Neighborhood stroll...

Neighborhood stroll…

Over the weekend as I was walking to the post office to send my mother a letter (yes, we do that sometimes lol) I found myself staring up at the buildings around me-not only in slight disbelief that I am living this life, but also in slight disgust. There’s a substantial part of my being who despises paying rent, utilities and other money-pits that are offering me zero return or incentives. Reluctantly, sometimes I include college tuition/loans in this category as well. And that’s when I got to thinking…
Americans have got the game messed up.
When you look at other cultures in the world, African, Middle Eastern and Asian included, many require their young adults to continue living with them well into their adult years. They desire their youngest contributing members of the community to work, earn decent livings and save their money for many of life’s milestones that have yet to come. These will include marriage, children, and the eventual responsibility of the family’s elderly.
In addition they also encourage their children to work hard and find a vocation. By the time many of these kids are enrolled in somebody’s college, if they ultimately wind up attending college, they have a great idea of what they need to get out of it so that minimal time is wasted.
Here in America, the culture tells you to enjoy high school, then immediately enroll in some form of overpriced higher education that is supposed to eventually support the rest of your life-long endeavors, hopes and dreams. There’s a great chance that you will enroll in a program that you probably haven’t given the most thought to because who’s able to make those sort of life-long decisions when you’re just a kid yourself? Upon graduation your parents are kicking you out of the door, cutting off your insurance and wishing you good luck.
But what if American culture coddled their young adults a bit more? Allowed them to take a break after high school to really consider what working life is like? Would they not make better choices when it came time to picking a school, major and other activities? What if the young adults could hold off paying rent a little longer? Were encouraged to pay a light or cable bill, keep gas in their cars and be given enough time to adequately figure out the employment and relationship thing out? Because ultimately, in another 40 years or so it’s going to be these same parents relying on those kids to make sure they’re comfortable in their old age.
I guess I’ll continue to stew over this later this evening as I’m leaving a job/career I didn’t go to college for and consequently don’t see myself at long-term and to an apartment who’s rent is more than the average mortgage payment in my hometown.

Happy Veteran’s Day!


Each eleven November

We all should remember

Every service member

Who left a glowing ember

-Quentin Ehlinger

Robert L. Yancey, a US veteran better known as the best Papa in the world to his grandkids (as pictured) myself, Kenny, Ty, and Shelby.

Robert L. Yancey, a US Korean War veteran, better known as the best Papa in the world to his grandkids (as pictured) myself, Kenny, Ty, and Shelby.

It’s a Photo Shoot!

cafe henriLast weekend I was finally able to link up with a couple girlfriends that I haven’t seen in weeks.  We met for brunch at a French café, Café Henri, that was simply amazing and afterwards found ourselves roaming the calm streets of West Village.

Sunita and Christina are both fashion bloggers who take their industry very seriously.  When I suggested that we take a picture or two, I had NO IDEA that I was signing up for a photo shoot.   The next thing I know, they each whipped out their powerful Nikon cameras, found absolutely beautiful backdrops and began snapping away.



“Raise your sleeve a bit so we can see your gorgeous wrist accessories.  Yup, amazing!”


“Right there Ashley, in front of that door!  Yes!  It goes perfect with your outfit!”


“Look natural!  The pictures don’t work when you’re trying to hard.  Beautiful!”


Then after reviewing several photos, they exclaimed, “Yes, here it is!  This is the shot.  This is it!

blog-the shot

Out of all of those pictures however, this one is my favorite.

blog-all three of us


It’s the Little Things…

little things“Ashley honey, I’ve never known you to have issues with acne,” my mother told me while looking intently at my face during a recent trip home.  “So what’s been going on with you up there?  Have you been taking care of yourself?” she gently prodded.

I hung my head.  The truth is I had not been.  My normally smooth, nearly flawless complexion had been marked with several acne scars with a few surface bumps scattered throughout my cheeks for good measure.  My cheap(er) concealer did a decent job of covering the imperfections, but it obviously wasn’t enough.  While I’d been doing a pretty good job of hiding behind my makeup and busy schedule, my mother saw right through the smoke and mirrors that nobody else does.  I was embarrassed.

“Well,” I hesitated.  “It’s hard Mom.  I’ve just gotten so busy and haven’t been eating like I should…”

“It’s okay baby.  It’ll get better,” she said reassuringly, sensing that I had gotten uncomfortable.  Wanting to avoid any conflict, she gently steered the conversation to more pleasant things but of course her words stuck with me.  Once back in NYC I found myself forking over my hard-earned cash for the expensive skin care products that never fail.

But isn’t that the thing with parents?  They have a way of honing in on those little things that seem to go unnoticed by everyone.  The next thing you know, you’re making all of these changes sparked by one seemingly minor comment.

Since visiting home while, I’ve worked on clearing up my complexion issues I’ve really gone overboard when it comes to cooking, cleaning and organizing.  I’ve lightweight overhauled my life.  My mother’s home was in impeccable condition and I was embarrassed when I walked into my own apartment and realized she would not approve.  While I’ve never been a messy person, there was no denying that my overflowing laundry basket should have been washed at least a week or two earlier, that my trash needed to go out, that my floors could use a good mop,  that my fridge could use more green veggies and less condiments…the list can go on for days.

