You're in a classroom, explaining a crucial piece of information when a sneaky sulfurous smell meanders from the corner of the room and whiffs into the nostrils of a once attentive group. The smell steals show and everyone is screwed-faced and struggling to reserve their breath, but laughing.
Worse, you're number twenty something in a line of tightly packed persons, some of whom are holding a space for a person sitting down , when someone let's it rip, silently, and the smell blows a gaping hole in the line. You know what I'm talking about. Somehow, this very private act charades as a public nuisance or guessing game.
Blaming the young people for getting caught up in a storm of laughter is a waste of time, for when I was growing up, public farting was an hilarious blame game that was sometimes poisonously smelly. We are trained to give the usual 'excuse me' response to this sometimes fatal-smelling action that is so unpredictable. It can plunge forth hot, loud and without a smell or soft, and killing and when it does, I can see quite well why no one want to joyously proclaim to be its maker. The funny thing is, everybody does it, at least this is my reasoning, considering it is one way to expel waste from the body.
Once a young person came up to me and asked permission to leave the classroom to go outside to fart. It did, of course, feel like too much information in comparison to going to do a number one or two, and yet I was impressed with the responsibility taken to avoid literal ruction. It made me smile. I'd wish we all had that 'take it to an open space' mentality.
Surviving the atomic fart on both, however, is another story. The most I can say is to be prepared like having some thing sweet at hand to inhale, avoiding certain foods, stepping away or breathing shallow, but when it comes to that instantaneous decision to hold or release, well if there is time to walk away, spare us all the details.
This is not the typical carry your phone, keys, lip gloss and a compact mirror, far from it. As these items are staples, I pull a different set of bunnies from my bag.
First off, my bag philosophy is simple. I believe in owning a bag that can go the distance, take some manhandling and be useful in its retirement age.
As far as bags are concerned, I’ve been there done that with zippers that jump their tracks or skins that flake. And if you’ve seen me, I could care less if I have to wear that one reliable-won't-flake-or-go-suicidal-on-me bag nearly everywhere. I'd rather spend $200 dollars on one good bag than $ 20 on ten bags on IVs. I've re-purpose my beige bag, which is now doing its graveyard shift. So what's a must in my bag?
My Puerto Rican cloth fan, nonelectric and battery-free, opens with the flip of the wrist and comes in handy every time, especially when the heat comes from nowhere and wraps itself around me. Some people are usually surprised or confuse when I whip it out and start fanning myself in the doctor's office or after entering an air-conditioned travel agency. Some have this that-makes-sense look after or might even want to borrow it. It alleviates unpredictable discomfort and if perfumed dissipates a foul smell. As a result, it is a must.
These days the skies in St. Maarten take to flinging down rain unexpectedly and often, so I always try to have my hot pink umbrella, the travel size one that fit perfectly into my bag. It sure beats walking long distance in the sun and that is no joke sometimes.
By now you've figured out how weather oriented I can get.
My third and favorite item is my South African wool scarf. Being thin and light, this scarf is the midday sun. I cannot tell you how many times I've had to bear the brunt of blizzard conditions in classrooms and offices, only to wrap that scarf around me and feel like I am outside in a warm afternoon.
I know, this is an unusual listing and it is not to say you shouldn't take your phone or keys with you, but sometimes it's good to keep the weather in mind.
A dog and death. These two I would bolt from if they begin to tell me a story, yet in these two books, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I run to them, stealing and bartering every minute to immerse myself into their pools of vivid imagination and story telling.
I love books. No, really I do. The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of the books I got when the last intense impulse to buy physical books surfaced. I was browsing through the fiction collection stashed in the back left hand corner of Shipwreck on Front Street.
I don't know; the book shopper in me pops up from nowhere and makes a purchase that can stay on my bookshelf for up to two years before I actually spend time within the pages. Is it just me.?Being surrounded by a whole ton of books is near glory for me as it must be for the Book Thief, Liesel Meminger.
When I was in Trinidad, I was in book heaven. Book stores that sold only books are in abundance there. Here in St. Martin, books are mixed with other merchandise like smoothies or Kipling bags. What made Trinidad so alluring was the UWI bookstore five minutes away from my dorm. I'd literally snail my way through that books store, reading the backs of book covers and then trying to put it back on the self.
