Twenties Junkyard

fashion October 30, 2017

Twenties:
the junkyard of your life,
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trash and treasure find you,
inevitably, you question ‘am I f—king up?’

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you shift through your trash, his treasure, her trash, to find your treasure

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at best, it’s an amalgam
travel light in the era of missing parts, loose screws, erasing plans

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wallow in hope; don’t add difficulty to the life-long task of putting yourself together

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preparation is a raft filled with holes

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misguided predictions on what’s ‘round the corner, a tainted, unfocused vision, coalesces onto a canvas

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Your treasure, indiscernible from your trash, piles up

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Are you f—king up? Or growing?
Don’t stop to find out

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“What if I thought the brake was the gas? What if I crashed? What if these deep thoughts was my last?” –November X Tyler The Creator

Blue Hue

fashion August 8, 2017

For the past six months, lingering uncertainty pushed me into silent observation. It often felt like touching the color blue. Cool and brittle to touch sometimes, other times, a soft porous fabric you yearn to run your fingers through.

More than 168 days ago, I began avidly questioning what I know for certain. Laying under Puerto Rican sun, I shuffled through two-hundred and twenty eight pages written by Oprah, who, began contemplating the same question around the same age. At the end of it, she wrote, “I know for sure that what I think, what I say, what I do – everything will be returned to me. And the same is true for you.”

Yet, the silence permeated.

Sickened by a collective moral depravity within a society that rallied, in part, behind a criminal celebrity zealot, I opted to practice a deep outrospection. At a time when truth became conditional, used merely to serve some notable end, it felt necessary.

At a time when caring about people with whom you live side-by-side, neck-and-neck, seemed too socialist, or too European to be of any use in America – land of hyper-consumerism and ethnic cleansing, frequently failing in its promise to be just and free. Incapable of skating towards a collective good, and away from paranoia perpetuated by myth, our society appeared more likely to be caught in bed nibbling at the neck of its beloved mistress, greed, than at that of its betrothed, justice.

Let’s be real – our collective complacency only facilitated their orgasms, as their lust for more left us more fragile than ever.

This, I learned during twenty-four weeks of rendering myself vulnerable, questioning the things I know to be true. Truths realized while considering the relativity of the human condition were rejected just as quickly as I had accepted them. Twenty-four weeks of becoming comfortable with uncomfortable change, the fluid kind that burned hot just as fast as it did cold.

Living in a hue of blue, this time, the kind that was uncomfortable to touch, reality struck me as pretty grim. In the world of ivory towers, reality may have appeared problematic, but harmless: often lacking an invitation, and arriving embarrassingly late and embarrassingly drunk. In the real world, reality held hands with prejudice, opportunism, and impending ruin instead.

Everything we do is relative and our disregard for one another, like our disregard of the places we occupy will come back to us.

For six months I have vowed acute observation of world realities, the ideals we live by, myself, the people I hold dear, and others whom I don’t – yet the commonality appeared to be our self-sabotaging greed.

So please don’t care more about what I’m wearing than what I’m saying, or doing. Hold me accountable, as I’d hold you: to grow better, more selfless, inquisitive, and unaccepting of the injustices re-enslaving all of us, not just some. Nineteen-thousand seven-hundred and ten days have past since Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The blue, cotton-blend backless blouse from Zara that I’m wearing could quite literally be someone’s blood, sweat, and tears (https://projectjust.com/brand_zara/). Too often, the systemic unethical production of $30 shirts consumed in the first world directly cause death and destruction in the third.

On one of the lesser balmy evenings, a sweatshirt worn hood-up was a death sentence. The label reads, “50% COTTON, 25% POLYESTER, 25% DEATH WISH FOR BROWN SKIN.” But you want to know where it’s from? Take your changes if you must, but remember this Jamaican adage: “dog and puss don’t have the same luck.”

Even then, there is not an us versus them, there is only us. I know this for certain because of you. Even when I only want it to be about the clothes, you see more – a representation of otherness foreign in a blogosphere of “wear this,” “buy that.” Full lips, and plentiful curves in a world that both condemns those attributes when they’re on black bodies, yet claws to possess them when they’re not.

When I started this blog, I didn’t expect people to care. I wanted a space to do something different. Quickly, I learned that bloggers who dress, eat, and travel well don’t flirt with controversy because of optics. Then and now, I aspire to proudly touch upon pressure points instead of merely wanting you to give a damn about what I’m wearing. Don’t get me wrong– that is also a part of this thing, but it is only one of many things that deserve undercovering.

There are so many questions deserving of answers, and problems deserving of our attention. And no, that isn’t my idealism speaking – it’s reality. This is what I’ve learned through introspection, outrospection, and becoming terribly comfortable with change.

The very morbid reality is, we’re living in the hue of blue that is so brittle, it will break us. Our favorite blue, the one we long to cuddle up against on quiet, early mornings, or when we’re near the sea, that blue is also in reach if we do so together.

