if i don’t love my kinks, i don’t love myself

•February 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment


“i pump a fist – even my hair got an ego” ~digable planets

a full 3 months and no heat has touched my wild mane of hair.  not one attempt to straighten, a defunct high powered blow dryer and a chi iron sit unplugged. i spent years scorching my hair with these devices. i actually mastered the art and blasphemy of straightening my hair thoroughly some months prior; a highly laborious process on my thick thick hair, minimum 5 hours; the placated demeanor of my mother unaware of the hardship and worthlessness; the self-violation of it all.

being kinky is different. it takes time to handle the curvaceousness, the contours of lush terrain but not so much time as straightening. consequentially it frees me to be more studious, more fit. the nonconformity mimics my rebel ways. unpredictable angles, corkscrews, zigzags, slinky’s, wooly sheep, sometimes lost objects lost in the abyss of organic shapes.

straightened I would get compliments, awe at the contrast of almost mid back straight length vs. roundabout the shoulder or even shorter depending on the humidity and the pouf of that particular day (it decides it’s length, not i). the racialized comments get under my skin sometimes, the superficiality, the microagressions. who in fact has any control over what particular shade of colonial rainbow vomit comes out in their phenotype? my liberated tresses deepen the ravine of guesswork. an indigenous nostril here, a gravity defying afro there, some trace of caucazoid obscured somewhere. why not revel in the netherworld? it’s much more truthful than the artifice and stagnation of categories. but that may be too anticapitalist for this american landscape where not categorizing means not being able to sell to that category.

i am hesitant to use the term curls in my self embrace. to me curly is the zucchini that comes out of my spiral slicer; a shirley templish formation. my hair is a thousandfold more bent and complex. a kinkywiryexpletive better described by fireworks and the chaos of some of pharoah sanders works; where beginning middle and end seem to blur and 19 minutes in you don’t quite know what planet you’re on. irrespective of the insufficiency of terminology, i’m enjoying my freedom.

adventures and misadventures in vegan fashion

•February 12, 2012 • 2 Comments

i’ve practiced a largely vegan diet for over 10 years now with the raw emphasis and influences coming in roundabout 2005-2006, but I’ve hesitated to call myself, even dodged the term vegan, and rightly so. while besides honey and some medicinal items my diet fits into the vegan category, i wasn’t a lifestyle vegan in any sense of the word. like most people, it’s not that i enjoy torturing animals, but that i didn’t make a concerted effort to consider animals in my life. now i’m working on changing that practice and embracing not so much “vegan” products (some of which contain harmful chemicals albeit animal free) but those made in wholehearted consideration of the overall environment and well-being of all living and non-living entities collectively. i instinctively made this transition with skin care and makeup products from the start as i’m kind of sensitive about what touches my body’s largest organ. unfortunately clothing has been an entirely different story until very recently.

when sharing my intention to switch to animal-free fashion with a friend over a raw meal, she exclaimed, “but you love leather!” and so it is true, or at least it was. i had to force myself to watch some really disturbing videos to get myself into the mindset of never being able to purchase leather items again for love leather i did. i wasn’t shafting it in leather jackets; my main dilemma was bags and shoes. i don’t consider myself a fashion follower/trend whore but i’m picky about the things i wear and abhor merchandise that looks like it’s poor quality or imitative of so-called high-fashion (i.e. canal street with fake louey vuitton prints, fake chanel bags – you wouldn’t catch me dead in these facsimiles or the real thing either for that matter). i’m not a fan of wearing items where the designer’s name is on it or highly evident in it’s form but my picky ways and insistence on quality have historically lead me to purchase primarily leather bags and shoes. vegan bags are one thing but finding quality vegan shoes that don’t make me look like i live in a tree (if i lived in a tree i hope i would be barefoot, eating fruit, communicating with salamanders perhaps) is an entirely different challenge. bags are somewhat more versatile and easy to use a wider variety of fabrics on (i.e. burlap, cloth, plastic, higher quality pleathers). since they aren’t worn on our feet, they don’t accumulate the wear and tear that shoes do. i’m a walker averaging an hour each weekday of footwork and my shoes need to hold up my movement as well as the colder weather elements including shoe-eating salt used to melt the winter ice on the streets.

how timely that after a multi-month search i run into the perfect pair of leather almost flats at a kenneth cole outlet. toes pointed at the right angle, with a kitten heel and priced right, in my size and all. still i held myself back and stuck to my promise. as for misadventures, it took me months to pick out this coat i liked. i even had to have it shipped in from france as it was nowhere to be found in my size stateside. when it arrived, of course after i put it on and discarded the packing materials and receipt it was pointed out to me that the brand label was embroidered on a small leather patch on the side of the coat😦 alas, one success, one failure, live and learn. to end it on success, i’m pleased with my latest big buddha bag pictured above. i picked it out carefully and rather enjoy it’s non-pleather looking pleatheryness, size and functionality. i’m continually looking for interesting vegan/eco-considerate clothing and products and have come across a few vendors to further explore and plan to share my findings in time.

