Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jewel of January

It's been awfully warm for winter lately.*  And by "awfully" I really mean awesomely.  Because of this good fortune you forget about the blacks, greys, and navys or the coats, hats and boots.  Instead you bring out that button down shirt you've never worn before, the one that's so bright you risk looking like an amethyst quartz in public.  So I guess that's where "jewel tone" comes from...

This was my church outfit... When I got dressed it seemed suitable.  A little loud, but suitable.  Now looking at these photos, I'm thinking "a lotta loud" and that the whole thing is quite a bit dressy.  Or maybe it's in the way I'm posing.  Who is that girl and where the party at?  
The Lola flower is not as tasty as anticipated
Whoa, the amethyst button-down with an outrageously large collar is 100% silk!  My mother gifts me gems (because present-me is highly unlikely to purchase anything like it).  Had to wear a tank underneath; button-downs have never been my friends (silent sigh for the classic gaping hole at the bust).  The dress shirt is a man's shirt, but women seem to really enjoy taking what was originally and solely men's garments.  Wait, I do benefit from the option of pants so I must enjoy the taking too.  Oh, pants from Summerly and wedges to elevate myself (from dumpy and squat to towering glamour).

Tell me all your secrets
I wonder if I've taken a few steps back in my self-taught, improvisation photography... My face isn't in focus and getting good close-ups of detail is an art I have yet to learn. :o  Anyway, I shot in the middle of the day with the sun shining exceptionally bright.  The first photos are out in the open with ISO 100/no flash and I had to watch out for where my shadows fell.  The photo right above was taken in a huge overcast and I tried to change the white balance to more closely match the other takes.  Result: somehow the color of the pants is much brighter.  That's what differential lighting does to ya.

Outfit Details
Catherine Malandrino dress shirt
H&M tank 
Gap legging jean(s)
Sam Edelman wedges
purple and black earrings from that one place
(mismatched) Michael Kors clutch

 P.S. My cousin commented on my sky blue nail color choice the other day, saying he likes it and that it's an uncommon color for the current season.  He actually said something like that and I was about to engage him with "Yeah, you're right.  This pastel is not usually a winter color."  But then I looked again at who I was talking to and said "I'm going to pretend you didn't make that comment..."  We both laughed as I left his room.  I'm reminded of that now because of the bold, contrasting colors in the outfit.  Just out of the ordinary, out of season.

*until today when winter decided to return

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Music Review | Perpetual Phases and Maxine Ashley

Still fighting through a Beyoncé binge, but I thought it'd be cool to formally review (or rather, voice random semi-structured opinions about) some music I like.  Several periods of my life are associated with a certain phase of listening to a particular artist or album.  Associated and not defined because many times the lyrics do not mirror the goings-on in my life at all; the music was just a brief constant.  Constant joy, in a perpetual phase.  Hmmm...maybe I should revisit some of those phases.

Photo Credit
Right before I traveled in December I had nine songs on repeat from this cool artist Maxine Ashley.  I think I Googled something involving the phrase "R&B artists" and got to a site listing nice mixtapes and EPs from up and coming peoples.  Ten seconds into the first song and I needed to download MOODSWINGs EP.  Her voice, the production, the lyrics... I don't know, I just really enjoyed everything.  Actually, it was probably the vibe I felt from it before anything else.  Just cool-sounding.  And you should want to listen to cool-sounding music.  Listen on her soundcloud, get it on her website (or her soundcloud too)!

Número Uno: Between You & I 
There's a relationship brewing and these two need to figure out what they want and say what it is.  The music is very chill and there are muted layers in the chorus.  And I would never let you know cause I don't even think I know how I'm supposed to feel or if it's really real.

#2: By Your Side
Oooh, being in love and having a strong desire to be with the one you love.  I like the spirited melody in the middle breakdown/bridge (goodness, I wish I knew what makes the sounds). And there's a piece of me that never wants to leave your side. 

Three is Magic: Mary (Prelude)
So I know absolutely nothing about the psychedelic experience or that time period in pop culture but the music in this prelude made me think of that feeling.  Even the album art reflects that feel.  She is your paradise and she has you high. Trapped under her spell.  I guess Mary is that psychedelic drug...

Numbah Fo': Perpetual Nights
Beat, beat, beat, beat.  Nice and steady groove to this.  And there's some joyous horn section going on during the chorus.  I'd like to think I can without a doubt identify all instruments playing a part (wasn't I supposed to be a band nerd or something?)...the horns sound like trumpets there, skilled and smooth-sounding trumpeters instead of overbearing, annoying trumpeters.  But it is professional work, so the former should be expected, right?  Perpetual hiiiiiigh, perpetual niiiiiights. Star gazin'.

