Beautiful disaster

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If you perceive beauty, the way I do; you’ll know beauty arises from  and is often hidden in some of the most tragic, depressing and ugliest moments in our lives.

It’s been nearly a month since my mini-getaway trip to PR. Which I have to admit turned out better than I initially anticipated. My best friend, Shayna, felt it was only right to celebrate her 25 years of life on a beautiful tropical island;  Me, being the tropic-lover I am, just had to say YOLO and agree to it.

I’m sure it sounds like we had our trip all planned out for weeks, but the truth is, we didn’t. Prior to the trip and the impending arrival of Shayna’s birthday we spent days indecisively choosing between California or Florida. I guess you can tell we just wanted to be somewhere warm. Then she finally asked, “what do you think about PR” At first, I was a little reluctant, since PR is only a few months shy of full recovery from the devastations of Hurricane Maria. I did some research and-without sounding insensitive-we both figured since San Juan is the capital, it should be in better shape as opposed to the other cities/towns and nonetheless, visitor friendly.

And, just like that our decision was finalized.

My parents being the worried wart’s they are, were concerned about my sudden expedition to Puerto Rico. They tried to come up with every plausible reason for me to cancel the trip. Here are a few examples, just so you get an idea (just add a Jamaican accent!)  Is it safe there? Didn’t PR just have a hurricane? Are people even traveling there?

Did you tell your job or request days off?

Are you sure you’ll have a job when you come back? 

Of course, being the stubborn and determined person I am, I still went on the trip.

Prior to embarking on this excursion, I knew this trip-regardless of where we went- meant more to me than posting sexy, thirst trap beach pics for ig/snapchat and posting my geo-location above my pictures (because of course everyone wants to see which hot spot you’re at). Taking a trip anywhere was important to me, simply because I would get a chance to not only celebrate one of my closest friend’s Quarter century, but it allowed me to get away from the mundane routine of work, home. eat, sleep (repeat). It gets depressing after awhile.

It reminded me that I come first, and money can’t always grant you happiness. I became exhausted of my obligations and the long awaited opportunity to break free finally arose.

For most people who aren’t from NYC or don’t reside here. Respect my honesty when I say, NYC is a cold place (literally and figuratively). Sure, snow is pretty for the first few minutes it falls, but once it sticks, it becomes a mountainous storage unit filled with dog feces and what NYC is infamously known for, its illustrious street trash. Still sounds like an extravagant winter wonderland? Nope! Haha, I thought so. PSA for all of the out-of-state people: if you ever come in the winter though, please do enjoy.

I had to plan an escape from this place even if it only meant a few days.

I’ve been rambling a lot, but now I’ll move on to the exciting part, “Ahh, Puerto Rico Ooooh”  (I’m corny, but if you just read that verse without singing it, then you won’t understand the intended joke. it’s a popular hook from Frankie Cutlass 1990s rap song,“Puerto Rico”. I’m sure every New Yorker has heard it as some point in their lives.

Thursday, March 1, 2018: I left NYC Thursday morning and arrived at PR in the evening (thanks to my one hour and half flight layover in North Carolina I arrived later. Still happy nonetheless, I made it safe and sound. Majority of my flight was spent with my eyelids closed and music in my ears; partly because of my persistent fear of flying and intent to contain all of my energy for PR festivities. Who wants to spend their vacation jet-lagged? I definitely don’t.

First Day in San Juan: I took a cab from  Luis Munoz Marin International Airport en route to my weekend home.

Shayna and I being the young and broke, working 20somethings we are, decided to take  Kendrick Lamar’s advice and be “Humble.” Instead of living beyond our means and Bow Wow’n for the gram, we took a low key approach by renting out an airBnB in the city of Carolina (not far from the airport, beach or night scene). There were local stores, endless dine-in/ takeout food spots, bars, hotels, and lounges. In a way I guess we lucked up by finding this area. It felt good not having to spend tons of money on Ubers or scrambling for change to take the bus.

When I arrived, I freshened my self up with a cold shower and brushed my teeth. Shortly after, Shayna and I touched the road! We both took advantage of the chance to show our legs and embraced the beautiful warmth the winter deprived us of. We spent a few hours walking the strip trying to decide on the perfect place for authentic Puerto Rican food and drinks. We set our eyes on a quiet-looking diner. Forgive me, but majority of the places we dined at I don’t remember the names of-I’m trying my best to retrace my memory by reliving the moment. Sadly I’m unsuccessful. I enjoyed a nice filling plate of mofongo ( mashed plantains) with chicken and a sangria. Shayna, took more of a vegetarian approach, white rice with beans and maduros mofongo (mashed sweet plantain) with a mojito. You should already know, two women with delicious food, comfy clothes and beautiful scenery only leads to one thing, a loooooong conversation and laughter. On the way back home we took note of which spots we would add to our To-Do list.

