Monday, 1 December 2014

To Be Continued...



No matter how much I think my work or my studies are taking over my life, I somehow always find myself gravitating back towards writing. I loved the journeys that What Jasmine Thought and 60 Days of Thought have taken me on - so much so that I have built myself another platform to call home.

Please check out Afia and Jay - a website for the conscious and carefree Millennial who enjoys talking about Chanel and cable knit sweater trends as much as careers or current affairs. I promise it'll be worth it!

Friday, 7 March 2014

60. On Memory



My mother always complains about how younger generations (read: Millennials - myself included) are so obsessed with Facebook albums, lengthy Instagram feeds and Flickr accounts that we forget to appreciate tangible photos. The kind that one retrieves from the photo shop once the dial on the disposable camera is all wound out. The kind that one digs out during seasonal period for all of the family to pore over. I recently made a large order of hard copy photographs, and spent most of my evening flicking through them with my mum - laughing at poses and furrowing brows trying to re-piece the names of people and places looking back at us.

Today marked the 57th anniversary of Ghana's independence. I recognise and treasure the significance of this day, although the hefty gap since my last visit to my country of origin may suggest otherwise to the outsider looking in. I have translucent memories of my time there, but somehow I know that the spirit of my home from home manifests itself within me, somewhere between my Debussy repertoire and unabashed love for British hymns.



It is so important to remember the past; whether positive or negative, I believe that all things of the past have the capability of explaining our present. 57 years ago today, Ghana officially became the first African country to become independent from colonial rule. My only hope is that I can look up from the gadgets and apps, and take the time to reflect conscientiously what is most definitely an invaluable fragment of my own cultural past.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

59. Make Believe


The Internet is a funny thing.

If you see enough "evidence" of something, you're bound to eventually believe it. I can make you, dear reader, believe a number of "truths" about me that may not necessarily be true at all, simply from my choice of words and photographs. Of course, many of you reading will be people that I already know - from school, university or work. But what of the category of persons not slotting into any of those descriptions?

If I quote enough Wordsworth or Rushdie or de Beauvoir, I could make you believe that I'm miles more well read than I actually am. If I constantly redirect you to my Facebook and Instagram feed, but not before carefully curating both to display only photographs of tropical holidays, luxury acquisitions and nights out, I could make you believe that I have more money than I actually do. If I chose to speak exclusively of my successes or accolades during this project, I could make you think one of two things: that I am extremely lucky/gifted/intelligent/all of the above, or that I am a narcissistic, attention-hungry fool.



During this project, I have been lucky enough to engage in thought-provoking discussion with people whom I have never met, and for that I am incredibly grateful. But based solely on this past two months' worth of content, what do you believe to be the solid facts about my person beyond my name (which floats cozily between "what" and "thought" at the top of the page)? More interestingly, is there anything which you, dear reader, may wish to call my bluff on? Do you think I've lied, or at least exaggerated, somewhere?

Comment below - anonymously, if you wish.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

58. The Concepts of Beauty, Pt. II



"If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun / If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head."
Shakespeare, Sonnet 130


"I hope that...you will feel the validation of external beauty but also get the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade to that beauty."
Lupita Nyong'o, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon 


"Clara Bowden was beautiful in all senses except, maybe, by virtue of being black. The classical.
Zadie Smith, White Teeth


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

57. The First


Illustration from Munsch 1980 book.

The first proper book that I ever read was The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I will never forget the day that I read that book; Linda, my teacher, took my hand and walked me from our Reception classroom to the Year 5 library. In my five year-old mind, that journey from one side of the school to the other was like a kingly crusade; not more than 30 seconds but feeling like 30 minutes. I am certain that my face bore what would most probably have been a partially toothless grin the entire way.

The first book that sparked my passion for literature was A Passage to India by E. M. Forster - a book which introduced to me the key ideas of colonialism and postcolonialism, and which would later influence my final dissertation four years later. While I always loved studying English at school, I had never before been so excited to get to a class each day. There is nothing quite like recognising yourself - your culture, experiences, and history - in the very thing that you love the most. Writers and thinkers who followed through this newly-opened door include Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureishi, Hari Kunzru, Edward Saïd and Ngugi wa Thiong'o to name a few. The phrases "ontological crisis", "boum" and "the sky said, 'no, not there'" (which I would subsequently incorporate into every day conversation amongst school friends, whether or not sensible) remain etched in my memory and will always remind me of sixth-form English class.


Don Quixote sketch by Pablo Picasso, 1955

The first book that I studied on my undergraduate English Literature degree was Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. I saw, in the character of Quixote, much of what I love about literature - its intense, crazy, vortex-like power to transport and envelope the reader (albeit highly exaggerated in the book) into worlds which are, in many cases, completely fabricated. The fact that I can get lost in a great book for an entire day catches me off-guard every single time! The fact that strings of carefully-chosen words can deliver and draw out such emotion from writer to reader is so exciting!

For fear of sounding like a Romantic poet taking in an English landscape, I'll hold it (and the exclamation marks) right there. But as this project is soon to come to an end, I thought that you might like to see some of the texts that have shaped my thoughts and inspired my writing.

Monday, 3 March 2014

56. On What it Means to be Free



If you have watched 2014's film of the year, 12 Years a Slave, you will have heard Solomon Northup's many references to once being a "free man". But what does it really mean to be free? The Oxford English Dictionary offers some insight:

Free (adj.)

1. Not under the control of anyone else; able to do what you want
2. Not having or filled with things to do: free time
3. (free of/from) not containing or affected by something undesirable
4. Available without charge
5. (adv.) without cost or payment

With the above in mind, how can we compute the concept of freedom into our everyday life?

Time

For most, time is considered a highly valuable currency of which we just never seem to have enough. But what also occurs for most is an obligation to exchange much of that currency for leisurely activities or other motions not regularly engaged in. Generally, time can only be spent and not bought; it cannot be returned, and we cannot create or grow more for ourselves once it has been used up.


Speech/Expression

On the eighth day of this project, I wrote "Free Speech", which aimed to illustrate the impossibility of true freedom of expression - particularly within the realm of social media. As is the case with time, pure, unadulterated freedom of speech comes at a cost: harsh disciplinaries, loss of jobs, and (in some cases) even incarceration or torture. It is rarely possible for a person to speak audibly and honestly about their dissatisfaction towards a job, a new law, another person or ideology or injustice and see no subsequent repercussion. That said, one might argue that expression is not free, either.


