Wednesday, December 31, 2008

El Salvador - Dec 2008




i was blessed to be in san salvador this past December. DePaul University has worked with a catholic parish down there for the last 15 years, and each winter they send a student group there for a winter break service trip. for 10 days we talked with salvadoran people and learned about their history, the recent civil war ('80-'92), and current sociopolitical issues. it was amazing and painful and humbling all at once. we didn't really do touristy stuff. we stayed with host families in the city; worked with the parish's senior home, daycare, and orphanage; and visited significant landmarks from the civil war. we went to the countryside to perquin - 5 hrs NW of san salvador, near the border of hondoras - where the guerillas (currently the FMLN political party) were centralized during the war. we also visited the campuses of the national university and the university of central america to talk with students about student involvement and activism since the seventies til now....the trip was very well-rounded. we only saw the richer parts of the city in passing on the bus - and the difference between rich and poor was night and day. in the '70s, the guerillas began to organize and were fighting the government for basic civil rights - food, shelter, education, land (wealth) redistribution, freedom of expression...during that time, our government helped their government kill thousands of poor people in the name of stopping communism, but the people still fought for what they believed was right. even if it cost them their lives. i learned what true commitment really is by listening to their stories... i'm still processing everything, but will blog in more detail about it soon...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I AM DONE!!!!


woo hoo!!!! i am so happy its over. this morning i took the last comprehensive exam of my nursing program. yes i did! i am done!!!!

nov 22 i walk across the stage...and with honors at that!

what lies ahead of me hasn't quite sunk in, but what i've accomplished has opened a world of endless possibilities...i hope folks are ready ;o)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

so proud! yet speechless


even though the polls were located in the lobby of my building, i was up early at 3am with the excitement of the upcoming election. unable to vote early because of my clinical internship, i've been looking forward to vote day for quite a while. i walked downstairs at about 5:40am; there were already 10 or so ppl in line. by 5:50am, the line reached down the hallway. by the time the i was called to the table to get my ballot, there was already 1-1.5 hr wait for those just joining the line! i finished voting by 6:20am (stacy didn't wake up with me, so he had to wait nearly 2 hrs to vote, lol!)

Barack H. Obama, the 44th President-Elect of the United States of America!










the night was simply amazing. never in my young life did i ever imagine that a black man would be elected president. in my children's lifetime, maybe. but, with all the injustice in the world today, not mine. not until now....
the crowd was electrifying. everyone was everyone's brother and sister, as the diversity of chicago flooded into downtown. chicago is known for its ethnic enclaves, but it didn't matter what side of the city or neighborhood you came from. we embraced each other like old friends. words cannot express the sensation of emotions that swept across me as i stood in unity with THOUSANDS of others in grant park. we hugged each other, laughed together, took pictures of one another. cheered and rejoiced together. the feeling of togetherness was...simply beautiful. and in chicago, nonetheless. a place where place pass each other on the street without eye contact, without speaking or acknowledging the presence of another. a place where senseless violence has claimed the lives of so many of our young people. a place where we came together PEACEFULLY to celebrate the election of our next black president. wow.



(yep, that's me with the sls and the blk power fist ;o) i just luv this pic!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

why do some people have 3, 4, and 5 sets of dreadlocks?

i'm really at a loss as to why some repeatedly start and stop and start locking their hair. the process of locking is to....involved (for lack of a better word) to continue to start the process over and over and over again. does this speak to one's commitment to the process? does this reflect on one's meaning/lifestyle behind being locked? are locks just another hairstyle? or is there *something* to be gained/learned/realized as we go through the process of locking 5, 10, or 20 years down the road?

i can understand if one tries to lock once, or even twice depending on the success of the first go-round, and then later decides it's not for him/her. and i can also understand if, after years of wearing locks, life takes you in a different direction and you decide that you need/want a fresh start....