One of the best parts by far was the refreshing feeling of not being disturbed by my annoying alarm clock.  Nearly every morning, Shayna and I woke up either close to noon or at noon exactly. Somehow the days felt incredibly long, which permitted just enough time for spontaneous adventures.

March 2, 2018: Second day in PR the first thing we ventured out to do was of course our #1 priority, the beach! Fortunately, for us the Isla Verde Beach was within 10 minutes walking distance from us. Between us both walking really isn’t a issue, so we trotted our happy asses down to the beach.  Following the rejuvenating salt water baths, we had to see what a typical Friday night in PR entailed.  We dressed in our weekend’s best, ready to slay and headed out for sight-seeing in Old San Juan.

Old San Juan was about a 20 minute drive, if not less from Isla Verde. The architectural structures of the vibrantly painted buildings, cobble stone roads, narrow streets and historical monuments reminded me of scenes I’ve seen in movies. I could feel the essence of an island filled with deep rooted stories. There was this beautifully eerie feeling of Old San Juan. In some ways it felt like nostalgia to me.  I was enticed to absorb as much information the engraved plaques, signs and images provided. I felt at home in Old San Juan.

March 3, 2018 (Shayna’s Bday!): It was officially Shayna’s 25th birthday and everything was up to her. Shayna is such a chill person that she was content with going to the beach, a lounge and checking out the PR club scene. As she wished, was what we did. We went for another midday beach trip: tanned, received our salt water detox, posed for the camera and Shayna successfully hit a coconut off a palm tree. Later on that night we got dolled up, enjoyed dinner at a sushi restaurant and followed up after with a few drinks and hookah at a local hookah spot next door.  Around 2 a.m. we set out for the ultimate Puerto Rican club scene at La Placita!

March 4, 2018: Officially my last day and Shayna’s second to last day in PR. Reality of my impending departure slowly sank in, it was almost time for me to back up and head back to NYC. We decided to go out with a bang by conquering our fears of heights with hiking and zip lining through the forest. Honestly neither of us were aware caution waivers had to be signed before this life-threatening adventures. When the man brought out the paperwork, I started to seriously reconsider my decision. So much for YOLO. We were in too deep, neither of us could back out; our session was paid for and the Uber driver was nowhere in sight. So we signed the papers, strapped up, listened to the instructors advice and we were sent on our way.  Hiking up the trails wasn’t the scary part ( I confess, it had me a little winded, I told myself I need to be more diligent about exercising). It was when the zip-lining attendants strapped our harnesses on to the zip-lining cord that the surge of nervousness stung my body. The first two out of 6 zip-lines were a little intense, but after a while the routined strapped harnesses, sitting back and extended legs followed by a fierce push became second nature. I just prayed my zip-lining wouldn’t stop half way through zip-lining because I’d have to fend for myself.

As you can see I survived it, so for those of you who are thinking about zip-lining at some point in your lives. I’d say definitely go for it and take this from someone who is intensely afraid of heights. It’s an experience you’d love to check off your to-do list, rather than say I wish I could do that.  Why live vicariously through someone else when you can do it yourself?

Amidst all of the heart ache, trauma, devastation and fatalities Puerto Rico has endured during and after Hurricane Maria. This island remains vibrant welcoming, and resilient but most importantly beautiful.

I admire Carib people for seeing life as an endless celebration and being innovative with their limited tools. Although, I didn’t get to experience Puerto Rico in its entirety (that’ll be a little difficult to do in the space of 3-4 days) I felt the spirit of optimism and progression.

I’ll see you again PR.

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Anti-thot Anthem: Who wouldn’t want SZA for “The Weekend”?

Lately, I’ve been having a major issue with people categorizing SZA as a “thot” or advocating for the  “thot lifestyle”.

Thot strange word, right? I know some of my readers probably have peculiar expressions on their faces,  wondering what in the hell does that mean?

Well my friends, this slanged terminology simply means Hoe or let me be politically correct, an avidly promiscuous individual.

As you can see I have a thing for digressing, but it’s all in good nature. I just want to clarify any misconceptions and allow my readers to understand what I’m saying.

