honest review on Honest products by a mother-in-chief

 

The other day I used an Honest diaper (size 1 8- 14lbs) for the first time and…..

  

I loooove them! I’d mentioned in my previous post that I had a review on Honest diapers and products  since I’d received a girl’s discovery kit so here we find ourselves. I gave it the overnight test and it passed with flying colors. Although it does not have the blue stripe when wet, figuring she was wet wasn’t an issue because if there’s one thing a baby will do it is pee in a diaper. The design on it and how different (you choose the designs yourself) each diaper is almost has me wishing they are a bottom on their own or at least it was warm enough for her to hang out in a diaper when chilling.

Baby slept the whole night 8 hours in the one diaper and it held up pretty well. Even though she wakes up to feed once or twice in the middle of the night, I didn’t change her until morning. (NB: this is an executive decision I makes changer-and-feeder-in-chief when weighing whether I want her to continue in the sweetness of her sleep or to wake her up past sleepiness to change a diaper). There was no leaking or even a teeny bit of dampness along the top or trim of the diaper.

Other products in the kit were the following:

WIPES:

These wipes are so far the best wipes I’ve used to wipe baby and a single one goes a very long way. They are medical cloth grade so they feel like a thin cloth and are biodegradable. They also have a texture or small round “bubbles” which means they really pick up EVERYthing when you are cleaning baby off from a booboo!

 

face + body lotion:

This lotion is very light, probably too light for the winter, on a melanated baby whose skin I like to keep moist and sealed against the cold. I dripped a bit on my hand and it has NO smell. Like none at all. Not like this unfragranced products that have a  “no fragrance smell”. I smell like person where I rubbed it on. That’ll be especially good for babies with allergies and good for mine in the spring going into summer.

hand soap:

The liquid is clear and smells unmistakably like lavender.  It felt not as thick as the shampoo + body wash, but I couldn’t say it’s watery. Good, to the point product, not much poetry to say about it and it gets the job done.

shampoo + body wash:

squeezed a drop of this onto the back of my hand and it’s clear and smells a bit like orange…not much of the vanilla coming through until I rubbed it around on my skin. I swirled it around and it became white like soap does

multi-surface cleaner:

This spray says it’s white grapefruit scented, [but] that smell is very faint. I’ll most likely use this to clean up the changing pad I clean about 2 times daily. I wonder how heavy duty it can be and won’t get much opportunity to find out. Maybe one day.

organic healing balm:

This balm is made up of about 7 oils including olive and coconut. Again, no smell here, but because of the oils contained therein, it has that oil/petroleum non-smell. No fragrances from the oils used in it came through – don’t know how they managed that. I applied it and like how it both seeps into and sits on the skin so I might use this the same way I used vaseline on baby after bathing now.

_________________

I now have received the big box with the full size bundle for size 1 diapers and  didn’t know that I was going to be getting it until I checked my bank account to see that I’d been charged for it. It’s a really big box and when it was brought I wasn’t home so I had to take the slip to the convenience store down the street not knowing what it was especially such a big box. I know what I order so it was odd. The very friendly Ethiopian guy helped me get it into the car since I was carrying baby and it’s YUUUGE…or I have small hands. I had to keep it in the car until I could ask someone to carry it out of the car for me. (City living).

So there you have it, an honest review on Honest products. All in all, it is a well executed brand and the thoroughness of thought can be seen throughout every detail including the tiny stamp on the outside of the box and printing on color on the inside. It’s definitely pricier than the other brands we are all more familiar with and I reviewed HERE, but you can see why. They would make a good gift to a new mom and for now I might focus on getting through the stacks of diaper boxes and wipes I already have from baby shower and beyond. We’ll see.

______________

Diapers: Handling the booboo and protecting the bumbum

Baby is now 2 months old and as you may imagine, she goes through a lot of diapers. When she was new newborn it was very important to change her very often because he system, along with having breast milk, was cleaning itself out and her boobooing therefore was more frequent. I’d learnt about the colors of booboo and what they should be and what they mean so there was nothing scary in what I saw. Fast forward to now that she is 2 months old, she doesn’t booboo as much and that too is completely normal especially with an exclusively breastfeeding baby – they can go up to a 10 day stretch without doing so. [You should only be alarmed if baby is in pain and her stomach feels firmer than it usually is.]

