Thursday, May 26, 2016

"I feel that if I had more resources, I could help more people. I have IDEAS that can make the human race... BETTER. PERIOD."

Me on a Wednesday.

[Note: I originally wrote this last Friday and was gonna post it then, but I wanted to wait until I had a relevant picture to attach. Last minute I settled on the one above, because I don't know if Drake has cameras in my house or what, but that photo is basically me on any given day. I know this has very little relevance to this post, but you guys are just gonna have to deal.]

So anyway, on to it.

Not too long ago it hit me that the same skillset I developed to get myself out of a suburban snoozetown and into a big city; out from under the care of chaotic, abusive and negligent adults and on my own; away from a controlling atmosphere with dead end prospects to freedom and the big blue world... would not be the same skillset that would take me from where I am now... a fairly well-adjusted adult with lots to be proud of, thankful and grateful for – to the next level – a very well adjusted (and well-traveled!) adult with a flush bank account, a hot mate, a fulfilling career and an endless array of fun and kind friends. Different goals require different skillsets you see. There are indeed, levels to this shit.

Over the past year, after moving out of the lovely lovely place I called home for 5 years, I have done quite a few soul-bending, mind-expanding, purpose-clarifying things. I have traveled alone, twice, to places where I did not know the language or many of the customs (France and China), without letting money or lack of a travel companion stop me. I have gotten reacquainted with my family, myself and why I needed to get away from them in the first place. I have made new friends, and had a few lovers, and then quit seeking out romantic relationships entirely. I have dug deeper into my artistic spirit, exploring the whys and the outcomes I wish to achieve via writing and creating other content. I have reaffirmed what is integral to my happiness now (having a place to call home, consistent creative expression, friends who understand and respect me), as well as what happiness looks like for me in the near future (more of that, and less overall confusion and time wasting).

So I'm readjusting. And adjusting and adjusting and adjusting. At one point I thought I'd move to France. Until I visited. Another time I thought I'd become a chemical engineer. Then I realized that although I have the brain for that type of shit, I certainly don't have the heart. There was a period of time where I fantasized about giving it all up and living the hermit life in a tiny house in the woods. Then came all the logistics... like where and how I would get food, how and where I would earn an income to pay my little bills (because woods or not, a girl needs wifi), and how I would miss NYC so much I would barely be able to cope. I fantasized about falling in love with a man who expected nothing of me financially and was fine with me writing from home, tinkering with projects, penning books, occasionally folding laundry. But unfortunately, I haven't met any men like that around these parts, and am starting to believe that there are barely any men like that at all anymore. And I don't just mean men who are providers, I mean men who believe enough in your dream to support you in achieving it.

So many career-oriented self-help books focus on knowing what you want, confidence, things like that, which does little for me because I have those things in leaps and bounds. I know what I want, but that doesn't make it any easier to take a step forward, especially when many of my dreams sound almost ridiculous and impossible out loud. I seek out the answers to questions I have, and even google seems stumped by the challenges I face. I look around me, at friends and acquaintances and all the other people I know, and feel like I see different shades of the same thing. People treading water, making their few hundred bucks every week, blowing through that and then landing in the same position the next week. People with degrees and qualifications struggling to find jobs that pay a living wage. People with tons of time and no money, or tons of money and no time. People who are prioritizing their jobs over their physical and mental health, trapped in a “never enough” vehicle that blares “SCARCITY” at every turn. People who are scraping by, living at home or with boyfriends or five roommates or maintaining several hustles just to afford existing. Blowing money to feel better but never quite able to change their habits, leaving no money for emergencies or for a vacation or for quitting. People who only think as far as the next day, because their future is too bleak to seriously ponder. I see people in the same ol predicament, their insides crying for a change, their outsides too afraid to make one. People are running at top speed, with no water, no rest, wondering if their legs will give out before they make it to the finish line. People going nowhere fast.

But I want to go somewhere. I'll admit I'm a perfectionist. It is a trait that has gotten me here, here being a well-read, worldly, picture of good mental and emotional health with a stunning physique and a closet to match, but it has also stunted me when I have tried to move forward. I look around at the people of power and high status in this country, and recoil at being part of that. I second guess. I doubt. I question, maybe a bit too much. I have wanted projects to be damn near perfect, or “as good as I can get it” before even thinking about releasing it to the world. I have scrapped projects entirely because I couldn't get in the right groove to make it game-changing. In the world of a perfectionist, there seems to be a fine line between your heart saying no and self sabotage. I have to close the gap between good enough and mastery, even if that means letting go and letting gawd. Because ultimately, I look up and see a massive gap in the world, and I know that only I can fill it. I am starting to follow my creative instincts, and just letting it flow, like water or the wind or whatever. *nature sounds

So anyway. About the plan.

