2. The Science of Black Hair

Two years today I did a leap and big chopped* after transitioning* for four months to become natural.  I hadn’t seen my natural hair for more than 30 years.  I didn’t even know what my natural hair texture would be like.  The only thing I had to go on were many pictures of me with my long plaits hanging down on both sides, with hair ribbons and bows.  I’d completely forgotten everything about its texture and its length, but I did remember the discomfort of having my hair done, tender headed.  At the end of the summer in August 2009,  I was desperate for my scalp to stop itching after the last relaxer* that I had gotten on holiday in the States.  So I decided to only shampoo, condition, moisturize and air dry my hair during the transition period since my hair was very short anyway.  That went well until January 7, 2010 when I got fed up with scraggly ends which I was afraid would break, not to mention I was starting to look like a wet cat, and cut off all the relaxed ends.  I was left with 3cm of hair all over my head.  Somehow, I felt liberated and a lot of cold air on my scalp when I went out in the cold Normandy winter.  I regretted nothing.

Recently, natural hair has become more popular as an alternative to relaxing, weaves, and wigs. Although, black women who decide to big chop without having done research find their hair journey to be a trying and daunting task.  So, if there are any wannabee naturals, natural newbies, transitioners, loc wearers, or even relaxed hair wearers reading this post, I suggest you save yourselves the grief, the product junkie-ism, and wondering how to care for your hair.  Go out and get The Science of Black Hair!

This book is what we’ve all been waiting for.  It details everything from explanations on how hair grows, the structure of black hair, product analysis, regimens, children’s hair care, caring for relaxed hair, etc.  Everything is touched on in this book.  I read it in one week but my copy is full of highlights and dog-eared pages.  It’s the book you will refer to throughout your hair journey, whether you’re at the beginning or reached your hair goal.  There has been no other book like this written.

Basically, the book is about 250 pages and is separated into five major units:  1. The Science of Black Hair, 2.Healthy Hair Management, 3.  Working with Chemicals in a Healthy Hair Care Regiment, 4 Children’s Hair Care, and 5. The Hair-Total Body Connection.”  Under each of these units, there are various chapters that deal with the specificities of the unit, containing micrographic pictures (really cool!), graphs and information boxes.  There is a full in-depth index, a glossary, and product ingredient glossary in the back.  If you’re interested in doing more research on hair you can refer to Davis-Sivasthy’s references.  There you will find the references she used to write this informative book.  I also recommend buying the hardcover because it’s the kind of book you will refer to throughout your hair journey.

Today is my 2 year “nappy” anniversary and I’m proud to have made it from 3cm of hair length to the 21cm I have today.  I didn’t read this book until last week but it has confirmed the things I had to find out the long, hard way and enlightened me with new information, like the importance of a good balance between moisture and protein.  This is essential to healthy afro hair growth.  It’s also the most difficult to pinpoint because all afro hair is very different.  I feel as though after reading The Science of Black Hair that I’m getting even closer to perfecting this important combination.  Davis-Sivasothy has also added some Q and A street interviews, which add a certain authenticity to the book.  All in all an excellent, easy read and all for only $32.95 in hardback and $24,95 in paperback on Amazon.com

Look how far I’ve come.  After reading The Science of Black Hair I know I can go even further…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you looking for supplementary information about natural hair there  are many hair care forums and You Tube channels that can help you along your hair journey.  My favorite hair care forum is NaturalSunshine.com.  Some of my favorite You Tube hair channels are MsRosieVelt, tastiredbone, africanexport, louloumatou, Naptural85, ahsiek1118, TheNaprika, 160Days2Lose2, tonidaley80, whoissugar, beuniquehaircare, FusionofCultures, and BlackIzBeautyful to name a few, but there are so many more……Once you start watching you won’t want to stop!

*Big Chop – BC: to cut off all relaxed ends of the hair leaving a very short afro known as TWA(teeny weeny afro)

*transition – growing out a relaxer and just trimming the ends regularly until all the relaxer is gone.

