I will return in the next 4 to 6 weeks

Whew! I haven’t been on here in a minute! I finished library school this year ( my first master’s degree.) I’m not sure what is next in the way of school, but I am now on the job hunt. I was turned down for my first professional position this past week. It sucked, but a couple of other positions popped up to soften the blow.

I am a huge critic of the library and archives professions particularly in the way that they pursue diversity–a word I now hate. Let’s see, what terms come to mind? Deliberate exclusion and abolitionist mentality (academic libraries specifically.)

Needless to say, there will be plenty to discuss. And for those of you that are interested in hair updates, I have a few of those, as well. It is definitely called a natural hair journey for a reason.

I hope all is well with all of you out there!

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The Employment Interview and Free Labor

And, I am back! I am so glad that spring semester is over–it was a rough one. During the semester (and before grad school) I had been, and continue to be, job hunting. I am a critic of unpaid internships, so I  have been thinking about the topic of extraction of free labor during the job interview for quite some time. This post will by no means be a scholarly approach to the topic. That is, some discussions only require common sense.

I don’t think that people should work for free. You give people, corporations, and small businesses an inch, and they will take a mile. I speak from experience, as I have worked somewhat independently for the past seven years. I was a practicing clinical massage therapist. In short, I’ve done my share of free labor for marketing, and it did nothing for my business. People and potential clients took me for granted. They would come to my chair or table without showering, and wouldn’t tip because they felt as if I was making enough, or simply did not care. Perhaps they thought I was on public assistance? In any case, I was an excellent massage therapist, who took special pride in my work and clients.

Side Bar: Schools are notorious for recommending that students (undergraduate, graduate, and so on) work for free. They know that students have expenses and STUDENT LOANS to pay for, yet, they continue to promote this to the student body and local businesses. My current school/program does this, and it is a bad practice. These companies (located in a major metropolitan area) can, at least, afford to pay minimum wage.

I stopped practicing because I was investing more money than I received, or I was not getting a good return on my investment. I did what a business person does; called clients, participated in networking events, and talked to friends to build my business. And it did not work. I just had a former client call me for a massage after avoiding me for five years. She wanted a specific modality that I hadn’t practiced in two years, so I tried to find her a referral. Here is where my story of free labor begins.

I spent several days trying to track down a massage therapist for her (as she said that she had gotten sicker since we last saw each other.) At the end of this process I wasted many unpaid hours, and she had found a therapist on her own. Why on earth did she not do that in the first place? And why on earth did I do that for her? I learned from that. I felt sorry for her, but she has access to more resources than me. She is well off and has access to the most expensive health care in my region. This is called “falling for the okedoke.”

I had a conversation with a person on Twitter about how not to give away your best ideas in an interview. Her complaint was that she had been on several interviews where she gave out her best ideas, heard that the company had implemented some if not all of them, and did not hire her. I’ve had similar experiences, and I am sure there are many who have had the same experience. I have been on several interviews where the interviewers asked “What would you do with this website? What would you do for this blog?,” etc. They took down my ideas with no intention to hire me. It’s possible that they have the position filled with an inside person, but do the interviews anyway. There are many explanations–even that they “found someone more qualified.” But there is still the problem of free labor.

My suggestion was to create a template of ideas, ideas that she didn’t feel emotionally attached to, and then use those. That was the only suggestion that I could come up with. I mean, we all want to impress potential employers, but the work begins in the first interview, and we are not compensated for ideas that they may use.

What do you think? Are there any solutions to this problem? I would love to get some feedback on it. In this age of free content (Twitter, blogs, etc.) What can the unemployed do to preserve some dignity?

Terressentials: Natural Hair Post, so if you don’t care, skip it

Terressentials

 

My love-hate relationship with Terressentials continues. I LOVE what this clay hair wash does for my hair. I get great definition, and moisture for days. I tried it after I watched  Naptural85 rave about the benefits of this natural hair wash. At the same time, I had been watching videos, and doing research about the ph of hair and skin. I think that I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case, a quick reminder. The hair and skin are at their best when you use products that have a ph range between 4.5-5.5–give or take a few points. Unless you have some type of skin/scalp condition, this ph range keeps stuff from drying out your hair, and bad microbes off of your skin.

