Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Repeat: Zion T, where have you been all my life?

I've been thinking of a way to share my favorite artists and genres of music with y'all without making a laundry list, so here is the first installment of "On Repeat", a series where I recognize artists who excite and challenge me. First up, Zion T, a.k.a. Skinny Red.

By way of YouTube, 'The Voice of Korea', and Korean producer Primary, I've discovered Zion T this week. He's a Korean hip-hop/R&B/soul/neo-soul singer, songwriter, composer, and sometimes rapper who blew up the underground hiphop scene there and is preparing to go major. (Hopefully that doesn't also mean go mainstream.) And I am in all kinds of love with his voice and his artistry. I guess if I had to compare him to any American artist, I'd say he's a Korean Musiq Soulchild. Except younger, cheekier, and with a lot more of that thing that makes you screw up your face and bob your head like it's half cut-off (real soul lovers, you know what I mean).

He's also got this thing where he almost always wears sunglasses. His face isn't always obscured, and I am far from one of those people who thinks wearing sunglasses makes you cool... but he really does look cool that way!

Anyway, I now have a new artist to be obsessed with inspired by, and I am elated. Below are some of my favorite works of his that I've come across so far. This one right here is pretty cool too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Hairstyles, 3 Different Reactions

Now before I start, I know that when I go out not everybody is looking at me. I think this is something we all should remember. People have their own lives to worry about, and whatever particular issue you think you have with your hair, your body, or your outfit on a certain day, I can assure you that not everybody is paying attention. In fact, it's quite possible that not even a single person notices the issue, much less your presence at all. In other words, as Ma likes to say, "Ain't nobody thinking 'bout you!" But in the case of people whom I've seen have noticebale reactions to my hair, I made the following observations this week.

I've been natural for over 2 1/2 years. In its completely unadulterated glory, my hair looks like this:
December 2012
Reactions: Stares, or people staring and pretending not to. For me, wearing my hair out like this (which I don't do often) is both scary and empowering. On one hand my hair's so huge and overwhelming that I can't hide it even if I wanted to. On the other hand, it's thrilling because I know people will be staring at me, and I mentally dare them to. Stare at me if you want. Bet you won't be bold enough to keep looking when I make eye contact with you. Got something to say? I dare you to say it. Go ahead, I dare you. Sometimes I even play a game where throughout the day I count how many times I catch people staring at me, extra points for how quickly they try to look away.

This week, since my hair's straightened, I'll look like this:
This past Saturday
Reactions: People seem to get real friendly when your hair is straight. They might even speak to you, when just the other day they ignored you or hadn't even noticed that you existed. Why is this? Because in this country, straight hair is familiar to people. When your hair is straight, people feel like they can gauge you and wrap their heads around you. You're harmless, no suprises; you're just like everyone else. That's part of the reason why I don't enjoy wearing my hair straight as much anymore. Sure it's nice to actually see how your hair is grown and get compliments here and there. But I feel like I've gone back to looking like everyone else again.

Also this week, when I go to yoga I'll have my head wrapped like this
Two days ago. Have you noticed my pose in each of these pics? Obviously my left side is my good side, haha.
Reactions: The same or similar to the first pic. I don't know why (especially white) Americans/Europeans/Westerners have such an issue with women and head wrappings or coverings. Whether it's black women's nightly hair routine or Muslim women wearing the hijab or burqa, go out in public with your head wrapped and it's like you're from a different world. This pic is from when I went to yoga on Monday, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people on my bus assumed I wasn't from here because my headwrap made me look foreign to them. Head wrappings and coverings are seen as strange/"other"/foreign/weird/abnormal/backward, when really women (including white women) have been wrapping and covering their heads for centuries. Makes no sense to me at all.
Is it wrong that people have varying reactions depending on how "normal" my hair looks? Not necessarily. People can't help what they're used to, and there are some things about me that others will not ever understand. It would be different if those reactions led to people actually treating me differently, but seeing as how we all stare at, ignore, or compliment strangers everyday for various reasons, I can't fault people for doing the same with me. Like I said, these are just some interesting observations. But I will say that ignorance remains rampant, y'all.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Straigthen & Trim Day: "Folks don't even know that natural hair takes work!"