So what I’ve learnt about diapers so far is that they are created for the same purpose, but not created equally. I haven’t had experience with all brands, but the ones I’ve used so far are PampersHuggies and Up & Up (Target store brand). I started off using newborn size (box is marked with  an N and her weight range was “up to 8lbs”) and that was all I knew. When that pack finished I got into Huggies and realized they have a bit more of the texturing for high absorbency…they just looked like they would feel more comfy, not that the other wasn’t. Especially now at 2 where she sleeps longer shifts at night, AND I DO TOO (Hallelujah!!), I’ve found that Huggies hold up the best. With the others, the top of the diaper will have leaked a bit to her onesie along the top of the diaper. Nights when she’s very fidgety and does a booboo means the booboo now leaks too. Not cool. So right now I love Huggies. The target ones are not bad and are a great price compared and during the day where she is mostly peeing and I change her much more often they get the job done just fine.

  

(Pictured from left to right: Pampers, Huggies, Up&Up)

All in all, so far, in my experience, with my baby, Huggies are the best especially for that added bonus of being more absorbent overnight. Everything else is pretty much the same: they all have the color indicator stripe that goes from yellow to blue when wet and have some stretchiness along the perimeter of the thigh to ensure there’s no leaking or tightness. I received a sample box from Honest that I will be blogging about that also contains their diapers and some other goodies.

p.s. I did a google search for “diapers” and there were plenty of pictures and only 1 amongst hundreds was of a black baby so I had to search for “diapers black baby” and got better results…there were quite a few non-black babies though

*@afropolitaine*

I Got a Boob Job in Ethiopia. (read for context)

Earlier this year (2016), March to May, I went to Ethiopia for work. One of my projects is there and was in need of more direct support since, until then, everything was being managed and coordinated remotely. This post will make very little reference to work because…well that’s just how I’ve rolled online! Also because it was equally, if not more enriching for my personal development and self awareness and the stamps in my passport marked me learning the world a little more.

Sooooo…where to begin. It was the first time I went to a country I had never been not knowing anyone at all…that’s not completely true. The first one I did that SOLO and for that long not knowing anyone – 2 months is a long time. When the opportunity came up, the challenge excited me and per usual, being the pragmatist, I mentally prepared myself to be able to withstand whatever the emotional challenges of taking a leap would be. It was definitely going to happen and I had fears, but that wasn’t going to stop the show.

Got there and hit the road running and there was a lot to do, but I made a deliberate effort to personally experience the country. I looked up restaurants, tried foods, visited museums and traveled to different regions.

Here are some tidbits about the country:

  • population = about 94 million with the Addis metro area holding about 4.5 million
    • most populous landlocked country in the world
  • Addis Ababa is 2400 – 3000 meters above sea level
    • 2nd highest city in the world after Asmara, Eritrea
    • some say is about the
  • languages = Amharic (spoken by about 30% of the population) is the official language while Oromo is spoken by more people (33%)
    • next most spoken are Somali and Tigrinya
    • over 80 total languages with almost 200 dialects
    • language groups = Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan
  • religion :
    • Ethiopian Orthodox = 44%; Islam = 40%; Protestantism = 18.6%
    • Ethiopia was one of the first Christian countries in the world when Aksum Kingdom (modern day Ethiopia and Eritrea) made it the state religion in the 4th Century
    • traditional religions are practiced by almost 3% of population mostly in the south

Now that the formalities of context are out of the way, you may be wondering how all of this connects to boobs in the title. Well….

A few weeks upon arriving in Ethiopia my skin was Guh-LOWING! You hear me?! Every comment/compliment on my snapchat was about how good my skin looked. Having been deliberate about the skin care and makeup I brought on the trip paired with eating so much healthier food, drinking a lot of water to counter the challenging altitude, the different air and the African sun – I was like of course I’m glowing. Why/how would I not be?! Work was stressful, but the newness of a completely different environment was renewing my soul.

