Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advertures in Fitness-Land: 1

I purchased 5 pound ankle/wrist weights today - yay!

I've always like physical fitness.  My fitness history include my running days as a child, my dancer days in high school, followed by dabbling in a slew of fitness options: weight training, belly dancing, kick boxing, circuit training, yoga, pilates, strength training with exercise bands, balance ball, stepper, swimming, cycling, basically 'you name it.'  Let me put it this way - I have a stand alone heavy bag in my living room and both boxing and heavy bag gloves... I don't play!

I never really worked out to lose weight until an attempt last year.  I'm 5'4", 154lbs (I was 150 in high school) and fluctuated between wearing a size 8 - 11 over the years.  Thing is people actually think I'm skinny, lol!  Well, I'm not, but I'm not obese either.  I fall in the Beyonce, Ashanti body-type range (and Ashanti, if you ever want to give away most if not all of your clothes, I'm right here sister, right here!).  I have a body.  The boobs aren't spilling out over my turtle necks or anything like that, but I look like a woman, and I love that.  But I am getting older, and my metabolism will start to slow down, especially as my son gets older and starts doing even more for himself, so I figure I need to get my body on a path that will indicate how I live the rest of my life, however long that will be.

Last year I purchased the Wii and the Wii Fit software, including the balance board.  I worked out 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours daily from November to April, and I lost 2 friggin pounds.  That, my friends, pissed me off.  Even though I did feel stronger, I didn't lose any weight.  As I mentioned earlier, I never really tried to lose weight, with the exception of the time period after I gave birth (and even then, the first 20 pounds disappeared in 2 days, and those last 10 pounds seem to take forever to melt away).  Now I want to try something different, especially since the weight on me is acting differently.  Now I have a little something going on in the ab area that doesn't include the idea of hand washing clothes there.  And there is a little bit of a jiggle thing going on at various points on my body. So even though I still wear my clothes well, I know what is behind the curtain and, ummm, hell no!

So, I purchased some 5 lb ankle weights to add some more resistance when I workout on my mini stepper.  My apartment isn't large, especially large enough to have a separate work out room, but it's like I need workout gear around me.  Here's a list of the workout  equipment I own (that I remember):
  • hand weights (2lb, 5lbs and 10lbs)
  • mini-stepper
  • exercise bands (various resistances - I LOVE these things)
  • balance ball
  • ankle weights
  • heavy bag with the appropriate boxing and heavy bad gloves
  • Pilates stretching band thingy (I don't remember the exact name)
  • Yoga mat, blocks and band
  • Jump rope (another great workout)
  • about 20 workout DVDs including a boxing workout with weighted gloves
  • Will Fit plus w/Balance board, as well as Gold's Cardio Gym workout
  • Upcoming: the Zumba workout for Wii (that should be coming in the mail this week)

And the interesting thing about this ridiculous list is I use it all!   I love it, but I'm not manic - I don't look like some thick-neck-vein covered, steroid using health nut.  Plus I'm a Gemini, I get bored easily so I need variety, but now I'm going to take things a step further.  I'm going to attempt (this is my safe word, just in case I end up not doing this), to count calories burned - I am not disciplined enough to count the calories I ingest.  Actually, it's not that I can't do that, I just don't want to!  It takes the fun out of eating!  Eating is supposed to be fun, not homework, so I choose to count calories burned, especially since I already exclude so many things from my diet anyway.

So, right now I am creating a profile on the SparkPeople website (check it out here)
I am just completing my profile, and at this time there are groups being recommended to me as a result of the goals I checked off in the process.  I have chosen to enter the following groups:
  • 30-somethings with 10-24 pounds to lose (my goal is 20 - I don't know about this, but we shall see)
  • New York Team
  • Parents of school-ages children (6-11 years old)
  • Women of Color Unite

I can also start my own team, but I am in no way an expert so I will hold off on that.  Only if I see some long lasting results will I go that route because I am a big 'work in progress.'  Right now, I'm off to do 30 minutes of cardio/strength (mini-stepper w/10lb ankle weights and intermittent bicep curls with exercise band).  Anchor's away!

