My heart weeps.... R.I.P. Eboni

I was working on some other posts for you all when my friend called me this morning to tell me that my loctician, Eboni Dodson, was killed last night by a drunk driver.  Apparently she was having car trouble and she and a few others were trying to push the car off of the road when a pick-up truck hit her car.  The others saw the truck and were able to move out of the way but she was inside the car and was hit. 

I've known Eboni for years.... she worked in the same salon as my nail artist and was a mutual friend of a good friend of mine so I've been to social gatherings with her a few times.  Eboni started my daughter's locs two years ago, and I myself turned to her just a few months ago to start my new set of locs.  I loved her sweet, funny, talkative, outgoing and overall positive nature.... just the type of person who should be cultivating and styling locs. I only had the chance to sit in her chair once, but was looking forward to the day when my locs were finally fully matured and I could return to experience more of her talent.  Sadly, now I will never get that chance.

My prayers go out to her young child, her girlfriend, her family and friends.  My heart weeps today over the loss of such a beautiful person.  Rest in Peace Eboni.... you are loved and missed.

"If you are what you say you are..... a Superstar....."

I have a confession to make:  I'm jealous of you all.

Yes you. And you. And you and you and you.  You out there in the blogosphere, you out there on Facebook, and especially you people out there with all your tweets on Twitter.  Just green with envy.

Every single day I read about all of you who are getting up to go to church, on your way to your workouts, cooking your all organic whole grain co-op grown vegan meals, telling others how to have a dating life as fabulous and exciting as yours, espousing your positivity and wisdom and goals to save all the children of the world while getting your PhDs in astrophysics, the fabulous vacations you're going on, the designer clothes you're planning on wearing tonight, the hot club you're kickin' it at later, and let's not forget that perfect 0.5" x 0.5" pic of you in your Twitter avatar.... seems like everyone out there has their shit all together and life is just fabulous.

According to what I read in the blogosphere and the Twittosphere, you all are super healthy, spiritually balanced, perfect figured (wo)man magnets who are all educated and wildly successful.  And ya know, that makes me feel pretty shitty sometimes.  I'm divorced, under-employed, am officially "overweight" by BMI standards (although I would say I'm more in the zaftig category), I don't go to church,  I drink too much wine Diet Pepsi, I'm grossly in debt, often moody, and spend way too much time on Twitter.

Let me repeat that again...... "spend way too much time on Twitter."

The realization that keeps me from flinging myself off my apartment balcony into the retention pond below to end my comparatively worthless existence is the myth of the Twitter Superstar.  You know these people.  Folks with 10,000 followers hanging from their short and curlies, the person whose tweets fill up every other entry in your timeline, the person who always has abundant wisdom and wit for the Twittosphere, telling you about all the wonderful things they're doing and how you should be living your life so you can be as happy and popular as they are.  And for every tweet of theirs you actually see, there are 10 other @ replies to their friends that you don't see.  If there's a break in their tweeting for more than an 30 minutes, you assume they have died.

Seriously..... how much can you really be doing when your updates come from the web like a rapid-fire automatic machine gun?  And even for those with mobile Twitter apps, how much can you really be doing with your head down and thumbs twiddling away over your Blackberry or iPhone, firing off a tweet every 10 seconds to appease your Twitter Groupies??  As a self professed Twitter abuser I can tell you the answer: not much.

The unfortunate beauty of Twitter is that you only know what people tell you in 140 characters or less.  And they can tell you ANYTHING.  And I have on good authority that some of you wildly popular Twitter celebs have the personality of a tofu brick in real life.  One thing I've noticed over the years that even in real life, there's a general rule that the more a person talks about how smart (or attractive, or well off) they are, the less likely that assertion is actually true.  And I would be willing to wager that this rule applies to other sorts of boasting, because if you're really about something, you don't have to constantly beat people over the head with it by constantly informing everyone about it.  And this is ESPECIALLY true in the Twittosphere where there's no way to cross check the veracity of your statements (at least on Facebook all of your status updates, wall posts, and pics have to jibe). Honestly, to everyone besides the Twitter Groupies, it makes you sound kind of douchey.  Mildly amusing maybe, but you can save that seat on your jock for someone else.

As long as there is social networking, there will be those people who abuse the system to re-create the lives they wish they had, not the ones they actually have.  But there's a fine line between selective sharing and the megalomania of Twitter Superstars.  I just hope you have your next gig lined up..... cuz it won't last forever.