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*i didn’t even want to post this today  since i’m really really sad about whitney houston – not in a crying like she was a part of my own family kind of way – it’s just really shocking and sad to see such a legend leave the earth so early. she was truly THE BEST post-1970s female vocalist in my view and i hope she will rest in peace. i am not a fan of the star spangled banner but whitney’s performance here gives me goosebumps.

tangential walking and reflections

•February 5, 2012 • 2 Comments

“new york – that unnatural city where everyone is an exile…” ~charlotte perkins gilman

a spontaneous walk led me to the upper west side, a neighborhood i seldom traverse. it’s got that busy old new york feel to it which is epitomized by it’s one of a kind 72nd street train station. the air was crisp more like mid-spring than pending winter and the sunlight shone onto the concrete from whatever angle it could. i envisioned the time when this song came out. i had love for electronic music back then. it complimented the alien feelings i was having and made spaciness and disjuncture from my humanoid state a rhythmic experience, something to headbop to rather than mope about.  oh the turbulence of adolescence and how calm it all seems in retrospect!

these spontaenous walks come about sometimes when i have distant errands to run and don’t feel like being crammed into an uptown train, particularly on the east side where the people are limited in train options – sardined into a few fleeting green lines.  i’m not usually one for cabs so i walk, traipsing along winding concrete paths in the labyrinth of central park. these unplanned meanderings are my thinking spaces, impromptu journal-less journaling, the etching of my footprint upon contested lands. dwellers of  populous cities knows that no matter how many people are around, sometimes you can feel profoundly alone. on these walks i embrace this feeling, not one of discomfort. my only child days have trained me well in the art of solitude; how meditative and dazzling it can be, that neverboredom that i believe only children know best. nowadays these times are scarce or perhaps more balanced and intonated.

motile creatures we are

•February 1, 2012 • 9 Comments

“a violinist had a violin, a painter his palette. all I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for.” ~josephine baker

exercise, fitness, these are boring words to me that can cause feelings of resistance to emerge. motility at it’s apex could be a better term for we are motile creatures with appendages that can dance, draw lines, craft, emit energies, embrace, electrify in limitless combinations. i used to think and vocalize the idea that diet is significantly more important than so-called exercise but i view things differently these days. i would argue that it truly is 50-50*. ensuring that our bodies are strong, elevating the heart rate, detoxing through sweating, purification through oxygenation, recharging our metabolism, exercise high (the only drug anyone should really “take” in my view) and emotional uplift are all things that support our nutritional and our life goals.

i haven’t always been into exercise and perhaps that’s why i try to think of it in other terms. as a child i wasn’t involved in organized sports due to my mother’s concern with a heart murmur that was detected in infancy. nevertheless i’ve been active in other ways as competitive sports are not the only option. i was involved in dance as a child and again in high school which made me practice and value flexibility, balance and creative movement and also contributed to greater poise and spatial awareness. though my wallflower tendencies at parties might make me seem otherwise, i am a rhythmic being and have a love for modern dance of a motley assortment. dancing is a beautiful practice and engaging in it via a school setting helped me not see it as something not confined to a particular style, form or body type. as a sideline to dance i cheerlead in high school which was another dancerly activity and a sport indeed. my deep love again intersects with dance and is skating/blading. This is what 1980s roller rinking does to a girl! outdoor blading – well that’s the pure california in me. i could skate for hours, maybe days as long as they are all sunny.

living in new york and not being a street skater it’s not possible for me to skate year round so i seek out alternative forms of movement these days. i try to keep it outdoors as much as possible when the weather isn’t below the 30s. this year I’m really focusing on strength training and endurance, building muscle, some of which i lost in my early 20s. a strong body doesn’t have as many fluctuations and makes cardio breezy simple. you probably won’t see me running any marathons or anything like that as i’m really just into doing what i can maintain on the day to day. currently i’m building up to 5 days a week including 3 full body strength training workouts and about 3 hours of cardio weekly in different forms, sometimes strength training classes, running around my neighborhood, doing different cardio machines, circuit training/interval workouts, yogic/stretchy kinds of things.