EDITED LATER: I did about 45 minutes on the stepper with the 10lb ankle weights, and I feel good but I need a freaking shiatsu massage!  I'm not breathing like I'm a second away from an asthma attack, which is good, but I am sweating like a runaway slave (I never sweat in high school after 3 hours of daily dance practice, so this sweat thing on me is a bit unnerving).  The competitive part of me wants to continue with a boxing workout (I feel like hitting something), but I'm going to stretch a bit and then stop because I never know if I'll end up having to roll out of bed tomorrow morning as opposed to just sitting up like a normal human being.  I feel some ache in the lower back, but overall I feel good.

On the road to Ab-ville

I'm gonna do it.  I'm going to attempt to achieve an ab or two.

Really, the goal is to tone overall, but since it's known that any extra fat around the waist increases one's chances of having heart disease (and since I'm 10 years away from the heart attack that a doctor predicted for me because of my low red and white blood counts) I think it's past due to get a move one.  Granted, I am in relative good shape (I do 10-15 minute strength and cardio before work, and I've started spending some time on my mini stepper - that reminds me, I have to create a workout playlist on my iPod), I also need to add a spiritual/ meditative aspect to this new goal of mine.  And the end result that I hope to achieve is the absence of jiggle.  Granted (there's that word again... I know), I have a pretty nice shape a.k.a. I look like a freaking woman and not a prepubescent boy, I want to build my strength and tone these curves.  Hopefully incorporating meditation into the mix will not only enhance my physical strength, but my emotional stability as well, lol! 

Anyway, once I figure out a true strategy I'll share it.  Or maybe I'll just try different things and give my review of said workouts and relaxation methods.  Either way,  it's on, so bring it! (p.s. I'm a little scared, lol!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Family is all Relative

My son and I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with the family of a friend of mine who I know from work, and the past few days just confirms what I've always believed, which is family is all relative.

To be welcomed into a family of people whom you've never met, and even better for me, to see my son embraced so lovingly (especially since he was a bit nervous beforehand) is something that any person would want and cherish should they be blessed to have such an experience.  I have not necessarily given up on one day having the big family dinner with my own blood relatives, but I live in the hear and now and I am not going to waste my time holding my breath, or tricking myself into believing that I can break bread with a 10 ton pound gorilla in the room.  And since I also have no desire to wallow in any type of self pity with regard to our 'family' situation, I will continue to go toward a place where love is being offered and where I can return it as well.  Family is not supposed to keep score.  Family is not supposed to vilify.  Family is not supposed to take sides.  Family is not supposed to ostracize as if we were in a high school cafeteria trying to figure out which table to sit at.  Family does not always have to agree, but family is supposed to be about respect - in both directions.  Non of this do as I say not as I do - grown ups should be held just as accountable for their actions as we do the children.  Family is the one place where one should be within a hair's reach of "fair."'m still supposed to be one of the kids.  Sure, with a bit more life experience, and maybe I should be setting some life examples for the others to be inspired by and maybe even follow to some degree, but I am still one of the kids.  I get tired of having to remind people of this  Anyway, going off on a tangent, sitting under the hair dryer will 500 rollers in my hair, the heat is burning my neck a little and this blog entry has no real structure, but at the end of the day, it's all in the title.  You can't choose your family, but actually you can :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting SexyBack!

Ok, I never really had 'sexy' in the first place, but I think ya'll know what I mean.

My sister has inspired me, as she is going through some major transition in her life, to find and acquire her 'sexy.'  Let me explain.  My sister and I were raised during a time in my mom's life when we were taught to take care of things.  It was like going to independent college during my entire childhood - this while other girls' moms were priming them for things like 'marriage' and the notion of being taken care of.  Me being the oldest of 7 to parents who had me at ages 18 and 19 respectively, I think we all see where this is going.  I did a lot of taking care of people.  It is literally in my blood to take care of something or someone...except myself, lol!  My sister was no slouch in the 'taking care of business' business as well, and so we kinda just automatically handle things.  On a totally superficial level, my sis doesn't really have to put as much effort into achieving her sexy as I do - real talk - but as we are both moms, I totally understand how working women in our positions just go into autopilot when it comes to ourselves.  So, for a couple of months she's been on her 'getting my sexy on' kick, and I hear that.  And it just hit me - where is my sexy?  Did I ever have it?  Can I achieve it?  What are the steps?  Is there a book out there?  A website? A guru? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

So, since I am the perpetually single, younger, thinner Aunt Jemima self, I propose the possibility of setting out on a journey to get my SexyBack (I'm gonna pretend that at some point in my life I actually had sexy and just lost it on the side of the road somewhere!). And I'm gonna compose my own syllabus to achieve this goal (please note, this syllabus is a work in progress).