Burden/Guilt




As a young Christian woman, I am often plagued with guilt whenever I feel there is some discord between my actions and my beliefs. The feeling of not being able to prise that guilt from one's self is a highly frustrating one, and was what originally caused me to think more about the meaning of freedom. 

How does emancipation (from sin) lie at the heart of one's religion yet feel so far away in practice? Why have we been granted free will if bad choices are followed by a sense of confinement? The same question arises in secular contexts too - classic examples of this being a sense of guilt following the exercising of one's freedom to consume junk food, an excess of alcohol or other unhealthy (but often delicious and/or satisfying) substances. Can we ever truly live "guilt-free"?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

55. To Fade

Fade | fād |
(verb.)

1. gradually grow faint and disappear: the light had faded and dusk was advancing | the noisefaded away| figurative hopes of peace had faded.

2. lose or cause to lose colour or brightness:no obj. ] his fair hair had faded to a dusty grey | with obj. ] (usu. as adj. faded:faded jeans.
3. (of a flower) lose freshness and wither.
4. (fade away(of a person) gradually become thin and weak, especially to the point of death: without help, those of us who are ill will surely fade away and die.
5. (of a racehorse, runner, etc.) lose strength and cease to perform well:she faded near the finish.
6. (of a vehicle brake) become temporarily less efficient as a result of frictional heating. the brakes faded, needing a firmer push to bring the car to halt.

Whoever spearheaded the incorporation of the verb into everyday slang as a vocalisation of one's sentiment following excessive alcohol consumption clearly did their homework.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

54. Exoticism

London in the early hours of the morning is an interesting place to be. Slurring men pursuing women for their exoticism - their alternative origin, their non-British twang, tanned or physiques and tales of warmer climates. Exoticism, to me, is almost as frustrating as savagery. In the same way that I will release a subtle sigh as a stranger draws a sinister portrait of me in their minds, I will also sigh as that same stranger considers me interesting or enchanting. Why should anyone be placed on an irrational pedestal because of their hair or accent or skin or beliefs or clothes? 

Friday, 28 February 2014

53. Island Men

I remember being at secondary school and never being able to grasp why my female peers would always seek a companion or three for a visit to the bathroom. I also remember the many occasions when I would happily sit in a room with another person, completely silent, and feeling no obligation to engage if I had nothing to say just for the sake of engaging.

"No man is an island." John Donne's famous words would wash over me, because I didn't understand why it was considered so impossible to live a life of total introversion and still do significant things and feel contented at the same time. Although I am largely an introvert (according to Susan Cain's Quiet, at least) and still exercise many of the habits mentioned above, I have realised that there is no harm in building new and old friendships, and concerning myself less with the events in my own world and more with those relating to the people around me.

Donne continues: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..." Do you think that it is wrong to consistently act in an introverted or enclosed manner? How does introversion or inward behaviour serve as a detriment to one's own (if at all)? If we take Donne's words literally, I could even contend that the majority of us are "island men" on a much larger scale - our concerns lying outside of our selves, but stretching only as far as whatever lies in close proximity. How many of us would rather ponder over our weekly timetables than reflect momentarily on the outbreak of civil war in Kiev? As "parts of the main", should we not then "borrow [others'] misery" - or, at the very least, endeavour to understand or to enquire why our neighbours mourn or rebel or fight or suffer?

Thursday, 27 February 2014

52. Edification

Ensuring that our diets are rich in multivitamins and other key nutrients is only one way of building ourselves up physically. But what else can we consume as sustenance? 

Iinformation made up of words, numbers and characters which feed our minds. Visuals - films, paintings, computer games, natural landscapes or innovative architecture - engage our eyes and delight our brains. Music causes us to move or feel or think, and deep thought and prayer aids us spiritually.

Even when we take away from ourselves - donating time, imparting knowledge unto others - we are still edified. What then (not concerning food), constitutes malnourishment?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

51. 5 Reasons why Corporate Life is Good for You



I am often subjected to people's arguments as to why working in a corporate environment is undesirable, or even "soul destroying". What I rarely encounter, however, are positive accounts of such environments. I hope to demonstrate that working in a corporate setting during the early stages of one's career can prove to be incredibly helpful - personally as well as professionally.

1. Attention to detail is everything

If there's one thing that I've taken away from my (limited) time in the corporate world, it's that attention to detail is absolutely everything. Plotting a property a few millimetres out can completely distort a 100-page due diligence report. Forgetting to proofread a draft contract can lead to dire consequences for a client. Even sending a poorly-worded email to an opposing party can place your entire firm in bad light. Developing a keen eye for detail at an early age can be useful in any working environment, and while early observations of small errors may not be rewarded, they avoid potentially serious disciplinary (or, at the very least, embarrassment).

2. Know what you mean and mean what you say

In an environment that requires the ability to argue your point at a moment's notice, you're going to need to start using your brain more actively and deliberately. Why did you phrase clause 5 in that way? What are the commercial implications of that decision? What questions are you going to have to ask your client, and why? Never before have I had to explain myself so often and completely understand myself at all times. Working in such a "deliberate" environment gives rise to conviction in every move. And if that conviction didn't already exist in you, you can bet that it'll be born.

3. Playing with purpose is as important as working hard

One of the greatest misconceptions of freshly-graduated young people looking for work in the corporate arena is that one must take an all-serious approach to their career: i.e. strict prohibition on 'banter' with senior employers, a reluctance to network (in the loosest meaning of the word) with potential future clients and a feigned stiff upper-lip. You will note that I have entitled this point "play with purpose" and not "play hard". Corporate life has demonstrated the importance of knowing how to "woo" a client (because without clients, there is no demand for our services and so our skills are made redundant) and, in turn, knowing how to "woo" your colleagues and superiors. 



4. Excellence is expected

Particularly in the corporate world, there is no special recognition for great work, because greatness is expected. Whilst this may seem harsh in the first instance, it's the perfect way for individuals to permanently raise the bar on their own standards.

5. It is soul-protecting, not soul-destroying.

There's an age-old cliché which suggests that the typical corporate lifestyle (early mornings and late nights, demanding deadlines, pushy clients and lots of money on the line) can break a (wo)man. Well, there's also an age-old cliché which says that something either makes you breaks you. Working in an environment where there are constant pressures not only enhances all of the soft skills referred to above (attention to detail, strong communication skills, interpersonal skills, significantly high expectations/standards) but also creates resilience. One's soul is in turn shielded from what may previously have broken its carrier's now sharper surface. Where's the negativity in that?