Overall sometimes we need those reality checks.  We get so caught up in being busy that we forget to take care of those little things that when combined affect major change.  Since doing those little things, overall I feel more settled, more organized and more at peace.  It’s easier to be productive, to focus and to stay on task.  And when you have a busy schedule, these are the things that will make or break you.  Some days you eat the bear and other days the bear eats you.  Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of bears.

Thanks Mom.

Halloween 2013

I’ve always loved Halloween.  As a creative personality, I get immense joy from seeing how others put together their costumes and make their garb work for them.  I love the tradition of scary stories, crisp fall weather and fun Halloween parties.

As my father says, “You love it cause you like pretending to be something that you’re not!”

He may have a point, because this year you couldn’t tell me I was not THEE vampire of Brooklyn at a house party I attended.

vampire in brooklyn

One of my good friends, Maya, has recently explored costume makeup and I think she may have found her calling.

blog-my vampire makeup

While she did a fabulous job on my vampire makeup, check out her own look below.

blog-mayas makeup

Wow!  I told her, “You look like a cast member of Law & Order: SVU.”

“What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Everything.

You had to have been living under a rock if you didn’t see a few of these memes late summer/early fall…


I feel SO conflicted finding the humor in this…I’ve laughed at this more times than I’m comfortable admitting.

Because really, it’s not a laughing matter.  This really happened to somebody.  It happens to people.


If this were a movie character, a made-up role created for entertainment, I might be able to laugh easier but even then…abusive relationships aren’t funny.  Unfortunately, this relationship really happened.

I don’t need to say much else.  Come on y’all, we gotta do better.

Movin’ On Up!

This past summer I found myself not fitting in my clothes the way I used too, namely my bottoms.  Everything was fitting tighter and I noticed a few additional stretch marks yet I wasn’t gaining any weight.  I couldn’t understand why suddenly I was splitting my size 2 jeans and shorts, especially since I’d been paying a lot of attention to how and what I was eating and had consequently become a healthier, more conscious person.  I was incredibly confused and it didn’t help that the guy I was seeing didn’t always make me feel the most secure about it.

stack of jeansWhen it was time to switch my summer clothes out for my winter ones, I finally had to face the problem when NONE of my blue jeans fit anymore.  I couldn’t get them over my thighs and knew not to force it because as experience had taught me several times this summer, I would surely split them.  After shedding a tear or two over it and reviewing a few possible work-out routines always abandoning them before I began because I don’t like to sweat, I decided to try out a larger size just to see what would happen.

While size 4’s were a slight struggle to get on as I had to shimmy a bit to get them up over my thighs, size 6’s glided on effortlessly!  There was no stomach fat or other things jiggling over the edge of my waistband and the slim figure I have grown accustomed to over the past several years suddenly revealed itself again.

Is this that troublesome “woman weight” I’d been hearing about since high school?  Are these wider hips, thicker thighs and bigger bum my womanly curves that have finally come to introduce me to womanhood?

Suddenly I had my “aha” moment!

While I had been dreading buying bigger sizes, I now find myself welcoming it.  I’m incredibly relieved to finally have an answer.  Life had been such a mystery for a second, not understanding or knowing why I suddenly, almost overnight, couldn’t fit into my clothes.

While many may say “a 2 or a 6 is still small and nothing to worry about,” and I would agree, it is still an adjustment, a dramatic one in fact for someone such as myself, but I’m welcoming the change.   I’ve never switched sizes that dramatically before (with the exception of shoe sizes in 5th/6th grade) and it’s nice being able to rock things like leggings more confidently these days haha.  Either way, I’m now in desperate need of jeans and dress pants (as I have to replace ALL of the ones I used to own) and am taking any/all tips as it relates to this search.

Feels good to be back in my happy space!

It Was One of Those Nights…

This weekend I was telling my cousins the following story about my (then) most recent cab ride.  It was insanely ridiculous and a bit entertaining.  Afterwards Shelby insisted it was blog-worthy material so here it goes…

It was a really good night.

It was a really good night.

Friday night I partied hard in the Lower East Side with my cousins.  The youngest amongst us, Renny, was visiting NYC and celebrating her 22nd birthday so we knew we had to show her a good time.  Consequently I got quite inebriated, so much in fact that at the end of the night it was decided I take a cab home instead of the usual train.  My cousin Kenny (and Renny’s older brother) found a parked cab with his light on (a lit light indicates an available cab) so after giving me a hug goodbye, he and Renny took off down the street.

Immediately the African cabbie started rambling about how he wasn’t available because he was late picking up his wife and it was imperative that he head that way ASAP.  As he was going on his tirade I quickly opened the door and jumped in.  The cabbie was pissed and yelled at me to get out.  After going back and forth, he drove a block before pulling over to the left, turning off the ignition and getting out.  At this point I started getting nervous.