...but my initial thoughts are more geared towards those who literally have had several sets of locks within a short amount of time (say, less than 3-4 years). i've entertained conversations with a few folks on this topic. some take the stance that ppl have the freedom to do whatever with their hair (the "do you" mentality); others feel that locking is simply becoming more of a fad or "just a hairstyle" as opposed to having any deeper significance or symbolism....i'm curious to know what you all think.....

for example....

i recently met a coworker who proudly cuts her locks every 1-2 years "just to change things up". she's on her 6th or 7th set of locks now. i asked her, why go thru the process if she knows she won't keep it up. she responded saying she likes locks, but "just gets tired of them" after a while. IMO thats way too much energy and confusion going into each set of locks....at the same time, i know her process is a direct reflection of who she is. i'm not saying that to be negative, but she's very much still trying to find herself. she changes with the wind, and so does her hair. just when she's getting settled with one thing, she flips the script and changes up her life, whether its her schooling/career/job area, residency, relationships, etc. her randomness is reflected in her hair (i havent shared this revelation with her, but this is the conclusion i came to after chit-chatting with her for a spell)

whether you rock your locks as a political statement or a hairstyle, one's locks reflect something about you...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Register to Vote by Oct 7th! (in Illinois)











people say Obama’s words are just words...
but...
when was the last time "words" weren’t important...???...

when was the last time a great leader didn’t use words to lead...??...
when was the last time a person didn’t use words to describe how they felt...?...
when was the last time "words" weren’t empowering...?...

and we can all recall the last time "words" were used to divide us and install fear...

Bush used words to fear us into voting for him the second time around...
terror this...
terror that...
nuclear here...
weapons of mass destruction there...

and those words effected a lot of people’s choices...

"enough is enough"...
let’s rebuild...


let’s change ourselves...
let’s allow positivity to guide us...


let's take action....
let’s activate our passion...
we are Americans....


and this is the first time in forever that someone running for president represents "US"...

some say this is all excitement...
I call it “proud to be an American”...

some say this whole Obama movement is "cult like"...
well...
if it comes across cult like...
then...
the cult is called America...

the Obama movement is connecting America.
and it has made "US" realize our importance...
the youth is excited and activated...
adults are passionate and motivated...
the elderly are proud to know the country they built is in safe hands...

we are one...

for too long politics has been corrupt...
separate from the American people...
with agendas that go against what the American people "need"...
education...
health...
safety...
jobs...
etc...

politicians have spoken a different language...

making it so the youth and poor people feel as if voting was only for the wealthy and old people...
making "US" feel as if "we" had no voice...
making "US" feel powerless...making it feel like if "we" did vote it wouldn’t change anything...

but wait...
that did happen...
some of us voted, and it didn’t change anything...

we were in the dark...
we had no voice...
we were powerless...

because America was not a united America...
and "they" spoke a different language...
and they had an agenda different from our well being...

correct me if I’m wrong...or speak up if I’m missing something...

we want education, health, safety, and good jobs...right???...
oh yeah...
and "a healthy planet to live on"...

but here we are...

in a war... poor education... poor health programs... the dollar is down... the planet, polluted...
the rich, richer... and the poor, struggling...
with sky high gas prices to top it all off...

and now even the rich aren't really rich internationally because our dollar is has fallen so far down...

in our slumber... a very small few got really rich...

because when you’re sleeping...

"it’s hard to change agendas"...

we know what happened in 2000 and 2004...
but in 2008...
it’s different...

we are awake...
and there is a movement...

and "it’s hard to change a movement"...

last time "we" didn’t have a movement...
America wasn’t united...

and now "United and "Standing"...for something...
we know the power of "US"...
and we have a person who represents the "U.S."...

"US"…

"we are the ones we’ve been waiting for"...
I’m proud to be an American...


will.i.am

though i really can't understand how anyone could vote for mccain in this day and age (no offense to any die-hard republicans), it amazes me even more that some people still walk around saying that they are proud to NOT vote and do not participate in our democracy. yes, our electoral process has many flaws. yes, there are lots of factors outside of the president himself that dictate our country's economy and social structure...but if you sit idly by while watching our country continue into ruin, you're just as at fault as the folks running the country into the ground. Get out and vote! [Obama ;o)] Help others to register by Tue Oct 7th! and get them to vote! [Obama!] Take your family members and neighbors with you to the polls! Have a poll party afterwards! [to hopefully celebrate Obama's win ;o)]
seriously though, Americans need to get involved in our political process if we want to change the direction the country's going in. stop letting excuses concerning "those with real power doing what they want anyway" keep you from letting your voice be heard. when the dec 2007 election in kenya went against public opinion, people rioted. millions were displaced and thousands lost their lives. they fought because they believed they were treated unjustly. they fought because they felt they had no other choice. later, the country was able to come to some compromise....when bush stole the vote, we complained to each other, shrugged our shoulders, and life went on. now, i'm not saying we should loot and kill and burn things down if the election doesn't go our way. Lord knows violence only begets more violence. but being active participants in the political process is the only way to bring about change. every social movement that has brought about change (women's movement, civil rights movement,gay rights movement, labor movements, disability rights movement, etc.) started because people were courageous enough to take a stand against hate/discrimination and protest! take a stand this election and vote!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New FREE Michael Moore Film...2008 Election!