If you want fuller/puffier hair, use products that have a ph between 6-7. This is a more neutral ph, which leaves the hair cuticle slightly open. This is usually the general ph range of most products.  For those with fine hair (like me) this range usually is not a problem, as you want more fluff/frizz to the hair. This gives the illusion of thick hair. But, for a fine haired curly, I actually like my hair to be more defined because I get less tangles and breakage. Also, after a wash, as the days go by, my hair gets fuller. ( If you want to experiment, you can find a list of shampoos, conditioners, and their ph on The Natural Haven site

Okay, so this is the deal with Terressentials. My scalp hates this stuff–I think I’ve mentioned it before–but trying to find something that gives me the same results has proved impossible. There are some really good products out there, but Terressentials gives me results that I can’t duplicate with anything else.

In any case, I had to find something to wash my scalp with that wouldn’t dry out my hair before Terressentials application. This is what I do:

  • Wash my scalp with a Bobeam Shampoo Bar (Honey/Shea)–you can purchase from her Etsy Store (link provided) or Curlmart.
  • I rinse. Her shampoo bars leave the hair clean, but not completely stripped of moisture.
  • I then apply Terressentials to the length of my hair making sure that I don’t go near the scalp (I use Left Coast Lemon or Lavender).
  • Detangle and remove shed hairs.
  • Thoroughly rinse out clay wash.
  • Apply  Aubrey Organics White Camellia conditioner and apply plastic cap for deep condition (really acidic/high ph. I think because Terressentials opens the cuticle, this conditioner closes it. It has an odd foaming action–not like the foam/suds of a surfactant–it makes my hair feel squeeky, which is a sign that it is closing the cuticle. But this is my opinion, I have no science to back this up).

My leave-ins are DevaCurl One Condition (ph: 4.7) and Jessicurl Deep Treatment. I seal with a homemade Coconut oil moisturizer (coconut oil base, shea butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, Jamaican black castor oil, a few drops of argan oil, and essential oils for scent blended with a hand blender). I then apply Kinky Curly Curling Custard.

This may seem like a lot of product, but my hair is defined, moisturized and lasts seven days.

If you decide to try any of these products, let me know what you think!

Graduate School and Thoughts on Academia

Image

Sorry, I haven’t posted in quite a while. I am in the midst of the spring semester and freaking out about employment. Anyway, I thought that I would knock out a short post while I am working on a library cataloging assignment. Library cataloging is so interesting, and I wish I wasn’t learning with the instructor I have. I don’t want to get into the details and it’s only an intro class, so I will leave it at that.

I have grown a lot over the last few semesters (the summer semester was truncated because that’s how the program is set-up). I have done research in archival science, and have learned much about library and information science. And, contrary to popular belief, you do have to be smart to go into the profession.

I initially thought that I wanted to go into academic librarianship–I still do–but it’s difficult. It seems that I have a knack for choosing the difficult path. So my priority today is that if I can’t get into an entry level or internship position, I will just get into a position that is associated with the field. School loans are coming up, and the priority will be paying on those.

I am kind of disheartened about the state of academia and librarianship. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and it has basically discouraged me from pursuing a Ph.D. It would be a waste of money and time unless it was paid for. Academia is following the business model, which is a two-tiered system where they keep a lower-class pool of workers (adjuncts) while others prosper at the top. This weakens higher education, and makes it a target for for-profit business people. The corporations and politicians have already found their way into education on all levels–this makes things bad for future generations.

This is a long conversation, but those are my initial thoughts about what is going on, and why I am going to be done with school after I receive my M.S. Also, I am ready to work and travel. I am tired of being land locked.

What is, or has been your experience with higher education? Your experience with libraries, library and info. science, or archives?

First Semester of Grad School

Yes, as the title alludes, I am done with the first semester of graduate school. It was really tough, ummm, I think that’s what I can say about it at this point. I had two classes, and had to finish some projects for a class that I started in the summer, so three courses total. Ach! It was tough, but I think that I got some good research out of it–yes, four months after a 25-page research paper in undergrad, I had another 25-page paper due for graduate school. Aaah! I was loving my life, ha! I did well with it though. I was really surprised because I thought it was a C paper, but I got an A with some in-text notes for changes, but nothing that made me feel like “I really had no idea what I was doing!” It’s a good feeling.

Okay, the difference between undergraduate and graduate is that one is focused on a single discipline…but not really because there is this whole thing about interdisciplinary work. So my research is about library and information science, archives, literature, and social science. Since my research…welp, this is boring, ha! Let me see if I can make this as brief as possible. My graduate research is a continuation of my undergraduate research, which is an exploration of the communities/culture of enslaved black women. That’s all I’m saying.

The instruction is pretty much the same as undergrad: you are teaching yourself. That being said, I hope I find a mentor out of this experience. I really do. After having one when I was younger, albeit for theater, I think it’s really valuable. I am still a bit bitter about not having one for music. I spent a lot of money on vocal lessons, but never really connected with any of my teachers. Well, there was one, but he moved to L.A.

