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.

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

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

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

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

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

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XOXO.

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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.

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

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

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

Labor Day 2013: A Day In the Life of the Unemployed*

I’m here today to talk about my experience thus far as a member of the undercaste of America’s labor force.  This undercaste doesn’t have the liberty to complain about their unpaid, 30-minute lunch break that never seems to be long enough.  They also don’t have the option to attend protests about the country’s minimum-wage laws for America’s fast food workers either.  You want to know why?

I had to pay them a visit last month and we were given the option to watch an unemployment video or read the script.  This gentleman who was trying to date me exclaimed, "I aint tryin to read $h!t!  Where the video at?!"  Fail.

I had to pay them a visit last month and we were given the option to watch an unemployment video or read the script. This gentleman who I’d met only moments earlier and was trying to date me (it wasn’t happening) exclaimed, “I aint tryin to read $h!t! Where the video at?!” Fail.

This is because this undercaste is America’s unemployed.

Overall, when I’m honest with myself unemployment actually hasn’t been the worst thing in the world.  A perk of being registered with the unemployment office is that I’m able to collect my weekly unemployment checks.  Now granted, they are a mere fraction of what I was earning before, but something is better than nothing.  My rent’s paid every month!  (There is a yin to this yang however; perhaps I will share that another day.)

Since many know I’m unemployed, I’ve been questioned how I spend my time.  While my days do have their share of job-hunting and eating home-cooked meals, all while chatting with my girlfriends about our upcoming free plans for that week(end), a major part of my unemployment experience has been my rededication to my life’s first love, reading.

I read a lot.  When I was employed, it might have been four hours or so a day.  Now, at the very least it’s double.  With my increased reading, I’ve noticed my vocabulary has shifted a tad…I have more words to choose from, new ways to use old words and I have a bunch of new stuff to talk about.  Below, is an average day in my life as an unemployed reader lol.

  1. Wake up/read social networks for news that I missed while I was sleeping.  CNN is especially clutch for this.
  2. Shower/dress/breakfast (yes I get dressed even though I probably have nowhere to go except the store).
  3. Read social networking for more news I missed, and to get details/full articles I briefly learned of when I first woke up.
  4. It’s inevitable that one of the sites leads me to popular culture-now I’m reading celebrity news.
  5. I begin to feel guilty so I begin reading health/diet/wellness related news.
  6. I then feel guilty I’ve wasted my entire morning reading tons of nonsense so now I head over to Craigslist and start sending out resumes.
  7. I then head over to Indeed.com and other more professional sites and apply to jobs.
  8. It’s inevitable that I need to research one of the companies I’m about to send a cover letter/resume too, so I begin reading recent news articles about them.
  9. I now find myself reading current, updated business stories.
  10. It’s now late afternoon/evening and I recognize I’m getting hungry.  I head off for a store run and cook a nice dinner.
  11. Now I’ve realized I’ve spent all day bullcrapping and settle down to try to write something of substance for my blog and other sites.  Sometimes I’m successful, many times I’m not.
  12. I now am sick and tired of reading AND writing, so I turn on Netflix and watch a few hours of whatever show I’ve recently become obsessed with (Weeds has been my current obsession until Orange is the New Black comes back on).
  13. I now need to wind down so I pick up one of the actual books I’m trying to finish reading (right now I’m in the middle of both The New Jim Crow and The Four Agreements).
  14. I then hop back on social networking to catch up on any news I’ve missed throughout the day and read until I fall asleep.
  15. If I wake up in the middle of the night, *surprise surprise* I hop on social networking and read about some more news.

My life isn’t always the most exciting, but for right now, this chapter of my life, I’m managing to deal with it okay.  Many of my closest friends are in places of transition so we are able to offer each other uplifting words of encouragement, entertainment and good cheer.

So what about you?  What does Labor Day mean to you this year?

*This post was inspired by Shelby Stone-Steel

Random Reflections…

This morning I woke up with Chris Brown’s “Winner” stuck in my head.  From there my mind wandered to “Poppin’,” “Yo,” “Gimme That,” and lastly, “Say Goodbye.”  I immediately smiled to myself because of all the memories I have centered around those songs from the singer’s self-titled album.  Only myself and three other young women know why…

Back in 2006 I joined my sorority with three others.  Those songs (in addition to a host of several Gospel songs) were the soundtrack of our pledging experience.  Because a considerable amount of time was spent driving to various destinations, we had to rely on CD’s.  Only one of us four had a vehicle (my father waited to give me my red car, Cinnamon, until a week after I crossed…he is a smart man lol) and because she was heavily involved in the church the only CD’s she had were Chris Brown and Gospel.

Majority of us had romantic interests so “Winner” easily struck a chord.  In addition, we liked to think of ourselves as winners for enduring the pledging process.  For anyone who’s ever joined a sorority or fraternity in college, whether it be a Panhellenic, Interfraternity or National Panhellenic organization, you understand the challenges.  In addition to your own classes and extra-curricular involvements, you are now responsible for attending numerous mandatory meetings, memorizing mass information and winning the overall approval of the chapter you’re trying to join.  It is draining.  For me and my fellow linesisters, “Winner” was our victory chant.

