Friday, September 16, 2011
I complain frequently about the state of mainstream hip and r&b music. However, I am excited about Frank Ocean's emergence on the scene. He's no modern-day Marvin Gaye but he's intriguing, especially his hit song 'Novacane.' The song was apparently inspired by a female dentist student with whom he was acquainted with whose good lovin' kept him numb- figuratively or literally, who knows. The song is catchy, sporadic and seemingly nonsensical but I connect to the underlying message in the song, one that most overlook.
The lyrics are what resonate with me. No I don't binge on cocaine or sex but I do relate to the feeling of numbness. For the past few months I have lost a lot of life in me. My thoughts lack clarity causing many of my actions to be thoughtless. Personal struggles have left my spirits low. I'm always sleepy. I no longer have the energy to go to school or work. I've let my friends down and over the years while I continue to disappoint many in my family.
I'm a mess. My basement is still nasty because I haven't had the willpower to clean it, despite ample time to do so. Three pieces of leftover Popeyes chicken was my dinner today, followed later by pieces of watermelon because I felt guilty for not eating vegetables in the past two days. Seriously.
Never before have I let troubles with my emotions pour over into my physical health. I decided to do a quasi-cleanse, one that will restrict me to a vegan diet. No meat, no dairy, no fried foods, no liquor and no caffeine. I'm looking to purify myself and rid myself of at least some of the junk I've accumulated over time, most especially that serving of Popeyes.
Because it is not a cleanse in the truest sense, I don't expect to become as fit as Serena. It's more psychological related. It is more difficult to figure shit out if you, well, feel like shit. Paradoxically, if you treat your body like shit, you can end up feeling pretty badly. My drinking has become more casual. My boyfriend asked me one night if I had been drinking before we met up. I lied. At first it was because I didn't want to face his judgement, but I really wanted to shield myself from my reality. So I lied and then drank more than night until I was lying calmly on our friend's couch. I wasn't fucked up but I was perfectly numb.
It's how two large cups of coffee feel back to back or after a breakdown on a NYC subway. 'Novacane' is illustrates how a clouded conscious causes you to partake in self-destructive behavior. Frank Ocean captures that such behavior isn't intended for satisfaction or fulfillment. He recognizes that some people want to feel numb. Numb, numb, numb, numb. Some people could give a damn about excitement or happiness, even. Some just want to simply exist calmly. I sometimes want the freedom of not feeling anything. Maybe one day I'll appreciate love and happiness, but first I have to gain clarity from within. Right now, I am stuck feeling numb.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I had already planned on writing this piece because of my recent and past experiences with hair touching, but my sis lemonswithsalt sealed the deal for me when we got into a conversation about people touching our hair. We are both natural haired sisters (as are Zipporah and Le Chele) and with the diverse styles we craft for our coiffure, it isn't unusual for us to get asked about our hair or for it to be touched.
Now everyone knows that many black sisters, no matter how their hair is coiffed, have issues with random people touching their hair. Of course, there are some who are of the school of thought that it isn't that big a deal. But lemonswithsalt and I agreed that it's an invasion of personal space for people you don't know or people who don't ask, to just touch our hair. For her, "it's not about race. Or exoticism. It's about sitting on the train, and someone sitting next to you, reaching over and touching your hair without even speaking". And as someone who's had these very same experiences, I couldn't but help agree.
When I visited some friends who were living and studying in Paris back in 2009, I first really experienced this hair touching phenomenon. My friend Katy and I were staying in Paris for a long weekend and though we had walked everywhere in the city for the first day we were there, the first night we went out we decided to try the trains. While sitting on the train a group of older drunk white men sat down catty corner to us. And the one closest to me automatically started speaking French to me and touching my hair. I immediately started shrugging his hands off and replying in Greek to "not touch me" and to basically leave me alone. Of course, him not knowing Greek and me knowing only a little French, there was a language barrier . But he continued petting me and I staunchly ignored it. My friend wondered why I didn't get up and move and I responded that I didn't want to attract anymore attention or have the group of men following us.
When we finally met up with my guy friend who was staying in Paris, I immediately told him the story and he refused to believe me. He had been living there for over 6 months by that point and had never witnessed or heard of such a situation, so it was definitely beyond his scope that a random man who just start touching my hair. However later in the night when we had stopped along a street to try to figure out what to do before the end of our night, I had a run in with another random Parisian who was enamoured with my hair. As we stood on the sidewalk I watched from the corner of my eye as a drunk couple came up the street arguing. However I was totally caught off guard when the man stopped behind me and just stuck his hand in my afro and started basically feeling my hair up. He was drunkenly staring at his girlfriend who was staring wide-eyed and annoyed back at him, while I stared wide-eyed back at my friends. And my guy friend was flabergasted. He had never seen such a thing and finally believed me.
Since then I've had other situations where my hair has been touched by random people and I usually just shrug it off. Sometimes I find it annoying, sometimes I find it humorous. I don't make too much of a big deal, but at the same time, people need to learn that it is an invasion of space to just go up and touch someone's hair. You wouldn't want someone just going up and touching your face or your purse. In the same way it's really not okay for random people to just approach a girl or guy and feel up their hair. Sure you can fully appreciate the beauty of the coiffure but if you want to touch, at least ask. You'll find that many of us don't really mind, especially if you ask.
But then again, if you approach me the right way, you can touch my hair all you want. But that's a story for part 2.
But ladies and gents, tell me the deal: How do you feel about random people touching your hair? Does it matter if they ask or not?
 For some reason I didn't use English, but maybe that was because I didn't want to fully showcase my identity.