*relaxer – chemical processing the hair using a lye product, sodium hydroxide, which is put on the roots of the hair about every 6-8 weeks to keep the appearance of straight hair.

Enriching EFL Teaching in 2012

It’s 2012 and we’re all back to teaching full-time.  This is the chance for us all to do our teaching in an even more efficient way.  Some expert teachers with many years behind them would say try teaching differently.  For example, if you teach with a book teach without one.  If you always make lesson plans try not making them or vice versa. I’m going to suggest one particular thing which has helped me tremendously in the past 4 years.  I heard someone suggest this in a conference a while back but I never could seem to make the time.  What is it you ask?  It’s simply learning to do something that you don’t know how to do.  It could be learning a foreign language, learning to play an instrument, taking drawing or painting lessons, learning to cook or to make pottery.

Concert Emile Jolie

It’s amazing how much more you learn about this new activity but as well about yourself and your students. The learning process becomes even more clear.  Four years ago, I picked up the violin.  I like to say it like that because it makes it sound so easy.  Actually, it’s the instrument I desired to play the most when I was a child but wasn’t allowed to.  We had a piano.  So, at the age of 41, I decided to enroll in the local Conservatoire here in   my city where I study music side by side with young children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17.  This has been the most enriching experience for my personal development and especially for my teaching.  It’s made me see things from the learners point of view.  I can equate better with the moments of low enthusiasm, confusion, and the ups and downs that learners experience quite often in EFL or any other learning experience as the level becomes more challenging.  Self motivation, consistency, and desire are needed by both students and teachers to carry out this endeavor.  One is not dominant over the other because it’s a joint effort for the common goal of acquisition.  It can only work out well if both put forth an honest effort.  Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun in the process.

At times, the learner may need a big push up the hill or a bit of a carrot to get from one level to another. Notice I said a push not pulling.  Pulling would show an all out refusal to go any further.  This is just an idea for those teachers out there who feel as if they are always doing the same thing and feel as if they are not reaching their students the way they would like to.  Taking risks in teaching and trying new things can always teach you something new. Try to get out of your comfort zone.  This is what teachers usually say to their learners.  Are you ready to?  So get out there and learn to do something new.  Doesn’t matter what it is!  You might be surprised by the amount of new lessons you’ll come up with and how innovative they’ll be. Good luck with it!

Concert Emilie Jolie

1. Annie John

Yesterday I spent a pleasurable day reading Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid.  Wonderful quick read, only about 148 pages and beautifully written!  This book was recommended to me by a friend who told me to start with Annie John but that she prefered other titles by Kincaid instead.  I also have Lucy on the TBR shelf so it will most likely be one of my 50 books of 2012.

Annie John is a coming of age story which takes place in Antigua.  Annie is young when the story begins and it continues on through her adolescence.  Annie and her mother have a close loving relationship that  slowly but surely develops into hate and despise.  What I loved about this novel were all the little stories that are recounted by Annie that illustrate what life is like on an island at this time.  Colonialism and strict education are the background of this story.  You practically feel the breeze and sun on your face. I can’t say any more than that because I’ll give everything away.

Elaine Potter Richardson is the real name of Jamaica Kincaid.  She was born in 1949 and grew up on the island of Antigua. In 1973, her family’s disapproval of her writing led to her name change. Kincaid writes on recurring themes in her books such as Caribbean tradition, mother-daughter relationships, shaping female identity in a male dominant society, and the lack of Antiguans to fully achieve  independence because of colonialism to note a few.  If you’re interested here is a list of some other interesting novels by Kincaid At the Bottom of the River, My Brother, The Autobiography of My Mother, A Small Place….