Is he about to open this door and drag me out?  I hope Kenny isn’t too far away…

Instead he headed into a convenience store for a few moments then came back out and continued to argue with me, insisting I exit his cab immediately.  He also let it slip that he wasn’t married and was actually headed to link up with a young tenderoni.  Finally, I agreed to a compromise: I’d get out after he hailed me another cab.  “Alright babe.  Give me a second.  I’m going to take care of you,” he said.  Did he just call me “babe?”  It was only a few moments before I saw a second cab pull up on the right side of ours.   As I exited from the left side of the cab and walked around the back towards the awaiting one, the waiting one abruptly pulled off from it’s parked position, leaving me stranded.

Behind me the African cab driver was rushing to the drivers side of his own cab, ready to hop in and leave me in the middle of the street I’m sure.  I’m not having that.  I beat him to the cab, hopped back in and really refused to get out this time.  The cabbie weighed his options and then completely changed his tone.  What had previously been a rude, loud aggressive cretin had become a sweet, purring apologetic gentleman who offered to let me hold onto his cab keys and not relinquish them until after I was safe and sound in a new cab that he was going to hail for me.

After accepting the keys and tucking them securely away into my coat pocket, I found myself walking in the middle of Delancy St, arm in arm with this cab driver, while whining to him about how hard it is being a Black woman trying to hail a cab and get safely home.  “I know, I know baby.  Don’t you worry.  I’m going to take good care of you,” he repeated over and over again.  He asked for my name and I gave it.

“Okay Ashley, this new cab driver is going to get you home.  Now what’s your number so I can make sure you’re properly taken care of and I can keep in touch with you?”  He asked after a second cab finally pulled over and agreed to take me to Brooklyn.  I laughed to myself as he fumbled with his phone, clumsily hitting the ignore button to the numerous incoming calls (no doubt from the young tenderoni he was extremely late picking up).  After climbing into the waiting cab, I handed him back his car keys and after rambling off a fake number, he proceeded to call me on the spot.  I hurriedly closed the door, rattled off my address to the new cabbie and was off across the Williamsburg Bridge headed back to Brooklyn, leaving that ridiculous African cabbie behind.

Peculiar Institution Indeed

I’ve recently found myself back in the peculiar institution of employment.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of 11:00PM bedtimes (that are still too late) and 6:30 AM wake up calls (that always leave me deprived of the extra hours of beauty sleep unemployment graced me with).

While not my photo, this is indeed my train station.

While not my photo, this is the station.

Although my morning struggle to avoid crowded trains is never won, it does provide relief from career panhandlers.  Apparently, they don’t get to work begging for whole dollars (they oftentimes will decline coins and food if it doesn’t meet their dietary preferences) until much later in the morning.

Upon arriving to work, I find myself going through a multitude of checkpoints and ID clearances before I make it to my floor, next my department and finally my desk.  Once seated, I take the time to drink my coffee, sit in my chair for a bit and think, talk to a girlfriend, and catch up on text messages.

Throughout a myriad of tasks, my day moves relatively quickly.  After quite a bit of filing, scanning and uploading documents, then signing off, sealing and shipping out others, the lunch hour arrives.  Upon returning, I repeat the aforementioned, and just as soon as my day began, it is done.

My evening commute home is crowded although this go round I am able to snag a cozy seat, hamper down, and dive into my latest literary obsession.  This week is Delores Phillips’ The Darkest Child.  The panhandlers are now out, running things on the trains, and I’m grateful for the distraction my book provides.

When I’m finally home I realize I have approximately three hours before it’s time for bed.  I can spend this time straightening up my apartment, catching up on some writing, calling back family and friends and attempting to cook a decent, well-structured dinner, or I can go out to an event and run around in the NYC streets.

Last night I ran the streets.  Consequently, today I almost fell asleep at work.  Tonight, right now, I am in bed.


The Secret Behind That Tutu I Was Wearing On Instagram…


Over the weekend I wore this tulle skirt to a New York Fashion Week event.


While the outfit felt incredibly obnoxious in the privacy of my own bedroom, once I was out walking the NYC streets, you couldn’t tell me I was anything less than fierce!  Folks’ compliments didn’t help-it seemed like almost every woman I passed was ogling over the exceptional tutu.  As a pranced along throughout the evening, I was nearly convinced I was a princess!  :p

I’m here to let you in on a little secret…  Would you believe me if I told you I made it myself?  Yes, it is a DIY project.  This past spring I sat down and made my tulle tutu.


I spent $20.  Yes, twenty dollars.


Blake Von D posted the tutu tutorial awhile back and after closely following her directions, I had a masterpiece of my own.*


As hard as it is to believe, it really is as simple as stated on her site.  The most difficult part of the entire process for me was deciding which color(s) of tulle I wanted!

Happy tutu-making ladies! XOXO

*While Blake ordered three rolls of black tulle, I thought I would make two tutus, so I ordered three rolls of wine tulle as well.  Unfortunately, when I started adding the black tulle to my elastic band (from an old pair of leggings), my skirt was still extremely sheer.  It was at that point I began adding pieces of wine tulle between the pieces of black.  My two-toned tutu took six rolls of tulle and I couldn’t be any happier with it!