good hair — November 19, 2017

good hair

 

I like my baby heir, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils. – Beyoncé “Formation”

One of the first questions black women would ask me when I was out in public with A as a little baby was, “Do you know what to do with her hair?” They approached us in restaurants, on airplanes, even walking down the street, with a concerned expression. I’ve always been happy to get their advice.

Natural hair bloggers, Instagram tutorials, and YouTube videos have also been helpful as I try to figure it out.

11 Huge Healthy Afro Hacks (Type 4a/4b/4c) Natural Hair

Complete Toddler Regimen

I spend about twice as much money on A’s hair care products and tools than I do on my own. I started deep conditioning, finger-detangling, and experimenting with puffs and two strand twists when she was around 18 months old. Now I can do very simple braids, too. Here’s a recent effort.

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I’ve always been a makeup and hair product junkie. I find beauty supply stores intoxicating. Now I have another head of hair to take care of, one that couldn’t possibly be more different than mine. My hair is slightly wavy, very fine, and thinning. A’s curls are endless and defy gravity.

We spend an hour or two every Sunday putting it in a protective style, which needs refreshing a few times, but lasts about 5 or 6 days.

This is one of my earlier efforts. My parts were still a little wonky then and her head looked a bit like a grenade, but I don’t hate it.

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My goal is to get good enough at doing her hair that the styles last longer than a week. I want her scalp to be healthy and her hair to grow long and fabulous. It will let my daughter know that she’s worthy of lots of care, it will signal to other people that she’s well cared for, and wash day is mother-daughter time that I enjoy every week. I genuinely love every second of it.

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Adoption Basics — November 11, 2017

Adoption Basics

I’m very excited about an upcoming workshop I’m presenting in the San Fernando Valley on December 10. As a marriage and family therapy intern and also an adoptive mother, this workshop will be an amalgamation of my two interests. It’s called “Adoption Basics” and will be for people who are considering adoption but feel overwhelmed by all the decisions or don’t know where to start. I will be answering the most frequently asked questions and presenting information about cost, wait times, fears and concerns, etc. Feel free to join us if you can!

adoption basics flyer

Louie Was Propaganda for Louis C.K.’s Decency. How Does It Look Now? — November 10, 2017
some decent advice from Morrissey — October 16, 2017

some decent advice from Morrissey

…about reducing news consumption. I understand all the arguments to the contrary: they say now is not the time to stop paying attention. Now is not the time to become complacent or (worse yet) hopeless. The people making those arguments make a lot of sense. The world does feel like a dystopian nightmare most of the time and I admire members of the resistance for staying informed and fighting back. But what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for everyone. And when I take a break from the news for a day or two – even for a week here and there – I feel much, much better.

Morrisse
photo credit: Jake Walters

Spent the Day in Bed by Morrissey

“I recommend that you stop watching the news / Because the news contrives to frighten you / To make you feel small and alone / To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”

The Guardian (back in 2013) made this case for giving up the news as well. In addition to all the ways news consumption doesn’t help our understanding of the world, it negatively affects our health, much like a steady diet of junk food.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.

For years, people have suggested that I go on a news fast but I said I couldn’t do it. Now, the current state of affairs nationally and globally is so dire, dark, and desperate that it’s time to try a new approach. My young daughter knows (on some level) when I’m fending off anxiety or despair after making the mistake of reading the day’s headlines. I want her to understand the world and be curious about what’s happening, but she’s still in diapers. I’m still trying to find the right balance between staying sane and staying informed. Chances are, I will go back to following the news and being politically involved again. But today, I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend if I let all of it unfold without being under my vigilant watch.

It finally cooled off enough to leave the house today — September 6, 2017
I work here now! — June 21, 2017
quick update — January 22, 2017

quick update

It seems I haven’t updated this blog since June 8, 2015. Our daughter was born that day, although I didn’t realize it at the time. We were chosen by her birthmother as adoptive parents the next morning, and told to rush to the hospital to meet her.

I’m going to preserve our daughter’s privacy and instead of using her name, I’ll refer to her by her first initial, A.

Man oh man is this a terrific baby. A is feisty, talkative, and confident. Her default setting is happy and relaxed.

My husband and I waited a very long time for her. Most of our time as a couple had been marked with epic losses and disappointments, and now we’re ridiculously happy, almost all the time.