my recent juice cleanse and currently low glycemic project have really propelled me in the right direction and energized me, making exercise a lot easier and more consistent for me. i’m far from one to really give advice on being fit as i’ve had lots of ups and downs but these are some things i have learned:

  1. strength train: women especially! men seem to already understand this but many of us think this means we’ll bulk up which is untrue! i once read once that 60% of all exercise should be focused on strength training. i’d say 50-50 strength/cardio is also effective. feeling my body strengthen is part of what makes me able to enjoy exercise.
  2. weight loss?: also related to strength training, for anyone whose goal it is to lose weight, sure strength training may slow weight loss initially but quick unsustainable cardio meltdown doesn’t produce the net results desired. developing a more efficient system should be the goal. i also am not an advocate of working out for the pure goal of weight loss. i get mildly irritated by fitness instructors who try to use weight loss as a motivator for exercise (shouting things like – work those abs – bikini season is coming!). certainly weight loss is a healthy goal for some people but focusing on overall health and the multifaceted benefits of exercise is for me a better way to integrate movement into my life wholly.
  3. take it outdoors: the gym has its purpose and great things can happen in there but the elements have a different effect and a different outcome for the body. compare running on a treadmill to running outdoors – what a difference! plus outdoors we have to negotiate with the land, engage with the terrain around us. get outside whenever possible, regardless of season.
  4. schedule in exercise: there is no one in the world who doesn’t have time to do something active at some point in the day. working at a desk? take a breather and stretch or go for a walk. locked into a study session for upcoming exams? Do 5 minute workouts each hour – it adds up and can help us study better and work more efficiently! i remember doing this with my jump rope, just jumping every predetermined time interval.
  5. make it a lifestyle: diminish the concept of exercise altogether old school style. for those who drive, ditch the car keys and walk, bike or skate to do your errands. take stairs, play with children, walk absurd distances. cardio house cleaning can also be a serious workout and then everything and then everything ends up looking sparkly and clean!
  6. be cute but not vain: i have friends who will say things like “my hair is going to get messed up” or “i hate getting sweaty.” sorry chicas but the fittest sweatiest hair not done person looks and feels way better than someone out of shape with perfect hair and makeup. get some nice fitness gear, get a hat and all will be fine.
  7. listen to the body: i was stuck for a long time in this 30 mins of cardio trap. Now i push myself towards what feels right, even if it’s 51 or 62 minutes, an extra set of hamstring curls, taking a different bend in the road on my power walk or whatever the breeze tells me that particular day.
  8. drink water: i keep water by my side and drink throughout my workouts. it’s extra beneficial as i drink more water on days that I work out and makes me feel like i can be stronger in my workouts. by water i am referring to the clear colorless and neutral tasting beverage with a pH of 7, not gatorade, powerade, propel water, brand x-ade, juice, smoothies, protein shake, etc.
  9. load up tracks that inspire you or listen to the wind: find some motivational tunes or listen to nature. some staple workout music for me includes ultramagnetic mc’s, goldie and of course prince.
  10. don’t overthink it: asking the self whether or not it wants to work out on a particular day sets the stage for a yes-no response. exercise operates on so many levels besides the mental, we should never let our particular thoughts or mood affect our right to movement for health. once we start moving thoughts of not wanting to typically dissipate, and moreso with consistent exercise over time.

i am no wise woman when it comes to staying active. i’m just riding the wind and following what feels right to my system. i would love to hear any words of wisdom that those with more experience can share.

[the pic is an old drawing i did in charcoal and pastel from a live nude, exploring the human form. i know the proportions are way off especially on her butt. hey – i make no claims to be a professional artist and i love my mistakes!]

film night: the pruitt-igoe myth

•January 22, 2012 • 4 Comments

“wars of nations are fought to change maps. but wars of poverty are fought to map change.” ~muhammad ali

i saw a great indie docu about the infamous 33 bldg public housing complex in st. louis, mo. designed by the same architect behind the original wtc. i did some research on the topic of public housing projects as an ugrad and remembered these looming buildings mentioned over and over in the literature i went through. it seemed coincidental that i happened to come across this screening just as i was laying out plans to revise and concretize some of my old writings and research. the director and a former resident’s presence at the screening made for a richer experience.