Finding creatively inclined friends is one of my major desires right now, because I've never had those, and I have no doubt they would enrich my life and my work. So I am attempting new connections. I've always loved making friends, I've always felt that they were a necessary lifeline, but I've accepted that perhaps out of self-preservation and a little bit of ignorance, I've been pretty discriminatory. For example, I was pretty sure I'd NEVER come across an employed artist. Ha. I've decided to approach this from multiple angles. I'm forcing myself to go to some meetups in the city, most that cater to my interests. I've put online dating on pause for an indeterminate amount of time in order to force myself to get acquainted with my extrovert personality again and to better focus on my career goals. I think online dating was making me awkward and anxious, and frankly, nearly everyone I met online had a serious emotional impairment. Not my bag. So on top of that major adjustment (I was online dating and socializing on and off for like, the past 5 years) I've decided to be more... open and empathetic and ...forgiving. I can't exactly have a dozen interesting people to phone and chill with if I cut every one of them off as soon as they get on my nerves! So I'm learning. Another thing I've learned is that although I'm a very versatile person and always dreamed of having a friend I could shoot the shit with, talk about deep topics with, go clubbing with, talk makeup with, travel with, go to museums with... not everyone has that capability. In fact, practically everyone I've ever met has like, two modes. But I've accepted that people don't have to be everything to me, and sometimes two enjoyable elements in a person are fine enough.

Some of you know this already, but I'm plowing ahead with writing my book. No publishing, no editor (yet), no outside push to do this. It's not the first book I've written, but it is the first book that I considered releasing for public consumption. It's about ambition, and why we do the things we do, why we wake up in the morning. It takes place in New York City, and follows seven different characters of various ages, genders, occupations, and of course, ambitions. Some of them have made it and are unhappy, some of them have “made it” with unexpected consequences, and some of them will never make it – just like in real life. I'm also incorporating the seven deadly sins into the tale, but not in a cliché, overwrought way. Basically it is this intriguing, super decadent, wonderful story that I am so in love with and feel absolutely compelled to bring to life. But the process is hard. (Duh.) I find sometimes that my personal thoughts get tangled into my novel, and then I'm forced to sort it all out, strand by strand, like knotted necklaces. Sometimes I won't write for days, and then a day will come where I'll sit down and bang out chapter after fluid chapter as I hadn't neglected the novel for however long before. I want to do better, but I'm also not sure that there's any one right way for a writer to write, or for any creative to create for that matter. Sometimes I seek out counsel, but find myself rolling my eyes at its triteness. But if I'm honest with myself, I know I need to learn discipline in this respect, even though my need for indulgence is at odds with that. The Big Five personality test says that I score moderate (50%) on conscientiousness, meaning I am fairly average in my tendency to respond to impulses and achieve goals, so I'm not totally off base. I've worked a bit with “The Artists Way” and a guy I went on one date with sent me “Letters to a Young Poet” (which apparently changed Lady Gaga's life – love her!), so I have some tools. But I want to do better. So if any of you have any resources, tips or tricks for how to become disciplined, especially after a lifetime of doing ones own thing, please reach out. I need HALP.

The third thing is... I'm starting a podcast. A LOT of people have begged asked me to do video blogs, but I'm not ready to be famous, let alone be SunKissAlba's more interesting, more eloquent, doesn't-really-look-like-her-but-she's-also-Dominican doppelganger on el Youtube, so I was like naw. But since some of my thoughts feel like they would come across better as “spoken word”, I felt a good compromise would be to start a podcast. I've decided to name it “Conversations with Lady Blue”, and once I can learn how to edit my fucking intro song on audacity, it will be up and running. (If you or someone you know knows how to edit audio, PLEASE EMAIL ME! It will save me a week of trial, error and frustration.)

What else?

In a month or two, I'll be apartment hunting in the city. So that will be a job of its own. One that is unpaid and full of anxiety and desperation. Send me leads! (I'd obviously love a studio or a 1 bedroom so I can flourish alone, but I'm open to apartments with two roommates max who don't smoke, have pets, touch my shit, or expect to be talked to constantly. Rooms with private bathrooms shoot to the top of my list, as well as any apartments in Brooklyn, of course.)