Anyway, I am looking for a part-time position so that I can get some experience while I am in school. That’s it. I am really glad to be on winter break. Perhaps I will get some personal reading done. That is, if I can concentrate. Did I mention I am having trouble with concentration? Ha! I hope to get some rest as well. My home environment is pretty stressful right now. Family is overrated, seriously.

I’ve been hanging on Twitter a lot more these days. I really like it. It’s kind of freaking me out. And I am torn between two blogs. I really like wordpress, but I am in love with tumblr, ugh! What shall I do? Perhaps I will keep the really dark stuff on tumblr? I don’t know. We shall see.

Happy Holidays!

Graduate School: Yes, another post

Hello All,

I am drained, burnt, exhausted, and whatever other term you can think of that describes my deflated state. I will create a full post soon, but for now, I am going to enjoy the rest of the Thanksgiving holiday. I will probably post some time in the second week of December. When the semester is ovah!! Ugh!

How I keep my hair situation moisturized and product updates

Heyyy! It has been a while. I’ve been meaning to post, but I just started grad school in late July, and it’s been crazy ever since.

At any rate,  it took me a very long time to figure out how to keep my hair moisturized. I’d wash my hair, have one good hair day, and then have to figure out what I was going to do to keep it going. My hair does not like water after the initial dry, particularly with a wash n’ go. I mean, water is fine when I put my hair up in a ponytail, but if I get any water on my hair during a wash n’ go, I know that I  am gonna have to wash it soon. I get frizz and shrinkage. It’s just not pretty.

So this is what I do: after the initial wash, at night I stretch my hair into two ponytails (I do this every night–unless I am around my S.O.– until the next wash-day. ) That is, I take six Sephora snag-free hair elastics , my hair is parted down the middle, and then I stretch each side using the hair elastics (three per side.)  And then I put on a satin sleeping scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase (I would like to get a silk pillowcase, but I am a procrastinator and satin is fine.) In the morning, I remove the satin scarf and shower with the two ponytails in my hair. Water and steam work their way into the ponytails, and after I get done preparing for the day, with a little bit of coconut oil on my hands, I remove the elastics and fluff my hair.

A note on stretching: I got this advice from YouTube-r Charz Boss–you have to stretch your hair. I don’t know how much it aids in hair growth, but I know that it keeps the hair from tangling. I have different size, curls and waves on my head, and my hair is fine, so it is imperative that i keep my hair from balling up onto itself.

Coconut oil has locking and moisturizing properties, so I frequently use this oil–this is my go-to oil. There is a trivial amount of water involved, and my wash ‘n go’s last for four-five days, and then I put it up into a ponytail for two-three days.

I have also made my own moisturizer. If you like this idea, keep it in the refrigerator because there is no amount of preservative that will keep it fresh. I mix aloe juice, water, Africa’s Best Ultimate Herbal Oil (you can use any oil blend–this one kinda smells like baby power, which I hate, but sometimes I’m just cheap, and I’m not gonna throw it out), and jojoba oil. I put this mixture into a dark brown, glass spray bottle (I picked it up at  the local health food store.)

Okay, I said that I wasn’t keen on Shea Moisture products, BUT I found one, I found one!!! I love-eee it! It is under the Nubian Heritage label (SAME COMPANY), and it’s called Indian Hemp & Tamanu, Grow & Strengthen Edge Taming Taffy. This stuff rocks for ponytails!!! OMG! I love it. I love the texture, then scent, and it works really well for ponytails (high-low or in between.)

I am probably late to the game on this one, but better late than never. I haven’t done a twist-out in a long time, but I am sure this would work well with a twist-out as well. This product is definitely a keeper.

Secondly, the As I Am cleansing pudding is still working fine. I still deep condition after I use it because it is a little drying.  And, another thing, if you do get this product, follow the directions and allow it to sit on your scalp after you scrub it with your fingertips.

Until next time…and it probably won’t be another hair post.

Natural Black Hair Regimen 2013

Indie Black Hair 2013

Indie Black Hair 2013

So, I haven’t done an update on my hair regimen in a long time. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve even done a regimen post. I think I have, but I can’t remember, ha!

Anyway, let’s get to it. I still use a lot of products, but there are some that have been staples since I learned how to take care of my natural texture.

Keep in mind, I live in Chicago (extreme cold/hot/humid.) This regimen is pretty consistent throughout the changes in weather.

