Aaliyah

Aaliyah

From Back and Forth to Rock the Boat, I. loved. me. some. Aaliyah.

From her “swoop” of hair that covered her eye (I wore many of the styles she wore in videos, lol) to her beautiful brown skin to her never overdone and very natural makeup to her “tomboy” yet sexy image to her smooth voice over funky beats with awesome dance moves, Aaliyah really was one in a million. I emulated her style from time to time, inserted “Nada” anytime her lyrics were “Liyah”, and even found a little confidence in the fact that I would never have big boobies because she didn’t need them.

When I heard she passed ten years ago yesterday, I actually acted like my bestie had passed. I cried my eyes out, the first time I had ever even cared about a celebrity that I had never met. I remember thinking while I was crying, what the hell? LOL, but I really was sad she was gone. I loved all 3 albums (can you believe there were only 3??), every video, and I was looking forward to seeing the upcoming movie. I mean, I was a senior in college when she was tragically killed in the airplane crash, and I has been a major fan since I was 8th grade!

So anyway, check out BET’s music special if you missed it last night. There are lots of goodies on the website as well.

And here are a couple of my faves (although I could post pretty much a song a day until I run out because I loved almost everything she put out. 🙂 )

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DADDY!!!

Today is also my grandma Neva‘s birthday! Rest in peace!

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Fashion Forwarding

Fashion Forwarding

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a media guest at the Atlanta Swapnista Party, which was cosponsored by Pretty Girls Rock Dresses, a movement I support and has had me way more conscious of being girly girl. The premise behind the event is to take your gently used (or still new–you know some of us still have clothes with the tags on buried in the closet) and swap them out. I mean, why not? You never know what you can find. When you get done with an item, forward it to someone who may love it as much as you once did.

When I walked through the door, I finally met in person the infamously dress-wearing Dearroka. Then. I. Lost. My. Mind. Within 30 minutes, I had completely raided half of the black-owned stores that were vendors set up in this very cute Castleberry Hill space. First, I bought some ultra amazing beaded hoops from Nappy Rutz similar to these.

Then I walked to the next booth and bumped into some old friends that I hadn’t seen in years! What a pleasant rendezvous! (Hope your birthday was fabulous, Leah!!)

Nada Jo, Toya, and Leah

Back to the booth (since these ladies got some goodies, but didn’t quite lose their minds–I think because they knew what to expect and had already set a budget), I found these awesome clutches from Cupcake Diva Handbags. So very cute. I made myself choose though. And y’all know me. As much I love quirky, I love vintage even more, so I chose the 1940s clutch that I can not WAIT to show off.

Y'all I love this one because I'm a Word Feud beast! nadajo.com
1940s goodness, had to have it
The owner's nephew buttering me up... And then I got it. lol

Then, I made my way over to another booth,  Funky Flair Boutique, and was told that everything on the rack was 50% off. What did she tell me that for? I ended up with 3 garments and a pair of earrings from there. Here’s one. I can’t wait to rock this somewhere. Hot mama!

In the dressing room. Hubba hubba.

After that, I headed upstairs because I just couldn’t even tempt myself at any more booths. For a full listing of the vendors, click on the Swapnista flyer at the beginning of this post. LOTS of great stuff. Upstairs, there was a makeup artist and masseuse giving free pamper sessions. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the mimosas. Yum. Who can resist an innocent light libation on a beautiful afternoon? Finally, the moment we were all waiting for–the fashion show and swap session.

Now, I had no idea that WE were the fashion show. Luckily, before I left the house, I thought, “Self, if you’re going to a fashion event, you should make sure you’re fashionable.” Besides, I knew I’d see Dearroka, so I wanted to make sure I had on a dress! Who won the fashion show? You got it! Me! I’ll give part of the credit to that model walk I learned in 10th grade after I finally learned how to wear heels in time to participate in my first pageant. 😉

Since I don't have any full body pics, here are my shoes. I think they're another reason I won.

::update:: Here are more pics from the event!

Guess what I won! A gift package from Carson Bryce Trading Company, another vendor that I wanted to visit but was worried I wouldn’t have any self control. I LOVE my sugar scrub and soap. They smell soooo wonderful.

After that was the actual swap. People were called by the number on their wrist band, and they went upstairs and searched through the racks for clothing and handbags they wanted to take with them. Everyone seemed pretty happy with their selections.

Overall, this was a wonderful daytime spring event. I met new people, found some new businesses to stalk (and add to my Black Entrepreneurs list over there on the right side of the page – yes go look at it!), saw some old friends, spent a little cash, and strutted my stuff on the impromptu catwalk. I highly encourage you to check out the next Swapnista Party! You won’t regret it!

In Defense of a Revolutionary

In Defense of a Revolutionary

If you didn’t know already (I’m sure you do, right?), Afeni Shakur is much much more than Tupac’s mom or the recovering crack fiend in his song Dear Mama. She was a leader of the New York City Black Panther Party and part of the famous New York Panther 21, a group accused of a conspiracy to wreak havoc on NYC. Pregnant with Tupac, a young Afeni ended up having to defend herself  against over 150 charges–and she was acquitted. If this piques your interest, I have two ways for you to gain more details. The first is pick up her biography, Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary by her friend Jasmine Guy. The book was a super quick read and very conversational. I enjoyed every second and gained so much insight about the atmosphere during that time.

