Jewels of the Week (July 15-21)

Habit is consistency, consistency is habit

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words; discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” — James Baldwin

These days I’m real big on structure, being consistent with myself, and just generally taking shit seriously. Taking myself seriously. I’ve been sleeping on myself for so long and the funniest part is how mad I am at myself everyday for not being further along, as if it’s anybody’s fault but my own that I haven’t been putting in the work. Nothing besides the ole bout of depression here and there has been actively stopping me from writing and posting on a consistent basis. My greatest mistake was constantly waiting for inspiration to strike me so that I could continue writing again, instead of sitting down and doing it everyday regardless of whether or not I was inspired. I once prided myself on the fact that I didn’t write often, because I only did it when I was really inspired. In my defense, some of my favorite blog posts are ones that took forever for me to finish because I didn’t want to publish it until I knew in my soul that it was fully fleshed out and I edited every sentence until it couldn’t be remixed anymore.

Musicians who take several year-long breaks in-between releasing their work are my favorites because they take their time with it, but an integral part of that process that I forgot is that these musicians are practicing their craft everyday. They’re writing down any inspiration for lyrics that come to them, practicing their vocals, listening to other people’s work for inspiration, experimenting with different sounds, and in the studio often during those “breaks”. They’re always doing something to keep that music muscle strong and that’s where I fell short at. It took Solange 4 years to complete A Seat At The Table, you can tell she took her time with that album because of how magnificent and intentional each song and interlude was. Every beat, every strum, every note, every word on every song had its own purpose that worked in tandem with each other to create something full of beauty and meaning.

I’ve started journaling every day for the past 2 months and it’s been amazing not only for my personal growth and mental health but for my writing muscle as well. Since starting school again in the spring I’ve developed a daily routine for myself and I’ve begun to realize how crucial it is to have structure in your life, even for your days off. I wake up at 6am everyday and I love it, I love knowing I haven’t wasted my day already by sleeping in too late.

I was thinking the other day of how many bad habits the average person has, there are a lot of them and we don’t even realize it. I forget to take my antidepressants all the time even though they’re right next to my bed on my nightstand. I wait until I have no more underwear left to do my laundry most of the time instead of doing it every Sunday like my mother would constantly tell me to, because it’s really just easier that way. I don’t wash my dishes right after I use them. I don’t do my weekly chemical peels to treat my dark spots, despite consistency being an integral part of treating dark spots.

We have so many bad and unproductive habits that we could easily turn into good habits. Just like we fell into the habit of being messy and unproductive, we can fall into the habit of being orderly and productive, it’s really the same thing when you think about it. The only difference is that one set of habits will actually benefit you in the short-term and the long run. Transforming our habitual nature can seem daunting and hard at first, but the first part is literally just getting up to do it. Get out of bed and sort your laundry, pop that Prozac, do the dishes, outline a blog post. Take your time with it until you’ve completed it, and repeat it again and again until it becomes second nature and your Speedy Gonzales with the shits. It’s a marathon, not a race. 🏁


BLK MKT VINTAGE HOME INTERIOR

I used to be clown people for being obsessed with Pinterest but I see the appeal now, it’s like Tumblr for grown people. I have one for home interiors and what I would want my future house/apartment to look like and these pictures via Essence from the owners of BLK MKT Vintage is right up my alley. Neutral colors with warm, muted accents and an earthy, almost bohemian touch is what I’m really into right now when it comes to interiors. I want my future home to be a safe space that I never want to escape from and that also serves as an altar of sorts to Black American culture, showcasing it in every corner of the house. I want to be surrounded by memorabilia that reminds me of who I am, where I came from, and a million and one reasons to keep it pushing because if not for me then for the culture at the very least. We deserve that.


Minimalist Fashion

A thread on the story behind Steve Job’s infamous black turtleneck really intrigued me and inspired me to come up with my own personal uniform, as all iconic people do. People like Anna Wintour, Barack Obama, and Karl Lagerfeld have a specific outfit that they always wear that they’re known for but most importantly one that they’re completely comfortable with. There are 2 main reasons for this:

  1. Having a person uniform helps to further solidify your personal identity. It shows consistency and makes you more memorable to those around you.