A New Year…

Well here we are again shutting the door on the old and opening up to the new today the first day of  2012.  Announcements of how bad the economy will be, rising taxes, price hikes, it’s all gloom and doom.  I’m sure this year will surely offer plenty of occasions for growth, discovery, friendship, prosperity and much more.  There will certainly be many opportunities to read some interesting books and to share them with others.  There are sooo many, but sooo little time.  That’s why I’m going to challenge myself and anybody who reads this post to read 50 books in 2012.  No specific genre just read, read, read whatever you want for sheer pleasure; and of course as much as you can.

For those who are trying to save a little money there is always the local library or local garden sales or set up a book exchange with friends. Don’t sacrifice the pleasure of a good book because of the cost. There’s even bookcrossing.com.  Who knows maybe you could find some interesting free titles lurking in a place near you.  I know it won’t be easy for me with my very hectic schedule teaching to uphold this challenge but I’m going to give it my best shot.  Write in and suggest some titles if you have any goodies in mind.  I’m also going to go through my many shelves and try to read some of those To Be Read books.  I’ve got loads of them. Present reading in progress is The Science of Black Hair and Annie John.  I’ll be back soon with reviews on these two.   I also have a few more lined up – Memoirs of a Porcupine and Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou, and Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid…..These were suggested to me by a friend who is an avid reader of black literature. I’ve heard of Jamaica Kincaid, but never read any of her books before.  I’m kind of excited to discover a little about West Indian literature.  Well that’s all just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year and lots of happy reading in 2012.  Hope you enjoy my future posts and enjoy the big challenge of 2012, I know I will!

Gift goodies!

Today was music day!!!  Whew! It’s 9:50pm and I’m exhausted, but not too exhausted to check the huge bag of books I was given yesterday.  I love getting books and I don’t care if they are old, new,  water-logged or torn.  Bring it on!  It’s all good.  Boy were there some goodies!  Check them out:

The Awkward Age – Henry James

This is the story of Nanda Brookenham.  She is a young woman whose attempt to marry is foiled by members of her mother’s social circle. It’s set in 1899.

The Counterlife –  Philip Roth

He writes about  the paths a life can take and the motivation behind the decisions we make. He also talks about the reality of being a Jewish American.

Letters and Journals – Katherine Mansfield

Mansfield from New Zealand writes about her country.  Here’s a quote from her which is on the back of the book. “Here then is a little summary of what I need – power, wealth and freedom.  It is the hopelessly insipid doctrine that love is the only thing in the world…which hampers us so cruelly.  We must get rid of that boggery – and then, then comes the opportunity of happiness and freedom.”

Galileo’s Daughter – Dava Sobel

This is the story of Sister Maria Celeste the illegitimate daughter of Galileo Galilei. The story is based on the information found in 124 letters written between Galileo and a nun.

High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

The central theme in this novel is music.  The main character sells vinyl records and is an early  thirty-something having some trouble in love and growing up.

The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

Greene explores the themes of good and evil and of course corruption.  The authorities are trying to eradicate the Catholic church in a Mexican state and there is a priest on the run.

A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch

This book is apparently about love, adultery, deception, jealousy.  It seems to have all the components of an exciting story.

The Bell – Iris Murdoch

This is a story about English society in the 1940s through the eyes of  Dora Greenfield.  This novel should be full of social commentary, which was  a common theme for Murdoch.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

This is of course considered a modem classic and Kerouac was an American novelist who was part of the Beat Generation.  I would say this is one of those books that should be on your Must Read List.

The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster

This trilogy made Auster famous in France.  This trilogy is composed of 3 short novel called City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room.  He invented a new detective and mystery genre, while his main theme in this trilogy is  searching for who you are.

Really nice –  a little bit of classic and modern!  I think the only one I won’t read is Nick Hornby, unless for some reason I don’t have anything else to read.  I just don’t enjoy reading him, but the others are all interesting, especially Iris Murdoch.  I’ve always wanted to read her. When I’m finished with these I’ll probably sell them unless I don’t fall in love with the stories and wind up keeping them.  It’s hard for me to sell English books.  I just want to keep them all.  Not a good idea.  I’ve had to resort to storing a good portion of them in our garage.  Do I need to say anymore?