Steps for me to get my SexyBack:
  • Work out more.  I actually work out pretty moderately, but I have no qualms about going a week or two without lifting a finger.  Even if it's so much as walking on my stepper contraption while watching TV, I have to keep going.  It's good for my muscles, good for my heart, and good for my asthma, especially with the weather change that we're experiencing right now.  Plus, ain't nothing sexy about a chick who's out of breath and she didn't just finish doing to do - ya know!
  • The old island woman hair has to go during the work week.  This is a difficult one for me because I have learned that there actually is a positive to being a little lazy, lol!  Being lazy has allowed for my hair to just grow wild.  The lack of manipulation has been great - especially since I had a Britney moment back in May and chopped off  my hair (I have since regained the length that I shed all those months ago).  Thing is, this headband and hairnet thing - although cute and less time consuming, is not sexy.  But I offer myself a compromise - I will use more hair accessories, because I am really not feeling the whole being late for work because my hair won't cooperate (and I damn sure ain't waking up earlier just to do some hair!  This ain't Easter Sunday, shyyyyytttt!).
  • Clothing.  Ugh, clothing.  Here's the deal.  I definitely downsized since the move a few months ago (and that was totally necessary), but now I have to start replacing pieces.  Regarding the physique, do I think I could be more toned - of course.  But for the most part, I am definitely digging the body on this 35 year old!  Now how do I jazz it up without looking like the old lady trying to look like a 20 year old?  I'm thinking more tailored clothing, especially tops.  I wear the hell out of a skirt so I just have to get more skirts.  More pants suits - I have the ability to rock those too.  And smaller t-shirts (still trying to figure out why I have a bunch of -shirts that are so big I can fit 2 of me in them). 
  • Teeth.  I have nice teeth, even though I have a small gap in the middle, but I have had serious teeth-envy ever since I saw Bruno Mars' teeth.  They are un-freaking-real!

  • State of mind. TBD.  I seriously don't even know how to 'think' sexy.  If it has anything to do with just being comfortable with oneself, then I think I'm on the right track, but I see chicks who exude it, they do some weird shit with their eyes and lips and cheeks and whatever else - they throw the kitchen sink at MFs.  I don't know how to do that (and still not sure that I want to - refer back to the fear of being an old lady trying to be a 20 year old). 
I know there's a lot more to add to my list, but I'm gonna let these first items marinate for a moment.  Damn, I have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If his dad were here, would he be acting right?

I'm going to do something that I would normally advise against, and that is blogging when one is very, very pissed off.

My son is not Damien from the Omen movies - just to get that out of the way- but he is a boy who does stupid shit sometimes.  He is a boy who doesn't listen sometimes.  And he is a boy who, despite who his mama is (and many who know his mama know that if they were her child they would not screw with her chi), knows that when he screws up royally that I will be up his ass like an alien probe.  Yet the boy continues to do what I have classified as "stupid shit."

My boy is in the top 10% of his school, although this most recent report card would not reflect that.  My boy is already intelligent beyond his years and will very well surpass anything that I have ever achieved - if he doesn't continue on this lazy path.  Off a tangent now: I am not one of these mothers who will get on camera talking about how good their boy is even though he's spent countless years in Juvie halls, and has a knack for robbing old ladies - not ME!  My ass would be on television talking about how he better be glad the authorities got to him before I did.  Back on topic: my boy knows better.  But apparently that don't mean a damn thing when you're living the life of being a non-rent paying, live off they momma, Nintendo DS, own TV and DVD player in the room having unemployed little person.  So check this - TV and DVD player is packed up along with those ridiculous fucking Pokemon cards, Transformer toys and other BULLSHIT that I only purchased if they were on sale.  Keep things out of my path literally or else I'm liable to kick the shit across the room.  I am on a WAR PATH.

My boy isn't robbing folks or hot wiring cars at this point in time and I would like to keep it that way, which is why my foot is always a centimeter near his ass just in case shit happens.  And I was real good today.  I didn't beat him down 1980s style...I took his shit away... actually my shit.  So now I have a DS and another TV and DVD player and a shit load of Pokemon cards that I can make bank off of it I hit the internet.

