Crib Hunting

After deciding that I want to move out, I started the natural next step of looking at apartments. Mind you, I have been looking at apartments on Trulia since I finished school. It started from when I was with my ex and we wanted to get a place together. But I was in a fantasy world at the time cause my salary and NYC rent would not be in agreement.

Now that I’m in a better place financially, looking through Trulia is more than just a dream. This whole search has been enlightening in making me know some truths about the rent reality in New York. Though I make enough to move out, it is still very difficult to find a place on my own. My income bracket is more to find another person to live in. It is crazy because many people living in New York unfortunately do not make enough to get their own place as well.

However, I am still very excited to move in with a pretty dope individual(s) who shares  similar dreams of making it work in this lively jungle. In my search, I started using HotPads, Zillow, Apartments.com and Streeteasy as well as Trulia. So far, my favorite to use are Streeteasy, Zillow and Trulia because they send alerts to your email based on your preferences and have great filters like if you want a laundry in your unit or prefer a unit with two bathrooms.

I have been looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom space in which I am planning to move in with some friends in Brooklyn. I might consider Queens, but have always wanted to find a space in Brooklyn.

Last month, I started going to showings to see what is out there. There are some beautiful apartments in Brooklyn. It can honestly be hard to choose. Yet, they each have their pros and cons. Going to the apartments, I notice more about the neighborhood, the apartment itself, the price and even Brooklyn checking what the broker would say about the area. There was one listing that stated the apartment was in Crown Heights when it was most definitely East New York/Ocean Hill.

Anyway, it has been exciting looking at different spaces and imagining how myself and potential future roomies will make the space our own. Let me share with you some of the places I have seen so far while apartment hunting with my friends.

1.

This apartment is located in Crown Heights. It is super close to Utica Ave by the 3 and 4 train. The apartment is in a brand spanking new building on a quaint block. It was about $2,500 and had 3 bedrooms and 1 bath.  I loved the room with the large window and the kitchen looked nice. However, the con was that the living room was quite small. There was also one room without a window.

For anyone looking to rent, this Street Easy post explains that a real bedroom must have a window that looks out into a garden, street, court or just generally looking outside.

We wanted everyone to have a window so we decided not to apply for this one.

2.

This apartment was honestly one of my favorites. I loved the design and layout of the unit. It is a 3 bedroom and 2 baths priced for $2,287 a month on the listing, but the broker told us it was $2,500 at the showing. Some apartments have promotional pricing online, but are actually another price in reality. The rooms each seemed to be decently sized, though still small. I also loved that it had two bathrooms and the backyard was beautiful. Me as a nature lover was so in love with this place. It even has a nice laundry room in the basement.

Unfortunately, we didn’t like that we would have to go outside to go into the basement. The area also did look a bit sketchy. It was an apartment that was listed in Crown Heights, but was actually in Ocean Hill/East New York. The place was pretty close to where I used to work which didn’t have too many stores and was more industrial looking.

Despite these cons, I still think about this place. =/.

3.

This apartment in Flatbush has so much light. =D. The kitchen is so well done. The rooms are also decently sized. It is around $2,400 for the space. The person selling it also lived there for a few years after moving from the Middle East with lovey his wife and two daughters. There was not really any cons about the place, but we just felt like it wasn’t for us.

4.

Space is one great way to describe this apartment. It is two different apartments in this building that we looked at that are basically the same in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The three bedroom/one bathroom apartment is about $2,400. We loved walking into this room and not feeling cramped. The rooms are also adequately sized. However, the bathroom and kitchen is not too impressive due to the upkeep and what we saw in the drawers.  When we opened the drawers in the kitchen, we found roach poison. After seeing this, it was a definite no.

5.

This is most definitely one of my favorite places. It is set on a tree lined block in Bed Stuy that was very quaint. There is only three units in the building. It’s $2,500 with three bedrooms and two baths. There is lovely lighting in the living room which led into a nice kitchen. I loved how there is a fire escape in one of the rooms and it also has a bathroom. The only downside was that there was weird construction nearby and there was no laundry in the unit. I wouldn’t say this was a no, but the broker wanted us to see another unit he had for us.

6.

In Cypress Hills, this apartment was listed as a three bedroom duplex. The street it’s on was very narrow and difficult to park on; I would most certainly need to finesse my parking skills if I lived on this block. The first room is large with a massive amount of light. And the closet space was marvelous. The tile and flooring was lovely as well. However, the second bedroom was so small I wouldn’t consider it a bedroom; it was more of a closet. The third bedroom was also the basement. There was no living room so we would have had figure out who would take the basement and whether we would make it into half a living room as well. I think the space was almost $2,300 and also included a second bathroom in the basement and a laundry unit.