I splurged there once, picking up titles that I as a postgraduate Creative Writing student should have read or at least be familiar with. Some of those books are still waiting with invisible bomb timers to go off before I collide with their contents. The timing is always perfect.
Years back and when I was living in the Bronx, I walked to the libraries, a train stop on the no.6 in both directions from Lawrence Avenue, and stacked up on so many books, my hands were useless for anything else but carrying them home. I was overambitious. There was no way I'd read them all, but each time I leave the library I was convinced that I could try. I found a library in Harlem and two near Pleasantville. And in St. Maarten, I adore book sales.
There is something about storing a whole world between pages and having someone who shouldn't speak tell me what is happening. It draws me in and I can't help it.
So tell me,
What riveting story have you read lately? Do you prefer human or non human narrators?
This showed up in my kitchen. It didn't want to go home with the tall lady, who had it by the neck, and stood in front of me in the checkout line, so I was its getaway plan, at least I'd like to think. The wine made its escape.
I had been meditating in the snack aisle, two short walls of chips, nuts, and a mouthful of painful-to-pronounce ingredients. I was on a mission, finishing through new snacks determined to find the grown up-my-health-counts treats to nibble on. Twenty minutes passed swiftly, and after the cashier checked my purchases, I didn't think of anything, not a care in the world until I lifted my bags onto the kitchen counter and into their new home.
I spotted the neck between the plastic handles. I almost panicked, slightly. Had I come home with a bag of someone else's groceries? Was it a New Year's gift? A trick? I didn't buy it. I comb through my receipt twice. Then made a choice.
What would you have done?
Right at this moment, any woman would want her natural hair, healthy or not, to shine, and since our hair spirals from scalp to tip, it tends to bow out of the lime light, so to speak, making it a challenge for light to bounce or reflect off it.
With a little encouragement, however, we can persuade our hair to befriend the light and dazzle like a crown should.
So how do we get our shine on? Let's begin with pH.
pH is one way we can persuade our hair to agree with us on any given day. pH measures the acidity (0-6.9 ) and alkalinity (7.1-14) of a product. Some products are neutral (7) while our hair and sebum, the natural oil produced by our scalps, are acidic( 4.5 - 5.5) to avoid the buildup and social life of fungus and other uninvited creatures.
So why am I babbling about chemistry? It is your Ali Baba password to managing your hair. Remember the phrase “open sesame”? Well, the cuticles, your strands protective armor, are like mini cave doors that lift when a product from the alkaline tribe makes contact and shut when the product is more acidic. The pH range of 4 to 7 is recommended.
On the other hand, if your cuticles are shut tight, but are missing in some areas (damaged) and therefore is porous, you’ll need protein treatments to temporarily replace the otherwise permanent gaps. (more on that at another time)
Heat also lifts. This is why it is advised to wash your hair in warm water and end with a cool/cold baptism to shut the cuticles. We live in constant warm weather, no complaints about that, so it means that we’ll have to always pay attention to our cuticles throughout the day.
So, maybe you should go and get your pH strips and splash in that cold water. If your cuticles are as closed as they should be, they will have a smooth surface and as a result, shine on!
Pssst. When are you getting your pH strips? Which products have you used them on?
Last year when it came to my hair, I screwed up, practically lounged forward into a nasty fall, yet I was still able to capture my glass cup of hair achievements that made falling down less painful.
Attaining heat damage is far from being my proudest moment, but I won't dwell on it. What I am happy about is having tried new products and followed a maintenance routine that keeps my hair on my head.
So what about this year? Well, that is really simple. I'll take my achievements and continue on with them, correct my screwed up actions and add a few things:
- I will still keep my routine simple and plan ahead.
- I will still be aware of the products I am using.
- The products I have now, I will use them to completion, for I don't really plan to buy any more random products at this moment. It's time to narrow down my product choices.
- I will avoid heat like a plague until I've learned from research and other naturals, who've handled and mastered that beast.
- Anyone who touches my hair, friend or hair care professional, does so by my hair rules and morals. I know where I am going with my hair and how I want it to be handled.