“Poppin'” was one of our favorite greetings to do for a previous line (pledge class) of the chapter.  The slow, seductive buildup of the song went with the aura of that line…simply put, they were SEXY!  The entire chapter used to get the biggest laugh out of watching our conservative line literally “pop” along in our dance routine to the lyrics, as our way to pay homage.  It was SO hard to keep a straight face and be serious back then…heck, it still is now!  I am sitting here now getting SO weak…all that poppin…lol!

“Yo” was easily the greeting that was used whenever our line wanted to pay our respects to Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  When they heard it (at our show) they got so excited and showed so much love.  The dance routine that went along with it was easy enough and the overall presentation didn’t seem quite as corny as other greetings we had to do (like “So Icey” for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. lmbo).

“Gimme That” is the song of completion!  It is the song my line chose to present ourselves to the Miami University campus.  There was a bit of debate initially because we were torn between that and “No Weapon” by Fred Hammond.  Seriously!  Clearly the chapter stepped in and offered a strong suggestion.  We went with it.  To this day we laugh about it…man.

And finally, the last song that commemorates the experience for me from Chris Brown’s album is “Say Goodbye.”  Throughout my entire pledging process I was in a long distance relationship with my high school sweetheart.  I had known for quite awhile that he wasn’t the best man for me, but I saw his potential.  Unfortunately as I began meeting other men, who were driven, focused and involved, my guy who was toiling away at some junior college in New York didn’t seem as capable anymore.  A week after crossing I made the difficult decision to end our three-year relationship.  Everyone was shocked.  I was too…I couldn’t believe I’d really done it.  But as Chris Brown sings in the lyrics, “There’s never a right time to say goodbye, but I gotta make the first move ’cause if I don’t then you’re gonna start hating me.  ‘Cause I really don’t feel the way I once felt about you, it’s not you it’s me I, kinda gotta figure out what I need.  There’s never a right time to say goodbye, but we know that we gotta go our separate ways.  And I know it’s hard, but I gotta do it…”  I’ve never looked back.  And no, I don’t regret it.

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Guiness Book of World Records Came Callin! You Think I DIDN’T Answer?!?!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the unfortunate news regarding Don Cornelius.  Care to join me for a moment of silence?  Great.

*moment of silence*

No doubt that man affected so many of our lives.  It didn’t suprise me one bit too log onto Facebook a few days later and saw that a friend I’ve met up here was attending a flash mob in Times Square to be apart of the largest Soul Train line ever, in tribute of Don.  I looked up the date and time and made a commitment to be there.  After sending out a text message to my family and close friends, I blew out my hair into a massive afro to get in the spirit and made moves to Midtown…

My girl on the right indirectly told me about it. My girl on the left came with 🙂

This past Saturday wound up being an awesome time, in true Soul Train fashion!  I danced my butt off, met up with my family (Shelby and Mike, hey yall!) and created memories that will undoubtedly mark one of my best days spent in this city thus far.  And of course I ultimately managed to finagle my way through the chaotic crowd and got my 5 seconds of shine spinning and twirling down the Soul Train line….

I can be spotted at the 0:21 and 1:26 markers.  Yanceys/Stones/Adams/Lightfoots, I put on for us! Haha 🙂

I’ve been told that this event has been recorded with the Guinness Book of World Records team as the largest Soul Train line ever.  Unfortunately, the swagger jackers that exist in Atlanta, GA are attempting to compete.  A sorority sister of mine sent me a picture of this email blast that’s being circulated down there as I type.

They are rallying their troops to break NYC's record.

NYC is a tough bunch of people.  I dare Atlanta to try it.  I bet up here, we’ll be right back at it the next week to break whatever they attempt to build.

Yeah, I said it!

Booger and Earwax Eaters Unite!

"Yummy in my tummy is what's coming next!"

Yesterday Shelby and I were traipsing about throughout Cobble Hill, Brooklyn when out of nowhere she spotted a nasty little girl.

“Oh my gosh Ashley!  Look at that little girl!  She’s digging up her nose!” Shelby said.

I looked around to see where Shelby was pointing at.  Sure enough, being pushed around in a toddler’s stroller was a young girl with her finger FAR up her nose.  She was absentmindedly digging for treasure and I found myself erupting in laughter.

“You wanna know something?  I bet she’s gonna eat it!  Watch,” I told Shelby.

“Eww, Ashley!?  Why would you say that?  Like…why do you always go there!?!?  You always take stuff too far…gross!  She wouldn’t do that,” Shelby said between giggles.

Like clockwork, Shelby and I watched that little girl pull her finger out of her nose, inspect her recent findings, then plop them hurriedly inside of her mouth.

“I can’t believe it.  You were right!” Shelby said.

She was met with my obnoxious laughter.  Of course I was right.  Isn’t that what all little kids do anyway?

“How did you know she’d do that though?  I didn’t even see that coming,” Shelby asked.  “Wait!  I know how you knew.”

“How?” I said.

“Because you used to do it too!  Remember when we were little and you told me about how you ate your earwax?!  And then one day I tried it and it tasted horrible!  I was like, ‘How does Ashley eat this stuff?’  You ate your boogers too.  Boogers and earwax.  Ashley, you were disgusting.”

Bwahahahahahahahahaha!!!!