  2. It promotes efficiency in your day to day life by becoming one less thing that you have to waste time and energy deciding on, letting you focus on more important things and saving time throughout the day. Having a solid daily routine will always make your days run smoother and help you save your energy for what really matters.

I didn’t realize how much time I often wasted picking out my outfits everyday until I learned about personal branding and having your own uniform. Establishing yourself and your own specific style can take you a very long way because not only does it make decision-making easier, shopping for yourself and feeling confident everyday will be a cakewalk. Life is 100% easier when you know yourself.

I’ve always been drawn to muted, warm, and neutral colors especially when it comes to wardrobe. I’m a Capricorn so earthy tones are a no-brainer, plus I like always like to be comfortable and have a masculine touch to my outfits because I really am a tomboy at heart.


NOXZEMA CLEANSING CREAM

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We’re getting old school and giving big ups to my problematic fave of choice, Noxzema. This cream cleanser is surprisingly effective and does what it needs to do; keeps my skin clean and clear. I didn’t think I would be able to get by in the summer with just a cream cleanser but this one is strong enough to get my skin clean while still being gentle and not clogging my pores.

It gets a bad rep for not having the best ingredients, with things like menthol and eucalyptus it gives the skin a tingly, cooling sensation that I actually like though. I don’t know what’s in this stuff that helps keep my skin clear but it works. When I first bought this my forehead had a bunch of tiny little pimples in its beginning stage and closed comedones, but this quickly got rid of it. I apply it on my skin while dry, rub it in for 1 minute, and let it sit for about 3 minutes or so then I rinse. Plus the tub it huge and will last you for a long time, and it’s only like $6 for 12oz of product.


KOFFEE - RAPTURE EP

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As with most things I discovered Koffee on Twitter after seeing her perform Toast live on BBC Radio (her cover of Ye by Burna Boy is dope too) and was bopping immediately. I made the decision this year to put in the effort in expanding my music library and it’s paid off because I’ve discovered a lot of dope shit including Koffee’s EP Rapture. I’ve been listening to it everyday during my commute since I discovered it about 3 weeks ago, it’s the perfect EP to get me out of my morning funk which is everyday since I’m not a morning person. I’ve recently been growing increasingly bored with the usual mainstream rap and whiny new-age R&B I’ve been listening to and instead leaning more towards old-school R&B, jazz, neo-soul, film scores, and afrobeats. I definitely wanna start listening to music from throughout the diaspora so I’m starting with mainstream artists and working my way underground.


WELL-READ BLACK GIRL BY GLORY EDIM

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I’m getting older which means technology, especially social media, isn’t as appealing to me as it once was, despite its extreme convenience. Nowadays when I have free time I don’t even like to have my phone in my hand, I’m taking myself more seriously which includes respecting my own time and spending it wisely. There’s nothing productive or wise about scrolling through twitter for hours with recycled conversations about dating/hypergamy, white people being mad about *spins topic wheel* mermaids, and performative dragging. It’s very tired. I’m very tired. So instead I’ve been challenging myself to break the phone-in-hand habit and replace it with a book instead, and it’s been working. All About Love by bell hooks is what reignited my love for leisurely reading and transformed how I love in this world, so I have her to thank for implementing this new habit.

Now whenever I read, whether it be on social media, an article, or a book, my goal is to read with intention. Each time I read I want to be able to understand and learn something new and take new information with me that’s important and useful, not reading words for the sake of consuming content. My mind is precious and I’ll only feed it with the best information, not continuously poison it.

I’m only halfway through but this book has inspired me in so many ways in such a short amount of time. My favorite essays so far are Gal: A Hard Row To Hoe by Gabourey Sidibe, Why I Keep Coming Back To Jamaica by Veronica Chambers, Two New Yorks by Zinzi Clemons, Her Own Best Thing by Tayari Jones and Dreaming Awake by N.K. Jemison. Damn near the whole book but still, these essays in particular addressed and explored aspects of Black girlhood and young adulthood that I have yet to see elsewhere, narratives that I wish I had read about when I was a little younger so that I wouldn’t have felt so alone in everything that I was experiencing with trying to figure out who I was, being the oldest child, and learning how to love myself and other people in a healthy way.