I honestly did really like the space, but wanted the second bedroom to be more equal sized to the first. It also seemed like it may have been a hassle for the third roommate to figure out how to make the basement their own bedroom while half of it would be a living room.

7.

This was one of the last showings we went to in the search (so far). As we entered the block, mad people were outside partying. Various music was blasting from different stoops and the vibe was lit. Excitement filled us while we approached the building. This unit in Bed Stuy was well furnished. Each room came with a dresser and bed; there was also furniture in the living room. The rooms were also all equally sized at a decent amount of space. There was also a great free, yes free, laundry room in the basement. There was also a nice balcony where we were able to see the hood fireworks that have been constantly going off for weeks.

We all really loved this space. It was almost perfect. It was around $2,450 each month. The only con was that the second bathroom had just a toilet. Personally, I also didn’t like that there was no natural light in the living room. However, it was definitely one of the best apartments.

There was one or two more apartments I have seen since May to add to the list. However, one of them I have no pictures of. The second one was a two bedroom that was amazing. Both of these apartments were in Bed Stuy and was also great. The three bedroom was beautiful, but one of my friends was worried that the landlord was too lax when he said he was a handy man but didn’t seem like he would show up to fix issues. The second bedroom apartment was incredible. There was three windows in the living room where the third was centered at the top. There were two bathrooms and the rooms were equally sized except for one. The third bedroom was the only issue.

This experience honestly grew my new love for looking at apartments. Today, I even checked out a studio in Flatbush and tried to view a two bedroom in Bed Stuy for an open house (I am always in Bed Stuy huh?) but no one was there. The studio was dope though. It was more of a shared space with the kitchen and bathroom between two other individuals. The bedroom was so big that it could also be a living room which was a huge plus for me. I’m just not sure about the shared space part.

Moreover, this has been fun and I’m looking forward to making my decision. I will let you know what I choose once me and my future roommates come together on what we like. (Or if I decide on a studio/1 bedroom that I manage to find.)

Ready to Fly

So the past few months, I started seriously considering moving out of my mother’s home. It is my first time looking for apartments to live potentially on my own or with roommates. This is something I have dreamed about for some time. Ten years ago, I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh. During my undergrad experience, I had a roommate every year. (Although, I got lucky some semesters and had the room to myself.) Each roommate was different. The first was the most difficult. She was bossy, did not clean and did not take showers every day. We lived in a very small room. I know I wasn’t the perfect roommate either, but that experience was not the best. However, sophomore through senior year I had great roommates. We did have issues at times, but got along quite well.

I also enjoyed the freedom of being away from home. I was 7 hours away upstate living around other young, diverse people as well. Sure, I missed my parents but it was so liberating meeting new people, making my own choices, making mistakes and growing without them breathing down my neck. It was an exceptional experience that I will always cherish.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I graduated with my bachelors, left the dorms and came back home. But when I think back to my 21 year old self, I sit in a bit of disappointment on how far I strayed from the original plan. I was supposed to stay at home for two years, get a full time job and then move out.

However, in life, plans do not always go as planned. I ended up getting a bunch of part time, per Diem free lance writing and educational jobs over the years that were not enough to allow me the finances of getting my own place.

Life; it happens. It changes like the waves of the ocean. It is never predictable and we must ride the waves. The motion of this metaphorical ocean has led me to a Masters in Social Work, a full time job as a social worker, and the ability to work a second job with my own side business making wire wrapped crystal jewelry. So my world has definitely developed since undergrad.

With a special package of personal growth as well, I feel more motivated to get into that expensive jungle of New York and move out. This birdie wants to flap her wings and fly. After a lot of thought, I’m ready to take that step.

There has been some naysayers on the notion however. People tell me that New York is too expensive, I should stay home to save and buy a house,  roommates are awful, etc. Especially now that I paid off my car note and I don’t have an intense bill, staying home to save does not sound that bad.

Although, it would mean giving up the chance to experience the pros that I’ve often dreamed about. I look forward to decorating a living room, inviting friends over, having my own space in the fridge, having more ownership to my space, a new adventure, and living somewhere different.

My heart is still very set on finding a place whether shared or on my own. I make enough now where it wouldn’t be a problem and I am going to look into the most financially sound solution to saving money and still have some semblance of being on my own. In New York, that means living at least with one or two other individuals.