But the messed up thing out of all of this is for the first time in his 9 years and 9 months on this Earth I wondered, "if his dad were here, would he be acting right?"  And the fact that I would even go there makes me even angrier than the stupid shit he's been doing.

When I think of the relationship between a parent and child I always think of the scene between Sydney Poitier and the gentleman who portrayed his dad in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and the argument they had in a private room.  The speech Poitier gave his pretend-dad was so freaking poignant - he said "you were supposed to do those things (this, when daddy wanted to lay a guilt trip on his son in an effort to sway his son's desire to marry a woman who happened to be white).  I am supposed to put a roof over my child's head. I'm supposed to feed him.  I'm supposed to clothe him.  I'm supposed to offer moral support.  AND.  I'm supposed to kick his ass when he ain't acting right.  But then again I wonder - if his dad were here, would he be acting right.

Sure, this year I gave him the PC explanation about how his dad's absence has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me (long story short: it was OK for an Italian dude to screw his black momma, but it wasn't ok for her to get pregnant and have the baby).  By the way, I was cornered when asked by the little one "Was I a mistake?"  Shit, I get it.  My own dad was so horrible, we ended up calling him "Mister" - like from The Color Purple, so I freaking get it... but give me a freaking break.  SHIT! I'm not a crackhead.  I'm not an absentee mom.  I'm not a stupid mom.  I'm involved - hell I freaking assistant-coached Little League for 2 freaking years! I'm a fucking cool ass, hard ass, keep it real, rub your back when it hurts, prop you up no matter how tired I am MOM... and we gotta go thru ridiculous BS that affects the grades and behavior write ups over some BS??????  CHILD, PLEASE!

(P.S. - I DON'T THINK SO!  Not on my watch)

I would like to apologize for such a foul-language laced rant, uhh, excuse me: blog entry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taking Myself to the Pawn Shop

I'm watching part 2 of Oprah's show that has an audience of 200 men who are victims of sexual abuse, and I've been going through what I will call an emotional boat ride (just a little bit of up and down on the waves) because I have been trying to find the words to explain how I feel about where I am at this point in my life.  I too am a victim of sexual abuse, and had the misfortune of finding out that something similar has happened to my own child, so it could have been easier all of these years to continue coping with what has happened, as opposed to healing and hopefully growing and learning.  But, to get back on topic, I recently found myself trying to offer a good explanation whenever I've been asked "how are you?", and it finally hit me as I was watching part 2 of these special Oprah episodes...

I am past the point of trying to prove to anyone that I am worth something BECAUSE I already know that I am - FINALLY (dammit!).  And it's not to say that I don't and won't have my bad days, but there is something in me that knows that when I go through those moods, it is only a slight detour off the road of where I'm really headed.

That's it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Cyclical Discussion of Blaming Single Mothers for being Single Mothers

I know the title is a mouthful, but it is what it is.  I was on, and read an article about the 72 percent unwed black mothers statistic and thought, geez, another article on why I'm a fuck up. Granted, this particular article wasn't as inflammatory as some others that I have read in the past, it just irritated me be being force-fed a fate for myself and my child that has not happened yet.

Apparently my son is more likely to end up in prison, perform poorly in school, use drugs, be poor as an adult and have his own children out of wedlock.  Great.  Thanks.  As if I didn't have anything else to worry about on top of finding a sitter to watch my kid after 6pm versus letting a 9 year old come home and stay in the apartment for the few hours before I return home from work.  I suppose having a husband would alleviate those problems huh? (I should note that I am not against marriage.  A majority of my friends are in loving marriages as I type, however I must also note that I am in my mid-30s and never been on the receiving end of the love that I have bestowed to some of the men in my past.  My problem, my issue of course, understood.  But end of the world?  Really?)

Basically I'm trying to look at this from a practical standpoint.  Remember those friends of mine who are in loving marriages... well the shit is hard too (even more so when I think about the fact that any decision has to be compromised with another adult).  The scheduling, the getting everything done in a timely manner, the career (since it's damn near mandatory to live in a 2-paycheck home in this economy), the loans (mortgage and college), establishing savings (for retirement, your child's education, your own if you want to continue your education), etc.