"If you are what you say you are.... a Superstar...... then have no fear........" ~ Lupe Fiasco, Superstar

My Chemical Romance

(Originally posted on 9/21/09 at Adventures in Divorce)

No, not talking about this Chemical Romance:

I'm talking about THIS chemical romance:

That, loved ones, is the molecular structure for Oxytocin..... the chemical that induces labor (the synthetic form is Pitocin.... I'm sure every mother has at least heard of it), the chemical that is released during breast feeding that "lets down" the milk (otherwise we'd be leaving puddles of milk everywhere all the time) and causes bonding between mother and baby, and it's the chemical that helps us create emotional bonds with people in general. Oxytocin also reduces fear, increases eye contact, and increases trust and generosity.

It's also the chemical released in much greater levels in women than men during sex.

(Of course, there are other chemicals involved in this whole process, such as vasopressin and dopamine, and this is not intended to be a comprehensive lesson in the Science of Sex. My point is.... well, you'll see my point.....)

As much as I hate to concede biological and evolutionary defeat on this subject...... women biologically are unable to completely separate sex from love (or some other comparable emotional attachment) leading to many busted windows and stalker behavior misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Intellectually we may be able to say "it's just sex", but Mother Nature has other plans for us, and you don't go toe to toe with Mother Nature.... you will ALWAYS lose, even if you don't lose right away. She's like a Vegas casino.... you may get lucky on a few rolls or a couple of pulls, and may even walk away with a jackpot. But play long enough and eventually gambler's ruin sets in and you end up looking like THIS.

So let's take a look at how this plays out. Ladies, you meet a guy/know a guy and you get into a FWB scenario because, for whatever reason, a full blown relationship is just not in the stars at that time. And you're fine with it because you get your needs met without the drama, there's no expectations, and you're just having fun. For a little while. All the while that you're getting that Mighty Mighty O, your body is steady kicking out oxytocin, which is making your body form an emotional attachment with this person and doesn't give a damn about what your brain says. According to "What is This Crazy Thing Called Love?" by Dr. Shirley Glass, "A trick of nature induces women to bond with an inappropriate partner after sex because of oxytocin which enhances orgasms and increases a woman’s emotional attachment to her sexual partner. That may be why you keep the creep with whom you sleep." Combine this with dopamine (the "feel good" hormone, which also increases oxytocin levels) and you're REALLY hit. Basically you are addicted to the warm fuzzy feeling (i.e. high), and like anything else that induces a high (e.g. drugs) you're gonna go through withdrawal when you stop.

So now you have this otherwise irrational bond with this person which is the equivalent of chemically induced insanity because in your mind you know this person is bad for you, yet you still are saying "I wish I knew how to quit you". I must admit..... I've been there. More than once. And honestly, in hindsight, it's a scary thing. I look back on two individuals in particular and think "What in the HELL was I thinking???" The best way I can describe it is like in the cartoons where the character is under some spell, and their eyes are all glassed over, and then the hero(ine) comes along and breaks the spell, and then suddenly the victim comes back like "Where am I?? What happened??" Basically, you're just like Prince Eric in this scene from The Little Mermaid:

Waking up from your stupor doesn't usually happen that fast.... it takes a clean break and some time. But once you've broken that addiction, you're good. Any time I've tried to backtrack and replicate those original feelings it was a monumental waste of time never the same because I'd already realized he was really Ursula the Sea Witch not as great as I'd originally thought he was. But originally you couldn't tell me he wasn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, even with the logical side of me saying "Don't do it.... reconsider.... do some living." I was merely a slave to chemical romance (".... he was my Voodoo Priest and I was his faithful concubine......").

So, with all that said..... ladies, don't fool yourself into thinking you can maintain a long term Friend with Benefits. Short term.... maybe. And it might be a little easier if he treats you like a complete asshole. But who the hell wants to have a string of flings sufficiently short enough not to develop this chemical bond and end up looking like a big ole slore? I used to think I was hardcore and cold blooded enough to manage it, but I'm officially waiving my white flag to Mother Nature. I don't mind being a slave to chemical romance, but only if my heart, mind and soul are imprisoned as well.