i was disturbed to learn some things i didn’t know about public housing. one resident who lived in these projects as a child reported a social worker giving her family the choice between subsidized housing with the requirement that her father leave the state vs. no public housing and the opportunity to live in an intact family of 14. old footage of these monolithic buildings recalled the feeling of modernist slabs of concrete i was captivated by on a visit to chicago, so distinct from my everyday landscape.  public housing funds were provided for the pruitt-igoe complex with many parallels in other cities. the result was quite consistently a colored space and a form of architectural containment. disinvestment in critical maintainance caused the structures to fall into sharp disrepair.

i was affected as i am always by tragedies along the rust belt. to live in a space where industry died longing for some faraway high time seems so harrowing to me; industrial heyday skeletons spewn about. this is something distinct from what I’ve experienced in the mostly coastal cities i’ve resided in (though its quite apparent a few hours north of me in penitentiary peppered upstate ny). i was also taken aback by the nationally broadcast demolition of a portion of the complex.  hey let’s blow up a defacto black milieu on tv. let’s project the explosion further than the north side of st. louis for all to see.

what i appreciated about the film was the humanization of the residents; giving them voice to speak of home on a personal level getting past architecture and urban planning criticism, discussions of zoning and “revitalization,” macro level discussions that don’t consider the human level. i felt the project was conceived through a caring lens. i’ll never mind the audience member who suggested that what’s behind the pruitt-igoe saga is more of a class issue than a race issue. it was a striking film and much needed archiving of an era in recent history. check the pruitt-igoe myth site for local screenings. it’s at ifc for a few more days in ny. rip pruitt-igoe (1954-1972).

[air photo of pruitt-igoe looking like dominos, photographer unknown, taken 3/3/68]

for the love of cilantro

•January 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

i grew up knowing it’s wrong to have more than you need. it means you’re not taking care of your people.”  ~navajo proverb

i inhale it and breathe it and hope my lungs are saturated in the beloved green of heavenly cilantro (coriandrum sativum). i buy cilantro every week that i find it in stock. no matter if i use only a smidgen or none at all. just holding it’s dainty leafstems, taking in its clean fragrance, using it as a refrigerator ornament, some frigid verdigris bouquet to be viewed at each opening. mostly it reminds me of my love, my grandma (rip) whose salsa i try to emulate with little success to this day. she is the basis of a lot of my non-raw food prep in pre-vegan days. it was she who taught me to scramble an egg, to stir fry zucchini and other veggies. while these limited learnings are not so meaningful in the context of my current dietary lifestyle, i am influenced by her general food practices. depression-era born she was never wasteful. in hard times she could make a meal out of what seemed like nothing. i remember watching her make salsa, dicing tomatoes, onions, cilantro and specially selected extra hot chili peppers that made the outcome deliciously uncomfortable to the tongue.

as my low glycemic experiment segues into it’s second week, cilantro in hand i attempted a salsa and sadly fell short on emulating the tastes that come from her hands and her heart. i’m currently assessing what maybe be the problem. the right kind of pepper is one issue (jalapeños just don’t cut it) and using lemons instead of limes is another. alas try try again is all i can do as well as consult one of my aunts who has a much better handle on my grandma’s kitchen dealings than i. at the very least it was edible and picturesque atop my burlap tablecloth.

raw low glycemic beginnings and tomato soup

•January 11, 2012 • 2 Comments

i started my low glycemic way of eating (3 month project) and have been enjoying the first few days.  it’s a very different feeling eating low glyce.  i am calmer and feel very little hunger throughout the day.  i actually have a morning appetite which is something i’ve rarely encountered before.  i had considered doing an overview post about low-glycemic raw eating but i’m going to wait until the end of my 3 month project so i can personalize it a bit more as to my experiences. it is based on on the book rainbow green live-food cuisine which is recommended reading for a more in-depth understanding of the low glycemic raw approach. in the interim i’ll plan on sharing recipes and other perspectives.

my first breakfast included 5 brazil nuts and one sliced tomato.  i had a walnut pate in the afternoon over romaine lettuce and later made a nice raw tomato soup (pictured above, recipe below). i have a bad or good habit depending on the outcome of not following recipes, adding my own spin to things, seasoning up, salting down, substituting.  i was looking up raw tomato soups and struggled to find a light avocado and nut-free version for an evening snack.  i found an interesting one on solla’s website (a raw foodist based in iceland with a fab blog) and modified it to the following:

8 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped and one sprig reserved for garnish
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp pink himalayan crystal salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cumin (i’m always ultra modest with cumin – just a touch too much ruins a dish for me!)
blend all ingredients well and serve in a bowl with garnish. for those who are not fans of spicy foods i recommend reducing or taking out the cayenne altogether.
 
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