*Is it obvious that I'm a Suits fan?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

50. The Great (Fashion) Debate: Is Fake a Faux Pas?


Fashion designer and businesswoman Ashley Olsen steps out in alligator backpack, $39,000 (c. £23,400) from her line The Row.

The fashion set are tough to decipher.

One season it's alright to wear animal print when it was once considered trashy, another season it's the done thing to sport baseball caps with pencil skirts.  Animal fur in particular is condemned by many as being immodest and insensitive towards animal torture, with the faux version increasingly embraced by fashion's high society (read: Stella McCartney) as being equally as fashionable as the real deal - albeit for reasons along more moral lines.

But why can't the same apply to other luxury goods? Is it not also, to an extent, highly immoral to price what is essentially a sack made of animal skin which carries other things at an amount which could also serve as a down-payment on a well-placed London apartment? What about the importance of money management? Is it not immoral to charm young fashion lovers' minds into thinking that it is socially acceptable to scrape their current accounts, student loans and overdrafts clean of savings to purchase such a sack, only then to endure a month-long diet plan rich in bread and beans?

Please note, reader, that there's a log in my own eye too. There's something about luxury fashion that I love, despite its slight frivolity. When I finally bought my first luxury handbag after working part-time (in a luxury fashion boutique, ironically) during university and saving up in anticipation of the eventual crusade to Old Bond Street (seriously underwhelming by the way - the staff at Chanel weren't very friendly), my boyfriend at the time ignored me for at least 24 hours and then, when his words finally returned, mocked me for about a month. Every time I wore my new bag outdoors, he respond with "you could have bought a car with that money", or "you could have gone on two holidays with that". And he was right. But in my mind at the time fake was not an option, and so break the bank I would.

Which is why I almost fell off my chair when I read Shini Park's post on the (highly coveted) Chanel Boy bag. A well-respected fashion blogger admitting that a luxury item is not an essential? Is this the writing of a hacker?


Shini Park of Park and Cube wearing the Chanel Boy handbag, c. £2,500.

It’s borrowed, don’t ask. I’m flattered though, that anyone would assume I have enough speech & debate skills to convince my husband, to whom Tommy Hilfiger is couture and Tom Ford is the CEO of Ford – the car company – that spending three months’ rent on a bag (a transparent one at that) is reasonable...we (I say we, but I mean me) are not yet in a junction in life to warrant a brand spankin’ new Chanel boy bag...I still want to work towards a stage in life where I can afford a Chanel/Hermes/LV bag without disrupting priorities.

Of course, Park's bag is borrowed and is indeed authentic, but does she grieve at the inability to purchase one for herself? Not really. What we have here is an acknowledgement of the irrationality in purchasing an item for which one's finances do not allow (or, in modern day speak, understanding the importance of "staying in one's lane"). To an extent, it's not even solely about an inability to purchase at the premium price; during my (part) time in luxury fashion, I met a significantly wealthy client who once admitted that her entire Louis Vuitton collection was counterfeit. I would never have known.

In the same way that fake (faux) fur has been accepted by fashion circles from Sloane Square to Sydney to Stockholm and back again as a more affordable (and more moral) version of its mammal-like counterpart, will it ever be acceptable for young women to tote the latest Céline calfskin tote *whispers* in its imposter version and thus at a fraction of the price?

Let's talk about this. Comment below/via Twitter because I'm still torn.

You can read Shini Park's blogpost here: http://www.parkandcube.com/pinstripe-coat-leather-trousers/

Monday, 24 February 2014

49. Can't Get No Satisfaction



Person A earns a comfortable six figure salary at the age of 28, working for a highly reputable financial corporation. Their salary entitles them to a lifestyle that most would love to maintain, and on the outside Person A regularly enjoys the fruits of their labour as part of an overall "glamorous" existence.

Person B earns significantly below the national average at the age of 28, working for a highly reputable media corporation. Their salary prohibits them from enjoying their preferred lifestyle but the nature of Person B's line of work is such that regular international travel, social events and access to freebies are a common occurrence.

Person A is overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their job. Person B, on the other hand, is incredibly satisfied with their daily routine.

If there is anything that my 22nd year has shown me, it is that so many things - commodities, careers, et cetera - appear to hold so much promise from a distance but turn out to feel/be average at best close up. I have met so many young "Person A" professionals who live lives which look amazing on the outside - exotic holidays, great salary, early prestige - but feel inadequate on the inside. Who are coaxed out of bed each morning only by the assurance of security or surrender to routine. Who are not once mentally stimulated during their 10 or 11 hours of work, but would never consider breaking away from their daily cycle.

Of course, not everyone can enjoy some of the aforementioned perks which come with a job similar to that of Person B. Despite perhaps earning less than their corporate peers, let us assume in this instance that Person B is happier at their workplace. There is greater transparency at the top end, a decent work/life balance and an ultimate feeling of passion towards their role - so much so that hating Mondays are a myth and eagerly anticipating Fridays are an irregular occurrence.

But...is job satisfaction overrated? Does one need to be passionate about their job? Should we perceive work as simply being that which places food on our tables and roofs over our heads? Or should we seek careers that we love and that fit us perfectly - because after all, the workplace is where many of us will spend the majority of our waking hours per week? One argument may be that a higher pay packet allows for substantial enjoyment outside of the workplace despite, in many circumstances, limited time for "play" due to unsociable hours. Does person A really need to be happy at work when work for them may just be a way of making honest cash?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

48. Résistance

Even today is my complaint rebellious,
my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

47. Blackout





He 
is mine 
and I 
am his.
Our 
meeting was intended
to be.


Some of you will note my earlier references to writer and artist Austin Kleon. So when I wrote my previous post "Five Percent" earlier on in the project, I knew that this week would be the perfect time to try my hand at a "Newspaper Blackout" poem.

The format of the blackout poem coincides neatly with George Orwell's idea that less is more when it comes to the use of words in expressing a point - with a bank of words issued already issued in the form of a newspaper, it is up to the writer to carve new sentences out of old passages.

Friday, 21 February 2014

46. In 2014

In 2014 a young woman feels compelled to change her Asian name on an application for a corporate training programme in order to be properly considered.