Come watch the trailer for the new Michael Moore movie entitled "Slacker Uprising". You will be able to download the entire movie for free on September 23rd if you sign up!
http://slackeruprising.com/

Friday, September 12, 2008

If being natural is so 'popular'....

then why aren't more black folks doing it?

i've read comments in some online cirles that being 'natural' and/or locking the hair is a recent fashion 'trend,' but in everyday life i'm not seeing the masses of natural heads that folks are talking about...

now don't get me wrong. there are lots of black women who've walked away from the creamy crack/ fire cream. but there are lots of black women who continue to straighten their hair on a regular basis, or chemically color treat it, but claim to remain natural. let's think about this scientifically. obviously, coloring the hair is a chemical process, but heat also facilitates chemical changes (think about baking bread or burning wood - the finished product is not the same as the staring materials)...overtime, heat can permanently change the texture of hair, even if you haven't saturated it with relaxer. are you really sporting natural hair if you never wear your own texture and are constantly flat ironing? what about the constant layering of hair color?

then others have presented the argument that "everyone is getting locks now" but "folks are doing it for the wrong reasons"....in some ways, this may be true since locked styles are more widely accepted now than ever. and locks do seem to be a fad of sorts....still, i have only personally known a couple people, men or women, who were locked before i made the commitment...of course, now that i'm locked, it seems like everyone's doing it...probably because i'm more aware of HOW people are wearing their hair and WHY...

then there are others who start locking with lock extensions/weaves.... and those who 'commit' to locking their hair three, four, and five times over....that's a whole 'nother story....

in the midst of this "natural hair/locking revolution" that i hear so many natural/dread heads talking about, i'm still surrounded daily by women (and some men) who continue to lye, fry, and dye their hair to get straight, wavy, "good" hair....

if being natural is so popular, why aren't more black folks embracing their own natural curls?

i think about tonia, a white mother who adopted African American children. she wanted to keep the girls natural, but found it hard to find role models of Af. Amer. women loving their natural hair where she lived. why was this such a difficult feat? (this enlightened mama later decided to lock her daughter's hair so that she can grow up feeling proud about her natural self. good job, mama! see their blog)

i've read too many blogs about whether folks are 'keeping it real' or being true to their natural selves throughout this whole process. whether folks truly have a spiritual connection to their hair beyond cosmetic arrogance. one blogger even spent months and months and months repeating the same ill feelings about newbies vs old skool lockers who locked for deeper significance than today's fly-by-night lockers. i was amazed by the shear energy this individual used to blog about the same things for the better part of the last year.....don't black folks have enough issues that keep us divided without picking through the nuances of our natural hair? regardless of how ridiculous some sound - 'why do my locks look fuzzy/lumpy?' duh! they're dreadlocks! - we gotta move past some of this superficial bullshit.

the real issue is not why or how one is "going natural" or locking their hair (although people should realize that their locks are more than a just "style," even if they're locking because they like the look.) the real issue is why are black folks across the world still hooked on texturizers, relaxers, flat irons, and blow dryers that promise to straighten away our sense of identity in the first place.... i'm not even gonna touch on the issue of wearing fake hair....better yet, why don't we dialogue about *real* issues like why there are more black men in prison than in college, or whether kids in Chicago Public Schools need to be paid to get good grades, or how the US government can spends trillions of dollars in an overseas war while our economy runs into the ground....but i digress...

yeah, i know....we're all at different stages of "enlightenment." i recognize that i made some serious shifts in my paradigms of thought to get to where i am today, and i'm certain that my consciousness will continue to expand and transform as my locks grow and mature with me....in the meantime, lets just agree to embrace the fact that at least some folks have started (and continued) the process of locking and loving themselves in whatever natural state they're in. let's get concerned about what really matters - education, poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, racism/discrimination, nationalism, criminal/child welfare system, politics/government corruption - throughout the African diaspora. now thats whats up.

I've Been Tagged...

Here are the rules...