Even though the recollection of my childhood is spotty—something I now chalk up to the longterm effects of depression—I do remember being an avid reader and always being proud of my little bookshelf collection. It’s really pleasant and fulfilling somehow to read about all the ways in which literature has influenced and changed the lives of these brilliant writers, probably because I’m experiencing those same turning points as I read for leisure more often, so I can relate having such an important relationship with books.


Grey’s Anatomy

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I haven’t been watching this recent season since it hasn’t been capturing my attention because to be honest, the magic of Grey’s left a long time ago. But I have been rewatching from the beginning as I regularly do whenever I wanna engage in some non-invasive self-harm and get into my medical bag. Three characters that I will forever love and keep revisiting this show for is Meredith, Cristina, and Miranda, they’re the Holy Trinity of Grey’s for me. As I get older and continue to revisit this show from time to time and soak up the array of messages that are embedded in each episode, I realize more and more how much I see myself in each character.

I never fully realized how much trauma Meredith carried with her everyday at the hands of her parents and Derek, mostly because she shrugs it off so well and is high-functioning despite it all. “My mom tried to kill herself when the love of her life left her”, Meredith tells her therapist this while going Through It™ after her and Derek broke up for the umpteenth time. Meredith and Derek had the kind of relationship that I and many other viewers can unfortunately relate to, and it really takes a toll after a while. The human body can only deal with so many ups and downs and so much back to back trauma before we give up and say fuck it because there’s no fight left in us, no matter how bad we want it. On top of that, each day she was still slowly working through her mommy issues that resulted from having an overbearing yet emotionally absent mother. The growth that she experienced and that I witnessed in her character arc from her actively learning from her mother’s mistakes with infidelity, insecurities, love, and navigating the medical field as a woman is something that I really do enjoy seeing over and over again. Never thought I would love and relate to a white woman so much, but I learn something new about myself every time I watch this show.

Cristina Yang embodies the rare kind of ambition that you don’t see everyday, I have yet to come across someone as driven as her. I want to use the word obnoxious to describe her but that doesn’t feel right, as obnoxious would indicate annoyance being present but I’ve never been annoyed by Cristina Yang’s character and her ways, not in the least bit. The habits and qualities she possesses that others see as inhibiting, overbearing, and annoying, I see them as tools to be used to get through life successfully. She never spent obscene amounts of time being sad and crying over men, she never let the emotional nature of her job get in the way of her performance, and she even kissed ass a lot and I don’t think she ever viewed it as something that would hurt her ego because she knew being in the good grace’s of those she looked up to would take her far, and her career was way more meaningful than her ego or how annoying other’s thought she was.

Lastly, Miranda Bailey is the stern Black woman I’ve always been afraid of but have also greatly admired and respected because of the fear she instilled in me, but also because self-respect radiates off of women like her and undeniably so. We all know a woman like her; a Black woman who doesn’t play with the bullshit, she gets right to the point, she takes her job seriously, and she demands respect with the notorious hand on the hip and purse of the lips. She’s frighteningly intimidating despite her being so small, but her confidence and the bass in her voice makes up for it completely. In 6x15 the show went back in time to show Bailey as a young resident, with box braids, glasses, and a timid nature that the current Bailey would chew up and spit out for breakfast. It’s unsurprising to me that her rock-hard exterior came as a result of constantly being stepped over and taken advantage of. Bailey’s personal journey is one that I keep in the back of my mind to remind myself that I am entitled to changing, growth, and being my best defender, regardless of how scared or uncomfortable it makes other people feel.

I love these complicated women and I love Shonda Rhimes for writing them into existence with so much pain that almost feels tangible if you get close enough to the screen, and so much nuance that every character’s highs and lows hits every version and corner of you, even the ones you try to avoid and keep in the dark.