Although I love injera and the several types of shiros and wots, it was quite different that everything everywhere all day was that. Some food and smells were new to me so it made sense that my olfactory senses were sharp as a hound dog.

I was ALWAYS tired you hear me?! It didn’t make sense at ALL except that is a side effect of being in much higher altitudes (check 2nd tidbit above) I equated it to altitude sickness. In my efforts to stay fit I would try to go running on some mornings and found myself short of breath very easily. I made it through workshops and trainings by the spiritual Redbull grace of God because I would struggle to actively stay alert. It didn’t help that now coordinating daily chats with boo as well as check ins and teleconferencing with home office on a 7 hour time difference meant very little sleep after the Ethiopian work day was over.

Also, I was very VERY irritable. Unreasonably so. It mostly happened internally, but many mundane things irritated me. Actually, they were quite legit – at the time. And in hindsight. Why would I find the cleaning lady or housekeeping’s hair on the table or countertop after she cleaned. WHHYYYYY? In. The. World. did I find hair in my food at different places in my time in Ethiopia than anyone should ever have to throughout a lifetime?! It put me off eating completely because I was almost guaranteed to find a hair so I ate looking for it and the times I let my guard down I would feel what had become the familiar horror on my tongue. Seriously, one day I had completely given up on food and decided to get a smoothie. Ordered a simple mango something something at this clean looking establishment where it took entirely too long to make, but ok they are cutting fruit from scratch ergo freshness right?! NO! It tasted good, and about halfway through I felt something thickish, long and stringy so I thought oh this must have been a stringy mango. NO. It was a long (4 inches or so) string of hair all up in my mouth. As I pulled it out of my mouth I wanted to FIGHT E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Why had God forsaken me?! I thought I had already reached the pinnacle of quitting finding hair on my food only to look up and have ways to go. I’d thought my previous level of Quit was it, but I completely QUIIIIITTT!! I never thought it was possible. I never hespererit. We thank God for his mercy that endureth forever because…

Off the segway and back on the main road. So glowy skin, heightened smell, increased irritability, indefatigable fatigue, and now we get to the last thing. Connecting all of this to the title of this post – les boobs. They were big. Ok bigger than what I left the US with. There was a noticeable more-than-snug to how they wore. I adjusted to the outermost clasps and extended the straps down a little bit so the brassiere wouldn’t dig into my shoulders. What was gentle regular cleavage was now a little more jiggle and bubble than I considered classically classy. The middle button on my very nice dress shirts would sometimes come undone. Hhhmmm. Was I eating too much?! *hint hint*

Cut a long story short, I found out I was pregnant when I was in Ethiopia. While I was out there solo, so far from home, with no friends or family around. I was all I had to support and get through the news and associated next steps. We had been talking/joking about it on the phone and almost a month into my being there boo and I got really real with the reality that something outside of altitude sickness and Africa being great for my soul was going on.

Cut a long story short again, at the point I found out I had been a month in the country with a month more to go. Six weeks pregnant and keeping it between the two of us …. and my Ethiopian colleague whose wife was currently pregnant who I asked about a good doctor or hospital to go to after I confirmed by peeing twice on Chinese labeled pregnancy tests I got from the pharmacy down the street that I was IN DEED with child.

_________

I successfully wrapped up my assignment in Ethiopia fully satisfied with everything I had been able to accomplish professionally, but/and ready to go back home. Reunited with boo and now figuring things meant coming to real terms together vs. whatsapp calling and face timing over wifi.

On my social media, I still interacted and posted with the same almost regularity as before and there wasn’t/isn’t anything in particularly that would make anyone see a picture I posted and say I’m pregnant. Except that ONE TIME we were going to the beach and I was on snapchat snapping from my chest upwards. I was wearing a haltered bikini top and a friend commented “BOOBS”. It was the only moment I thought – can people tell?! Within that week about 2 other close girlfriends casually commented something about my boobs and I casually lol’d it off with a “thaaaaanks girl”. At this point I thought about starting a joke about myself. That I had actually gotten a boob job in Ethiopia because it turned out to be much cheaper than in the US, but that I hadn’t revealed it yet because they hadn’t quite finished healing.