I understand that living with different people will be a challenge, but the point of being around other people is to learn how to navigate through those differences and to make the situation work for everyone. I understand it will be a challenge to get used to paying so much for rent, but it’s a responsibility that I am ready for. I understand that I could save more to own a home if I stay home, but I honestly don’t know if I want to own a home; at least not in New York.

As an individual in her thriving thirties, I am ready to pursue growth even if there will be some growing pains. Having more financial responsibility, dealing with conflict that may come up with landlords or roommates, and my own personal challenges is part of the process of getting older. This is an experience that I am ready for and I am excited to take the next steps in the journey.

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The Skin I’m In

So I’ve been wanting to write this for a while. I’m not really sure how my words will lead today. An unrest has started in America since my last post. There is now another pandemic eating it’s way through this country. But it’s been here far longer than the Coronavirus. It’s been destroying people’s lives for centuries. It has caused an eternal stain on the face of what this country stands for. It has only affected people of color in hurtful ways. It has tried to destroy us over and over again. This pandemic is called racism.

On May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd, an African American, was murdered by a white police officer Derek Chauvin. The next day a video went viral showing the police officer pressing his knee on his neck for 8 mins and 46 secs with three fellow officers assisting. One officer held off onlookers who were trying to help George Floyd. The man was heard telling the officers that he couldn’t breathe and even called out for his deceased mother. George Floyd died at the scene.

When I saw this video, it broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how the cops could just willfully murder someone with no remorse. The man was pleading for his life and they did nothing. Where is the compassion in their spirits? Where is the empathy for someone’s life? It was reported that the cops were initially called due to George Floyd having a counterfeit $20 bill when he used it at a store nearby. Regardless of if it was fake or not, that man did not deserve to die the way that he did.

Being black in America has never been easy. We are judged by the color of our skin and not by the content of our character. We are followed in convenient stores. We are discriminated against for jobs. We are punished for wearing our hair the way it was naturally designed or for styles that speak to our culture. We are targeted by law enforcement for simply having a nice car or for walking around while being black.

I remember the first instance of police brutality. I was ten years old. I learned that a black man, Amadou Diallo, was killed by the police. He was shot 41 times. They shot him when he was trying to pull out his wallet to identify himself. They claimed that they thought he was pulling out a gun. My younger cousin and I both experienced the trauma of seeing an unarmed black man killed for the first time. I remember as a child thinking how could this happen? What could a person do to make sure the cops think we’re good? Why did they shoot him so many times?

I never thought that I would continue to have these questions and that more would come up as I got older. More shootings or lynchings happened to unarmed black men and women throughout my life time. Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland and so many more were murdered by the police or racist individuals. Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin affected me even more because they were just children. They were young black boys. Every time another unarmed black person is killed, I feel pain in my spirit. This is a collective trauma that I know most people of color are experiencing when we hear this in the news.

I feel for their families and for those who love them. It always puts a fear in my mind when it happens: what if this could happen to me? what if this happened to someone that I love? This year has already been painful enough with how many people of color were taken out due to Covid. To be honest, Covid is a virus that does not care about skin color. It will attack you and potentially kill you most likely due to underlying health conditions and age. However, the way the system is set up to further oppress people of color by keeping them at jobs where they are commonly frontline workers, where they have less access to healthcare and PPE, where they live in food deserts away from healthier cuisine, where poverty sucks the joy out of them and is replaced with stress and where they are packed in environments like sardines, it makes sense that so many of us would be victim to the Cornavirus.

If this wasn’t enough pain on our community, racism decided we needed more. During this pandemic, we also learned that Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home by the police in Lousville, KY in March. They charged in and shot her eight times. They were in the wrong home while executing a warrant. They have yet to be charged. In Glynn County, GA, Ahmaud Arbery was going out for a run when two white man chased him down and shot him. There is video footage of this, but I refuse to watch because it is just too painful. The men were arrested and charged for the murder, but it took months for this to take place. He was killed in February. It was May when the video surfaced.

After the video came out of George Floyd’s murder, people started protesting. First it began in Minneapolis. Yet, the flames for justice spread throughout the country and then throughout the world. People have been protesting in Houston, Atlanta, DC, New York, Los Angeles, England, Germany and more. It began as peaceful protesting but then at times led to rioting and looting started from white supremacists trying to make the protesting look negative and angry individuals torn by the pain of systemic racism.

However, I am glad to be living in this day and age where phone cameras exist. The world can see the truth. Many videos in the past two weeks show the cops attacking protesters with tear gas and batons even when not motivated. They have been making arrests to peaceful protesters. However, there have been some of cops kneeling in solidarity with protesters and speaking to the community about making positive changes. The police have been showing the world who they really are. The world is fed up. I am fed up.