I might have just added a new word to your vocabulary. You’re welcome 😉

I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t know SZA on a personal level. However, there’s something powerful about a music artist’s ability to be lyrically vulnerable, which helps bridge the gap between artist and fan, causing you to feel as if you really know them and share their pain.

Well let me say this I resonate all too well with the situation SZA sings about in her popular R&B track, as some may call it a thot anthem “The Weekend”

I’ll just sprinkle a tad bit on you. The content may be too heavy for the faint, uppity or judgmental hearted.

“My man is my man, is your man, heard that’s her man too Repeat. (…) Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I just keep him satisfied through the weekend. You like 9-5, I’m the weekend.”

Let me clarify this, in no way shape or form am I promoting infidelity/Side chick-ism. I simply just want people to actually listen to songs (not just the beat) hear the sources -in this case- the artist’s P.O.V, in order to truly get a sense of why they wrote the song? What place were they writing from? What influenced them to release their song to the public?

SZA starts off by saying “You say you got a girl,  how you want me, how you want me, when you got a girl.” The latter verses explains that this young man clearly holds no emotional ties to any of the women he is sexually involved with. His sexual desires are fulfilled through various sexual partners.

SZA explains from her perspective that she enjoys being sexually intimate with him and desires to have it more often, so she is proposing to reach a compromise with the other women where she can selfishly have him all to herself  throughout The Weekend. During weekdays, the other women can work it out amongst themselves. SZA is basically saying, he’s for everyone and each woman gets their fair share of his loving.

In this age and I’m sure many women of past generations have encountered experiences where they willingly accepted to play a role for the sake of their lover. Sometimes we as human beings. become selfless for our partners and blindly agree to what numerous other people would contest too. Those same people are the first to give you the vicious side eye, advising you how to live your life. Of course, it’s through their clean, unscratched, perfectly wiped narcissistic lenses.

I’ve played many roles in my life and I’m not proud of them all, neither am I ashamed.  I’m a young woman who takes ownership. Maturity  and growth is a daily learning task, not some intuitive instinct we’re born with. Everything takes time and we all live different lives.  I’m not perfect, hell no one is.  I support SZA’s stance on the weekend and stand firmly in her perspective that she is not promoting infidelity, thots or side chicks.

And I reiterate for the umpteenth time, this is not a “THOT ANTHEM”

When artists like SZA are willing to be candid and freely share their pain and life lessons through their love of music; I ask that you please listen and refrain from judgmental labels which only hold negative stigmas and connotations.

I am not a thot or a fucking whore. I am just an imperfect, flawed, sometimes naive, too nice, too understanding and accepting 20 something.  What can I say? I guess that’s just the growing pains of a 20 something. Every experience is either a blessing or a lesson. My personal experiences may not be the best, but I’m grateful, now I can say yea I’ve encountered some situations where  I traded my morals for the temporary fulfillment of lust. Yet I survived.

I might just help another maturing woman through her situation while withholding the I-am-holier-than-thou attitude.

Thank you SZA for your words and sharing your experience.

Sometimes the worse experiences are the best stories. 

Here’s a link to the song as well, give it a listen and comment with your opinion of the lyrical message. I’d love to hear other perspectives.

“The Weekend” By SZA

And remember, Those who can’t relate are always the first to judge!!

#JustSayin

#SorryNotSorry

Humanity rises above all

09/11

On a day like this it seems appropriate to write about, discuss, show or share Sympathy. 

Which ever medium you choose, it’s still a credible act.

In the midst of all the natural disasters our not-so-happy mother nature plagues upon us. She’s reminding us not just female/male, black/white, hispanic/asian but  (humankind) on a whole that throughout moments of our own personal lives we should strive to show sympathy. After all, it doesn’t cost you a dime to extend your hand and help someone beside you who has become unbalanced and fallen down.

Sympathy– doesn’t cost a thing. The slightest words, touch or gesture may bring a smile to another persons face and ignite a momentarily extinguished light that somehow  darkened their day.

Whether it may or may not have been you affected by the disasters of Harvey, Irma or Jose, remember there are people out there who felt their wrath and are now suffering the loss of homes, family members and personal items they’ve worked hard to attain. I know Life is worth more than materialistic possessions-although some of those things do bring a sense of temporary contentment- it’s about being present to witness and experience all life has to offer.

So on days preceding 09/11, on 09/11 and days following 09/11, remember to carry sympathy in your heart knowing that we all have an expiration date.