- I am sticking to my darling wide tooth comb.
This year is about challenge, so
I've had a total of probably four major hairstyles that summed up my laziness and downplayed my ability.
- I will challenge myself to actually style my hair.
Just those two things I'll add anew. And that water issue that I was was struggling with, I'll work on it on the side unofficially and will see how that goes.
- I will continue to pass the hair knowledge on, particularly in my community in St. Martin.
- Most outrageously, I will attend a natural hair show in North America. Want to come with me?
We usually jot down a list of hair hopes with adjectives like better, longer, stronger and start a new list the following year with stronger, better, longer.
I don't have a detached laundry list of resolutions for my hair and you don't have to make one either.
Instead, why not celebrate what was accomplished the year before (motivation) and take note of where you screwed up (room for improvement) before realistically heading forward.
Look at how this slightly tweaked road takes me back (through 2013's protective styling, blow out and chop), shows me where I am now, so it is easy for me to see where I'd like to go.
| |Natural Hair Screw ups of 2012
I confess to
- bad hair days which did not result naturally but out of sheer laziness.
- not drinking enough water, my hair's source of vitality.
- hair abuse, popping hair strands with a towel , comb and/ or fingers.
- not meeting my hair needs and skipping our day in the week.
- Going brave and experimenting with hair products I had not used before.
- Recognizing that natural hair is one of my passions.
- Finding a hair regimen that works for me.
- Completing a year with no heat but the sun.
- Not using a fine tooth comb/ brush period (don't own any).
having less laziness
I wet my hair a lot more during the past year.
very little strand popping
I had an increase in hair days.
Experimented & made homemade products.
Natural Hair still is a passion.
eg. co-washed with plaits, and deep conditioned more.
I'm still faithful. I didn't use brushes/fine tooth combs.
Screw ups of 2013
many bad days due to heat damage
but, I was still borderline with the water intake.
Absolutely failed. I succumbed to heat damage.
Last Year's Re-commitments
Success Rate: 83%
- Drink a minimum of five glasses of water per day.
- Take a hair product inventory; restock on the basics
- Keep hairstyles simple and fast; Plan ahead.
- Love my scalp; protect my hair ends.
- Stick to simplified routine.
- Pass the knowledge on. (sure did! See left and below)
So, what about my re-commitments in 2014? Stay tuned and see.
What about you? What were your screw ups and achievements in 2013?
Post your comments below.
Have you ever had people prompting you to change something you had no control over?
Well, I've had countless predictable conversations that included the following phrases:
"When are you going to grow?"
"You should wear heels more often."
"I can see over (the top of) your head."
You guessed it. I seem to fall into the category some people call vertically challenged
I'm 4'11 and I consider myself one word, complete. Although I'm still below the 5 foot mark, I've learned a few methods to shield against the tumult of dead-end 'you need to change these things about you' comments. HOW TO CHANGE THE UNCHANGEABLE Think possible
Common sense argues that changing the impossible is unthinkable and those comments exist in the country of Impossible. If you can change something that is unchangeable, then it was changeable to begin with. Maybe. The thing is, it depends on you and that does not mean walking in the opposite direction or wearing ear plugs. As a frequent visitor to Country Impossible, I keep reminding myself, nothing is impossible. Soon enough you'll see just as dramatic a change as I have.Find a purpose
It may take some time to recall how persons and even you yourself have benefited, beyond the obvious, from your unchangeable. I am a poet and being small, I unconsciously draw attention to myself and have often given people quite a surprise, so when they see me for the first time, they comment on my "smallness". However, I like my element of surprise, especially since my voice does not match my frame. Best of all, I like that people have a burst of self-acceptance and smiles when they measure themselves to me. Remove any crutches, accept & be bold
Once upon a time I adored shoes, especially stilettos, but sometimes, in the past, when I was above my God-given height, blending in, I felt a little shorter inside myself. I AM small, so just because people feel a certain way around you does not mean you must adjust to their comfort zones. What an absolute bore if we were exactly the same! Now, I intentionally wore more kitten heels and flats, wearing shoes to fit my personality and comfort and not for correction.Give compliments
People, who are not accepting of themselves or the beautiful creations of others, will find something wrong with you. And just because the world has not joined your campaign of self-acceptance, it does not mean that you should shut it down. Let the peace inside you find something beautiful about them. Focus on their positives because that is your personal choice.Smile
For future comments on their way, Smile, knowing you have the 'wisdom to know the difference
What do you do to change the unchangeable?