Even with the Cornavirus still an issue, we have been marching to the streets to fight against police brutality. I am sick and tired of seeing people who look like me being murdered for nothing. I am sick and tired of the murderers getting away with it. I am sick and tired of mothers and loved ones having to mourn someone who had so much to live for. I am sick and tired of being oppressed and judged based on the color of my skin and not for the content of my character. I know my people of color reading this are too.

I love the skin I’m in and I am proud to be a black woman. I will never let racism make me feel less of a person for how I was born. I will keep on fighting whether it be through the peace that I instill within or through standing with my brothers and sisters protesting. I will continue to fight whether through donations for just causes, petitions to Congressmen or through spreading the message via social media.

Being black is a beautiful gift that I will always honor and cherish. I will never let anyone make me feel lesser or devalued for my melanin.

 

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I am happy for the changes that have been taking place due to the protests. In Louisville, a law called Breonna’s law has made “No-Knock” police visits illegal which is what took place in Breonna’s death. Congressmen made it illegal for police to enforce choke holds on suspects and are working to make it more difficult for the police to get away with murder. In Minneapolis, the mayor has defunded the police, a call made in many protests throughout the country in dismantling the police department to make way for more appropriate measures in working with the community.

Change is going to come when we take a stand against injustice. This pandemic of racism has inflicted not only this country but the world for centuries. Generations of pain have been passed on to create a system where people of color are oppressed with limited ways of growth, prosperity and the simple right to live. However, as a human race, it is within us to love and to spread peace to one another. We will create a better humanity for us all in time and when we work together to truly have justice for everyone. Through this fight, hopefully, there will be a day that black people can walk freely without constantly being seen as a threat.

Forced to Pause

I’ve been trying to write a story for some time, but have been having trouble finding the inspiration or drive to write it.

There is so much going on. The Coronavirus Pandemic is taking over the globe. It’s scary. I want to stay positive as much as possible, but it’s not always easy. I’m working from home which I am grateful to my director for allowing us to do so. I stay in as much as possible, but it’s been tough since I love to be outdoors. It makes me feel so boxed in. The Government is requiring us to stay home unless it’s for essentials like groceries or if we are essential workers. I feel like what’s going on sounds like a plot from a movie. However, it’s something else when a good plot for a story is real life.

I find this can be a good time to commit to writing. It makes me wonder how many creatives are out there writing their novels and finishing those stories they always wanted to work on. I probably should be spending more time focused on finishing my creative projects than worrying about my mom and watching Naruto. Sometimes, I worry I may get her sick too. But I have to push those fears aside. I realized today that so much of what’s going on is super low vibrational and is interrupting my peace. Lately, I’ve been feeling angrier, frustrated, hopeless and scared. But I can’t let these thoughts destroy my peace. I mean it’s important to feel what comes in the moment. However, I can’t let it fester and build up. I must find ways to practice self-care, especially during these times.

Today, I decided to put some lavender bath salts and a sweet pea bath bomb into my bath to release some stress. Chill tunes was streaming from my Google mini and a lavender aroma was flowing from my essential oil diffuser during my this time. It was lovely – and needed. Later on, during the day, I stood by the door to my living quarters and watched life happen. Well more like listened. For days, hatchlings would sing out for hours rejoicing for the new season. This Easter was no different; the tune was pleasant to my ears. Just standing in the sunlight, still, watching the wind blow through the trees and powerlines can provide the necessary pause I needed for the day. The effect and the way life happening is hard to take in for the most part – this global pause that we’re all forced to make.

I think it’s essential in some ways. Everyday I hear life happening outside my window. I’m pleased to see how much nature is flourishing. When we were on play, smog was permeating the air. Trash was all around us. Oceans filled up with debris. While on play, the atmosphere was dying. Millions of wildlife are pushed into extinction while we continue to greedily take onto the next technology that got them there. The world is dying while we keep going without stopping.

This Pandemic has also highlighted how we treat each other or even the World leaders at hand treat us. For centuries, black and brown people have been discriminated against and legally confined to a lesser form of suitable living. Even now, the Virus is highlighting the health disparities among African American people. How is it possible that 70 percent of black people are dying in Louisiana when they don’t even make up most of the population? This disparity is reflected among much of the country.