1n 2014 a group of young City professionals are turned away from a club because too many of them are of BME origin.

In 2014 a young man will not grow out his beard because his WASP colleagues will consider his curly hair unkempt in comparison to their own ironed-out follicles.

In 2014 .

In 2014 a young man or woman of ethnic minority is condemned for adopting received pronunciation, yet is also condemned for adopting an untainted accent representative of home.


What are some of your experiences?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

45. History Is

History is
an area of academia
everlasting
forgotten
a time prior to now
a tale
a form of context
partial
a past relationship
a messy track record
an archive
biased
a friend of society
an enemy of society
backwards
a fortune-teller
a trend-setter
set on repeat
an elephant in a room
ornamental
both tangible and
intangible.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

44. Five Percent



"If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself."
 - George Orwell

Reading George Orwell's 1946 essay, "Why I Write", has made me completely rethink my approach not only towards this project but to writing as a whole. I now find that 95 percent of words used are fillers, and only around five percent of words per post on average carry the argument. "[The] invasion of one's mind", says Orwell "by ready-made phrases...can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one's brain." Between days two ("Autopilot") and 44 (this post), I have forgotten the very arguments that I set out for you all to read:

"That's one of the main reasons for this project. I think that everyone's greatest fear in life should be the fear of becoming stagnant. How can we grow and develop as humans if we allow ourselves to perform the same tasks, be surrounded by the same people, see the same sights, consume the same level of information on a day to day basis? We need to be shaken up, made uncomfortable, forced to flick the autopilot switch to the function labelled 'OFF' instead of 'ON'. Of course, this is much easier said than done. But all it takes is a small level of commitment and an active mindset. It's a constant, not an event. So even if nobody reads this or the 363 posts to come (but I'd be really upset if that was actually the case, guys), I know that for at least half an hour of every day I will have set myself to 'ON' and had to, you know, think about something."

"Autopilot" itself houses useless decoration. Here is the same excerpt, condensed:

"We cannot develop if we are monotonous. We must challenge ourselves to become more engaged. In starting this project, I hope to stimulate my mind."

Orwell finally explains that the key to clear expression is "to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about." That said, I hope that subsequent posts will feature 95 percent of deliberate prose and five percent of embellishment - not the other way about.




43. The End Goal

Nowadays, I find myself asking the people around me what their end goal is when they announce a desire to obtain or achieve something. You want to go for that high-paying City job? What's the conclusion? You want to travel the world? What do you hope to get from that? You want to change your approach when meeting new people? What's your desired end result?

It's also a question I regularly ask myself in respect of my career aspirations, relationships with the people I choose to surround myself with, and other basic day-to-day choices. In doing so, I am more concerned about checking myself and really thinking more deliberately about my thought processes than acting and reacting frivolously to whatever I encounter. Of course, one's careful thinking cannot control the outcomes of every single event entièrement, but at least (for me, anyway) there is comfort in deliberation - analysis of risk, weighing up of positive and negative factors, consideration of asset and liability.

What's the end goal for this project? I have a few ideas tucked away in my mind. Perhaps I'll let you know in 17 days' time.

Monday, 17 February 2014

42. His Thoughts.




"There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here now...I hope that, 150 years from now, our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film" - Steve McQueen on accepting his BAFTA for Best Director of critically- and commercially-acclaimed film, 12 Years A Slave.

This evening's BAFTAs have brought a multitude of ideas and thoughts and opinions to the front of my mind which cannot (unfortunately) be distilled into one eloquently-written essay (but will serve inspiration for upcoming commentaries within this project, no doubt). Instead, I shall direct you to the thoughts of writer Musa Okwonga's on one of the most talked-about films of 2013/2014, 12 Years A Slave.

An excerpt of his essay, and link to the original New Statesman-published piece, is below:

"As I wandered out into the foyer, I stopped to speak with an elderly black steward, who saw me out with a smile and a slow shake of the head. “Ha,” he said, offering perhaps the most fitting review that 12 Years A Slave will receive. “I don’t like to watch such things.” Me neither: but if we're not yet fully aware of the extent of slavery's evil both past and present, then, perhaps, watch them we must."

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/12-years-slave-asks-us-most-important-question-why

Sunday, 16 February 2014

41. Ritualistic

home.
dinner Italian Ghanaian English.
social media Twitter Instagram.
chatting family telephone texting.
television news fashion music reality.
reading psychology politics Bible fiction.
social media Twitter .
bath.
music Robert Glasper Jhene Aiko Solange Knowles.
reading psychology politics Bible fiction.
learning languages theories truths.
Internet articles photographs discussions.
social media Twitter Instagram Whatsapp.
writing [on all of the above].
chatting family telephone texting.
social media Instagram Twitter.
bed.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

40. Connect

In our current age, it is nearly impossible to be out of contact with people we wish to connect with. Whether our choice of correspondence is via telephone, text, Skype, Whatsapp or social media (Facebook or Twitter, for example) connecting with one another has never been easier. New friendships are often cultivated through these channels, and existing friendships diminish through a lack of use of these channels. But what of the fool-proof, old school face-to-fave exchange? Our technological age somewhat restricts our likelihood of traditional interaction.

My question is this: fast forward ten years, will our technological connectivity still remain intact? Or will there be an alternative means of regular correspondence?

Friday, 14 February 2014

39. The Concepts of Beauty, Pt. I


Photo credit: http://le-21eme.com.

For a few weeks now, I have been gathering my thoughts in order to write about our notions of beauty, and with Fashion Week now in full swing, I thought that now would be as best a time as any to make a start. I studied Art History as part of my A-Levels, and I remember taking a few classes on the origins of our current idea of beauty, particularly within the female form. Hip-to-waist ratio, the width or one's forehead in relation to the remainder of their features, hair colour, nose shapes and lip plumpness were all taken into consideration by the Greeks, and their findings are ideas which remain with us even in 2014.

But, I wondered, what if the Greeks had decided that a face which wasn't half forehead and half features was the most beautiful? What if blonde hair was reminiscent of straw and not gold? What if a straight nose, full lips or cat-like eyes were all considered unsightly - how would we as 21st century individuals consider beauty then? Fashion is quite similar in its ability to prescribe to the masses without question. In one season of runway fashion the coolest of women will decide collectively that a ball gown will harmonise with a New Balance sneaker, and in another the bedroom slipper will be an equally attractive choice as the classic stiletto for evening wear. Soon enough, the aesthetics displayed by the world's most celebrated designers in New York, London, Milan and Paris trickle down into high-street stores, and it is no longer the "fashion pack" alone who find it acceptable to experiment with varying beautiful and not-so beautiful items of clothing.