Styler: Kinky Curly Curling Custard
I can’t live without this stuff. I love it, love it, love it. I don’t think I will try to make my own, ever. I just don’t think it could compare. I do, however, keep track of how much I use by marking the lid with the month and year. I get the jumbo jar which is pricey ($29.99). Target sells a smaller jar ($17.99), but it doesn’t make economic sense–unless you have an emergency. Every time I think I am going to try something less expensive, or make my own, as soon as I get to that last, snotty drop I am racing to the store for another jar. Shame.

Leave-in: Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment (formerly Weekly Deep Treatment) I layer this over a lighter leave-in. This stuff is magic.

Light Leave-in: DevaCurl One I stopped using this for a few years because they changed the formula. But I’ve started using it again, and I haven’t had any adverse effects.

Sealant:  Homemade Coconut Oil blend  ( This recipe is based on naptural85’s coconut oil moisturizer .) Using a hand mixer, I blend coconut oil, shea butter, castor oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, rosemary essential oil, and jasmine essential oil (you can choose your own essential oils, but use sparingly because of the scalp.) Sometimes I will add grape seed or argan oil to the blend it depends on what I have on hand. Just enough to coat the strands, otherwise you will have an oil slick all over your ears and neck.

Shampoo: This has been a complicated one. I am currently using Terressentials lavender or left coast lemon. Now, I have a love-hate relationship with this clay cleanser. I LOVE the results, but my scalp hates the stuff, so I rotate this out ( I use the Terressentials every third or fourth wash) with As I Am cleansing pudding,  which I just started using. The cleansing pudding has an ingredient, piroctone olamine, which is known to be a great scalp cleanser, and to promote growth. It is a little drying, so I do a short deep condition( with Tresemme Naturals condish–I put a lot of this in my hair, and then briefly run it under the shower stream to activate, and then I detangle with my fingers, or a shower comb.) After I detangle, I leave it in, place a plastic cap over my head, finish my shower duties, take the cap off, and then rinse it out.

BTW: I use the Teri Laflesh method to wash my hair. Her website was the first one that I found when I began to research how to take care of my hair. I spent years trying to figure out how to wear my hair natural (Whew, I don’t miss the birds nest days, or people calling me Macy Gray, I like her, but I don’t look anything like her. But we know what that’s about…)

I would love to find a really moisturizing shampoo for my scalp, but I am going to ride this As I Am cleansing pudding thing until the wheels fall off. Every time I use shampoo it dries my hair out–it just isn’t the same. And some alternative sulfates are more drying/stripping than regular sulfates. The day will come…

I started working with ph a few months ago, and it has done wonders for my hair. This means that I try to use products that range between 4.5-5.5. I use the Terressentials with Aubrey Organics White Camellia conditioner. This feels really weird. BUT the Terressentials is really alkaline( maybe 9 or 10 on the ph scale? But it’s a solid, so I am not sure), which means that it opens up the hair shaft, and then fills it with moisture. When I put the AOWC on it feels really squeeky, which means that it is very acidic and that it’s closing the cuticle. I rinse this out, and then put the DevaCurl one in (acidic at 4.7.) I get fabulous hair when I use these two products together. Confusing, right? Well, the last leave-in/conditioner I put on my hair is acidic (between 4.5-5.5).

The Natural Haven has a ph list for both conditioners and shampoos.

WARNING: Don’t ever try to use the AOWC on it’s own( as a leave-in or co-wash–don’t do it!!) because it will tangle your hair big time. SERIOUSLY. I learned this the hard way.

Product Lines I dabble in:

Curl Junkie: I love the Smoothing Lotion as a light leave-in, and the Coffee-Coco Curl Creme as a curl refresher and a curly, pony tail poof refresher. That is, if I have been wearing a wash’n go for a few days, and one of the curls is kind of frizzy, or out of whack I will wet the strand down, and then slick some CCCC down the strand. This usually makes the curl snap right back. My only complaint is that her products are really expensive, and she has a sale once or twice a year. (Try Curl Mart? They have sales more often, but they don’t sell larger sizes.)

Oyin Handmade: HoneyHemp Conditioner I often use this as a pre-poo because it softens tangles. (Be careful how you store this because hemp oil goes rancid, so I would put it in the ‘frig for storage.) I get the big bottle from the website–it just, yes, makes economic sense.

*sigh* That was a long one, but I hope it helps somebody out there. It took me a long time to get to this point. I have gone through so many products to get to my hair’s maximum potential, but it’s been worth it. Yup.