Those unruly teens

So it's been about 3 months now since I started my second foray into locs, and I must say that I'm very pleased with the progress. A lot of people find themselves frustrated with the "teenage" phase of locs. They're no longer the cute little spirals that they were 2 months ago, but rather, just as the name implies, they are somewhat unruly and have a mind of their own, and are a little harder to control. It is during this phase that "budding" starts to occur and you have a perpetual case of the frizzies. This is the phase that deters most people from locking, especially if you're one of those people who can't stand to have a hair out of place. These are the same folks who will ooooh and aaaaah over your mature locs and tell you how they are "thinking about" locking (with their bone straight perm), but will talk about what a hot mess someone with teenage locs look. Insert your favorite cliche phrase here, but the one that comes to mind is "you can't make wine without crushing some grapes"...... oh, wait..... maybe it's "you can't make omelets without breaking some eggs." But I don't like omelets, or eggs period for that matter, but I do like wine. A lot. So we'll go with that one. In any event, basically shit has to get messy before it's perfect.

I have actually been quite enjoying the teenage phase this time around (I wish I could say the same thing about dealing with my son). My locs are the perfect size such that the ends are perpetual curly-q's, which look a lot like how my un-loc'd hair looked when I put gel in it and shook it out. The curly-q's sort of mask the chaos going on underneath. I'm also enjoying the fullness I get after 1 or 2 days following a re-twist. This is actually the look I was trying to go for when my hair was un-loc'd, but it would never stay that way for very long and was a pain to have to wet and gel all the time. Now I literally get up, take off whatever head covering I had on the night before, put a few drops of Carol's Daughter Lisa's Hair Elixir in my hands and vigorously tousle the fuck out of it. A fluff and a shake and I'm ready to go.

Products.... every natural girl's favorite subject. The most common discussions I read between natural hair ladies is about what products people recommend. And for good reason; the right products can make all the difference between hot and hot mess. Thanks to my very thoughtful beau, I'm currently using Carol's Daugther products in my hair, and I LOVING them. I use Black Vanilla Herbal shampoo (after washing my scalp with some t-gel shampoo cuz my scalp is quite mutinous) and retwist with Loc Butter. The gift set also came with Hair Milk and Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie conditioner, but conditioner on baby/teenage locs is bad (m'kay?) so I use it on my daughter's locs.

I had a bit of hesitation with using the Loc Butter because one of the ingredients is beeswax, which is a naughty no-no for grooming locs due to build up (and attracting dirt and causing stiffness). However, I've found Loc Butter to be satiny smooth, not tacky, and doesn't cause any more build up than Organic Root Stimulator Loc & Twist Gel, if not less. And it smells fantastic. And speaking of smelling fantastic, I am in love with Lisa's Hair Elixir. I wish I could cover my body in it (but then I'd have none left for my hair) because it smells SO good. Though I put it on my daughter's hair one day (because I was feeling generous, but normally I'm a product Scrooge) and she said "Ewww Mommy! Now I smell all herb-y!" I love the smells of pachouli, lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint, sage, and all those other "herb-y" essential oils so it is perfect for me. My hair ends up smelling good, is shiny, and the loc butter gives it just enough hold (I hate skinny overtwisted locs on my head). Bueno.

Oh, and just in case it's not readily apparent, I haven't been back to my loctician since she first started them. I do my own washing, retwisting and styling. I think everyone with locs should at least learn how to do basic loc grooming (wash & retwist). Sadly, a lot don't. I really could do basic loc grooming as a side hustle, but I've already explained the reasons why I don't.

So there we are. Wild, happy, unruly, drama free locs. I love it.

*I would be remiss if I did not once again emphasize the dangers of product addiction. When it comes to locs, less is more. You could cultivate locs with 2 products: Shampoo and a light oil. That's it. All the butters and creams and gels and pommades are just extra grooming products and aren't going to make your locs form any faster. Just remember, the more product you put in your locs, the more product will be (and possibly stay) in your locs.  So be easy.

Don't be a Love Hater (hater of love)

February 1st..... the first day of Black History Month. It is also the start of the "I hate Valentine's Day" countdown. I am bracing myself for a sharp uptick in the number of anti-Valentine's Day tweets, blog posts, Tumblr entries, Facebook status messages, e-mails, gmail chats, and Blackberry messenger chats letting me know how stupid, pointless, unnecessary and generally deplorable V-Day is. I've never heard so many strategies and tactical maneuvers for NOT dating someone on February 14th just to avoid the whole fiasco. No other holiday in the history of American holidays gets as much rancor and hatred directed its way.

And I say: For what?

Personally, I love Valentine's Day, or at least I have no real beef with it. So what if it is a "man-made holiday" that is used to maximize consumer spending? Guess what? Most other holidays are as well. And we go right along with the rest of those. You don't see anyone throwing a fit and talking about "Thanksgiving is dumb.... I can eat turkey with my mama all year." And nobody ever gets pissed that they have to buy Marshmallow Peeps during Easter (you can get those year-round now, too.... though my biggest beef with Easter is getting dressed up and making a big to-do over church for one day and then you're never seen again til next year, or at least until the next holiday). And you can buy fireworks and have freedom all year-round, yet we still flock to fireworks displays on the 4th of July. All holidays celebrate principles that we should be practicing all year. So why smack Cupid on his cherubic bare bottom??