They are spraying again, rumbling up the road on wheels, wheezing like the Queen Mother of mosquitoes. I don’t know if I want to hold my breath or gobble up the ‘normal’ air like I’m about to spend five minutes underwater. I’m not sure I’ll make it, not sure I want that smell in my nostrils and sliding down my throat. Besides, it is not a cocktail for me to inhale. It is for our mosquitoes.What is happening to them?
As of December 30, 2013, the number of *Chikungunya fever cases has risen to 66 on French St. Martin according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Look at that, small and promoted to deadly. Our mosquitoes are graduating quickly from a mere annoyance to a sneaky instigator of a terrible outbreak.
Of course, they are not national treasures, artifacts or souvenirs, but they have their place. Don’t they? They used to just ramble, high-pitched, in your ears, or creep onto your skin, giving it a wicked pinch. Now, they are like mini terrorist, carrying weapons like Dengue and Chikungunya fever.
Back then, a good slap, citronella candles, mosquito coils or smoke was sufficient to somehow deter others. Now, people are arming themselves with those tennis-racket things, the insect version of an electric chair. One swing at a mosquito often yields that sharp firecracker pop that irritates my hearing for a moment, distracts me.
Last month, I met droves of mosquitoes, chilling in Front Street stores in the latter part of the afternoon when I was Christmas shopping, droves like tiny ornaments on the ceiling and walls. The concentration reminded me of the days of the midges, the flying plague seen in the glow of street lights, thickly quilting the walls and windshield wipers, and, sometimes, rushing for the holes on your face.
The spraying has stopped. I don’t smell a change in the air. My vanilla candle is still burning, and I am looking around for any mosquito airborne or on my skin.
* (meaning that which bends up)
There is nothing old about Old Year’s Night, yet even before the sun yawns and withdraws from it, before it becomes a recorded series of actions, it is labeled old, so on December 31, 2013, I intentionally lay in bed, thinking about the newness of that entire day as if it were a blank paper or an untouched lump of clay. Yes, it is the last day in the year, but it is still a whole twenty-four hours to spend, just like its neighbor, New Year’s Day.
However, has it occurred to you how much of a big deal we make January first? So much so that we hold our breaths a whole year before we call anything else in the realm of time new, forgetting that there is always morning, an element of time we blow our unwashed breaths at. It is wonderful to usher in a new year. It even becomes funny when one mistakenly writes the old year down. Why then, aren't our individual days in that new year celebrated? Why do we wait over three hundred days to be festive about a turned page?
In days gone by, I remember rolling the trivial annoyance of one day over into the next as if it was available credits ready for my use. I remember calling the unfinished day a terrible one. I’ve let things from way back when cloud over the shine of another day, a miracle that I was given to live through, to move forward, to make changes, to be happy, to choose.
You know what I am talking about. In the next couple of days, people on your job, in your neighborhood, in your community and in your family will give you all smiles and well wishes for the year. This is great. They’d wrap their tongues around happy NEW Year until it gets sour sometime later in January. This is not great. Before February gets a foot in your doorway, you will forget about the great things they had not too long ago spoken into your life: Happiness & Good Health. Like clockwork, we’d fall right back into “having a bad week” or moping about our mornings for truly no genuine reason at all (sometimes). It is time that this tiresome habit change.
I would like to echo the sentiments of David, a former Jewish King who, I would think, loved to write. He had a way of adding importance and newness to every SINGLE day. In the 118th Psalm, verse 24, he wrote, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Just like that. Imagine intentionally being glad for over three hundred days. That, my friend, would probably be your greatest year, so people, let us be glad from now. In a way you have the right to be considering for every day you wake up, your bed is, for the most part, where you left it the night before and so is the sour sop tree in your yard outside. Think about it and oh yeah… Happy New day.