I wish someone could make this make sense. But I already know why it makes sense. Just in New York, we see a lack of makeshift hospitals being built in low-income communities. Many people living in these communities are also living in food deserts where healthy food is not an option for them. When you’re living on food stamps and don’t see much affordable healthy choices for you and your family, you tend to consume what you can. And then mental health issues, economic instability and a slew of other problems is a cocktail for stress which is already a killer in itself.

However, my people stand strong. We are a resilient bunch that refuse to be taken down. The Don’t Rush challenges on social media, neighborhood social distancing parties, and the slew of vital information about immunity health and 5G concerns being shared show that we know how to survive and will do it.

It is imperative that we stay home or practice social distancing to beat this virus. I am proud and thankful for the healthcare, postal, transit, grocery store, restaurant, gas station, and social workers (As a fellow social worker, I must thank you as well. Got to represent.) You all are so incredible for what you’re doing. All essential workers going out there to help us all during these scary times is amazing and I’m truly grateful for it.

During these times, I believe we were forced to pause to reflect on how we treat the planet, ourselves and each other. It is essential for us to take time to meditate, go inside of ourselves and find the truth of how we can become better as people. It is 2020 – maybe the world wanted to shake us into our truth and come out stronger from this. Be kinder to each other, share positivity, hold out a hand when someone is down, communicate and understand one another, show respect towards ourselves and the Earth, and do more to become a stronger tribe of humanity.

Some days are better than others, but I am always grateful to be living them. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost someone due to this virus. I wish them all the healing in the world. But we will get through this. Tomorrow is looking more and more different every day, but we will adapt to this new normal. Let this be a time for us to reflect and learn how to evolve into better versions of ourselves. I will most certainly try my best to do so. I hope you can too.

Feel the “Motivation”

I’ve been wanting to write this since it first came out, but am finally coming through with my words. I truly hope by now you guys know how incredible Normani is. She is a sweeping force of talent and we are all happily taking notice. I am hype riding her latest wave that is ‘Motivation.’ The song solo without the video is drenched with elation and strong vibes. Her smooth voice compiled with the upbeat rhythm send definite sensations of euphoria throughout the mind. But then the video….YES!!! Pure nostalgia radiates in each scene from the young Normani watching ‘106 and Park’, to her 1996 graffiti styled outfit, to her memorable dancing in the rain shot. This young lady also has an elegant package of athletic ability from her splits, twerking and flips. I was definitely impressed. Oh and she danced in the rain in heels; She definitely came through with her fantastic ability to amaze. Please if you are not part of the 36 million views this video has caught since it premiered on YouTube, check it out below or run to the channel right now to get your dose of “Motivation.”

Summer of Rouge

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The summer may bring a combination of sweltering heat, pesky mosquitoes and hot garbage stench in the air with it’s putrid mask that suffocates the masses, (Yea, I really can’t stand the smell. Lol), but this season also brings an array of events and activities for our active minds to go wild in enthusiastic galore. Yesssss, I love the freedom the warmer weather and months carry. Beach days, lounging by the pool, and cool nights on a rooftop are some of the amazing wonders about this time of year. One thing I definitely enjoy are the concerts. Hearing music float in the air as you watch one of your favorite or a new pleasure perform is always magic. Last week, I was enamored by the sensational Yuna. Spotify put me on to this artist years ago and ever since, I couldn’t let go of her sound. Her music is so pleasant, down to earth and fun. It was a gift to my spirit to hear her live last week at Sony Hall here in NYC. She has such a humbling and filling presence that it just moved me the entire time. You could tell the crowd was enchanted by her aura. She performed some favorites like “Used to Love You,” “Crush , and “Pink Youth.” It was amazing!

Please do yourself a favor and check out her latest album Rouge. This project has a funky, lively, cool vibe to it that’s destined to move the spirit. Meaning red in French, Rouge possesses a fiery energy that lifts the senses into a youthful frenzy of carefree moments in each tune. Yuna’s voice captivates the ears as it playfully glides through each piece majestically.

“Black Marquee” is definitely a time machine run to the 70s from the funkadelic charms of the rhythm and Yuna’s crisp vocals. This one has my body attempting to recreate the moves of decades ago from it’s free and fun uptempo sound. Another favorite of mine,”Like,” has such a dope message about a girl who avoids the pressures of drinking, smoking or showing her skin but still enjoys being herself. The tune also brings attention to the toxic nature of social media. Yuna and rapper Kyle manage to keep me bopping my head while contemplating the nonsense of social media and people’s judgement. However, my favorite from this musical creation is “Forevermore.” The fast paced, flare of sound embedded with her natural home grown flavor entices me continuously. The unique, repetitive, yet unpredictable changes of the beat flow together and grow like a flame beautifully harmonizing with Yuna’s enchanting vocals. This song mesmerizes and keeps me wanting to come back for more.