The AfroPunk Experience: Live in your truth

IMG_2464Leikeli47 performing at AfroPunk17

This post is long overdue, but it’s better now than never, right?

When it comes to AfroPunk, a few things come to mind:

Eclectic fashion

Black culture

Music

Afros

Natural hair/braids

Unity

Platfroms

Free spirits

Diversity

Punk rockers

& Of course a whole lot of “BK love”

Personally,  after experiencing AfroPunk for myself what comes to mind is love for ALL people. Yes, white supremacists you read correctly, I said all people. So that includes your Negro lovin’ white brethren.

Amidst all the hatred that has occurred and is transpiring, it warmed my heart to see people of different cultures, ages, and various backgrounds congregate together. Events like AfroPunk show that no matter how disparate, inferior or superior, society attempts to make us feel, in the grand scheme of things we’re actually all just human beings.  AfroPunk is more than just a fashion runway for attendees , a concert lineup of dope artists (both mainstream and upcoming) it’s an open forum for individuals to freely be their self in their most truest and purest form. In this space of Afrocentric love and appreciation; people are able to be Black and proud + say it out loud! With no discrimination to any other cultures.

Is it fake of me for initially wanting to see three main performers: The sultry Solange, fearless Willow Smith, and carefree SZA.

Yea, I guess it is a little fake of me for wanting to support only three artists among the array of talented acts. Well guess what AfroPunk organizers caught the drift and I was swindled into paying for a weekend pass. Yup they got me. Oh and By the way, Solange, SZA and Willow you’re welcome.

All in all, the AfroPunk experience is one of the major highlights of summer 2017 and it’s also my first official summer returning home to reclaim my place as a New Yorker after years of traveling to and from Buffalo, residing there for a year as a post-graduate (Phew) that was a mouth full. Let me just say it’s bittersweet readjusting to living in NYC with my parents in my childhood home. any who, that’s another story for a different day.

Back to the main topic, AfroPunk! There isn’t a more satisfying feeling in the world than having the opportunity to wholeheartedly live in an experience you’ve always wanted to do. Most of us (yes, i’m including myself) pile a ton of things on our to-do lists, but never actually live to see the day that particular seeded dream manifests into a living breathing reality.

The feelings of love and good vibes immersed me, almost suffocated me both physically and emotionally. I felt a sense of relief being in a place where people weren’t overtly judging others for their clothes, hairstyle or musical choice. We embraced and celebrated all of our differences and similarities through the love of music.

For those New Yorkers who have not gone to AfroPunk, I say this you should be ashamed of yourself and even if it’s not your thing you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. Check out the line up and give it a shot, you might just discover some new music to add to your playlistI, I know I did. Besides my three must-see artists, I’m now feeling the Afrocentric, feminist vibe of the HWIC Princess Nokia, the fast paced, get-up-outyour-seat hip hop dance music of Leikeli 47 and hardcore, British rapper Little Simz made Nicki Minaj and Remy Martin look like mere nursery rhymes.

Looking back at the AfroPunk Saturday lineup, there was some serious female empowerment vibes.

The most important aspect of AfroPunk is that it’s not a place to proliferate ideologies of sexism, racism, xenophobia and/or cruel intentions. Leave your violence and negativity at the door, as the great, rap trio Migos once said “Yea that way”—> For those of you who don’t know what that means let me clarify: Leave. The. BS. At the door. It’s not welcome in this space.

Self expression comes in multiple forms, love of music, fashion, and artistry. Thank you AfroPunk for allowing us to freely incorporate all three.

And my Amigos here a few fun pictures for you to scroll through. Enjoy!

IMG_2489What can I say, I have a thing for murals.

IMG_2472 .    Little Simz

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“Hoping my 20-somethings don’t end, hoping to keep the rest of my friends” -SZA

 

 

 -S.Yolee

A long overdue Thank you

Thank you for holding my hand during moments I pulled away

Thank you for reaching for a kiss even when I stubbornly resisted the urge to feel the warmth of your love

Thank you for pulling me close and embracing every flaw and fault even when I  refused and pulled away from you

Thank you for attentively listening to me ramble about my day

Thank you for considering to alter your wardrobe a little even though I knew sweats & hoodies were your go-to comfort outfit

Thank you for oiling my scalp, when my braids itched against my scalp and I was too lazy to do it myself

Thank you for refusing to allow me to wallow in self-pity and doubt when I encountered a few bumps in the road

Thank you for lovingly gazing at me, although my insecurities caused me to repeatedly tell you to stop

Thank you for the moments you argued with me and shared your perspective on life, love and politics

Thank you for teasing me

Thank you for your witty and sarcastic rebuttals

Thank you for moments of laughter

Thank you for being a supporter

I thank you for every moment and the impact you had on my life in such a short time.