So the new year has introduced a money overhaul. I took the best of You Need a Budget (assign every dollar a job, live off last months income, save monthly for infrequent expenses), Mint (gives you good sense of where all your money is going aka what is valuable to you), Dave Ramsey (debt snowball), Suze Orman (Young, Fabulous & Broke) and whatever else I could scrounge together from the personal finance subreddit, and I created my own “financial budget plan of satisfaction excel sheet galore” that I plan to implement this summer. It will allow me to splurge with even less guilt, while continuing to pad my savings account, creating a nice little cushion that takes years of stress off my mind and body. (I sleep sooo much better on a bed made of money, don't you?). I had to be honest with myself about the most random things, like the fact that I need a haircut every 6 weeks instead of every 3 months because my hair grows like a weed and the fact that no matter how many clothes or beauty products I have, I am miserable without a shopping & beauty budget. I also allowed myself $200 or so for things like random expenses, extra charges, cabs, cleaning supplies and my skincare supplements (which are STILL working their magic! Matter of fact, I really need to do a #TopShelfie follow-up post). I also have four savings accounts – Home, Luxury, Travel and Emergency Savings, plus an etc savings bucket for when I wanna do spontaneous shit like buy a bike, or a car, or dye my entire head of hair copper red. Budgeting for those odds and ends and miscellaneous extras is really important. So yeah.

Things I'm loving right now:
  • Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipsticks – I have meringue (peachy nude), pickled ginger (electric pink), pepper (mauve) and sweet cream (peach rose), and want thistle (purple tinged nude), sake (purple mauve) and one of the reds (I'm torn between tannin, gazpacho and sour cherry). I'm thinking about hitting the Bite Beauty Lab and creating a custom color because meringue isn't pink enough for me and I might like pickled ginger better as a sheer shade.
  • Drake's One Dance *heart eyes emoji* Actually, Drake's whole VIEWS record was pretty dope. I agree with everyone that the record doesn't show much lyrical progression, but sometimes it bes like that. And sometimes the people critiquing Drake haven't progressed at all in their whole entire lives, so there's also that.
  • Mina Myoung – A flawless dancer and choreographer at 1Million Dance Studio in South Korea, who is basically my idol now.
  • The writings of: DearCoquette, Penelope Trunk, Jen Dziura of Bullish, Jessica Crispin formerly of BookSlut.
  • The stars: Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Does was great), FKA Twigs (in general), Cardi B (I am sooooo relieved that she fixed her teeth!)
  • Orphan Black season 4... (but the entire show is amazing, really).
  • The Bad Boy Family Reunion Concert that I went to last Friday. The show had mic issues, and I wasn't a fan of the crowd or Diddy's "performances" but I give him props for bringing out damn near everyone: Mary J. Blige, Usher, Ty Dolla Sign, Mario Winans, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, 112, Total, Cassie, Lil Kim, The Lox, Lil Cease, Jay-Z, Nas... and there's probably more, but that's all I can remember.
  • My new, baby blue, All Saints, suede, BABY BLUE, leather jacket, THAT IS NEW.
  • Avocado Oil – as rich on my skin as argan oil, but sinks in much faster.
  • Arcona – I just ordered their Booster serum, Vitamin A serum and Hydrating Serum and am singing their praises all over again.
  • The Big Five Personality Test – I scored very high (92.5%) in openness, high (80%) in extroversion, moderate (50%) in conscientiousness, low (50%) in agreeableness and very very low (17.5%) in neuroticism. I'm not sure why 50% is seen as moderate in one category and low in another, but who cares, because they're both accurate for me.
  • Toronto – I'm trynna get there and party to mad reggae this summer.
  • Hong Kong – It turned out to be surprisingly charming, despite the psycho, cocaine-snorting, diabolical narcissist I had to deal with when I was there (Tedla Ebou Khan). Details coming :)

And lastly, I am loving that I can make the space to grow, that I have the self awareness to improve, the guts to make hard choices to ultimately have the dream life that I've always desired. The goal is to go into my 30s with all the worries and problems of my 20s assuaged and solved. Or else, I'm just a lazy bag lady.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hero of the Day: Fiona Apple

I remember seeing this when it first aired in 1997, and knowing even then, at barely 10 years old, that her breaking "character" like this, and speaking directly to us, the fourth wall so to speak, was RADICAL.

Fiona quoted Maya Angelou and said at our best, we can only create opportunities, and she used that opportunity to go AWF!!! Opening line: This world is bullshit. AT A TELEVISED AWARDS SHOW WHERE SHE WAS BEING AWARDED.


One word, two syllables: HE-RO.

She was Kanye before Kanye was Kanye. She quoted Maya Angelou, B. She said "Andrew Slater, no one else could have produced this album, and no one else did." AND PAUSED FOR EMPHASIS. SHAYYYYY DEEEEEEE. 


Two more things. Tidal was an incredible, incredibly beautiful album, and even more incredible because she wrote it, recorded and debuted it when she was a teenager. And secondly, that MTV outburst probably cost her many future business opportunities, ones that Alanis Morissette was all too glad to take on her behalf.

So the lesson here is that wylin out may cost you further opportunities. So if you're gonna act wild, make sure to go down in history as a hero.