OperationRecoverMyEnds is in full effect. Last year I went 7 months (from May to December) without trimming my ends and I am STILL paying for that mistake. I had to get two inches of mess cut off in December, so I'm trying to get my hair trimmed every 2-3 months.

I can't get a comb through my hair when it's dry otherwise, so I always have my hair straightened when I go for a trim. I'm not sure that I'll ever get used to having straight hair again, but I can hang with it for just this week. :)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Things People Give Me #2 (Valentine's Day Edition!)

Happy Valentines Day!

I didn't expect anything this year, just like I never expect anything any year. But alas, like most years, I was surprised!

In Japanese class today, my friend gave me an intentionally corny handmade card, just like she did last year. Apparently she searched the Internet for the corniest pickup line she could find, and since I'm a polisci major who's always writing she thought I'd enjoy this one. And I did. Thanks, Lauren!

"I'm writing a paper on the finer things in life, and was wondering if I could interview you." I've never heard this one before. Do guys really say this?
Another acquaintance of mine gave me candy. She gave everyone in Japanese class candy, but only a few people had bags with their names on them. I was one of them, and that made me feel good that she thought about me even though we haven't been able to talk in a while. Even though I don't eat candy and will probably just give it to Ma when I see her, I really appreciated this. Thanks, Jordan!

"You can't take it with you."

I'll be the first to admit that I am cheap. I do not like spending money. It almost pains me to spend sometimes, that is how cheap I am. Often I'll have a certain conversation with my mom where I say that I want something but don't want to pay for it because it, like everything, costs money that I don't want to spend. Then Ma will respond by calling me a cheapskate or something similar to it, and then remind me that it's not that big a deal: "You can't take it with you." I've always understood that phrase to mean that money is just money, and overvaluing it to the point that you can't bear to part with it is a waste of time. There's no use putting so much value into "things", because they're all temporary. You can't take any of them with you when you die. Makes sense, right?

But these days, I've noticed that the meaning of that phrase has been flipped the other way around in many people's minds. Especially young people. For example, on my way to Grand Rapids last weekend, my friend's boyfriend started playing "When I'm Gone" by Wiz Khalifa. The chorus goes:

 I'm gonna spend it all why wait for another day/I'ma take all this money I own and blow it all away/Cause I can't take it when I'm gone, gone, gone, gone/No I can't take it when I'm gone, gone, gone

Somehow, "You can't take it with you" has become a justification or excuse for indulgence and waste, for spending money without regard to consequence. And it makes sense to everyone but me.

It's almost like "YOLO". One would think that knowing you only live once would encourage a person to enjoy his life, but also not do stupid, toxic, or dangerous things that would end it too quickly. But no, it means exactly the opposite. Do anything you want, just because, why not? Who cares?

Really? How in the world did this happen?  I know I'm Christian and old-fashioned and all, but I cannot be the only one to see how backwards things have gotten... right?

Silent War: 0-for-2 when it comes to roomates.

I cannot believe this is happening again. My first roommate experience last year did not go well for various reasons. Basically I went in blind, didn't click at all with the person  (aka "The Princess") I was placed with , and it got to the point that we didn't have a single conversation second semester.

I was able to make a lot more friends than I'd expected, one of whom I planned to room with this year. But she pulled out to apply for an RA job, and I had already signed up for my spot in the room. And I was deteremined to not. go. in. blind. again. So I convinced another friend (aka "Miss Thang") to room with me, and I was actually really excited about it. We had some things in common and I admired her because she was a lot of things that I wasn't. I guess I wanted her to be my friend because I thought she was cool, and thought this would be a growing experience for both of us. I had this typical college life fantasy of us spending all this time together, becoming besties for life, and so on.