  • Link to the person that tagged you..... I was tagged by Anthia-Ofo and Saabira
  • Post the rules on your blog
  • Share 6 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself that have not been shared already
  • Tag 6 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
  • Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

1) i LOVE to travel! i've been to the regular touristy spots (Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, etc.) and took a cruise through the bahamas, but i also had the opportunity to travel for service. my first international service trip was to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala in 2001. last december, i went to Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. my next service trip is scheduled for dec 2008 to San Salvador, capital city of El Salvador. one day, i'll go to Brazil and New Zealand and maybe tour the Mediterranean Sea...but that'll be for pleasure ;o)

2) i love watching documentaries, especially concerning the Black/African/African American experience, but about social movements in general. ya gotta know about where the world has been to understand the direction our world is going (and in some ways, we seem to be moving backwards...)

3) i like watching (American) football. i usually post up with my loved ones on sundays to watch the game. i'm rooting for the Bears this season, but it doesn't look like they're gonna make it today...i'm not as bad as my mother though. she actually bets on the game regularly ;o) i like watching boxing too, especially the light- and featherweights. they seem to fight the hardest.

4) i like to ice skate. in fact, Chicago is a great city for outdoor ice skating in the winter...i'm by no means an olympian skater, but i can do a turn or two on the ice.

5) i listen to all forms of music, except traditional country, acid rock, and techno. (yes, there is a difference between Chicago deep house and techno - and i consider myself to be a young, old skool househead)

6) i've always wanted to try hang gliding, but i could never in life imagine bungee jumping. go figure.

Here are the 6 folks I'm tagging:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

when did you KNOW that you were ready?




check out my first attempt at doing a strawset with pipe cleaners...i managed to find some black ones over the weekend and tried them out overnight...whaddya think? (btw, my hair isn't colored, but the last pic makes me wanna to try it out)


...i was sold on sisterlocks from the moment i began researching them in may '08. i spent a few weeks stalking lockitup, fotki albums, and blogs, then decided to take the plunge...somehow, the decision to lock seemed so much more difficult than my decision to stop perming my hair. braids, twists, cornrows, etc. made the transition from perms to natural hair quite easy...but locks are so much more permanent. i was scared to lock out of fear that i wouldn't like my hair and would have to later cut it off (my head is way too big for a buzz cut! lol!) but sisterlocks offers all the styling versatility i've been looking for without the fuss of having to comb hair everyday (or for hours a week - that's precious sleep time in the morning!)...my only regret is that i didn't know about sisterlocks sooner...

since i've been locked down, others around me have been contemplating the same decision. everyone's at different points in their hair journeys...some not willing to let go of their perms quite yet ("girl, i like your hair, but i couldn't do that...") some already natural, but not ready to lock ("i don't know if that would look good on me...you have the face for it") some who've been locked, but wish they knew of sisterlocks before they started ("i want parts like yours")...people lock their hair for all kinds of reasons and circumstances...

...when did you KNOW that you were ready for locks? do you think you would have been ready sooner? where are you in your hair journey?

Monday, August 18, 2008

moving woes and my future husband?



okay. we've talked about this for months and months. and now it's coming to be....my bf's moving in with me by the end of this month. i've been making space, throwing things away, letting go of stuff...and past situations....but i've been having second thoughts.

we've talked a bit about getting married and creating a life together, and we've been through so much - good and bad...moving in seems like the next natural step for us (please dont fight with me about getting married first; in today's economy, two wallets are better than one and i would much rather live with him than some random roommate), but i'm suddenly getting cold feet.

now, i've always had reservations about getting married. unlike most women who couldn't wait to jump the broom, i've always felt that i could stand to wait a while longer. the idea of "forever, ever" with someone has always been scary to me....but being with him these last few years have made me think that it may not be so bad....

at the same time, we are sooo different. we have a great friendship where we'll always have each other's back, but we argue over random miscommunications and serious past transgressions between us. some of it i attribute to growing pains as we learn to deal with each other, but sometimes i wonder if we can make it past dating and into marriage. and moving in is showing me just how much anxiety i have over all of this.

when i talk to him about it, he says that he has no doubts about moving in. still, in our last argument, he said he wasn't sure if this was the right thing. after we made up, he assured me that he is fully committed to making this relationship and living situation work.

maybe i'm being paranoid. maybe my inner self is trying to send some smoke signals my way....i'm not quite sure. in the meantime, i'm trying to relax and not make the transition more difficult than it needs to be. still, i can't lie and say i'm not nervous about this. i know that this move will either make or break us....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Geni Tree is Growing!