No I did not get a boob job in Ethiopia guys! My body was and is still preparing itself to feed a brand new human addition to our race and my family (yikes my very own one!) who will come out of this very body. One who currently has developed all her bones and insists on turning all the way up in my belly. Who has my heart melting at a black and white sonogram. Initially my breasts were the first protrusion to signal something big was happening…that is until the last few months that my belly now outprotrudes them by a couple more inches.

I am pregnant and 7 and a half months in, I’m closer to being a mother than I have every been in my life. A whole me. Woman. Mother. to a Daughter. Her early stages of development happened in Ethiopia and like the feelings I had prior to going there, I don’t know everything about what’s to come, but I’m over the fears and more excited about the newness of the experience, our child, our love, a NEW love come what may.

While I’m expecting, expect to read more posts about my bun in the oven
_______________
*@afropolitaine*

I wrote an obituary a year ago – for the love of *my life

 

A year ago today, life dealt me the card where I wrote an obituary for the person with whom I shared the greatest love. I’ve written a variety of things throughout my life from speeches and poems, to technical reports and executive summaries, blog posts and grocery lists, lyrics and emails. I love writing, but nothing prepared me for the monumental task I asked to take on and was granted the opportunity to. There, rightfully so, should be nothing that prepares one for the writing of an obituary short maybe of having done it once before.

 Coming from a big family of big personalities, coupled with the time sensitivity and pressure to get programs and publishing done, yet countered by the delicate balancing act I knew it needed to be – the below is what I wrote. As much of a loss as it was for me, she was so much to everyone and loved everyone she knew be it friend, family, neighbor or stranger “one by one”. This had to be as much about her and inclusive so everyone who read and heard it felt like yes they were included in that message. Although she was MY grandmother and very specific people’s wife, mother, sister, friend I wanted the words I thought and wrote to reflect the collectiveness of the broad spectrum of love she created with everyone who knew her however long. The personalness of the individual and personal relationship was to be held in each person’s heart and memory to be shared amongst each other, but these last words were for all of us to find comfort in ALL having lost collectively.

Obituary

Eleanor Moyo (née Twala) was born October 29, 1941 in Fort Rixon, Zimbabwe. Her father and mother relocated to Mberengwa in 1948 where she eventually attended the local primary school and graduated from Dadaya Secondary School. In 1961, after 5 years of courtship, she and Cleopas Daniel Moyo, were married. Together they eventually had eight children, four daughters and four sons, they raised in Zambia where they lived for nearly 20 years before returning to Zimbabwe at independence

Although initially reluctant to “entertain” JWs who would often come knocking on her door, Eleanor eventually came to the truth, ironically, after Cleopas agreed to meet with and “interview” them. On his suggestion, she eventually agreed to give them a listen. She was eventually baptized in 1979 in Ndola, Zambia. In 1982, two years after Zimbabwe’s independence, the two moved their family back to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe where they have lived to date. This city, also called the City of Kings, was to become the family’s headquarters. A home filled with beautiful and unending stories for family and friends where she enthusiastically welcomed, hosted and shared her love of food, fashion, music, dancing and fellowship. Stories for days.

As a working mother of 8 and several grandchildren, she spent 22 years at Mpilo Central Hospital in medical records of the X-ray department until retirement in 2003.

Her official diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer came in October 2012 and she came to the US soon thereafter for treatment and care. The last three years saw her fight a spirited battle with the disease. In all of that time, her joyful, energetic spirit was steadfast to all who loved and cared for her. She laughed, danced, cried and cooked for most of that time.

On September 6, 2015, at Laurel Regional Hospital, she passed on having spent the day with and surrounded by Cleopas, all 4 daughters, 2 nieces, 4 grandchildren, relatives, friends and brothers and sisters of the congregation.