The second is a play entitled Afeni Shakur: In Her Defense and exhibit that premieres tonight at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation in Stone Mountain. Inspired by one of the most expensive political trials ever in the State of New York, this play is opening 40 years exactly from the day Ms. Shakur’s acquittal. The accompanying exhibit includes court records and TV new coverage. This is sure to be well worth the trip out to Stone Mountain ( 🙂 @ my outside of perimeter friends). It runs until May 22, so put this on your calendar as soon as possible!

And don’t worry–I’ll be back to share my thoughts as soon as I see it! I’m so excited!

The Colored Museum

The Colored Museum

A group of us went to the True Colors production The Colored Museum.

First, it was great to see the new Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center. Great venue!!

The play was very interesting–after an introduction that consisted of a flight attendant giving us directions about flying on the Celebrity Slave Ship, which was partly funny and partly informative, each scene was an “exhibit” in the museum. The flight attendant, very eager for us to assimilate to the times we were traveling to, asked us to repeat after her: “I don’t hear any drums, and I will not rebel.”

That was funny in itself because I’ve had conversations with friends about how drums and music have always been so integral to the African American culture. I think unbeknownst to many, rhythm has been a means of communication beyond the obvious–our souls are tied to certain sounds and we react to them subconsciously. So as an aside, I definitely agree with those who say we have to be uber cognizant and picky about what we’re listening to.

Anywho, my favorite “exhibits” were one that I called the War of the Wigs, where two wigs, one a proper long and straight and one a spunky afro. At the beginning of the exhibit, the woman who owned the wigs wasn’t aware of their conversation about her and her need to drop her zero boyfriend. They talked about how she switched her hair depending on what he was interested in or where they were going. Then, the wigs began to argue about which one of them she should wear to the break-up lunch. That’s when it got super hilarious. They eventually made their ability to speak and observe her life known, and of course she was floored. It’s amazing how our hair is so tied to our emotions and thoughts and even interests.

The other exhibit that had me completely rolling on the floor was the Tyler Perry-like episode, where everything was way overdramatized. The usual suspects were there–the mama sitting on the couch, her overly angry 30 year old son who can’t get ahead in life no matter how hard he tries, the wife who is miserable and has a dream of more but is stuck, and the sibling who has traveled the world and has a different outlook. These times 10. Eventually, “the man” shot the angry black man, and the cast began to sing him back to life. The lyrics went a little something like this:

If only he had been born into a black musical… no one ever dies in an all black musical…

Another one I enjoyed was of a man who was trying to throw away his blackness. He threw away his albums, including some Stevie Wonder!!, certain clothes, etc. Then “the kid,” presumably his childhood spirit, fought with him over it. After a long, funny battle, he ended up throwing “the kid” away too. It really made me wonder what some will do to “fit in” into mainstream majority–and if doing all that actually works. If they ever feel like they “arrived”–and if they do on the surface, what they feel when they go to bed at night.

There were also a couple of exhibits that I didn’t quite understand… Maybe they were too deep for me? One was of a soldier who died (I think) at battle and realized that no matter what, the soldiers who would make it back home would never find happiness. So he proceeded to kill them all.  Yeah… I dunno, folks. Shrug.

The other one I really didn’t get was about a little girl who gave birth to a bunch of eggs. I thought I got it–she was a poor black girl whose mother never told her anything positive about herself, and she ended up getting pregnant by a delivery boy or something. Well, I thought I got it until her mom locked her in a room for several days and she laid an egg. After that, shrug.

Overall, though, The Colored Museum made me think. About all the different “stereotypes” and truths of the African American culture, and how many things seem opposite but all apply. And even how some things that seem positive can really be negative, and the other way around. The play runs through Sunday. You should totally get tickets and check it out. Then log back on and tell me what you thought (and explain what I didn’t get). Enjoy the weekend!

Broke-ology

Broke-ology

Wednesday night, I took a MUCH needed break from working long days (and nights) and went to see the True Colors Theatre production Broke-ology with my neighbors.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the title, but the play definitely surpassed my expectations.  Not focused just on the fact that the family was poor and how some things in life are just more important than how much money and possessions you have, this play explored many issues that hit close to home: how to take care of an illness-stricken family member, the responsibility of being close to home versus being limitless in chasing dreams, family planning, and even how people deal with death.

Since I want you to go see it (it’s at Southwest Arts Center until Sunday), I won’t get down into the details of the plot (except where it relates to my impending ramblings).  Suffice it to say that despite my sleep deprivation this week, I didn’t fall asleep for a second!