I am so grateful to my girl for introducing me to this website....www.geni.com. On this website you can create a permanent online record of your family history. Initially, I thought this site would be kinda fun to play around with; I had no idea how wonderful this website was! I've been hooked on it since day 1. Further, I've managed to connect with family I haven't heard from in years. Most importantly, I encouraged my sister to find her father's family members. She never had a relationship with her father because my mother divorced him while she was still a baby. Though my father raised her like his own, she always wondered about the man she looked like....Unfortunately, we found out a couple days ago that he passed back in 1984. The good news is my sister was able to talk to her aunts and a couple of her cousins. The ironic thing in all of this: her father had two other daughts whom he named after my sister's namesake. Yes, this man has a daughter named Nikkoe and two others named Nicole. Indeed, he was a strange man. (I personally think it's tacky that the man has three children with virtually the same name, but still kinda endearing how he never forgot his first born baby girl.) either way, i'm happy for her. and looking forward to meeting more of my own family members...our family tree looks so complex, with 2nd and 3rd marriages branching off into other family trees. some folks have kids with no mention of a partner involved...as one of my older relatives stated, "we are truly a special family".

by the way, i'm 8 weeks locked and loving it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

that's real neo-soul, real erykah badu-ey!"


I kept my hair in a pseudo updo with the front curled when i went to a party this weekend. My guy friend who was throwing the party was the first to compliment my hair. Then another girl at the party (sporting a full head of blossoming micros) seemed immediately infatuated with my hair....

"OOooooo, girl! I love your hair! That's real neo-soul, real erykah badu-ey. I like that! Is it braids or yarn in there? Can I touch it? How long do you keep that in?"

I was so tickled by her comments. At the same time, I kept thinking to myself, "girl, take out all that fake hair!" i mean, it was a lion's mane! but i can't judge her. i used to rock my braids and twists and wigs with a fierceness unmatched by any. but since getting locked, my whole perception has changed. i still like longer lengths and curls and braided styles, but i prefer them on natural heads. now, i don't want to seem elitist; i just want my sistas to appreciate their own God given beauty - and know that we can still grow our own hair to there without using perms, weaves, and pieces...it took me years to understand this. but now..."can you feel it? brand new day! can you feel it? brand new dayyyy!!!"

okay, i'm dramatic, but you get my point ;o)

Friday, August 1, 2008

reactions thus far...

hate on me, hater
now or later
cuz i'm gonna do me
you'll be mad, baby!

(go on and hate)
go on and hate on me hater
cuz i'm not afraid of
what i gotta pay for

you can hate on me...


(don't you just love jill scott's new song, "hate on me"? ;o) thats my newest theme song for 2008. but i digress)




i've gotten some really mixed responses concerning my locks...my family is split. my daddy, as always, is supportive as ever. he's not used to me with short hair, but if i like it, he loves it. my sister loves my hair and was moved to try to get microbraids that mimicked the look of sisterlocks (she has some issues with hair loss, so she hasn't done it yet). my grandmother was too funny when she first saw my locks. "kiki, is that how they're supposed to look? and you paid how much?! well, alright..." my aunts love it - they think it looks kinda cute and spunky short.

my mother hasn't said that she likes my hair yet. having been raised on the motto, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," i know this means that she's not too crazy about them. at least not now. i think she's waiting to see how they'll look down the road, since i showed her pictures of matured locks before i got mine installed. eventually i hope i can convince her to go natural. she's been relaxing her hair for decades. recently, her hair is thinning from overprocessing and coloring. (even though she hates it, my mother has a wicked streak of beautiful gray hair at the front of her hair. i love it, and i hope i go gray in the same pattern.) i think going natural might help her appreciate her gray, but i think she's scared of her natural texture. she doesn't want to cut her hair off, but she can't stand the new growth either. plus, she never thought she would look good with braids (she's never tried them either), so transitioning for her is hard to imagine. she's used to diy perms and color kits and never goes to the salon...maybe i can convert her in another 6-9 months when my hair is longer and begins to settle....

6 weeks SL'd! ....Lock dreams?


check out my pretend updo @ 6 weeks. my hair is still pretty short, but i think its cute ;o)

wow. time is really flying by fast. every day i love my hair even more than the day before! though i wish i had more length, i'm happy that i cut much of the straighter hair off before locking it. the few straight ends up front aren't nearly as fun as the cute lil coils forming elsewhere on my head, but they're trying to get some bend to 'em. had i kept the length, i don't think my SLs would look the same. they probably wold have been really thin and scrawly. i'm have some bouts of lock envy now and then (particularly of those with shoulder length curls or curly bob styles), but overall i'm proud of my babies and happy with my decision to get SLs. i just wish i had done it sooner.