The Help

   This past summer I spent a blissful, hot and humid  5 weeks in my hometown New Orleans.  I usually spend the first week marveling over the changes and things that I’ve missed while living in France.  This time there was one thing I couldn’t miss and that was all the media attention that was being given to Katheryn Stockett’s The Help.  I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing, “What you haven’t read it, you better read it.  It’s great!”  All bookstores had The Help placed in the front of the store and in some right next to the cash register.  Being that I read quite a bit I started to feel left out, but then while watching television I was bombarded with critics on daytime talk shows.   The  trailer was shown constantly on television with its catchy upbeat music.  To me,  it seemed like a comedy.  I refused to go to the movie before reading the book.  It was the first book we would be discussing this school year with the NRs.  Needless to say, I spent most of the time with my eyes blindfolded and my ears plugged.  I felt as if I was on jury duty.

Finally when I got back to France I sat down exhausted from my long trip back and did nothing more for 3 days but read, sleep and eat.  When I finished the book I could see why some people were annoyed with it, especially those that lived through this period.  I could also see what people loved about it.  I think this book could get people talking about this period but not for the right reason nor the right discussion.  It seems to make light of some serious issues that black people were going through at the time.

What I liked about this book is the idea of learning about black maids during Jim Crow years, although this book doesn’t get into too much detail about that, since the issue of sexual harassment was not mentioned.   The character analysis was clear, lively.  They were described in detail. You could imagine what they looked like.   I must admit I fell in love with Aibeleen and Minny immediately.  The usage of dialect was a good idea although it didn’t look much like the dialect I had read in other novels.  it seemed to be extremely baby like.  It just looked like English sentences with words missing.  I’m still not sure why she kept writing Lord as Law.  Nobody says that in the south.

Anyway, this book will definitely be labeled the mini controversy of 20111.  I haven’t seen the movie but people have told me that it’s a tear jerker.  They also said that certain things were different.  Who knows maybe I’ll go see the movie when I have time. Check out the trailer below.  What do you think?

The Help Trailer

Been away…..

Well anyone who’s reading this is probably wondering, where the hell have I been; basically lost in the depths of teaching hell along with a bit of holiday.  I’m back now and you will be hearing from me more regularly.  Promises! Promises!

I’ve read as much as I can and primarily with my book club.  I’m going to call us the Normandy Readingales or NRs for short.  Everything started with a bang, but it seems as if we’ve chosen quite a few sad books this 2011/2012.  We’ve already read The Help, The Incredible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, and Sarah’s Key.  So far, the list doesn’t look very stellar but the best book we’ve read has to be The Incredible Privacy of Maxwell Sim.   I’ll post something on these books so you can get my take on things.

At the moment I’m only reading the Courrier International  (French magazine which compiles newspaper articles from all over the world. FAB! and informative!).  I can’t decide what novel I want to read next.  I’m torn between I’m Down by Mishna WOLF or In the Kitchen by Monica ALI.  They are two very different books, but interesting… I found I’m Down when I was on holiday this summer in New Orleans.  I was browsing in Barnes & Noble for something different to take back with me to France and the saleslady suggested it.  As for In the Kitchen that’s just a book I ordered from Amazon.fr a year ago that I haven’t gotten around to reading.  I think I went off the idea of reading this book when I started to read all the bad reviews.  I could only find one or two good reviews.  Unfortunately, I read the reviews after I had bought the book.  Although, I really enjoyed reading Brick Lane and thought it had some literary merit so I wanted to give this book a chance.  I knows it’s a little different from what she usually writes about. I like a good thriller!  I don’t often read this genre, and nor do I prefer it,  but now and then I like the change.

Concerning my teaching, things are developing….  I have to become a self-employed teacher if I want to live properly from this profession, teaching.  That means self-employment must take place November 2012.  Until then I have quite a lot of paperwork to deal with and things to organize.  I’m on the track so I’m sure I’ll be fine.  I’m still selling my books but mostly on the internet.  I don’t seem to have time to organize book parties with the clients.  I’m teaching all the time, but I will be going to sell at a private Christmas sale.  Maybe I’ll get some new customers/clients there.  Next time I’ll be back with some reviews of the books I spoke about in this post. Happy reading…..