I was startled by recent video footage of designer Rick Owens' offering for Spring/Summer 2014 at Paris Fashion Week:


Startled because for at least three minutes into the show I was convinced that a 6-foot, size 6, blonde waif would eventually saunter elegantly down the steps in one of Owens' signature leather ensembles. These dancers were just that, dancers, I thought. Where were the models? Where was the beauty? And then I caught myself. Despite the concepts of beauty prescribed to us by early schools of thought, was it really impossible for the regular onlooker not to find beauty in Owens' show? Given the context - fashion - could it be the case that "alternative" beauty may now be embraced in the same way that youthful, cherub-like beauty has?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

38. Seventeen Pounds

Seventeen pounds. That's how much money I paid for a fashion magazine the other day.

Okay so not quite. Here's the mathematics:

1. Unit price: £4.17
2. Tax: £0.83
3. Shipping: £12.00

Sure, it was delivered to me the very next morning by a handsome Mediterranean-looking man in head-to-toe black who handed me a rather luxurious black bag sealed with black ribbon cradling my magazine inside. But really though?

What would really be great is if Inception were a real film and someone came to me in my sleep and extracted my bank card details from my memory.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

37. Des Fashionistas Noirs



It's very easy to forget the fact that fashion has an ongoing diversity problem. Of course, there are the June Ambroses and Naomi Campbells and Pat McGraths and Julia Sarr-Jamoises thrown in for good measure, but the bigger picture is actually quite startling once you dust off your specs or rub your eyes and take a closer look.

Do you think that other fashion sites should follow suit with sections celebrating fashion from "black people" only (I use quotations because I've never been a fan/user of the phrase, but it's the only one which illustrates my point)? Or do you think that there should be better diversity in fashion in general - such that street style blogs (for example) will give us something other than the Marant and Céline-wearing, pin-straight haired, Caucasian (often French) waif?*

Check out the Voguistas Black section of online Italian VOGUE via the link below:

Voguistas Black - www.vogue.it


*Nothing against Marant and Céline-wearing, pin-straight haired, Caucasian (often French) waifs, of course.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

36. Writers' Block



I'm stumped. Over the course of the past 24 hours (because more often than not I write based on what I have immediately heard or seen or randomly thought or felt) there hasn't been one thing that has stood out enough for me to want to write about it. So I thought that it might be interesting for me to illustrate the thought processes behind some of my previous posts.

3. Penelope (Stream of Ratchetness)

This was a fun post for me as it was so early on in the project and was in a different style of writing from my usual mini essays on culture or race or society. With the likes of Pusha T and Trinidad James blaring through my headphones on my walk home from work one evening, I began to think about the flexibility of language, and how words can adopt completely new meanings when taken out of context. How the words "popping molly" could mean totally different things in different contexts. So, as I punched words frantically into my iPhone whilst simultaneously trying to navigate through other commuters and pedestrians, the monologue from a young woman scrutinising a spot in the bathroom mirror could be connected with a neighbour's account of a gang shoot-out, no questions asked.

When I finally got home, I thought that I would add a harsh contrast between genres - the hip-hop I was listening to was set off against the practices of James Joyce (stream of consciousness) and his own references to the epic poems and their leading protagonists in his novels (Penelope). A very eclectic, textured piece. I wish I had had the patience to take it even further.

15. What Is Art?

I remember writing this post the moment I got out of bed. It was a Monday morning and I'd taken the day off work. As I lay in bed, scrolling through my Instagram feed, I stopped at a photograph posted by Miroslava Duma relating to an interview with Dasha Zhukova featuring on her site, Buro247. In time, this photograph (Dasha sitting on a chair crafted out of metal poles and a real-life sculpting of a African woman, stripped naked and bound by belts) went viral and commentaries were popping up on every social media channel and credible online news outlet.

I was so angered by the photograph that I ended up losing my rag with a Duma fan claiming that people were being "too sensitive", but I eventually calmed down and asked the questions of the post instead - to myself, and to anyone reading.

26. Cymotrichous

There is a point in time during the wearing of one's weave - and ladies who are reading and who have ever worn a weave for longer than a month will recognise this - where a woman's own hair will grow out, creating a spongy barrier between her scalp and her weft. I love to dig my fingertips into this spongy mass (so much so that I decided to chop all of my hair off and go natural - see HERE) and so I wondered if I could capture that sensation in a poetic/spoken word format.

34. Night

Not much to say except for the fact that I was tired. Like, really sleepy. I thought it would be cheating if I went to sleep without writing something (still haven't done that! *punches air in delight*) so I thought I would put my tiredness in words. And that's pretty much it.

4. Sex, Cash and the Afridicto Disposition

I won't talk on this post for too long because I've posted it to death - not only on my own social media channels but also on others (www.mediadiversified.org - cheeky plug there). But this was, hands down, my absolute favourite to write. I was drawing from childhood experience, conversations I'd overheard as a little girl amongst aunts and uncles and conversations I've had with friends at a much older age; I was drawing from discussions I'd initiated with my own parents and imagining their accents as I typed particular phrases, and I was so thrilled at the response to the age-old question from readers across the globe! It's so contentious that I could probably lend another post to the topics of African parents and careers, but maybe I'll save that for the next project.

Monday, 10 February 2014

35. Twenty Three (Social Media and the Transactive Memory)






As it's just over a month until my next birthday, I have begun (the very clichéd process of) reflecting upon my year as a twenty-two year old and beginning to consider just what twenty-three may or may not bring. I wrote the following piece on the effect of social media on our methods of processing information on my birthday last year - continue reading below or click HERE for a link to the original post.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

34. Night

Night falls, energy ebbs from knackered bones, sleep suddenly set in.

Go, into dream-drunkenness. 

Go.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

33. Be Afraid

I don't know about you, but fear has held me back from a lot of potentially awesome experiences in life. Whether it's resisting to start your own business due to a fear of failure, feeling obligated to step out in certain clothing or wear your hair in a certain way for fear of standing out, or even rejecting opportunities to go travelling alone due to fear of the unknown, I'm certain it has affected all of you at some point or another. Don't tell me you've never felt fear. Because I won't believe you.