Rouge is an eclectic combination of sound that delightfully captivates the vivaciousness of youth and being yourself. It is a delectable gift to the ears that one should give to themselves. I was so pleased to provide myself with the honor of being in this incredible artist’s presence last week. The wonders of listening to an artist live is an embodiment of self care in how it enhances the feel good vibes bubbling from within. I’m pleased that these months bring more opportunity to take in the musical sensation of summer concerts. Listening and experiencing Yuna was definitely the seasonal package I was ready for.

Crystal Calling

I’ve always been into crystals. Well not forever but definitely within the past decade. In a way, maybe it’s been a part of me for longer. This interest went from simply collecting stones to reading about crystal energy and chakras to walking around with crystals to wearing crystal jewelry to creating them. I went to this amazing wire ring making class a year and a half ago. I made one and then two and then three and kept going. My spirit wouldn’t let me stop. My energy went into making crystal rings and here I am today. I created a brand called Tiffy Star Gems. I’ve been making rings for almost a year now and I love it.

My buddy Mike, incredible rapper/designer/sound engineer/dope friend, and I took over the streets of Soho and Coney Island for some photos. Check out his awesome Fenix sneaker collection and my latest line of Phoenix jewelry below.

These rings were made with citrine, malachite, lapiz lazuli and agate wrapped in gold aluminum. I also made some aluminum gold hoop earrings with citrine and agate stones and an aluminum wrapped tiger eye necklace. I love wrapping rings, have fun wearing them, and love expressing the different energy and meaning from each piece. It was such a blast doing this and I will be continuing in this journey.

Let me know what you think about the jewelry or if you would like to purchase any. Feel free to check out Tiffy Star Gems page. Also definitely be sure to check out the homie Mike Wilson. We’ve featured this down to Earth, conscious rapper before; you’ll be sure to love his tunes. Peace and I hope you all are following your dreams. It’s important to let your energy flow to your calling. As I grow each day, I’m slowly evolving into the person I was always meant to be. This is another beautiful part of that journey. I hope you’re becoming your beautiful selves as well.

When I Get Home…

 

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When I get home, I take off my boots or sneakers at the front door and I leave them there. The day usually still weighs heavy on my mind. I’m annoyed at this client that cancelled yet again. I’m frustrated about a significant other’s actions or inaction. I’m still coming down from the crazy driver who cut me off on the highway; they almost took me out of my character. Nah, they definitely did when I cussed them out under my breathe as they drove off. Just not bad enough for me to go all Fast and Furious on them and pursue them. My day melts away however when I enter my room and I put on my choice of entertainment for the night – Netflix, YouTube, CW, or VH1. The incense sticks are pulled from their hiding place and then lit with the limitless power of fire. Then this stick is placed on a mantel for it to consume my space with an earthy scent of sage or frankincense. Serenity slides into my core emboldening my spirit and making it feel easy to be at my center of rehabilitation called home.

Solange’s latest installment of sound “When I Get Home” definitely signifies these words from the dreamlike, transitional nature that it embodies. This black queen has enchanted my ears over the years with her quirky, fun and down to earth tunes. I was blown away when I first heard her previous project “A Seat at the Table.” She eloquently empowered our voices through her own with hits like “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “Cranes in the Sky,” and “F.U.B.U.” When tuning into this project, I imagine myself lying afloat, drifting off into one mastery to the next, each having its own unique instrumental and lyrical flair which evoke a myriad of emotions. This artist epitomizes the beauty, strength, vulnerability and the fight of the resounding force of being a black woman. Whether it’s peace, simplicity, twerking, or just vibing out, this album carries it all.

It’s tough not to do a little slow twerk or wine when “Binz” comes on. The quick patter, patter of the drums puts your mood at ease and ready to embrace the rhythm with it’s fast tempo melody. Solange’s lovely harmonies are also a delicate touch to the light track. Your ear drums will take in a “Yes Sis” mood as you allow the sound to take over.

My mind kind of flashes into this imaginary dance scene when I listen to “Dreams.” The slow, low tempo track makes me think of a pair of dancers gracefully gliding across the floor with arms outstretched and their faces plastered with stoic yet focused expressions; their fluid movements integrating together in simple harmony. Solange’s vocals portray the mystic flow of a whimsical presence that playfully charm the senses into a thoughtful, pleasant place.

