The best part of making your dream come true is knowing that you were able to make the first step. I’m happy to say that I’ve made that step.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been quietly getting a production team together to work with me on my next EP. I was fortunate in 2012 to work with an array of artists that provided their services for free and believed in me enough to help me make release a small EP and two singles. For this next effort, I’m pivoting my sound and as I’m coming into myself as an artist, I’ve come up with a better vision of me, my music, and what I want to come to represent. I’ve been doing this without making much mention of it on social media nor to friends for few reasons, mostly to do with giving myself space and permission to take my time with this recording. And to actually savor the process of creating a record from start to finish without a looking deadline that frankly, I as an independent artist control.
I’m an artist and I believe artists should be paid. It only makes sense that someone who dedicates time to their craft, to honing things that we take for granted to release a quality product. For this effort, I decided that I wanted to work with excellent producers and wanted to pay them. Not only have the conversations been happening, but I’ve made down payments to procure their services. I’ve identified visual artists that I want to work with for the visual components and will be paying them, too. It’s the right thing to do. As a musician, nothing is more irritating and demoralizing than being asked to do something for free when you know your value and how much work you put into something. I can only do this by subscribing to the same ethos and making sure that the artists that work on my project have been compensated fairly.
In the past year, I’ve made a point to being good about saving up for everything that I’ve wanted and have been putting in as much work as possible in order to meet the financial demands of these things that I work with. I believe in putting in skin in the game.
Life, as always, comes up and we have to switch around our game plan accordingly. A number of financial obligations have come up that are making it difficult for me to move forward with this dream - to keep it short, I have to take physical therapy for a few months and I’m supporting a family member and would like to continue contributing to ensure they are OK. While it might seem easy to scale back my effort with my EP, I’ve already worked out plans with my producers and I believe in keeping up with my end of the bargain.
For this, I’m asking for your help.
To be sure, I could do this on my own by making some major sacrifices; I’ve done it before. But I’d like to not resort to neglecting my health or quality of life (and I don’t mean shopping; I mean like actual needs) as a result.
What Does This Mean for You
In doing this, I see you, the reader, as a patron, as someone supportive of independent artists and of people dedicated to producing quality work. I don’t like the crowdsourcing format as I find it too impersonal and I’d also like to give you all a surprise (whereas crowdsourcing formats want media you’ve already created to “showcase” your work). I’d like to continue to work with the promise that at the end of the process, you will be the first to hear and see what I’ve created.
Please contribute whatever you can to the project. In all, I need roughly $2,000 to get the EP produced, mixed and mastered; this includes cover art and an overhaul of my website. I will continue to put my money into the project irrespective of how much I’m able to raise via PayPal, but your contribution means I can expedite the process and continue to meet my other obligations. My skin will always be in the game.
I’d like to thank you in advance for this. Please be sure to include your email address in your contribution; I’d like to thank you personally for supporting me. Once the EP has been completed, you will receive an email to let you stream before it goes on sale. And I’ll even send you one of the songs for free as a thank you for your support.
Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a load of experimenting with my curly hair. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a “hold” of my hair (no pun intended) what it needs and how to just go with whatever it wants to do.
I’m Dominican and I have multi-textured hair; 3b, 3c, and 4a around the edges (note: the above photo is me rocking day 4 curls in mid-April — this isn’t the curliest it gets!). Growing up, I got blowouts once a week at the local Dominican salon, even going so far as to have had my edges relaxed once every few months for a couple of years. I wasn’t taught - and there wasn’t anyone around me - who encouraged me to learn to appreciate and take care of my curly hair. I was told my hair was very dry and the only way to keep it moisturized was by going to the salon every week and adhering to the regimen and products my stylists used. As a result, my hair would look glorious after a blowout but parched as a desert whenever I decided to keep it curly.
My hair never could pull off the “wet curls” look that many girls in my neighborhood sported. Gel would dry out my hair and leave my hair in a giant poof. I was also discouraged by people around me to not sport my curls as it looked unkempt and didn’t reveal how “truly” pretty my hair really was. When I went to college, I stopped going to the hair salon as frequently, but I started flat ironing my hair and experimenting with different curly hair products to achieve the look I desired.
Many curlies and naturals know the process of transitioning to just natural curly hair very well, and finding out what works by trial and error. I discovered Tres Semme’s Curl Care Mousse which became my go-to styling product for the better part of ten years (going so far as to having friends send it to me when I lived in Malaysia!); nonetheless, the dryness of my hair was becoming a huge issue.
The first time that I tried in earnest to maintain my hair naturally curly was when I lived in Malaysia. The high temperature and high humidity made it impossible to maintain a blowout, yet did a number on my hair when curly. I started conditioning my hair with coconut milk and cut out conditioners with synthetic ingredients. I would seal in moisture with coconut oil. Still, with infrequent hair cuts and constant exposure to the elements, my hair was very dry and I had to cut a few inches off upon my return to the US.
Starting last fall, I decided that I would once again try to stay naturally curly, with few periods of self-straightening in between. The process began with using organic, natural products ONLY which, while sometimes more costly, made my hair much, much more healthy. This also meant cutting out any styling products I’d used in the past that were in effect drying out my hair. My current regimen also includes eating healthy (seriously - lots of veggies, calcium, iron), drinking a lot of fluids (mostly water and tea) and sleeping well. Here’s what I currently use:
- Honey-based natural shampoo (purchased at a bazaar in Chile, but Oyin Handmade’s Honey Wash works as well!)
- Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp conditioner
- Argan & Almond Cowash by Whipped Goods (discontinued; and only in between shampoos).