She will forever be celebrated by her eight children, four daughters and four sons, twenty two grandchildren and countless relatives and friends she was very near and dear to.  To all who knew Eleanor she was an amazing daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, friend and colleague. A phenomenal woman. Legend. May she rest in peace and may we all be blessed for having been blessed by this child and woman of God.

To the congregation and the Kingdom Halls she went to, we are eternally grateful for you all keeping her spirit filled and strengthening her faith. Here she made friends who cared for her like family. The countless errands you took her on, the scrumptious meals she enjoyed in your homes, the scriptures you read and the hymns you sang. Thank you.

________

I have the * in the title above because this was not about me and I was not the only one who lost a love. As much as a love like hers is thus far irreplaceable in my life, the my-ness of it all seemed too selfish when I saw the outpouring of love for her I had known was there, but I hadn’t quite seen with my own eyes all at once.

A year on, may my grandmother continue to rest in everlasting love and peace. I look forward to the strong feels she still inspires in me.

_____________

bowling

Right Up My Alley

On my birthday I was taken out to this really really nice bowling alley. I’d spent the day at home because I decided to take a personal day. I had nothing planned really and made myself a hearty breakfast, took a shower late. It was warm, but lightly drizzly all day. My aunt took me out to lunch at a Thai restaurant on Light Street we both agreed we’d enjoyed, but would probably not be returning to. We both love drunken noodles and always order that to test it out. It’s always a good gauge of how good everything else will be. It was no bueno, but we enjoyed each other’s company. I then dropped off some dry cleaning and hurriedly went for a mani pedi in navy blue trying to make it in time for a date I thought would be around 8, but ended up being at 5.

Come the pick up, I had no idea where we were going, but I insisted that no matter what I was going to at least wear a dress because it was my birthday. One simply does not NOT wear a dress when it is her birthday. We got to some industrial looking locale, walked into a nondescript lobby, a simple, but clean elevator. On whatever floor we landed, the doors opened into a beautiful bowling alley where reservations for a lane had been made. I put on the dorkey bowling shoes complete with the above ankle socks and grabbed a 12 pound ball. I completely guttered the ball for the first few bowls…so I was between a bad attitude and not caring until I got some instructions. After the second round, I was down by 30 something points and almost resolved to getting my behind whopped.

At some point I was like NO – this cannot. Not on my birthday and no way is anyone going to start kinda losing only to please a birthday girl…even if she is I. I actively concentrated from the moment I picked up the ball, stepped up, swung my arm, flicked my wrist and send the ball down the alley. I followed through with a serious gaze until I had so many strikes I was confused by my score. Needless to say, the final score was a whopping 140 something to 70 something. I must go back. I will. Once I started winning I was all about it! Such is life. I enjoyed this fancy bowling alley in an unmarked building.

I really enjoyed myself and wanna go back and leave no pin standing 🙂

_______________

*@afropolitaine*

Feeling and Filling Emptiness my Grandmother Left

It’s been exactly a month since my grandmother was laid to rest.

I’m sitting here thinking to myself I’m really about to write about this. To write about death. I can’t quite write about it, but on loss I can. I obviously couldn’t immediately after she passed away on September 6 a beautiful fall day when she went in peace and we were left in painful emptiness. There was so much going on with planning, repatriation, travel, planning and the burial. Immediately after the burial may have been a good time, but again the overwhelming and surprising calm that washed over me from how beautiful the funeral was. I’d never been to a funeral before, but we did that woman justice. She was a perfectionist who cared about the quality of anything she did where people were gathered. They would eat and be merry. They ate, mourned and were comforted by the familiarity of hospitality they always associated with her. There is so much that can be said, yet I find myself not having the strength, confidence, sanity to write and talk about it. There is nothing that I can say or write that fully expresses what it is to lose the person who celebrated and rejoiced your being down to the last minute. The person you yourself knew your presence and existence meant the world to. The person whose love you felt unconditionally no matter or where or when. You knew your absence affected her and your knowingly lame joke bubbled up her spirit. The person you unclicheingly never imagined not existing. In all my imperfections I was perfect. I was Pumpkin. She loved me as I am and wanted the best, enjoyment of life and great grandchildren [eventually hopefully soon] from me. She cared that I’d eaten and knew my favorite piece of chicken and that I preferred the seed of the mango, asked about my friends because she knew them one by one, made a mean omelette in which you could taste the joy she made it with in the tomatoes and freshly grated cheese. Gone.