“Almeda” carries forth a trippy, playful like beat throughout. The name portraying as an ode to her hometown in Houston, Texas, (which also means ambition in Latin), Solange pays tribute to the components of the versatile and resilient nature of black excellence. She casually floats in and out of the beat playing along lyrically with Playboi Carti as they both uplift the physical aspects of the melanin experience. In truth, you cannot break the spirit of being black, “Not even in that Florida Water.”

Even if I’m not moving towards the floor, I definitely want to when my ears perk up to “Stay Flo.” My face muscles go from calm to gangsta desiring to mean grill in an involuntary pleasure when listening to this track. My limbs then work to move in a twerk like motion due to the light, fun, upbeat, but low tempo energy manifested in “Stay Flo.” (No lie, I literally just got up to dance. When the rhythm calls, it calls.)

This whole album is a transcendent expression of being free to dance, love, be inspired and woke to the beauty that is melanin. “When I Get Home” is an excellent tribute to the experience of letting loose and embracing the soothing or turn up nature that is embodied when you are in the presence of your own space. Have fun and embrace this beautiful affair to your internal core when listening in to this production.

Mine!!! Or Not?

7 Rings

Three out of seven of my favorite crystal rings. Made each one myself.

7 Rings

Four of my favorite seven rings. Flossing with crystal gems.

So I was thinking it might be fun to write a reaction post to this drama brewing up between Princess Nokia and Ariana Grande. I got a little annoyed seeing all the hate daggers people were throwing at Princess Nokia when she threw some hints that Ariana stole her sound in her latest installment “7 Rings.” I was watching one of my favorite YouTuber’s Empressive’s channel. She has some incredible music documentaries and celebrity tea that could rival shows like UnSung. (Even just watched her documentary on JoJo) In this video, she brought up the controversy behind the fact that Ariana’s new hit sounded a bit too familiar. The beat was accused of being a bit too reflective of several artists including Soulja Boy’s ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ and 2 Chainz ‘Spend It.’ In Empressive’s video, Princess Nokia spilled her two cents on the track claiming that Grande’s track seemed “familiar” and “sounds about white.”

While watching the video, I scrolled down to the comments (normal unbreakable habit when watching YouTube videos) and found Ariana stans dragging Princess Nokia for her truth. It was kind of sad. As a fan, I cringed every time I saw someone call her Princess Flip Phone……Smh…… The savagery was difficult to take in. Some commenters also confronted her about her own similar sounds in her track ‘Orange Blossom’ and compared it to another dope somewhat underground artist that I love Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’

My disgust at the harsh comments and thirst for musical knowledge thrust me into an investigation to see if any of the allegations being made against Ariana Grande and Princess Nokia are true. I first looked into the accusations against ‘Orange Blossom.’ This track has an ultra chill, lullaby type vibe that carries on the flow throughout. The video of Princess Nokia enjoying Coney Island’s amusement park is a perfect compilation of the feel good mood carried on in the melody. In her music, I always love how versatile and different Princess Nokia is. She’s chill, but fiesty, woke by silly. I love the collective vibe that she gives.

Only a small snippet of this choice track compares to the also delectable sounds of Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’ The way Kali Uchis sings in a sort of lullaby way would make one think that Princess Nokia may have taken some sort of inspiration from the track. However, Kali’s is a bit more slower and even has a slower Crystal Water’s ‘Gypsy Woman‘ type beat placed in. Plus, this part is literally only 30 seconds of the song. The rest of ‘Honey Baby’ has two transitions that goes from a cruising melody to a psychedelic fast paced trip. The two songs are very different. Both artists are hella dope. People need to stop with the drama.

However, Ariana Grande’s song ‘7 Rings’ does sound much more like Princess Nokia’s ‘Mine.’ My investigation took me further by listening in depth to the Ariana track. She starts off in her own rendition of Julie Andrews ‘My Favorite Things‘ singing quite similarly to the Sound of Music star throughout the song, but doused with a hip hop/pop flair. The theme sticks to the starlet boasting about her being able to get what she wants with her own money and flossing with her girls. The song is a fun homage to being proud of what you can earn with your hard earned cash. Yet, I do hear other inspirations from other artists like how poppin’ her gloss is (Lil Mama) and how she just bought her hair (Princess Nokia).

Speaking of Nokia, ‘Mine‘ is a dope homage to the hairstyles of women of color. “It’s mine, I bought it. It’s mine, I bought it,” repeats the chorus. The song flows hard and heavy requesting ‘certain people’ not to touch the hair of a brown or black person and embraces the many dynamic wears, whether weave, wig or natural, of how we shape our hair. It’s funny because both sounds do have a bit of similarity to ‘Pretty Boy Swag‘ from Soulja Boy, but not as much in my opinion.