I love when art causes me to slow down and self-reflect, which definitely happened Wednesday night. One of the characters went home to Kansas City, Kansas after receiving his graduate degree from UConn.  His brother never left home, and although he works at a wings spot, he has been instrumental in helping to make sure their father, who is suffering from MS, is okay.  The younger brother, the UConn graduate, has no idea just how difficult it has been for the family and is extremely torn about staying at home and helping out but knowing he will likely get “stuck” or moving back to Connecticut after a summer position with the EPA and following his desire to teach and do environmental research with his academic mentor. Can you say para-llel? I’ve often felt the same way–except not as torn just because I go home semi-regularly since I can drive there. I’ve considered moving back home sooner than later (I at least want a second home there), especially when I see how stressed my mom gets trying to help the rest of my family.  Or even when I think of every day things that I could do if I were there that I never have time to do during my visits, like playing spades with my family like the characters were playing dominoes or learning crocheting techniques from my grandma for more than an hour or two here and there. I love being at home, and I love my family more than anything. But I’ve always been the explorer. The adventurer. I’m not quite ready to lay my roots down there. As far as my career is concerned, I could make some small strides at home, but I’m really flourishing here in Atlanta and I’m not ready for a slight career change, a veer on the road if you will.  I could work for organizations who are my clients currently, but I like being the consultant, and I love working in different communities, seeing the different dynamics.  But I always have my family in the back of my mind. Wondering if I’m being selfish. But I know in the grand scheme, I’m not because I give back and help out in my own way. But is it enough?

I got a little sentimental, though, when the older brother who has been in Kansas City the whole while told his younger brother that if he moves, he will miss all the milestones of his baby that’s on the way.  I immediately thought of my nieces and nephews, who I can’t be as close to as their aunts and uncles that are in town. I write letters, keep up with them on Facebook, spend time with them when I go home, but I’m definitely not doing nearly as much or being as influential in their lives as I would if I lived there. But on the other hand, I think back to my own aunt Vernita. She was an explorer like I am. She lived in DC until she was murdered when I was in the 9th grade. I remember vividly being so excited to see her and spend time with her when she would visit.  Although she lived so far away, I didn’t care as a child.  I can still remember her smell and her smile, even her laugh, and I would just bask in her presence. I still think about her from time to time, and it hurt me to the core when she was taken from us. I never begrudged her being away–in fact, it inspired me. My mom has told me countless times over the years that I remind her of Vernita. And that makes me feel close to her, even though I didn’t spend as much time with her as some of my other aunts and uncles.

I would keep going, but this post is getting a little long. And truthfully, I’m getting a little misty thinking about my aunt.  So… I’ll leave you with this: Cherish your family, no matter where they are. And seek to be a part of solutions, not problems.  Happy Friday, people!

Last Feature Friday of 2010: Pen Pals

Last Feature Friday of 2010: Pen Pals

I’ve been away, if you hadn’t noticed. 🙂  But never fear, I’m back and a little rested.  You wouldn’t believe how busy busy busy I’ve been.  Well, maybe you would.

Anywho, I type to you today from Wilmington, Delaware.  I’m here for my pen pal’s wedding.  🙂

I’ve had a few pen pals in my life–one from elementary when we did that pen pal exchange program and one I gained from keeping in touch with a classmate who moved away.  Then, I had one (Lakeitha) with whom I became very close with at a summer program at Alcorn, and we wrote to keep in touch through college. (We still keep in touch, but not quite as much as we had.)  Since 2005, I’ve been writing my soror Erika.  We’ve never met in person, although we almost did in 2008.  We met on the national AKA listserv during a discussion about pen pals, were alike in many ways, and decided to cease all other forms of communications and become pen pals.

It might sound weird to some, but we’ve chronicled our lives over the last 5 years and have really become connected.  Hey, I even have the letter when she wrote about meeting her groom. 🙂  (If I had have been thinking and not packing at the last minute, I would have brought it with me.  But alas…) I’m so happy to be a part of her special day, after having traded dating war stories with her over the years.  Erika is soooooooo sweet–just as sweet in person as she is on paper.

I’ve never been to Delaware (or to Philly), so this is really a trip of adventure.  Yesterday, we did the wedding rehearsal (I’m doing a biblical reading), and then had some yummo grub at a Jamaican restaurant in downtown Wilmington for the rehearsal dinner.  It’s been great meeting everyone she’s written about in her letters. 🙂  Today, we’re running some last minute wedding errands, and I get to see more of Wilmington (and eat at Erika’s fave restaurant Borders Cafe).

If you’ve never had a pen pal, consider getting one.  There’s just something special about getting regular old-fashioned letters and being able to really say how you feel without worry of being interrupted and knowing that you’ll get a well-thought out response–along with sharing.  Sometimes, in friendships, one person becomes the unloader and the other becomes the listener, creating an imbalance that’s hard to reverse.  But with the pen pal, it’s so easy to just pick up a piece of stationary paper (or regular ole lined paper) and write away about whatever is going on with you (positive, negative, no consequence–just whatever is on your mind).  And you can pretty much count on your pal to do the same.

Tomorrow, my pen pal gets married. 🙂  I feel blessed to bring in the new year in a new place with a new yet not new dear friend.  I’ll be on when I can to do some other 2010 and Kwanzaa reflections, but until then, happy new year!  Many blessings!