Every time I’m asked about it the easy answer is that I’m ok, but the lump in my throat and that tear I can blink back way inside the duct reminds I’m not. What I’m working on is remembering then knowing that it’s ok not to be ok. How do I get to OK? How long does it take? Will I be ok if I don’t get there? How can I know in advance? I can’t.

What I have been doing in the meantime is living in a way she did and would be watching down on me wanting me to. With joy and a seriousness about la joie de vivre. Admiring me for my love of my little cousins and taking the role of being a big sister to them seriously. Being a loving daughter to my mother. Enjoying as many laughs as possible with my grandfather. Having good times with my friends. And in ALL of that – making sure to LOOK GOOD. She was the embodiment of look good feel good feel good look good. I’ll start with those things and know they’ll always work. They always did, but without her here there is an emptiness about it.

Writing. WRITING! Writing about it. Hitting PUBLISH will make me feel better because had she been here and I showed her this extremely emotional post through tears running down my face she would have been soooo impressed. So touched that outside of knowing how much I love her already, that it made me feel better writing it. I would have felt better not having to write it, but I have to start somewhere right?!

Writing it is.

P.S. Today is a month since she was buried. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Tomorrow is my mother, her daughter’s, birthday. It is also she and I’s birthday month.

_______________

*@afropolitaine*

The Tipping Point: Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba”

September 2014! Wizkid released the Ayo album. The album’s title in Yoruba means “Joy” and it hit itunes and cd vendors at traffic lights in Lagos on the 14th of that month. I was in a musical lull and nothing on the radio excited me so a week after its release I decided to purchase the whole album – a whole $9.99 to Apple. I hardly buy music so I was proud to have done so especially by an African artist whose discography I could vouch for thus far. Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun or Wizzy as he calls himself was signed to Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment, often shouted out as “Ee Em Eezay”, for his first 2 albums and dropped this third album on his own record label – Starboy Entertainment.

For this album I had nothing to anticipate, knew nothing about collabos or behind the scenes workings so I adopted my First Listen strategy. I listen to the album from the first track and go by my gut reaction. Dance if I want to dance, pretend hum along or skip forward when need be. Although I ended up skipping some songs more because of my mood than the audial aesthetics I remember on the first round listen thinking Man! Every single song can stand on it’s own two feet. There were no filler songs, no songs that sounded too similar to each other. Wizkid could have chose any one and released it as a single and it would go!

My favorites right off the bat were Ojuelegba and Omalicha. I gave the album a listen several times over and if you ever catch me singing to Ojuelegba you might think me a serious yet conscious Lagos babe. With Omalicha you might think I wrote it….for my wedding playlist….in my head.

Almost seven months later the song is being publicly jammed to by the likes of Alicia Keys, her husband Swizz Beats and his fineness, and the Son of the Heart of Africa (Congo) Serge Ibaka. It was also recently remixed by Aubrey Graham most recently known as the ender of Meek Mill’s career via 2 time diss track releaser, recently buffed up former Degrassi actor, 6 God, Canada’s most famous citizen and altogether l’uomo universale – Drake….and a British rapper whose music I have yet to explore called Skepta. All of these instances are not such a big deal in an of themselves, but ALL somehow happened within the last month. HOW? The contagion effect. Sometimes we can put in all the work, and it is important that we do, but never really have control of where it ends up. For whatever the promotional strategy Wizkid adopted after the release of his album in September to now, something happened somewhere along that course whether deliberate or accidental to get that one song out of the 19 to where it is now.