What I do believe, however, is that being afraid is good for us. Fear spurs us on to overcome it, dares us to challenge it, wills us to supersede it and be freed from it. So I challenge you (and myself) to be afraid, and see where that feeling takes you.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

32. On Love



One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite albums.

Today's "thought", then: a conglomeration of my unwritten sentiments, Hill's own lyrics and Hill's (obvious) primary source - 1 Corinthians 13.


31. The Motives of Making Money.


Money;
cash;
funds;
reddies;
Gs; or
cash moula (my personal favourite).

So many words for the pieces of metal and paper that are exchanged globally and frequently in varying forms: pound sterling here, Euros, Pesos, Dollars, Renminbi or Cides there. For many, the process required for obtaining regular instalments of money is daily toil - whether in the office, in the laboratory, on set or on site, usually only obtainable in exchange for some type of service in return (also known as the nine to five). But what's it for?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

30. Generation Combinations

"How often, in our social lives, do we interact only with our exact contemporaries? If our friends are from school or university, their lives will mirror ours - treading different paths, perhaps, but always in step.

At work though, we have unique opportunities to meet, collaborate with, and learn from people decades older and younger than ourselves, whose past experiences or fresh perspectives have much to teach us."

Celebrate the power that comes from sharing ideas and knowledge across the generational divide.


www.harpersbazaar.com

29. Lost In Translation: the Wonders of World Languages

I would have thought that by 2014 we'd all have developed the ability to automatically communicate with others in a different tongue. But I guess that's what apps and other technologies are for, right?

One of the most uncomfortable situations for any human being has got to be standing amongst a group of people and having no idea what they are saying due to a mighty language barrier. There's probably nothing worse (for some, anyway - I imagine many of you will find it an intriguing position to be in) than hearing foreign sounds and not knowing what they mean; whether they are of relevance to you, whether they are insulting, or friendly, or intelligent. 

Despite numerous surveys and reports demonstrating non-verbal communication as equally telling of a person's message, I still think that there's something so interesting about the fact that I can hop on a plane to Germany and instantly become at a loss for words (except for perhaps declaring "Mmm - lecker!" in satisfaction not only of the meal that I would have just eaten, but also at the fact that I actually managed to remember some vocabulary from my Year 8 language classes). Umms and ahhs, extreme gesticulations and raised voices aplenty. Forcing the mind to work twice as hard in order to convey a simple point such as "how much" or "which way" or "do you speak English?" Lost in translation indeed. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

28. On Balance.

Discuss:

"When people say they want balance, it's because they're looking to turn off when they go home. But there are other people like [my business partner] and me who always want to integrate work and personal life.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

26. Cymotrichous


Underneath her wefts lie a multitude of springs, curls and coils which push against their linear suppressors. A spongy seabed, stretching this way and that, new shoots struggling to crack the soil's surface. Peeking out coyly from her corners; a badly-kept secret, a poorly-performed "surprise".


Thursday, 30 January 2014

25. Something Old (Uniforms)

In keeping with the social media tradition of looking back into the archives every fourth day of the week (otherwise known as "Throwback Thursday"), I thought I would re-post an essay I wrote last summer, analysing Zadie Smith's Speaking in Tongues and exploring cultural identity.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

24. Deliberate Practice and The 10,000 Hour Rule



The laws of deliberate practice dictate that in order to effectively develop a skill, one must practice with purpose. That means not writing in a 30-minute sitting because it's what you've told yourself you must do, but rather spending ten or 15 minutes proactively, diligently and deliberately moulding your craft. That said, my tendency to over-subscribe myself has caused me to sacrifice my usual "writing time", and so I am currently sitting cross-legged at my laptop, (proverbially) ripping my hair out in last-minute frustration for want of something - anything - to say.

23. One Minute

One minute to produce a well-informed, highly researched and smartly executed essay on ex or why or Zed was not enough. Sixty seconds to share something which could inspire a mind or more was not enough, but in that time around the world were 250 births, 107 deaths, five earthquakes and three violent crimes.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

22. The Canon



As an undergraduate student, I remember spending the majority of my first year mastering literary theory as part of a module which offered "striking 'moves' that people can use in thinking about other topics [within literature]"*. Our studies explored the ideologies and and teachings of key thinkers such as Derrida or Rousseau or Saussure. Compulsory modules which followed included an analysis of the "novel" - an examination of how the novel came to be and the qualities necessary to form one.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

21. Catharsis.

Catharsis (n)

1.

To purge with
words
an unspeakable feeling of unease and
uncertainty
certainly better than betting or spending
and (in doing so)
being released
relieved
freed

This is my catharsis.
What's yours?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

20. Dissatisfaction.



I am dissatisfied.

I don't know enough, I haven't achieved enough, I haven't read enough, I haven't travelled enough, I'm not independent enough, my life doesn't have enough purpose yet, I don't have enough money and I'm not fit enough.

Friday, 24 January 2014

19. Makers Gonna Make



When was the last time you made something out of nothing?

Okay, how about this one: When was the last time you made something new out of something else?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

18. The Africano Brit and the Method Acting Dilemma ("MAD")



Earlier this week I asked one of my friends what he would be if he could have any profession in the world other than his own. One response was that he would be a famous actor. To end the related conversation which followed, I made the conclusion that if I were an actor and needed to use the method acting technique, I would most definitely encounter some sort of ontological crisis and eventually go mad.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

17. ...But What of the Sapeurs?



"...And then what?"

Well, for members of the Congolese Society of Ambienceurs and Elegant Persons (SAPE), also known as "Sapeurs", the answer to the above is this: "to defy circumstance, and live with 'joie de vivre'".

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

16. Things



Everyone has "things".

The stack of unread, dust-gathering fashion books for a coffee table that doesn't exist. The "investment" handbag that could have paid for three holidays. The uncomfortable pair of stilettos that cripple every time an attempt is made at squeezing them on. Or the luxury travel bag that sits, slumped, waiting to be used for its proper function.

Monday, 20 January 2014

15. What is Art?



Is art the encapsulation of beauty and all that is beautiful?

Does art aim to please the viewer's gaze?