Jack Harlow - Loose EP

To know me is to know that I don’t really fuck with any white rappers (or nonblack in general for that matter), and for this reason I’m extremely picky about what rappers I listen to. I’ll never be here for white people’s excessive braggadocio, flexing their jewels and fortunes like their ancestors didn’t pillage every continent to rob people of those very things and invent white supremacy. Sit down Rebecca and Dillard. I fuck with Jack Harlow though cause the nigga wears New Balances and glasses like the white boy he is, he’s comfortable with himself and doesn’t try to be anything he’s not. The first song I heard from him was Dark Knight which still slaps, the video went viral about a year or two ago but I’m only just now getting into his EP Loose from last year. I listen to this EP literally everyday. He’s smooth and confident on every song without being boisterous and loud, that’s the type of shit I like to hear. What caught my attention though with his rapping, besides the fact that it’s actually good, was his Southern accent. That’s not something you can fake, at least in my opinion. My mans was born and raised in Kentucky and doesn’t pretend to be anything but himself. He got his own style, riding his own wave, and isn’t trying to fit in with anybody or anything. White Boy of the Month award goes to him.


Euphoria

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This show has definitely joined the ranks of Skins and Degrassi because there’s nothing I love more than raw, realistic depictions of teenhood and young adulthood, I really can never get enough of it. There’s only 5 episodes so far and I’ve rewatched all of them several times because it’s that good to me, but also because I love Rue and Jules both together and separately. They have that special kind of friendship where all types of love exists, romantic and platonic alike, and their love for each other transcends any sort of binary relationship. They love each other and aren’t afraid of physical affection but they aren’t in a rush to even acknowledge their feelings and take action on it. They serve as each other’s support system through the drugs, addictions, phobias, and unpredictable terrain of suburban teen life. And that’s what matters at the end of the day for them, having each other regardless of the nature of their relationship.

Rue intrigues me the most, not because she’s portrayed by Zendaya (who’s doing a magnificent job in this show by the way, I’m genuinely excited to see where her career goes after this) and is the protagonist, but because aside from her drug addiction, her struggle also lies in trying to accept the mundane realities of life and the often unsuccessful attempts we go through to make something of it all. She’s bored as fuck with life and sees it for what it is, which is nothing. And I totally understand her.

“There’s nothing I’m really passionate about, you know? Like I’m not dying to say or do anything really. And every time I admit that to people they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh that’s so sad!’ but I think that’s the case for most people. You know? Like when I look at my mom or like the kids at my school, like their profiles or their posts and their Tumblr rants, you realize they’re all just fucked up too, and lost. They just have a reason to mask it, whether it be like their friends, their family, or their boyfriends or their hashtag activism. And they’re just reaching for something to make it all seem meaningful. But sometimes I just sit and think, ‘What’s the point?’”

Her classmates are using sex and drugs to make up for their shortcomings and insecurities, unsure of where they’re going when high school ends and trying to get through each day with their dysfunctional home lives. There’s nothing new at all about this narrative and phase of life, but that doesn’t make it any less real or relatable. Many people are averse to shows like this because of their graphic nature but we all know life is rough and doesn’t discriminate against age, so the feigned shock and scandalization I’ve been seeing is getting really old.

Maybe I’m having a pre-midlife crisis or because like 7 different planets are in lemonade but I’ve been feeling the same way the past few weeks. I think you feel lost when you can see the world visibly crumbling around you and you feel like you don’t have a firm grip on what your purpose is supposed to be. It feels like a race against time everyday, trying to give your life meaning with the time we have left. Otherwise it’ll be all for nothing, the suffering, the bullshit, the hardships.

To make matters worse, we don’t seem to be learning from history, whether it’s from the recent or distant past. We’re consistently being led by people that insist on repeating the same mistakes over and over again as a society. It also doesn’t help when you look back at all the activists, artists, and writers that have come before us and come to see that virtually nothing has changed. People have dedicated their lives to fighting for so much and it seems like it was all in vain. Is inspiring people to simply keep pedaling on in the rat race enough? Is it worth anything? I don’t know. What I do know is that Rue is right about there seemingly being no point to life, but I guess it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.


Living single

Watching this show when I get home from a tiresome day has become an integral part of my daily routine because I need a good laugh and a lighthearted distraction from life, we all do. I love all the characters on this show but Maxine Shaw, Attorney at Law and Suit-Wearing Extraordinaire, is my favorite. She fits the bill of my ongoing love for ambitious women on-screen, always on the hunt for the next case to win and scarfing down Khadija’s food while engaging in a rather heated undercover-lover’s quarrel with Kyle. Maxine’s wardrobe is one that I would undoubtedly poison someone with arsenic for because she was a part-time tomboy like me and incorporated menswear in her looks a lot, which I love dearly.

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