Basically (there's that word again), the grass isn't greener on either side, with brown patches sprinkled every couple of feet, so instead of articles constantly being written about how much I done screwed up for getting knocked up, how about some encouragement?  How about people - who decide to give their unsolicited opinion regarding my boy's deadbeat daddy with that 'how could you' look in their eyes step off?  What about the fact that my son's dad isn't even black (that stumps a lotta people when they find this out) - oh, you thought that us unwed, single black women only got knocked up by rolling stone black man?  I experience verbal diarrhea on purpose to show that this "issue" is neither black or white.  Because my boy, he's a good  student for the most part.  My boy is respectful, and if I even sense that he isn't behaving appropriately he gets a raised eyebrow and he corrects his behavior immediately.  My boy is still in that 'girls are yucky' state so I can't comment on whether he will be sprinkling his seed (I hate the use of that word - seed - by the way) and be a repeat of the absentee Y chromosome that helped create him. My boy doesn't like to spend his money (mine, well he's cool with that, until I give him the aforementioned 'eyebrow' again), because I gave him a nice little lesson when he wanted to purchase every toy in Target - I asked him how much of his saved money was he willing to spend in order to get those toys.  He cried, thought about it, cried some more, and left Target- toy-less.  My boy is my boy and even though I know I cannot teach him how to be a man, I can teach him how to be a good person.  Is he being short changed?  In some ways, yes.  But what am I supposed to do then, sit back and let him raise himself?  (I would think that those are the kids who are likely to end up in prison and use drugs)

I also share all of this to say that my son is not the exception.  I believe he is one of many- many of whom I know.  And I figure if there are statistics out there ready of willing to show me how much I'm a fuck up for having an unplanned child out of wedlock, there have got to be some statistics out there that show that despite the absence of a two-parent childhood, one can rise about that and go beyond even one's own expectations... right President Obama?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inspiration in the most unlikely of places...

... yep, I can't believe I'm about to admit this myself, but I was inspired by something that I saw on (clearing my throat): B-E-(friggin)-T.

Now I will admit that I did not see this live, but I received a link to a performance to my Twitter handle for a performance of Four Women, the powerful song by Nina Simone.  I have been acquainted with this song for I don't even know how long, and my love for the spirit and passion and voice of Nina Simone is borderline obsessive so I really wasn't expecting anyone in the current generation of music to give a damn about her music much less perform it the way it's supposed to be performed.  But then I was surprised, not so much by these performers, who I have been a fan of for many years (I'm talking Kelly Price, Marsha Ambrosius, Jill Scott and Ledisi - this woman's voice gives me chills all the time!), but by BET who, if they had their own button on my remote control, well the button would have dust on it because... well, that's a whole other post.  Anyway, I share this with the 3 people out there who read my ramblings, lol, and I hope you enjoy.  I was feeling real low today, and this somehow lifted my spirits.


Friday, November 5, 2010

I hate romance novels

I will admit, I had a lot of them, which means I've read a lot of them, but my affinity for them was always cyclical - I would read 2 books in a week for months, and then go months without reading any of them.  Why?  Because I would always get to the point where I would feel like stir fried shit before I even finished the epilogue.

Don't get me wrong - I love that people have love, fall in love, etc, etc.  Heck, I'm even going to a wedding tomorrow, and I love those (I love seeing my friends share their bliss with the rest of us out there).  But sometimes I get into a funk.  It's not jealously, because I'm gonna be real frank - I wouldn't know what to do with it if I had it, and even proclaimed to a friend of mine recently that I'm not equipped to be any man's wife (to which she immediately accused me of copping out, and to which I didn't deny), although I welcome being pleasantly surprised.

I guess I write all of this now, so late in the day (after having these thoughts marinate in my head all day) because I'm hoping that admitting that I am a mess when it comes to 'love' will somehow help me release that very deficiency into the universe and thus allow me to feel open and free enough to welcome said affliction.  Either that, or I'm nervous about attending another wedding dateless and knowing that all of the people who I already know are attending are attending with their significant others and I'm not looking forward to the "now we have to get you married" comments... or maybe it's just the sangria talking. 

Who knows. But what I do know is that romance novels are hazardous to my health.  Arriba, arriba!

Mean Girls... whatever

I just had to post/ rant about this.