In addition to you, here are the works that opened to that truth:

Break The Norms, Chandresh Bhardhaj

“Love Thy Neighbor?” http://wapo.st/2vedQWv

“The True Cost” https://truecostmovie.com

“How to see past your own perspective and find truth” http://bit.ly/2vJK0L5

“The Loving Story” – HBO

Animal Farm, George Orwell

“The Science of Your Racist Brain” http://bit.ly/2woVnVC

“Insecure” – HBO

“If Americans Love Mothers, Why Do We Let Them Die?” http://nyti.ms/2vJvtyH

Lookbook 2.17

fashion February 17, 2017

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“Abstraction is a form of decadence”
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“You are responsible for constituting the meaning of things”

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“You get the face you deserve”

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“The most profound things are inexpressible”

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“You don’t know what’s what until you support yourself”

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“Self-awareness can be crippling”

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“You should raise boys and girls in the same way”

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“Sacrificing yourself for a bad cause is not a moral act”

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“It’s crucial to have an active fantasy life”

 

Dad, My Feminist Icon

know January 30, 2017

Television told me to like pink and trivial things, but my dad exposed me to CNBC and Bloomberg. Teen Vogue told me to make myself small enough for the sample sizes, and whiter than I was. Strange men told me to smile more, a TSA officer called me his fiancé as I walked through security –I was 13. Back then, my mother told me that gentlemen don’t like “fast women,” my aunts bemoaned our family-wide love curse. Female celebrities told me, “the sluttier the better,” my father told me I could share my body with whoever I wanted, but only if I truly wanted to. No really, it’s ok to say “no.”

It’s ok to live with ‘man-like’ assertiveness.

He made me a student to argument early on, sometimes for sport, other times, out of insatiable curiosity. He made me play soccer with boys, and nodded when I quit ballet because I felt like it, unconcerned with outside parties’ opinions of my decisions.  My dad, my feminist icon, didn’t care to control that kind of shit. He cared about my awareness. He taught me that women are not 77 cents to a dollar. They are CEOs, Senators, philanthropists, and analysts. Hell, they were madams and strippers too, but they were always assertive.

“Working for yourself is imperative,” he’d tell me.

But, most importantly, he told me that God is a woman. God was inside of me, negative energy and bad mindedness be gone. He said attachment was for the unsuccessful, rich people have better things to do. Mom ensured I was self-sufficient in the kitchen, women who can cook make men happier. Yet still, dad made the best stuffed chicken. Nonetheless, he frowned upon gluttony –unhealthiness is disdainfully wasteful of taxpayers’ money.

The lessons I learned were intimately related to economics.

My dad, my feminist icon, forced me to believe in my relevance in the workplace and beyond because my life depends on it. He said that women are much more than walking cavities reserved for newborns, or the answers to men’s needs, sex symbols, damsels in distress, angry and black, or man-hating feminists, prudes, or welfare queens. You never let me forget that as a woman, I am free to be who I please to be, and not out of a desire to please others, just to be. Thanks to you I don’t feel obliged to force a smile and look approachable, I don’t hesitate to use words for decoration that most people have forgotten, I don’t apologize for prioritizing my sexual needs because I prioritize myself.

Thank you for showing me that we can all be feminists.

Fromage

eat January 3, 2017

One of the best (and worst) things about the holidays is having ample time to senselessly eat ourselves into another dimension. Whether I am, or am not speaking for myself, food and good company are incomparable, and the makings of a pretty damn good business model. Or, at least that’s what I’ve learned from Oliver Mernick-Levene, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Secret Food Tours.

We met like any other people interested in food and drink might: at a soccer match in Marseille. In one hand I held am ice-cold Carlsberg beer, as Oli did. The most riveting thing that occurred included no professional jersey-wearers, but belligerently drunk men climbing fences and spitting expletives at the police.Naturally, it seemed like a good time to strike up a conversation.

I learned not only that he’s a cheeky Briton, but also that he started Secret Food Tours after the success of his pub tours –which I had the pleasure of experiencing in Paris. A couple weeks later, we talked more about how a joke with his friend resulted in him heading the biggest food tour in Europe:

3 nouns make up your company’s name. Give me 3 adjectives to describe it: “delicious. fun. filling…All of our food tours are different depending on which country you’re in. At the moment, we’re doing tours in 6 countries.”

So, how does one country vary from another? “France is more of a shopping trip to amazing places where they sell meats, chocolate, and cheese. England is more about going to markets (think Borough Market), sampling sausages, fish and chips. And of course Spain is all about finding the best paella. We build tours based on environment; we eat based on how that culture eats.”

Do you think that that is what has driven the success of these tours?  “Absolutely. We combine amazing food with amazing guides who reveal local hotspots. But, ultimately, our guides are really friendly and cool and only take a maximum of 10 or 12 guests, which makes people feel like they’re exploring a city with a friend by the end of it.

All that said, this would be a sad interview without knowing where you were and what you were eating the last time you had a foodgasm: *obviously there were some giggles* “I was in Barcelona, eating paella right by the seafront in a restaurant famous for food from Salamanca.”

Learn how you can get in on Oliver’s delicious adventures, here. Happy eating!