Each of these songs possess their own unique dosage of resonance injected into them. However, each of them sound like a piece from someone else’s art. From the beginning of time, ideas and thoughts have been created but also seen in new and exciting ways. People love to say that nothing is original anymore. But with so much incredible findings being discovered already, it’s quite difficult to be completely innovative. Every idea is twisted and reformed from another one. Maybe Ariana is just another artist reforming old ideas and making them into her own. Besides, each of these songs sound versatile and have their own magnetic flair that attracts a variety of souls to their tune. I think that’s the true beauty of what they choose to give out to the world.

BTW, I just checked out this Genius video that finds more influences including Beyonce from Grande’s ‘7 Rings’ video. What other music influences to you see?

Sis’ to Sis’

I just randomly wrote a poem. He he. I think it needs more work, but I might share it some day when I feel the need to. There is something else I feel I must share. It’s just been on my mind lately. The other day, I met a woman who was sitting by the pier. She decided to talk to me and asked me why I was there. She remarked that we both had our journals out and were writing. She asked me what brought me to the pier. She said that we don’t talk to each other enough (As black women or women in general). She was a stranger in the beginning, but during our talk, she became a mentor, a teacher and a fellow sister in my journey of self-discovery.

At times, I question the decisions and the direction I have made in own life. I am happy to have my MSW and to be closer to becoming a licensed social worker. I am glad to have pursued my creative endeavors by still writing at times and starting out with making jewelry. (Which I need to post more on here) I have joy in partaking in fun filled activities either by myself or with others to make my life that much more enriching. However, there are moments when I go down that dark hallway of my mind and question the choices that I have made.

I am starting to realize that the way things are manifesting in my life is exactly what I always wanted; I must push myself more and have confidence in my decisions. I must learn not to let the naysayers, even those close to you, tear down the strength behind my choices.  God or the Universe will take care of me; always.

The higher power above will take care of you too. You will take care of you. The path and the choices that we make define our lives. We must believe in ourselves more and stop comparing or allowing the negativity of others to take us down. You know why you did what you did; don’t regret it. Even if it’s not working out in your favor yet, it will. Or it will be an important lesson for you in your journey to success if it does not work out. This is the road to who we are. The mistakes, the wrong turns or the right ones lead us to who we have always been.

In this journey that we take, it is also incredibly important to take time to self-reflect and discover who we are. There is something that I am starting to notice more, but I also see that it is quite disturbing in society. We put so much emphasis in getting these successful careers so that we can make a lot of money. The goal has always been to get a high paying job, get the house, get the car and you will be successful; you will be happy. However, I cannot help but notice some famous, rich people who appear to be quite happy in accomplishing all of this on the surface, but in truth are hiding behind their success. Big time celebrities make excessive amounts of money, travel the world and have the adoration of millions of fans, but are still unhappy. Many of them strive so much to be successful for objects but may not be successful with self. So many of them still have the same internal issues or worse than the rest of us. For some of them, it may be heightened because of all the energy they collect from users, naysayers, or any other negative forces they take in from those around.

My point is, why is it that we do not strive to know ourselves? Why is it embedded in us to sacrifice ourselves for these material things instead of saving time for ourselves as well? I mean it’s not wrong to want things and to work hard for them. But why is it OK to put in almost all your energy into gaining objects instead of gaining experiences or positivity from others? We could be uplifted from each other. We could be uplifted by our journeys in self-discovery. The concept of self-care is a huge theme in the caring profession since so much of our energy is utilized by giving to others. But the same can be done from other careers. It is so essential for us to know who we are and to take the time to do so. We tend to lose who we are and become mindless robots for the green. The biggest treasure out there is becoming who you are as a person and sharing that with others. When we empathize and work together as a society, we evolve.

Going back to the conversation with my fellow sister, she said she was relearning herself now that her children are out of the nest. She had her kids young and was rediscovering what she wanted to do with her life after having a rewarding career as a social worker. This queen was taking the time to get to know herself and through her words, she helped me. She had me realize how important it is to take the time to know who you are and to talk to one another. So much can happen with just a smile or a few words. We are so powerful in our own unique ways. We all know who we are at birth, but we must find the tools along the way back to ourselves; choice words she quoted from the outstanding soulstress Erykah Badu. Stay true to yourself and work on you, it is the most important goal you can have. Without it, nothing else matters.

Below, enjoy some sounds from the spiritual, neo-soul queen below.