Boy, how much things can change in a year.

I can't even stand to hear this girl's name, and her very presence just makes me tense up. I chose my roommate this time around, but again, second semester has rolled around and we do not talk. I kid you not, we'll be in the room together for hours and not say a single word to each other. We're even in the same small class at 9am every morning, but we still do not talk. The silence is more broken up than last semester's, though. For the most part she ignores me, avoids me, doesn't talk to me. But every now and then we'll have these talking spells that last a day or two. And then another round of silence. This round has lasted 8 days so far.

There are various reasons why things happened the way they did, but I won't get into them (although I will say that she stopped talking first). I'm just writing to say that I'm over this situation. I was nice and positive, I even gave her the benefit of the doubt and ignored numerous warning signs, and I addressed the problems directly when I noticed them happening. But it all came to nothing, and I'm over it. So to you I say this, Kammy:

People are who they are. I get that. But who you are and what you do are not conducive to the life I am trying to live. You are an obstacle, you are dead weight. So I'mma need you to exit stage left and stay out of my way.  Whether you move out soon like you said you would or I have to be stuck with you until the end of the semester, after this is over I hope I never see your face again. God bless.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Met Talib Kweli!?! Say What Now?!

7:30pm- Got snazzy and set off for Grand Rapids (my first time!) with three friends to see Talib Kweli at the The Pyramid Scheme

9:00pm- Doors opened (the doors were supposed to open at 8)

10:00pmish- A.B. (first opening act) performed!

11:30pmish- Mama Sol (second opening act) performed! I LOVE THIS WOMAN!

1:00amish- Talib Kweli FINALLY performed!

2:40amish- The four of us grabbed some food at Grand Coney

3:40amish- Got to my friend's house, met her mom, and crashed on her floor (all four of us side by side like they used to have children do in the good old days)

Saturday 2/9
11amish- Woke up and hung around talking and eating

2:30pmish- Headed back to EL

This past weekend, I managed to get beer thrown on me; witness two fights; have the misfortune of inadvertently making friends with a white woman whom the four of us nicknamed "Drunk Jen"; meet the mom and sister of one of my college besties; eat Eritrean food for the first time; sit in on/participate in multiple debate-conversations about nothing, and.... MEET TALIB KWELI!

He looked sooo exhausted and I felt bad about bothering him. But he was really nice, shook all of our hands, asked all of our names. Thanks S for being brave enough to ask his DJ to meet him after the show, and thanks random drunk white guy who literally pushed me into the photo.

First Grand Rapids/club/hip-hop concert/Eritrean home experience = SO MUCH FUN! My weekend was insane, but I loved it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things People Give Me #1

I decided to start a series on this blog called "Things People Give Me". Despite what people like to say, no one gets by in life all on their own, and I think it's good to take time every now and then to acknowledge moments when people give you things. Giving is a phenomenal action and receiving is a phenomenal experience. No one in this world is obligated to give you anything, so when you receive something for an unselfish reason, it's really a blessing.
Let's try not to notice how huge my forehead is in this photo...
Today the black caucus in my dorm decided to have Valentine's Day bingo, and I won a $25 dollar Meijer gift card! I originally went because a pair of Beats by Dre was the grand prize and I figured, I don't even use my mp3 player, but those headphones are really popular these days so why not? Obviously I didn't win them, but this gift card is so much better. I won't have to pay for groceries with my own money until March! Isn't it wonderful how sometimes you get what you need instead of what you want?
Thanks, Shaw Hall Black Caucus!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shine like a mountain peak

Something I found yesterday at my favorite place, a.k.a. Just B Yoga in Lansing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

3 Weeks!

My high school entrepreneurship teacher Mr. Morton always said it takes three weeks to make or break a habit. Today I have officially been doing yoga for 3 weeks. That may not mean anything to y'all but it took me a lot of prayer and self-pep talks to try something new like this. Thanks to my friend Caitlyn M. for the encouragement and to Just B Yoga for being a safe place with kind people. :)