I am 35 years old.  I'm a mom.  I'm well educated.  I work. I pay my bills. I do my thing just like millions of other folks out there maneuvering in a country full of economic and political upheaval, i.e. Important shit.  So why did a supposedly 'grown woman' feel the need to make fun of my hair yesterday? (lol and smh)

I was at a middle school orientation with my son.  We were broken down into groups for a tour and there was an interracial couple (the woman is Latina and the man Afr. American, which is not a big deal to me at all having been in the same situation and now raising a biracial child, anyway...) in our group, with their son.  All is well, and when the tour is over we all get into the elevator to leave, the couple is positioned right next to me.  I gave a nod and a smile (we'd chatted a little bit during the tour) and set my sights on stopping off at Mickey D's before heading home.  So then I hear the woman say to her man "Psst, look at her hair" and then she laughs.  And my immediate response was 1-eyebrow raise, and then 2- "Really?"

First of all, these folks were about in my age range, if not older.  Second, 'perdon chica, pero el pelo de tu esposo y tu hijo es mismo de mio' (in my broken Spanish I wrote 'Excuse me, but the hair of your husband and your child is the same as mine), and third, uhh, how old are you?  And fourth, 'screw you bia-tch because my hair is big and fabulous.

I found it really interesting that a grown woman would resort to that type of behavior as we were both at a school open house for our kids. And I also got irritated because there are still people who have an issue with big, curly, non-processed hair.  I've said it before and I'll say it again  - if my hair isn't grabbing small children, and as long as it's clean and there are no bugs hopping from my scalp to yours, step off (I actually wanted to write something a bit more vulgar, but I'm trying to live by example by taking the high road).  What is it with woman being so critical of other women?  I, personally, am so past all of that, but she instigated a flashback to those times when very few people (because a lot of kids were scared of me) bumped their heads on the kitchen sinks and came to school thinking that that day was a good day to f**k with me.  (Note: despite the previous line, I really am a nice person - but I'm also from the Bronx! lol!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Product Big Up!

My name is Shak... and I am a recovering product junkie.

I didn't start out this way, but my hair is special in that it has split personality.  Sometimes, it wants shea butter.  Sometimes, it wants aloe.  Sometimes, it wants to be blown straight. Sometimes it says "ahh fugg it, we just gonna curly up and chill!"  As a result of such Sybil-like behavior I have had to sample various hair care and styling products over the years.

Now, I am not a big fan of straight hair.  Even when I was younger and had my hair permed, I would always style it so that it was big to the point where it would defeat the purpose of getting my hair chemically straightened.  So although I am a big: Cree Summer/ Freddie Different World Tracee Ellis Ross hair, there are times, when I feel like taming the beast.

Back in the day, I used to press with a curling iron, hot comb, flat iron, whatever.  Now, I will use a hair dryer and maybe even roller set under a hood dryer. So one day I went into a hair supply store and ask for a little advice on how to blow out my hair to an almost press-like state without perming it, and La Senorita pointed me to this:
Pantene Extra Straight Comb-in-Cream (keeps hair straighter for up to 18 hours).  Ok, so I used this thing a few times back when I was trying everything to change up my style.  It was also at a point when my multiple personality hair was PMSing.  Since I'd chopped off half my hair 6 months ago (and regained almost all of the length I cut back), my mop has been healthier than ever.  I've adopted a less is more attitude about products and have even gotten rid of a bunch of stuff.  I pressed my hair once in the past 6 months (and then immediately washed it out because I couldn't get with the flat hair look).  I even stopped using a blow dryer over the summer months, and the times when I have used a dryer recently, it's been once a week and on a medium heat setting.  So I got a lot of virgin hair on my head that been in protective styles - for the most part - for over 6 months.  Well, this weekend I did a quick wet and set and wanted to stretch my curls out a bit without applying any heat, and I saw the bottle of Pantene.  So I tried it.  And. I LIKED IT!  Now I'm in the second day of doing a braid set.  Today was a little scary because I haven't worn my hair out in months and wasn't sure if it would cooperate or not, but with the absence of humidity, my curly set mop stayed in place for the most part, and has gotten me a bit excited about doing something different from my usual protective styling, so thank you Pantene Extra Straight comb-in-cream for hooking a sista up.  Big ups!