Three days a week, I hang out with A.  Three days a week, I train as a therapist intern, under supervision, seeing individuals and couples. I specialize in depth psychology and I co-facilitate a therapy group for waiting adoptive parents.

My Linked In profile

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the last 19 months. How about you?

School’s out forever  — June 8, 2015

School’s out forever 

When I earned my bachelor’s degree 412 years ago, a surprising number of people asked me if I planned to go to grad school. And I told them all the same thing:

“HELL NO. I never want to write another paper again!”

And then I must have forgotten, because I went to back to school in 2012 to earn my Masters in Psychology and wrote so very, very many papers. Today was my last class.

So let me state unequivocally to the Internet, everyone who knows me, and most of all myself. I really am done with writing papers. Seriously. That’s enough school.

My husband, the neighbors and I celebrated on the front porch with some champagne. Also, it’s worth noting I have literally had this song running on a continuous loop in my head for the last few days:

I especially enjoy the can-can at 2:22. I am the giant, blue monster with the orange boxing shorts.

Out to pasture — June 4, 2015
RIP David Carr and Harris Wittels — February 23, 2015

RIP David Carr and Harris Wittels

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I’ve been really sad lately about the loss of two talented writers, neither of whom I knew personally, but both of whom struggled with addiction and died too young. Both men were brilliant and – in spite of being hooked on drugs – achieved enormous professional success. David Carr was the media columnist for The New York Times and succumbed to cancer Feb. 12 at the age of 58. Carr relapsed and recovered from his addictions several times and wrote eloquently about his weakness for crack cocaine. In The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own, Carr wrote:

Where does a junkie’s time go? Mostly in 15-minute increments, like a bug-eyed Tarzan, swinging from hit to hit. For months on end in 1988, I sat inside a house in north Minneapolis, doing coke and listening to Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ and finding my own pathetic resonance in the lyrics. ‘Any place is better,’ she sang. ‘Starting from zero, got nothing to lose.’ After shooting or smoking a large dose, there would be the tweaking and a vigil at the front window, pulling up the corner of the blinds to look for the squads I was always convinced were on their way. All day. All night. A frantic kind of boring. End-stage addiction is mostly about waiting for the police, or someone, to come and bury you in your shame.

It’s worth noting that being an addict never slowed down his career. When interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air by Terry Gross, Carr spoke about how he managed to reach such professional heights in spite of his demons:

I did try drinking again. It didn’t go very well. My work never suffered, per se. My work rarely did. It’s always the last thing to go. But if you took all of the functioning alcoholics and addicts out of the American economy, you’d be taking out a lot of firepower and a lot of talent.

But my favorite part of the interview is when he discussed turning his life over to a higher power as part of a 12 step program:

So am I, underneath all things, just a really wonderful, giving person, or is there a force greater than myself that is leading me to act in ways that are altruistic and not self-interested and lead to the greater good? And so that’s sort of as far as I’ve gotten with the higher power thing, as is I’m – you know, I’m kind of a pirate, kind of a thug. I mean, I’ve done a bunch of terrible things, and yet, I’m able to, for the most part, be a decent person. How is that? Do I have some inner strength of character? I think not. I think something else is working on me.

Harris Wittels was a brilliantly funny stand up comic and TV writer, who wrote for The Sarah Silverman Show, Eastbound and Down, and Parks and Rec. He died at the age of 30 on Feb. 19, after what police say appears to be a drug related incident at his home. The night before he died, he performed a set at Meltdown (a favorite spot to see alternative comedy in a dumpy room behind a comic book store in Hollywood), and according to those in the audience, he implied that the was off drugs and spoke about how he was in a “good place.”

Here’s an article in The Atlantic about Wittels’ popularity among other comedians and comedy writers, and chronicling his many appearances on TV shows and comedy podcasts. Here’s another tribute on A.V. Club.

Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari knew Wittels from Parks and Rec and was developing a TV series with him at the time of his death. Here is a link to the Tumblr post Ansari wrote this week, about how devastated he feels about losing his friend:

His jokes were so weird, unexpected, often brilliantly dumb that they were in that ultra-exclusive club of ones that made comedy people laugh — and laugh hard. This was why Harris was such a go-to for everyone. Anyone that was ever in a writers room with him knew he was probably the funniest comedy writer out there. He was just a machine.

So there are two sets of professional colleagues reeling with loss, two bodies of work ended far too soon, and two more reminders of the insidious nature of addiction and its heavy cost.