For the many others who are dancing, tapping their feet and singing along to Ojuelegba, a song about the struggles and come up from a town in the local government area of Surulere on the mainland of Lagos along Ojuelegba Road, a mother’s prayer and gratitude, may more African artists inspire Ayo/joy to those who hear their music. May their rhythms and whatever the artist had to say on that day for that track go across the continent and beyond to minimally make those that listen feel good. May the feet, hips and vocal chords of those that hear loosen and sway. May our hustles, whatever they may be, be blessed. May our tipping points happen.

_______________

*@afropolitaine*

The Economics of Sex: The Game Has Changed [Part 1]

Rambling Roommates

rrYou would have to be living under a rock to not have seen The Economics of Sex vid on some timeline, tweet, or status update in the last few weeks. I’ve included the vid below. It’s only ten minutes, but I know y’all won’t watch (…I do look at our blog stats), so I’ve given you the run down of the main points:

  • Pop culture says everyone around you is enjoying casual sex; elite culture insists that women and men are exactly the same in this regard, however “On average, men have a higher sex drive than women… On average, men initiate sex more than women, they’re more sexually permissive than women, and they connect sex to romance less often than women… Women on the other hand are likely to have sex for reasons beyond pleasure: to express and receive love, to strengthen commitment, affirm desirability and for relationship security” …it…

View original post 979 more words

ARTSCAPE – on Baltimore Being More

(Because how does one not take a picture with a Ferris Wheel when they have flash lenses on? It simply is not done.)

Street festivals oh how we love thee?! Let me count the ways…sunshine, humans, color, music, food and FREE! It’s been a little over 2 months since I moved into my place in Baltimore and besides the few quips of living alone for the first time, I can say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this city “flaws” [depending on the openness of your mind] and all.

This weekend was the annual arts festival called Artscape that I’ve always wanted to attend so I did. It’s a 3 day (Friday – Sunday) undertaking complete with several blocks and streets closed off. I got in from NY at about noon, cafe’d it, went home and chilled (*weekend cleaning and housekeeping duties) for a while hoping to come back when it was cooler. Hours later there was no such thing and a friend and I ventured out in the BLAZING heat.

A view of one end of the street where the main stage was.

A vintage tattoo’d Mercedes Benz on display along with several other cars

Eddie Cabbage – the on demand poet extraordinaire I 1st met when I went up to Asheville, NC 2 years back and wrote about HERE

General artsy bizarreness as expected…(those are not real guitars)

Repurposed police stand done by Loring Cornish – everything he does is AMAZING. I can’t even begin to describe the works he had there and at his gallery in Fell’s Point!

Just another fantastic wall on a fantastic street in Baltimore. Nothing to see here 🙂

Femi the Drifish and the Out of Water Experience

We walked the length of the festival until I got so hungry we went up to The Brewer’s Art where we had great food and mediocre service. I got my energy back and we went and explored an off-shooting street of the festival. There was sooooo much to see! We ooh-ed and aaah-ed at a lot of things and those experiences always manage to stretch my imagination a little wider and be amazed at the things human being are capable off. Like how did someone even think of something as creative and crazy as an armchair made entirely of strips of tire and then ACTUALLY go and make it?! A loveseat made entirely of car side mirrors?! Yes – they just DID it. A band that lives out of their minivan and drives around these United States on tour is what FREEDOM looks like. Then there was Femi the Drifish and the Out of Water Experience  whose lead singer is definitely a Nigerian and had a contagious energy I’d never seen before. He channeled so many greats including and especially Fela Kuti in his own rock band way i think he’s going places!
All in all, even with the heat that had me wondering if a worm was crawling down my back and my thighs as sweat ran down them, it was a beautiful day! I could venture to say I’m a street festival connoisseur and this one beat the several I’ve been to. I loved how it showed, reminded and confirmed those who were there from elsewhere and within Baltimore that this is indeed one of America’s greatest cities. I wouldn’t even say that it’s great in spite of the riots, but the riots happened because it IS a great city. It is so much more and capable of justice and freedom for all. Such a rich history and a bright future are what, every day, make me love this city. Having great company didn’t hurt either.