Does art's beauty depend on the viewer's own perception of beauty?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

14. Difference (or, On Whether it is Beneficial to be Conscious of Colour)



The first time that I became “conscious” of colour was probably at the age of ten or eleven. My parents wanted my brothers and I to excel outside of the classroom as well as in it, and so most of my afternoons as a child were spent engaging in sports, playing instruments and learning new languages. I swam for a local swim team, and I remember taking part in a gala against some of the other London clubs. The gala venue had stadium seating positioned behind the starting blocks. During the interim of my own races, I remember walking along the length of the pool, looking up at the faces of all of the other kids’ family members and seeing my parents stand out against a sea of beige. My thinking went as far as ‘hey, my parents really stand out’, but I didn’t really think too much of it beyond that. And I don’t think I really have since.

During her press rounds for 2013 film The Butler, Oprah gave the following account of her understanding of race in a November 2013 interview with LBC’s James O’Brien:

James: What about the riots after Dr. King was killed? How do you compute that as a little girl?

Oprah: I was aware of it [race] from a child’s point of view…not knowing, even. Because I was always in an integrated school, not feeling the brunt of, ‘wow, I’m lesser’, and ‘I’m not going to have the same opportunities as other people’… Because, fortunately for me, I was always the kid in class who was the first one with my hand up. Yeah, I was always the one that kind of annoyed everybody else. The first one with my hand up and the one who was, you know, favoured by the teachers and all that.

James: [But] you were conscious of colour, though…?

Oprah: [*coolly*] No, I was not.

I remember being a young girl in high school, hearing Jesse Jackson as an orator come to our school… and this really changed the way I saw my life. He said, ‘excellence is the best deterrent to racism; therefore be excellent. And excellence is the best deterrent to sexism; therefore be excellent. And excellence is the best deterrent to all the ‘isms’ that confront you in your life. Therefore be excellent, because when you’re excellent it’s really difficult for people to ignore you.


Is this childlike indifference the right attitude to have as an adult? Is there a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ attitude to have when it comes to being aware of racial or gender difference? I have come across many a discussion which do a good job of disseminating the notion that it is impossible not to be conscious of difference (in many cases, of colour in particular). A statement from Sheryl Sandberg seems to concur with these discussions; in an interview with McKinsey & Company dated April 2013 Sandberg remembers how she "spent most of my career, including my time at McKinsey, never acknowledging that I was a woman. And, you know, fast forward—I’m 43 now—fitting in is not helping us." These accounts would always irk me, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why until now.

Sandberg argues that opening a general dialogue on inequality is more pressing than any individual's desire to overlook their difference. I agree with Sandberg on the importance of addressing an overarching problem, but I want to know how becoming conscious of difference can affect individuals themselves. Could a consciousness of one’s difference not also fuel an internal despair or anger towards the masses, such that the reason behind one's achievements shifts from their own merit to forced equal representation; receiving lazy customer services shifts from a lack of skill from the salesperson to deliberate discrimination; or the reason for being looked over for a promotion at work shifts from gaps in their own performance to automatic favour of the male colleague who got it instead?

I recently read an interesting observation on the perception of difference (race) which said: "...if [Obama] wins [the 2009 election], he will no longer be black, just as Oprah is no longer black, she's Oprah." And then I thought to myself, why can’t we all just imagine ourselves to have achieved that “just Oprah” status already? Oprah is “just Oprah” because her undeniable excellence and glowing career has largely acted as a deterrent to any racism that she may otherwise have encountered (but also because, in many ways, race is actually a social construct - but that's a different discussion). Her success has reached the levels described to her as a child by Jesse Jackson, with her sex and race now being irrelevant. If we re-consider Sandberg's observations on difference in the workplace then, would a "just Oprah" sense of self-belief not prompt more women to volunteer themselves for the larger and more challenging roles, and consequently increase the numbers of women in top positions from a meagre 14 percent to a more substantial figure? Change the mindset of enough individuals and you are sure, soon enough, to see a correlating change in the bigger picture.

In my opinion, each time a person notes their difference to the next person, they place an invisible barrier between themselves and the primary objective in that particular instance. The thought process becomes “there is one other black person at this Deutsche Bank assessment day so I might not get picked because they probably can't take both of us”. Or, “I want to get on to the Partner track at work but there are so few female Partners at this firm that it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be properly considered.” Sometimes, it’s even “that tutor’s always giving me an A minus when I'm sure I should be getting an A plus. He’s definitely racist.” Wrong. While (unfortunately) some instances prove that there is validity in such perspectives, I still question why many people know nothing else but to surrender to these excuses and thus fall victim to their own self-fulfilling prophecies - not securing the graduate role, coveted work promotion or stellar grades. What about making the light of your greatness so bright that it outshines race or gender or sexuality or religion or disability? What about focusing more on how to achieve excellence and less on whether or not you adhere to the “standard” in any given situation? It’s so easy for me to type this, I know, but it's the truth. “Therefore, be excellent”, says Jesse Jackson. So be excellent.

Oprah didn’t see her difference as a person of colour because she didn’t see the benefit to herself in doing so. Sandberg doesn't see the benefit in not seeing her own difference as a woman. I think I’m with Oprah on this one.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

13. Rose-Tinted



What's better: 

Living happily and comfortably as a result of not wanting to open your eyes to the not-so-nice, or;

Constantly dwelling on heavy topics because you reject the idea of living with rose-tinted spectacles on?

Friday, 17 January 2014

12. Lazy Nation

Yesterday afternoon, I listened in on a conversation about how a young City lawyer had recently made Partner after only a few years in practice. The reason for this, I came to understand, was that he worked all of the time. Working hours in the City are notoriously unsociable, and so I was interested to hear that this young lawyer "even worked Saturdays and Sundays... Sometimes he gives himself time off on a Sunday morning but that's about it. But he loves what he does so it makes sense [that he got his promotion]." The conversation ended with other listeners-in branding Newly-Made Partner either "sad" or "crazy".

Thursday, 16 January 2014

11. Check Yourself.

When was the last time someone said something to you which made you check yourself? Made you stop and question yourself?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

10. I Think, Therefore I Am (Wrong)*

Yesterday at work, my supervisor asked me a question to which I 100% knew the answer. Here was how I replied:

*Looks up to the right and feigns thought* "Uhh, I think it's [so and so]. *Looks back down, furrows brow, then half-nods, feigning self-assurance*

The second I had given the response above, I scolded myself in my head. Why ON EARTH did I even bother to deliver that weak mini-performance? Rather, why do I give those responses? My case is that of the 'People-Pleasing Thinker". When I was at secondary school, I remember wincing as one of my teachers delivered a glowing account of my progress in class to my parents. He asked me why I looked so disappointed and I told him it was because "nobody likes a know-it-all". This, my friend, is the number-one hang-up of The People-Pleasing Thinker.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

9. Quality over Quantity (the Emergence of Truth)

On some days, I think about the possibility that my daily churning-out of written content means that I am sacrificing quality and favouring quantity. Feedback? Comments?