during my retightening tuesday, i thought about how locking my hair is influencing every aspect of my lfe....for example, around week 3, i began having what i call lock dreams. my boyfriend, whose about 18 months into his second set of locks, told me that i would have them when my hair began to grow out. but i didnt pay attention. until they started. in one dream, my cousin (who does my boyfriend's locks and did my braids for the better part of the past few years) insisted on maintaining my locks. in the dream my locks were already mature and hanging near my bra strap. i mean, i had a fierce set of locks! now, my cousin made up some kind of creamy, greasy white mixture and smeared it all over my locks, telling me that i needed something in my hair to keep my locks looking good. in the meantime, i'm panicking, telling her i didn't want her in my head and that my consultant didn't use products in my hair. i rush to rinse the mixture out and ALL of my hair falls out - smooth/clean off my head! bald. i woke up, sitting straight up in bed, grabbing at my locks. (my consultant believes that it means that someone was trying to force me to do something that i was dead set against and that i need to stay away from them. very telling.) in another dream, my boyfriend was threatening to cut my locks. it's fair to say that i have dreams related directly to my hair at least 2x a week. anyone else?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

living in the moment

funny. i've read so many blogs about women getting SLs. often it seems that there's some other major life transition or event that's taking place around the time that folks decide to lock their hair. a new baby, a recent divorce, graduation from higher ed, a weight loss journey...the list goes on and on...and i am no different.

i've been dealing with my weight for some time now. i've gone on different diets, bought different workouts...and am still battling the bulge. so instead of setting lofty goals of dropping 50 lbs by the end of the year, i'm re-starting small. this week is my only focus. better yet, the next 5 days. i will exercise 30+ minutes a day and keep a food/activity diary through July 27, 2008. i'm soon to begin teaching diabetes education to patients and at risk individuals - i need to live as the example i'm trying to set for others...i know better, therefore i need to do better.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

4th of July in Andrews, SC

i went to the country with my sweetie to visit his folks for the 4th of July...we had a wonderful time. we brought the wii and balance board to entertain ourselves and the family...they LOVED it! one aunt went out and bought a wii system the following day. his mother is thinking of getting one too (ervin may surprise her for her birthday in november). the only downside to our trip was that i lost my digital camera...and all the pictures i took since i got my SLs. major bummer...so, i will have to improvise with my camara phone until i can get another camera....i'll probably post pics after my first retightening next week...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

can't keep my eyes off of you...

I am sooo in love with my hair!!!! I can't stay out the mirror. I'm constantly playing with my locks. I can't keep my hands out my head. And neither can other people. Everyone else keeps petting me too (for lack of a better way to explain it). I am truly luvlockd with my hair.

My SLs will be one month old come Friday. It's already beginning to change. I've got lots of tight curls formed at the ends. Some of my locs have little buds on them (they drive me crazy, but after i picked them off i was told that the hair does that when its trying to lock...oh well. you live and learn...).

I'm still getting used to the shortness of my hair, particularly up front. Before locking, I had bangs that reached down to my lips. Now I feel limited in how I can style my hair because the front doesn't hang anymore, so I keep my hair pulled back off my face. I've curled it a few times with rods, but i mostly just let it do what it do, baby. I LOVE the fact that I can spritz it with water, shake it, and let it go. I thought it would be hard for me to let go of all the different products I used in the past - I faithfully oiled my scalp and used conditioners, moisturizers, etc. - but now I don't want anything in my hair. The only thing I miss are the smell good shampoos, etc. the SLs starter shampoo doesn't give me the same herbal essence experience, lol, so i'm thinking of trying the VO5 kiwi lime clarifying shampoo...i know, i know, i should stick with the starter shampoo, but i want to have an alternative that i have ready access to instead of waiting for the corporate office to send shampoo.






Sisterlocks installed!!!

Sisterlocks birthdate: Jun 18, 2008

Starting length: 3-5in" (shorter at the very front)

Loc number: 433

Loc size: med/large

Loc pattern: 4pt

Labor of love installation time: 30 hours, over 3 days

Consultant: Kia, by way of Mae













I've never been in love with me like this before!!! And it was worth every penny!









the big chop





I went from this...



to this...















what in the hell did i let her do to my hair?!!!

mae felt like the straight hair at the front of my head was permed hair. while i agreed that perhaps 1-2in may have been permed (i hadn't gotten many hair cuts), i knew that most of the hair on my head was natural. again, i hadn't been permed in almost 2 years.

since the majority of my head was super curly, unruly and the front edge was straight, mae suggested that i cut some off so that the textures and ends would match more closely...hmmmm, somehow that made sense at the time. i say okay, cut off the perm. keep in mind, i could not see myself in the mirror from where my chair was positioned. i only see piles of hair falling to the floor. "its okay. its only hair," i reminded myself as she continued to cut. she placed almost 30 sample locks in various places in my head and allowed me to see what my hair looked like.

i hadn't really taken it in when i first saw my hair. i had been with mae over 2 hours and was ready to leave by the time she finished my samples, so i simply put a scarf on and went home. when i got home, i took a real long look at what had happened minutes ago...