Rinse with cool water and apple cider vinegar.
- Herbal and Aloe Leave-in by Whipped Goods. I’ve even made this into a spritz by mixing in some purified water and leave-in into a bottle.
- Coconut oil or Monoi Oil by Whipped Goods
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
- I use a diffuser to dry out my curls to cut down on the amount of time needed to dry. I dry my hair to about 75% dryness and let the rest air dry.
Also important to note: I get my hair trimmed every 8 - 10 weeks to promote healthy ends and steady growth.
I recognize that this may not work for everyone, but for someone with multi-textured hair such as myself it has worked very well. I’ve worn my hair curly for weeks now with lots of pride and amazement at what my hair is capable of.
I’ve only been inspired to cook at certain points in my life, most of all when I’ve not been as busy at work. Even then, planning what I would cook was more of a chore than I was willing to work for and I didn’t know where to discover new recipes; too many websites, too many choices.
A coworker introduced me to Blue Apron a few months ago and receiving that package felt like Christmas. The only thing I needed was pots, pans, olive oil, salt and pepper. They provided everything else; down to the ketchup, mayonnaise, sherry wine vinegar, paprika and other herbs and spices used in the various recipes. The 15-pound box included food for three meals (2 servings per meal) and they promised the recipes would take less than an hour to cook. Not to mention the meals ranged between 500-700 calories (some of their salads being less than 500 cal).
I’ll get my box on a Friday and for an entire weekend, my loved ones and I will make some scrumptious meals. Recipes are included in all of the boxes.
In the spirit of eating better, cooking more, & discovering something totally new, I’m giving away 3 free trials of Blue Apron Meals (a $60 value - an entire order) to anyone who buys just ONE of my songs ($1) from BandCamp. Support an indie artist with just ONE DOLLAR, and get a FIFTEEN POUND BOX OF FOOD IN THE MAIL.
52 Week Money Challenge; who’s ready to save almost $1,400 next year? How much you deposit into a savings account corresponds to when the week falls in the year: i.e, week 1 you put away $1. Week 2 you put away $2…all the way to the last week of the year, when you put away $52. Add all of the savings up and you get $1,378 in ONE YEAR. Who’s with me on this one??
(first time using a diffuser to help define my curls. The virtual zero humidity in the wintertime coupled by straightening my hair means that it will take a few washes before my curls spring back to their natural state.)
Most of my beauty rituals revolve around my hair. By “most” I mean 90%.
I have multi textured hair and my curl type is 3b (for the most part). The hair near and around my hairline is extremely thin and frizzy, unruly like nothing else in the world. If I were to apply no hair products to my hair, it would look like a lion’s mane in color and texture. While all of the girls in the Bronx were doing all kinds of cool things with their baby hair in the 90s, I was just trying to keep mine from sticking up and out.
Weekly trips to the Dominican hair salon were the norm from the age of five or six until I was eighteen. My parents and other family members didn’t have hair like mine so I never learned how to take care of my hair in its natural, curly state. As time went on and I stopped perming (read: relaxing) my hair I started to experiment with different hair products to achieve a shiny, tamed, glossy effect.
The biggest hurdle I’ve faced is keeping my hair moisturized when going natural for weeks at a time. When I was living in Malaysia I wore my hair curly all of the time more out of necessity than anything else; the high humidity and over 90-degree weather meant that my hair would frizz up if I straightened my hair. I used coconut milk and coconut oil to keep it conditioned but my hair was still dry and brittle.
I give myself blowouts every week for various reasons: easy maintenance and to minimize the amount of washes I need to do in order to not dry out my hair. But blowing out my hair so frequently (once a week) means that the next time I wear it curly, my curls will be very limp. I’ve set out to mitigate this problem by doing a few things:
1. Deep conditioning (with heat) every wash.
2. Using a diffuser on my blower to help with definition and volume (and to avoid the elements drying out my hair).
For this look, I used a few products: Miss Jessie’s Creme de la Creme conditioner, Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery Treatment, Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Keratin Treatment and TreSemme Curl Care Mousse.
1. Before washing, I wet my hair a bit and applied a dollop of Rapid Recovery Treatment and Awapuhi Keratin Treatment. I then used a diffuser on my semi-damp hair for five minutes to help the products get absorbed into my hair. Then I washed my hair thoroughly.
2. I applied Creme de la Creme conditioner and detangled my hair using my fingers. I used a dime-sized amount of keratin treatment and put my hair in a butterfly clip for five minutes, then rinsed. .
3. I applied a bit of AG Hair Fast Food Leave-in Conditioner and then separated my hair into sections. Using my fingers to rake through, I applied mousse in each section from root to tip and at the tip I would shake the hair at the tip before moving on to another section. I did this to my entire head.
4. Using the diffuser and having my head turned down, I dried all of my hair until it was bouncy and not frizzy.
I’m feeling a need to write, a need to share, a need to explore, a need to vent, a need to cry, a need to figure out, a need to manage my stress. I’m looking for words, I want to spew them out, just spew them but I want the thought behind the words to match the words I’m using. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m always listening. I’m always listening. I’m the earpiece to lots of venting individuals. I’m having to adapt. I just want to STOP for a minute.
I miss manicures and pedicures. I’ve splurged on hair care products because doing my hair is one thing I can control. I want to write. I see the book. I see the piece. I see what I want to say. I want to share. I want to grow.
I’m traveling next year; just one trip planned so far. I want to love my body. I want to be kinder in thoughts and actions. Towards myself. I want to sleep. Get a lot of sleep. I want I want.