_______________

Getting My Hair Braided was a DEEP Dive into Baltimore

The other day I worked from home and had been wanting to get my hair done so badly I was torn between just going to the barber shop for the umpteenth time in my adult life or getting something done to it ON that day or else…

Once I was done with work around 4 I started looking on Craigslist for a braider since I don’t really know any salons in the area yet. I filtered my search to only those with images and went about scouting what the internets were providing. I wanted mostly someone who wanted/could do it NOW.

I went through the process of texting those I was interested in with information on what I was looking for, when and a picture. One said she could do it now. So I agreed that I’d come by in an hour – it wasn’t far from home after all. I went there completely swagLESS. No makeup, a big tshirt, jeans and flip flops. I think I may have had lipgloss in my pocket, but I didn’t even use it (the pros of living where you don’t know too many people).

It’s funny how the scenery changed drastically once we crossed over a certain highway. It was so tangible –  you could scoop whatever it was. The sun felt like it burned harder…possibly from the absence of trees lining the wide bright concrete sidewalks. The air felt heavier, pregnant. The heat rose thicker.  The street itself like it was holding it’s breath in anticipation of something. Quiet so it didn’t snitch.  I caught myself quietly exclaiming – this is REAL.

I got there and she didn’t have the hair needed so we took the same uber to the [Korean owned] beauty supply a block and a half over (BEAUTY SUPPLIES IN THE HOOD ARE THEEEE BEST btw) and walked back. I was so glad I looked like crap and only had a book in my hand.

Got into the house and she said we should go upstairs to her room because it’s quieter and there’s a fan there. So up we went. Her life was in that room including her adorable baby she laid on the bed. There were pictures of herself and the baby celebrating every month until the present 4th stuck on the fridge.

I sat in a chair and she got started. Her cousin who was supposed to be helping do the ends of the braids since someone else was supposed to come 2 hours later […never did] camped out on the bed. She occasionally yelled at the tv and more often at one of the 4 or 5 children under 7 who came in the room crying or yelling about something.  She never once got up. Her main movement was reaching back to the baby crying on the bed and patting her quite firmly to quiet her.

A few hours later she got through the packets of hair we had bought, burnt the ends of my pixies and showed me the final job in the mirror.

It was NOT nothing like the picture I’d showed her. Not at all.

Fewer things infuriate me more than hair done NOT how I wanted it. I don’t care that it looks nice or ok. I said thank you, called my uber, paid and went downstairs to do my short wait since it was a minute away. I started walking towards the door for that short “Arriving Now” wait and she told me that no no NO – you do not do that around these parts. “You hear those helicopters?!” she asked. Yes what do they mean? Someone was shot in front of her house in the middle of the street LAST night. When the uber pulled up, I jumped in and while he waited for my address to confirm I urged him to start driving. We zoomed past 2 cops and 2 cop cars parked at the top of the block.

Are you SERIOUS?! Yes, dead serious. She didn’t know the person who died or who shot him and as much as she lives there, she does not go outside except to go somewhere ELSE.

This is where a young lady with a marketable skill planning on starting her own salon in a few months with a young child she’s supporting has to live. None of those children went or go outside and neither will hers if she stays there. That is life for her and for some.

I don’t know if it was literal or in my mind, but crossing back over that demarcating highway the breeze DID blow a little cooler, the trees [that were there] swayed gently and street lights [that were there] shone a little brighter.

I learnt so much about America, wealth disparities and myself in that single trip. I didn’t know it would be, but it really was a deep dive into what Baltimore is about and there certainly is a LOT to be fixed. Not so much so that the city is “cleaned up” as we have all come to see that with gentrifying comes erasure. There was just too much NOTHINGness. Long and hot summer days with nothing to do are the devil’s workshop. Making it hard even for those who are about something and wanting to do better.  This canNOT and should not be life for anyone in these here United States.

______________

*@afropolitaine*