"WHAT THE HELL?!!! she cut off all my hair!!" my 8in" in the front was reduced to 1-3in" in various places. The back was taken from 6-7in to 5". and to add insult to injury, she didn't even cut it in any particular shape. it was a choppy TWA at best. all i could think about was how my hair would look once my SLs were installed.

when my boyfriend saw my hair, i didn't know what to think. his only response was, "it'll grow back, right?" i was appalled. needless to say, i almost felt like i jumped from the frying pan and into the fire when i switched consultants, but mae is well loved by her clients and successful in her business....trust. all i needed was a little trust.

what had i gotten myself into?!

(1 month into SLs: though i regretted cutting my hair, in retrospect, mae was probably right. i have a few straight ends up front that don't curl up like the rest of my hair and they tend to stand out like sore thumbs. the different textures at the ends probably would not have looked good. i've even cut a few of the straight ends myself to make them blend in more with the rest of my hair....)

My SLs journey begins....

Since Jan 1, 2008, this year has been all about transformation. I mean serious big bang theory changes in every area of my life. My personal relationships have changed, for the better. I finally left my job at the health department in mid April to concentrate on graduating from my master's entry into nursing program in November. I'll be living with my boyfriend come August. And I recently embarked on a serious love affair with my hair...



I had never heard of sisterlocks. On the last day of my employment, my office friends and I were chit chatting about one of our favorite topics - our hair. One coworker had recently cut off her once bra-strap length palm-rolled locks to sport a cute lil TWA - she claims the TWA will be her last style, though I'm still cheering for her to get locked once again. My other coworker sports a large Angela Davis/Jill Scott 'fro on occasion between creative braided natural styles and puffs. I was simply fed up with trying to deal with my hair on a daily basis. My last day at work, I flat ironed my hair to just above shoulder length, but had no intention of maintaining straightened hair on a daily basis....I was just tired of being tired of my hair.

"Why don't you just lock your hair?" said TWA. "No, that's too permanent. I like to play around with my styles..." Afro sister suggested, "Maybe you should just go ahead and do the big chop." "Nah, my head's too big. I like the braids, but I'm tired of the braiding and take down sessions..." "You could get sisterlocks" said TWA. "What's that?" "They're like microlocks...Just look it up on the internet. I think you'd like it..."

So I left work for the last time, wondering if I could really go through with locking my hair. My boyfriend had been locked for about 16 months. Though I love playing in his hair, I never considered locks for myself. Immediately I jumped online and started reading message boards and blogspots from women with SLs. I BECAME A SL ADDICT! I couldn't read enough about the freedom and joy that women experienced with sisterlocking their hair. How could one hairstyle literally change the lives of black women everywhere? Would I feel the same way if I had SLs installed? Was it all just hype?

I was obsessed with looking at picture documentaries of women's journeys, but kept a lookout for negative experiences with sisterlocks. surely, someone in the world hated their decision to get SLs. Surprisingly, I could not find ONE negative blog or angry person. Now, I did run into some warnings about picking a certified consultant who could do the job right. I even read stories about women who got sisterlocks, then decided to take them down weeks/months later, but still had NO regrets about being sisterlocked...I had to seriously check them out.

So I emailed most every consultant I could find on the sisterlocks website, waiting for responses. I got two call backs. I made an appointment with one consultant who lived close by and was recommended by a college acquaintance. She and I bonded immediately, talking about our world travels. My hair at the time was 6-8in, with the front being longer and straighter than the back. She placed 2 sample locks in the left center of my head and we scheduled my installation for 2 weeks later...

My research for sisterlocks didn't stop with my consultation. I continued reading stories from women who were contemplating locks and those locked for 5, 10, and 15 years...One thing that didn't sit well with me was that my consultant only placed 2 samples, which were only locked about 3in of 6-7in. After asking around on lockitup, I decided to go with another consultant. Nothing personal, but SLs cost too much for any consultant to cut corners...

