoot, it wasn't easy cutting those that I already have...but I already see a difference. I have to find other things to keep my mind on...Ive started 2 new craft projects, I just finished a flower girl basket for a friend's wedding, and am finishing another book. More time to focus on bettering me...rather than taking in everyone else's drama.

I auditioned for a new play this weekend. I also participated in a page to stage reading (basically, reading the play from the script...often used to try newly written plays out on audiences, to get reactions). I LOVE being an actress, and hope that I can continue being a performer.

I am also back in program regularly with my students. We only had 5 girls return from past years, and so far have 6 new girls, with room for 7 more. Getting to know these new girls has been a challenge, because the returning girls expect the same attention they have always gotten from the staff. In the past, we knew all of their personalities, and were able to balance out the attention...but in learning the new girls, this is kind of hard...and no one wants to be patient and wait it out. But wait, this is middle school--who has time to be patient? lol...I will admit though...I still love it.

There you have it. My life in a nutshell for the past week or so. I am preparing a natural hair blog for a faithful reader, and knitting a gray winter hat for another. I appreciate you guys for your support, your reads, your comments. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Let me know if there is anything I can address for you...even if its just some random question. I need things to focus on, and I certainly don't mind you being one of I contradicting the whole Facebook deletion thing? Nah...there aren't 1200 of you. Ask away!

Til next time...