FIVE: In My Songs (Interlude)
Maxine Ashley doesn't sing on this, it's gospel great Mahalia Jackson on the first stanza of her "I'm Going To Live the Life I Sing About In My Song" (I definitely had to Google that).  I like the tone it sets and I suppose it's the beginning of a message that resonates with Maxine Ashley.  (Because the Internet) I found this short introduction on Interview Magazine's website where she says that music is "her life.  It's what I want, and I'm gonna get it."  So she better live the life she sings about and sing the life she lives.

Pick Up Six: Glory Box
Slow, sexy, makes you close your eyes and get lost in it.  The occasional harmonies sound beautiful and the rest of the time Maxine Ashley's voice alone is so slick.  Give me a reason to love you, give me a reason to be...a woman.

Lucky Seven: Reciprocity
All I can say is "Give this girl what she deserves!"  Um...or I like this one a lot probably because of the echoing "oh's," the funky-ish guitar (it's a guitar right?) and the lyrics.  So, basically everything about it.  I've been waiting, anticipating.  Something's got to give.

Oh, Eight: A Minute of Moments
This one is probably my favorite.  The beginning sounds kind of warped, a controlled warp with the guitar and glob sounds (yeah, that's the best description I can give).  The way she pronounces the word "baby" and that guitar solo conclusion though...  Sometimes a girl needs to be on her own.  So I'm doing this alone.

Nein 9!: Here We Are (Bonus)
♩ La da di, la da da    You have to bob to this, groove to this, just move to this.  It's definitely dance music but not in that repetitive is-this-the-same-song kind of way.  So let's blast off to Mars, didn't think we'd get this far.  Get a good look 'cause here we are.

B for effort .  I'm definitely not a music journalist.  If it sounds good and makes you feel good...why always try to describe or dissect it?  Oo-oh, maybe because dissecting helps to understand the production process, which can be impressive.  People who create rhythms, melodies, and harmonies, layers that fit perfectly, subtle details you hear on the tenth listen-- they have an amazing talent.  Well, this was fun.

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Something About Don't Care

what an insufferable moment
(the man on the sofa agrees)
My mostly natural-textured hair has recently been disguised with long twists.  This is what happens when I re-enter school or work with what seems to be an impossibly drastic change in hairstyle.

"Your hair grew!"  I used to employ a hidden eye roll for this comment but now I say "Yup!" with the same enthusiasm.

"You braid your hair like this every night?!"  A kid in my ninth grade biology class asked me this.  I think I answered yes.  

The other way around--when I deceived people from the beginning with my extension twists and then later removed them.  "You took out your dreads! Your haircut looks so good."  Brief deadpan.  Um...they weren't dreads but thanks.  Maybe I should have educated her about the difference.  Oh and about how I didn't get a haircut.  Hmm...

So, there are some women who hate when strangers touch their hair...usually without asking.  Or they find anyone who dares touch to be strange.  And with good reason.  Remember the elementary school classroom rule "Keep your hands to yourself"?  Always after the one about respect and the one about raising your hand to speak.  Well, that rule actually remains in effect for the rest of your life.  Unless someone has invited you to touch them-- explicitly or you know, with their eyes-- just don't.

Others don't mind.  It's just whatever.  Maybe the uninvited touch is not a major violation of personal space.  Or it's an opportunity to educate.  "You're so interested in my hair you want to touch it? Well let me tell you a few things..."  One of which might very well be "Don't pet people like they're goats at the zoo."  Ask and if you find it too uncomfortable to ask then the action is not meant for you anyway.  

I'm in the middle with this.  If you're a little girl who likes to play with hair, by all means, touch away.  As long as I'm not busy with anything.  Give me a haphazard ponytail (with several strands left out).  Braid from root to end.  Fold it into nothing.  It's strangely soothing to me.  But if you're an adult and I'm not paying you to manipulate my hair...

Today a co-worker came up to me while I sat at my desk and said "I've been wanting to touch your hair."  Then she touched the individual twists but I didn't object.  I think I made a confused face (wondering WHY?) which she didn't see because I continued to write in my case as she asked questions and never turned toward her.

"How long did it take?"  

"About four hours."

"Oh, it doesn't look braided all the way."  

"The ends are dipped in hot water to seal them."  

Then there was a compliment, some comment about me with long hair and the exchange was done.  I wasn't bothered with it (although it may seem like it the way I've written).  Her questions and desire to touch made me think about human curiosity and boundaries.  Is personal space limited to the body?  Does hair not count because it's technically "dead" or simply not (biologically) yours?  Once, not too long ago, I really wanted to touch this guy's hair.  It looked so soft and curly but I resisted.  If only to avoid the weirdness.  Why am I trying to touch dig my fingers as deep as the length will allow in this guy's hair?  No good reason? No good season.  And I felt it uncomfortable to ask.

I let boundaries restrain my curiosity.  Everyone should know how and when to do that.  And when to use Google when you want to know something.  Maybe visit a museum on extensions, weaves and wigs.  Does anything like that exist?!

Happy Tuesday!