Whenever people's actions defy logic, the best place to look for the source of a problem is emotion. And I think several emotions play into this hatred for Valentine's Day: jealousy, bitterness, laziness, and resentment. Pay close attention to the people making the biggest fuss about hating Valentine's Day and you will usually find the person who is most bitter about being single, or are dating/married to someone who never bothered to do anything for them Valentine's Day OR who never appreciated their efforts. And for the guy who thinks it's dumb that he has to buy his lady a gift or take her out to dinner because he does that all year long (but does he really???), you'll find someone who just doesn't want to spend the time, money and effort on a gift; OR you will find a woman who expects her man to go all out and spend half his paycheck, in which case I could  understand his disdain for the day. So instead of addressing their own personal issues or loneliness and resentment, the Love Haters attack the holiday. It is as if V-Day is a personal affront to their relationship status (or lack thereof).

It's a holiday, folks, and it's not that damn deep. Don't crap in the middle of everyone else's parade just because this is the 5th year in a row you don't have a date. Don't try and bring others to your special corner of misery by making them feel like they are stupid and materialistic or childish for wanting to celebrate Valentine's Day. And if you do have a boo-thang, don't feel pressured to break the bank on gifts and flowers and dinners. If your special lady only understands the phrase "I love you" if it's written in diamonds and on the stems of 5 dozen roses, maaaaybe you need to rethink whether this is someone you're going to want to try and keep happy for the rest of your life. Is it really going to kill you to play along? Are you compromising your morals and values if you buy a card and put some thought into doing a little something special for your loved one? Do you do anyone any good by telling the world how much you hate Valentine's Day simply because you're lonely or are dating a succubus?

Like all other holidays, we too often focus on the materialistic portion and not the meaning behind it. Valentine's Day is about love, and I would say it's about love in all of it's many forms. My parents always bought us Valentine's Day candy and gifts--small gifts-- because they love us (Storge love). You can use the holiday to express your Philia love for your friends. And if it's just some banal Eros love, well, there are ways of expressing that on the holiday, too. There was one year where I'd just started talking to (dating?? I dunno) a guy and he was in town around Valentine's Day. Being the cheesy person I am, I bought him a card which basically said "I'm not trying to run off and get married and have your babies, but I kind of like you." I didn't panic about what I should get him or avoid his calls to not have to deal with the "how do I handle this?" questions or expect anything from him in return. Another time I got a FWB a Happy Bunny card/magnet that said "You're bad, and I love it/ I'm bad and you love it."  There are approriate gestures for every person in your life (remember being a kid and trying to find the right Valentine for that 1 kid in class you hated? Yea, there was even one for him).  Even if you just want to do a silly gag gift, that's better than just an outright condemnation of the holiday as a whole.

As a dorky person who loves (most) holidays, for me it's about going along with something I like to make me happy, not dazzling me with expensive jewelry or flowers. I just want to know that I was thought about and that some sort of efforts were made. It doesn't have to be extravagant (though I would never turn down diamonds or rubies) because money does not always correlate to thought. And guys, don't fall into the trap of your lady saying she doesn't want anything for V-Day.... she may say that and think she means it, but you're going to pay later when her friends got something from their men and she's trying to convince them (and herself) that she's glad her man was "smart" enough not to get her a damn thing and how "dumb" her girl's man is for cooking her favorite meal and serving a candle light dinner and giving her a one-of-a-kind @Chickenb00 handmade card. The fact that you don't do anything for Valentine's Day doesn't just say you forgot, but says you made a concerted effort to forget/avoid/not bother. And the fact that you're so vehement about not wanting anything probably means you don't think you're getting anything anyway (I know this lil psychological self-trickery all too well).

So, if you are a Love Hater, really stop and think about why instead of willy nilly throwing around your hatred for Valentine's Day at the rest of us. Because honestly it just makes you sound bitter, not smarter than the rest of us romantic saps. Spread the love instead, loved ones.

(And yes, sorry guys..... Valentine's Day is primarily about the ladies. Next month I will highlight YOUR day, though.... the corollary to Valentine's Day: March 14th. Stay tuned. Ladies, you too. Cuz it's only fair.)