Sidenote - I'm glad that her genius hasn't gone the Amy Winehouse route, as I still feel pain over Amy's death and can't imagine losing another incredible artist in that way. Also, this Fiona Apple interview in NYMag was pretty great.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Inspirational FKA Twigs and a glimpse of Hong Kong

Are you fucking kidding me?! 

Those were my first thoughts upon seeing this video. I first heard the song 'In Time' on spotify, and was so intrigued I gave it a second listen with headphones, and then after a handful of subsequent listens, decided that the beat was so hot that there had to be an equally dope video - with dancing! - somewhere out there. And boy was my curiosity quenched!

The video adds incredible depth to the already remarkably genre-bending song, and the choreography matches the oriental-tinged bass beats perfectly. Is that a Japanese flute I hear?! Is FKA pregnant? Is she wearing timbs and an all denim outfit and excessive gold jewelry and burgundy lipstick looking like 90s Brooklyn royalty? Is she serving us all the talent and originality that we claim we want to see onscreen but never actually pay mind to when it happens to appear right in front of us?! 


There's no doubt that FKA Twigs can dance her ass off, and the little stomp her and her dancers do (see 2:07 and the swag at 3:23) is so New York to me. Also the amount of fluid shots where she's dancing wow me as well because that means she is just grooving along flawlessly, all in one solid take. The only thing I don't like about the dance scenes is that the dancer on the right appears stiff, like she's counting; meanwhile the belly-baring dancer on the left is sexy as fuck and FKA is dancing like the rent was due last week!

Other details: I love the silky pajamas, I love the contemporary breaks where she's draped in white clothing, and I love the long shots and the sheer simplicity of the set. It's so distracting when a video is overdone, or the editors keep chopping up shots in an ADD-like fashion, so all you see is a second of that, a second of this (I'm looking at you, Rihanna's "Work").

So needless to say I am sooo inspired. You can catch me showing out at a dance class wearing a belly shirt and a NY grimace in the coming weeks. (I already have the pajamas, the ethnic ambiguity and the sass). 

With all these EPs, is FKA even making any money? Is Robert Pattinson funding all of this? What kind of deal did she sign? I hope ya girl is making some money man because she writes and produces her own stuff and gawd knows what else. I should add, the video above is part of a visual album FKA Twigs created called "M3LL155X", and the whole thing can be seen here:


And speaking of inspiration and oriental influences, perhaps I'm more cognizant of that because I just came back from two weeks in Hong Kong! A detailed blog post is coming, and in the meantime you can see a bit of my adventures below!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Change it or Accept it – the Motto for 2016 and Beyond

Been there baby.

I felt a tightness in my chest for hours on Monday. I woke up with it. I feel like I awoke disappointed or something, and then for like 72 hours, carried around what can only be described as a heavy heart. Even on days where things are relatively good and fine, I feel a tightness in my chest, a weird pretzel knot of anxiety and/or stress and/or worry. And it's most likely because of the people I'm surrounded by, by default. I say by default because these are family members and old friends whom I've known for years, with lovely hearts – good people who ultimately mean well. But the majority of them have one terrible, awful, no good, bloodsucking, draining, maddening, bad habit.


Endlessly. About the same thing. For years.

And do nothing, at all, to change or improve their situation.

They just go round about in circles, thinking that they're making progress, but they're just examining their problem from another angle, with another magnifying glass. They're doing the same dance with different moves. They are going nowhere fast, and want to tell me all about it.

My understanding and rational nature, excellent listening and insightful advice-giving skills are being wasted on the shiftless. Monday alone I had four people complain to me. Two complained about their jobs. One complained about their relationship. And the last complained about both their relationship and their job. I know another person who complains about everything from their job, to their relationship (or lack thereof), to their friends, coworkers, and the price of fucking tea in fucking China.

I have been unhappy in situations before, I may be unhappy in situations again. But I know how to gather the courage and change things, or accept them if I truly can't or don't want to change them. When I am dissatisfied, I wholly trust that I will do what is needed to bring myself back to a place of satisfaction. I say that I'm fearless, but the truth is I sometimes feel the fear, but I do what I have to do anyway. I do not let fear stop me; EVER. My sanity, my happiness, my everyday calm depends on it. I am worth it. All of these people suffer from low self worth, negative mental chatter, cowardice, laziness or all of the above. Sometimes people are so deep in the bubble, so roped into their routine and their everyday life that they can't see the possibilities outside of that. Most times I get stuck on how to proceed because I don't know HOW to proceed, or what to do next. But in the age of google and the internet and the world at your fingertips, there is really no excuse.

And if you don't know what to google, start with the first thing on your mind:

Why am I so unhappy/stuck/angry/sad?

How can I get a job that pays me well/that is fulfilling/that is located abroad/as a photographer?

How do I handle a partner that is jealous/abusive/neglectful/selfish/amazing? :)