Next post:  How I keep my hair moisturized in between washes.

Any questions? Comments?

Baby Grad Student

Graduate School

Source: madamenoire.com

Oh, boy! I started a graduate program over the summer, and have already been confronted with a surprising lack of diversity within the school and field. I say surprising because apparently the school (and a large professional association with significant influence on the field) have been working on diversity for some time now. OR is it that they’ve been talking about it for a long time?

Which brings me to the point of this post on academia. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’ve changed a lot of personal karma by returning to school at my age. That being said, higher education is all about talking, and not much about doing even when it comes to DOING within the culture of the school. We are encouraged to write papers, and have discussions about the lack of diversity. If someone can explain that to me, please do. Moreover, the professional association has documented a 1% increase in diversity in the field between the years 2000 and 2010. 1%!!! And it seemed as if they were proud to report this “increase.”

From undergrad to graduate school, education gets a big #RACEFAIL from me. I think that is the reason why a college degree was the furthest thing from my mind in my 20s and 30s. I had been so burned by elementary and high school education that I never dreamed of making it through higher education. But my dad was a big time academic–he passed away when I was young–but I’ve always felt his spirit nudging me toward school.

The trouble with people of color in education is the knowledge that one is not getting what one needs. Not only is the education part difficult, but often teachers/professors withhold information–and people of color KNOW that they are withholding information.  You are a very fortunate student if you luck up on a mentor that is willing to give you the ins and outs of making it through school. And that is one of myriad reasons why kids of color get angry and drop out. Also, it’s really frustrating when one doesn’t see themselves in the curriculum. That is, I didn’t truly begin to learn history, e.g. have a serious conversation about American slavery, until I entered college (THANK YOU, ERIC FONER!!)

Anyway, I have another two years of guessing what my professors want, jumping through hoops and being generally uncomfortable. Fortunately, I found this website (see link below.). The post was truly sad to me, but it was proof that I am not losing my mind, and the professor seems like she is an ally.

I have a book review (I’ve never done one of these before) and a research paper I should be working on. So let me get to it.

Can you relate? What have things been like for you in school? I’d like to hear from anybody who would like to respond.

http://theprofessorisin.com/2011/08/09/challenges-for-graduate-students-of-color-in-the-academy/

Not-so-good Hair Products for Natural Black Hair

DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions and my experience. If you love these products, keep on buying/using them.

Source: madamenoire.com

Source: madamenoire.com

Initially, the title of this post was “crappy hair products…” but I came back, and decided that was a little too harsh. In any case, the new craze: every hair product company trying to make money off of the natural hair renaissance. The problem is that most of the products are still full of unhealthy ingredients! Most companies still use petroleum (petrolatum, mineral oil, etc.) as a main ingredient in their products. Also, the products still stink! I’m sorry but I don’t want to smell like tropical fruit, vanilla, or coconut or any of those other stinky scents they use for black hair care products.

I want fresh, clean scents! I want natural oils (coconut, avocado, olive, castor,etc.)!

Here are some of the lines that have those traditional black hair care scents, and didn’t do anything for my hair:

Cantu Shea Butter– greasy, sticky and smells bad. Also, I think that they lie on their labeling. I checked out the ingredient list for one of their products online, and then purchased in store. The online ingredients did not list glycerin as an ingredient, but the bottle that I purchased had glycerin as the second ingredient. And yes they are the same product. Granted, their oil moisturizer works great on my niece’s hair–her hair is a completely different texture ( think 3A versus 4A, 3A easily moisturizes.)

Shea Moisture– I’ve tried a lot of their products and I just don’t get what all of the hype is about. I don’t like the scent of the Hibiscus and Coconut line or the African Black  Soap line (the hair mask smells like rotten bananas.) I do like the scent of their raw shea butter line, but it does nothing for my hair :(.

Other new natural hair/natural curls lines:

Beautiful Textures: just look at the ingredients.

As I am: I am using a cleansing pudding right now, and the jury is still out.

With the exception of Shea Moisture,  these lines were created by larger companies, so they are not on the scene to help you really take care of your hair. In other words, it’s about the profit motive.  There are many more lines that have recently released natural curl product lines, but I will not enumerate them here. You only have to stop by any chain store to see the explosion of products.

If you don’t want a bunch of products that contain petroleum, petrolatum, mineral oil, or any other derivative of grease, read the labels before purchase. This will save you money, and you will avoid being called a product junkie–if that bothers you, heh.

What about you? Have you tried any new hair care products? Are you pleased or disappointed?

Stay tuned for a post on my current hair regimen.