Who am I?

I’ve lived in France for 23 years now.  I also lived three and a half years in Cairo, where I enjoyed learning Arabic and discovering Egyptian literature.  I majored in English literature with a minor in French, while hoping never to become a teacher.  I really wanted to be a lawyer.  I loved the idea of defending innocent people.  I think I used to say I’d rather pump gas instead of teaching….So here I am many years later and I’ve taught EFL for 13 years.  Helping someone who is having a lot of difficulty in English is what keeps me motivated.  I’ve set myself up as an English Language Consultant and I also sell English books.  I enjoy so many things:   reading, writing, painting/drawing, music, origami, movies, languages, etc….. Blogging allows me to write about what I love the most and that’s books.  My book club, that I started 7 years ago, allows me to share the love of books with good friends who have the same passion.  My favorite genre is literary fiction, but I also read some YA, chick lit, mystery, dystopian, etc.  If it’s good, I’ll read it!

Business Proposals:

I am for hire to write articles, proofread, edit, and read manuscripts.  I accept all genre, except for erotica, for review. Books sent for review must be proofread in advance.  I will not review any self published books or books that have been poorly edited or proofread.  All reviews are unbiased and my honest opinion.  They will be reviewed as soon as my schedule will allow.  If you’d like your book reviewed for a particular date, that request must be made promptly.  I’m open to reviewing  Advanced Reader Copies from established writers and debut writers.  For more information, I can be contacted at didiborie@dartybox.com.

Where else you can find me?

Goodreads      http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2682140-deirdre

You Tube        http://www.youtube.com/user/frenchiedee/videos?view=0&flow=grid

Twitter             https://twitter.com/ReadEngDee

Blue Angel Literally

Saturday’s book club meeting went very well.  We always seem to have thorough, interesting discussions when the book is bad.  Ok, maybe bad is a bit strong – uninteresting.  That sounds better.

This novel is set in a fictitious secondary ivy league school(nobody’s first choice).  It’s small,  extremely expensive and the main character is a professor of creative writing (with tenure).  Actually, we weren’t sure how this character could have tenure only teaching one course and not really respecting his office hours.  It’s basically a story about academic life, relationships between professors and students, and how some men could react in a midlife crisis.

The good thing about this book  is the writing style of Francine Prose.  It flows and she writes well as a man who thinks a little too much of himself; who at times seems to behave like a headless chicken.  That’s contrary to the highly intelligent person he thinks he is.  The worse thing was that the story was totally predictable once you’d begun the first 60 pages.  That was a first for me.  All in all, I say read it at your own risk of wasting your time.  My book club is reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  We’ll be meeting on March 27 to discuss it.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a better read than Blue Angel, especially since I hate circuses.

Hello world!

Well here I am finally after many trials and tribulations.  It’s not easy setting up a business in France.  One year later after much thought, many phone calls, and mountains of paperwork, I finally have everything to start my new business.  Well almost everything.  Although I haven’t gotten my “agrément” yet, I’m being positive.  The most important thing is – I CAN START!!!!!!!   That’s all that matters.  I just received my “carte ambulante” last week and this will allow me to sell in open markets.  It’s good for 2  years and will need to be renewed at the Chamber of Commerce.  Whew!  I will no longer have to go to the Préfecture.  Now, if only my fractured elbow would mend quicker.  Actually, I’ve made significant progress. So, I hope to be lugging heavy boxes by March.  As far as reading is concerned at the moment I’m reading Blue Angel by Francine Prose in the book club I organized 5 years ago.   Frankly,  I’m not sure what to think of it (screwed dead chicken?) I won’t say anymore since I’m only on page 85.  We’re meeting on Saturday to talk about it.