Monday, 13 January 2014

8. Free Speech

"When I XXXXX to work at XXXXX in XXXXX, I XXXXX really XXXXX XXXXX. I think it was because all of the XXXXX were XXXXX - not that there's anything wrong with XXXXX XXXXX - but it perhaps XXXXX my XXXXX. I remember XXXXX on my XXXXX and noting the XXXXX XXXXX: XXXXX, XXXXX and XXXXX. I had XXXXX this, to an extent, so I wasn't sure XXXXX I XXXXX so XXXXX XXXXX by it. XXXXX was, however, XXXXX to know XXXXX XXXXX had at XXXXX a XXXXX XXXXX in similar XXXXX XXXXX had XXXXX the same XXXXX of XXXXX."

Sunday, 12 January 2014

7. The Nth Thought, Pt. I

I have labelled this post as such because, even though I have reached day 7 of my project, my current stream of thought is obviously not my "7th" since last Monday. We're thinking all the time, processing information both consciously and unconsciously all the time, reading (newspapers, books, websites, instructions, advertisements, tweets, Facebook posts and the like) all the time and - for many people - writing something, however menial, every single day.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

6. Think Tribal.



"Think tribal".

I was issued the above command prior to being shown a contemporary dance routine which, according to its choreographer, captured the main elements of this word. "Tribal".

Friday, 10 January 2014

5. First Thoughts

trepidation
onomatopoeia
distress
anarchic
Yemen
Intellect
Wisconsin
Antarctica
synopsis
Tilapia
igloo
Renminbi
echo
dramatists
samba
orchid
In trepidation
disco
entities
charismatic
ion
dark
entertainment
dither
tambourine
oxymoron
cymbals
Russia
elect
acidic
testosterone
equator
Anisminic
lychee
aqua-hydration
Zorro
Yasser
punching-bag
ostracise
Sessilee
Tarantino
offertory
frightening
transportation
Hansard
Estrogen
flapper
injections
repeat
squeals
turntables
Wyoming
oratory
rap culture
dressage
sinewy
Tamale
oxen
Cressida
ombre
manic
excellence
Tanqueray
overt
masquerade
Indianapolis
necessary
distillation
.

I may just have better luck tomorrow.



Thursday, 9 January 2014

4. Sex, Cash, and the Afridicto Disposition



...or, Why the African Parent has the Tendency to Push their Kids into the Elite Traditional Professions


I often wonder why most African parents belonging to the older generations are so keen on getting their kids (my generation) to become doctors, lawyers, bankers, dentists, engineers, accountants (or any other job title to come under this umbrella).* I have come up with a name for this type of parent:

Afridicto (n.) /ˈæf.rɪ - dɪktəʊ

1. The African parent who is of the belief that their child's career path must be determined or heavily influenced by the opinion of the parent.


(From Latin Afri: of North African descent, and dicto: to prescribe/dictate)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

3. Penelope (Stream of Ratchetness)



She stared, scrutinising her bathroom mirror twin, edging closer and wincing. This blemish deserved its own passport and driver's licence. She would call it Molly, she thought. Molly Bloom.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

2. Autopilot

Generation Y gets a lot of stick.

We're either tweeting or Instagramming too much, we're not as intelligent as our predecessors, or we've permitted our inner Droids to roam free while we kick back on autopilot. Unjust, right? Although the fact that I'm commenting on this must mean that there are hundreds and thousands of Millennials furiously typing equally dissenting content into their Macbook keyboards.

When I function on autopilot for too many days in a row, I know that things have got to change.

Here's what Austin Kleon, author of New York Times bestselling book Steal Like An Artist, has to say on the autopilot function:

'Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.'

This doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to hop on the next Eurostar train to Belgium (logistics), but I'm going to at least try to shake the flakes off the ground in my snow globe world in some other way.

That's one of the main reasons for this project. I think that everyone's greatest fear in life should be the fear of becoming stagnant. How can we grow and develop as humans if we allow ourselves to perform the same tasks, be surrounded by the same people, see the same sights, consume the same level of information on a day to day basis? We need to be shaken up, made uncomfortable, forced to flick the autopilot switch to the function labelled 'OFF' instead of 'ON'. Of course, this is much easier said than done. But all it takes is a small level of commitment and an active mindset. It's a constant, not an event. So even if nobody reads this or the 363 posts to come (but I'd be really upset if that was actually the case, guys), I know that for at least half an hour of every day I will have set myself to 'ON' and had to, you know, think about something.

Take a different route to or from work. Order a book on Amazon that you wouldn't have immediately thought to buy. Go step into that random bar or gallery or boutique that you always walk past slightly more slowly to figure out what's going on beyond the window pane. I'm going to do this too (well, all except for the Amazon one - I'm on an Amazon hiatus.)

Monday, 6 January 2014

1. 60 Days of Thought

The idea behind this project came about late last year, after becoming accustomed to the many comments from friends and readers about my lack of frequency in writing on What Jasmine Thought. (In my defence, it's pretty challenging balancing a demanding full-time job, part-time learning, extra-curriculars, a social life and a commitment to regularly produce an engaging and well-written 1,000-word opinion piece!) I wanted to write more often, but couldn't figure out how to fit it all in (read: I was being lazy).

With today being a new day (and New Year - Happy 2014!) and all, I have made the decision to stop saying ("I knowww it's been aaagess since my last article, but I've, like, been soo busy, you know? I'm definitely going to write something next week") and start doing.

I want to make this as interesting as possible both for myself and for anyone who may be reading, so I may do a mini opinion piece on the African diaspora in London one day, some creative writing on nature another day, or a few sentences on something random I've seen or heard that day. No boundaries!* (that said, have a read of one of my favourite poems, Seamus Heaney's Markings)

If there's anything in particular that you think I should cover, tweet me (@whatjazzthought), and if I do fail to live up to the above, please pull me up on it?

*within reason.