Most importantly, thank you for being you and not asking much of me.

Thank you for trying to wait for me, but realizing that eventually you had to let me go for the sake of your own heart.

Thank you for the promises, I once believed in when I saw the way you looked at me and felt the passion of your embrace.

Thank you for once loving me, leading me to the possibilities of receiving love.

Thank you for assuring me that it is okay to accept love.

I wanted to be perfect for you. So, thank you for not asking me to not be anything, but myself.

Thank you.

 

-S.Yolee

 

The Mystery under the wig🤔😳

I finally decided to take my wig off-Sounds so funny to say, but I promise I’m not a balding Middle Aged woman-I’m just a twenty-something year old who’s trying dabbling in alternative inexpensive protective hair style options. 

A few days ago, I somehow mustered up the confidence to take my ombré two toned, dark brown and blonde shoulder length wig off. Yes, I unleashed the fro ✊🏾


I got a little tired and annoyed with the constant heading patting and itching. I think that was either a sign from my hair that it needed to be washed or just a “let me  loose cry!”

So I did as my hair requested. I took the wig off, unbraided my cornrows and man, I tell you, it felt goood to be free…

Now, I was standing face to face with the real me in all of my natural glory. I stared at my natural tresses, examining it intently, stretching the ends to measure the growth and then wondering what the hell Am I going to do with “this” for work.

I thought maybe I’ll think of something once I begin combing through it. And surely, I thought of a cute little twist out idea. The process of this cute little twist out was longer than I expected. Once I start styling my hair, I don’t give up. No matter how long it takes. 

I lathered my hair with my Creme of Nature Argan oil Buttermilk moisturizer, placed shea butter and  around the perimeter (on my edges and nape) for extra moisture, sheen and protection. After, I began the nearly two-hour process of parting my hair into small boxes and doing two strand twists. I still haven’t figured out how to do three strand twists, so for now I’ll stick to what I know. 

The next morning after I was completely showered and dressed, I unraveled the twists. I was a little aggravated because a few twists were awkwardly jutting out of my scalp. I was prepared for those little unruly twists, I used a small amount of Eco gel to hold them down. Thanks Eco Gel, all this time I’ve been doubting. You came through when I needed you. 

Then I was out the door and off the work. The gentle breeze lightly passing over my scalp, like cool fingers as I walked towards the bus stop.  

          

  Later on that same day, one of my fellow naturalista co-workers greeted me with surprise and enthusiasm for revealing the mystery under the wig. She encouraged me to wear my natural hair more often work and revealed her dislike for my wig wearing. Usually I would get oftened by such comments but in actuality, I was receptive and appreciative of her realness. 

It felt good to be me, feel like me and show the real me at work. 

She hasn’t changed my views on wearing wigs, but she has empowered me to switch it up,by aternating between hair style options.  I don’t always have the time or energy to retwist my hair. Plus, wigs are easy and convenient protective options. 

I guess I can let my hair out a little more often from now on. 

A Naturalistas Plea- Sometimes growing is the hardest thing to do

Throughout my entire life, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more infuriating love/hate relationship similar to the one I have with you. 
For years I’ve tended to your needs, by helping you get rid of the excess stress and damage when needed. Mainly because I thought this would be the new, fresh start you deserved. On top of that, I keep you well groomed with the appropriate amount of trimming. I’ve protected you from harsh climates and chemicals. Always making sure you were first, without regard to the price because  your protection is what matters the most. Hell, I’ve even kept my word to never ever ever eveeer allow you to relapse and revert  back to feeding your creamy crack addiction. 

I did my part in this, now it’s your turn to do the same. I’m working non-stop in efforts of tending to your high maintenance needs.

It’s been 4 years, going on 5 and I’m still dealing with your stubborn stagnation. I’ve put up with you for so long. And you’re right, I haven’t always kept my promise or maintained my consistence And I might have even switched my actions a few times, yet not once did I ever dare to give up on you and most importantly OUR journey. 

I want this relationship to flourish but you have to work with me too, not against me. Believe me, when I say this, I want nothing more than for us to grow, but more importantly for you to grow and reach your fullest potential. 

 Come on, it’s been a long time coming, please do this favor for me and 

just 

GROW!