Mae, my consultant, was able to get me in for a consultation during the upcoming weekend. She and I had a great connection as well. But I let her do something that I was soon to regret...

Monday, June 23, 2008

in the beginning...pt. 3

In Dec. 2007, I had synthetic hair added to my head for the last time. I went to Nairobi, Kenya and was determined to have my hair braided while I was there. I opted to get microtwists and let a local woman pick out the hair for me. She chose wavy dark brown hair with red ends, which gave me a cute and curly, shoulder-length style. (I was nervous at first about the kool-aid red hair - I don't do red - but the result was beautiful!) I loved my hair, but I was also conflicted. My Kenyan friend smiled wide as she told me that wearing my hair that way showed that I had status. The thought floored me...Twisted up with curly straight hair, somehow my hair was transformed from being nappy to a symbol of wealth and upward mobility....are we Black Americans so different from our Kenyan counterparts?



The words of my Kenyan friend really struck me, and I began to think deeply about why so many Black women worldwide have the hardest time loving and appreciating and wanting their own hair. I myself struggled with my own kinky hair. I was never directly told that my hair was a horrid thing to be hated, but the silent sentiment was evident as my mother, my aunts, my sister, my friends, and every other Black woman around me was permed up, fried, dyed, and laid to the side. new growth was a big no-no, and the straighter one could get their hair, the better. (sisters who had gone natural have generally been looked at as the exception to the rule, as neo-soul sistas down for the struggle, but definitely not mainstream. salami and ham.)

video

as much as i've always hated the "good hair, bad hair" debate of School Daze, i realized just how deeply ingrained that struggle is within us. Within me. I had to make a change.



In March 2008, after spending almost a week to take down the microtwists that only took 4-5 hours to put in, I decided that I would only wear my own hair...well, sort of. i still had an emergency wig reserved for bad hair days, but I took pride in wearing my hair 'fro-ed out in its nappy glory. A few times I used a flat iron, but it reminded me too much of my hot comb, curling iron horror days and i mostly opted for my blow out.














in the beginning...pt. 2


In 2005, I decided to stop the madness (or so i thought). For 2 years, I refused to my perm my hair and switched exclusively to braids, twists, and wigs....using mostly synthetic hair. I thought I had found freedom then, being able to wake up and go and not having to comb my own hair. I even enjoyed playing around with different colors, textures, and styles of quick weaves and interlocked braids....

I was content for a time with my extensions (for the longest, people didn't even know how long my real hair was!), but as my own natural texture grew out, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was happy that my own hair was growing like weeds, but I was also fed up with buying and putting in fake hair. I was weary of the hours and hours it took to do microbraids and other styles. I was scared of "the big chop," and even more fearful of maintaining my hair in its awkward, in-between stage of growth. it was too short to be long, too long to be short with my "revolution-will-not-be-televised" 'fro quickly emerging from beneath the surface of straight, over-processed ends....


By June 2007, my defiant hair had made a true comeback and i have several inches of new growth under my old perm. Blind-sighted by its shear boldness, I didn't know what to do with my hair. I always admired women who could rock the TWA, but knew in my heart that my forehead was wayyyy to big for that. others suggested i try a "shake-n-go," but my texture was not trying to shake and go anywhere anytime soon. I liked the option of changing my hairstyle on a whim, and traditional locks seemed too permanent, too much of a commitment...in the distance, the creamy crack was calling me - and I almost gave into its promises of straight, manageable hair - but i held fast. in the meantime, i continued on with my braids and wigs...

in the beginning...

...there was nappy hair....

...coarse, dense, tightly coiled, springy, rebellious, unruly nappy hair....

...countless hours of sitting between my mother's knees while she fought to tame my thick, spongy mane....fire-hot pressing combs from the stove that burned my forehead and ears when i jumped from the heat and wouldn't sit still....the smell of singed hair and smoke swirled in the air....freshly done wave nouveau curls that made me think i was isht (remember the not-so-wet, drip-drip cousin of the carefree curl? PLEASE forgive me - it was the '80s)....my first perm....and chemical burns from scratching....creamy crack touch ups every 4-6 weeks mixed in with occasional individual braid extensions and corn rows....being tortured and held hostage at the beauty shop all day while the stylist tended to 4 other heads in addition to my own....do-it-yourself crotched and interlocked styles.....more dark n' lovely fire cream home applications....glued-in pieces....sewn-in weaves....pinned-in wigs....and other unnatural wonders....

i've been in a love-hate relationship with my hair for a very long time....