The Motley News


Do you ever feel, you know, not so feminine?

I worked at the bookstore today, wearing my alma mater’s sweat shirt, blue jeans and no make up. If anyone had a problem with it, I was prepared to tell them where they could put their complaint. When I wake up at seven o’clock to walk to a job where I lift boxes of books, ring up books, and dump the boxes that once held books into dumpsters . . . I suppose I have no desire to look cute.

But alas, you know that saying: “If you look good, you feel good.” I knew I looked like a bum and so I feel like my mood reflected it. I felt a little sullen and unattractive. Is there truth to that adage? Will looking pretty increase my productivity? In some weird depressing way, it might.

Tonight is going to be a night I will dedicate to self-pampering. I have a set of curl formers and spiral rods that I finally want to try. It’s possible that I might want to document the process for all of you. I might paint my nails some winter color like merlot. I might drink a glass of whiskey too.

There might be something to this self-beautification that women need in order to feel their best. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in this, but I am conscious of the fact that I ask Noah: “I know we’re about to go out, but you don’t mind if I look like a bum do you?” Of course, he never minds, but later, I’m the one who feels like they didn’t try hard enough that day.

Tomorrow is always a new day, right? If I’m discovered by a modeling agency at the ripe age of 27, I’ll owe it all to tonight’s self-beautification project. Ta-ta!


On Being the Other

When I was in Thailand, I was met with a lot interesting stares from children. They hid behind their mother’s skirts and looked at me like I was the first black person they’d ever seen. I’m sure it was true.

They probably didn’t run into very many women who looked like me. I was tall, verging on hulking. I was dark skinned compared to them and I wore interesting western clothing. I dug that. I even thought it was amusing.

But here in the states, specifically Normal, IL, when I see children who act like the Thai. . . I am a little disturbed.

Today in the Coffeehouse, I drank tea with my friend Evan when a family of three small white girls sat down near to us. Evan gestured at one of the little girls saying, “I think she likes your head wrap.”

I looked over to see one of the little blonde girls staring at me, unabashedly. She finally waved and gave me a smile. I waved and smiled back, but felt odd about it. Her parents ignored us completely and that’s how their lunch continued. The little girl staring at me, unable to eat or go about her business and her parents pretending that wasn’t happening.

I felt like “the other.” And I suppose that’s what you have to deal with when you’re in a small Illinois town looking the way I do.What with my “flamboyant” and clearly “ethnic” head wrap. What felt normal to me, was completely out of the norm to others and it reminded me of what it felt like not to assimilate into popular culture.

What do you do?

You just deal with it, I guess. You pretend to go back to what you were doing, forcing the stares out of your consciousness. Or you snap on little kids and go: “WHAT?”

I see how difficult it is for women to go natural. It’s a lot work to carry your head upward and proudly, ignoring all response to your look. It’s much easier to assimilate, to go along to get along. I must admit, there are days that I leave the house wondering: “Is this too much?” And by too much, I mean too ethnic.

For those who straighten their hair or take out their piercings or wear longs sleeves over their tattoos, I understand why you do it. I don’t malign you at all. Just know that you are more than welcome to take a break from being “the other” and tomorrow you can go back to doing your thing. It’s our prerogative to be ourselves, isn’t it?

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I’m Writing a Book!

Hey amigas! I’ve decided to write a book! I have been wanting to write a book for as long as I remember, but have never gotten around to it. I’ve been talking about writing “creatively” to my friends and husband for some time, but just haven’t begun. Today I got to thinking: “What am I waiting for?” My husband got me a beautiful journal for Christmas and I feel it was an omen for me to begin writing. I don’t know what the book will be about yet, I have so many ideas. First I am going to brainstorm for about a week and then I am just going to START WRITING. I’m just going to let it flow and worry about corrections and improvements later. I am sooo excited about this!

What dreams do you have that await fulfillment?



Weekend In Photos

I hope that everyone enjoyed the holiday! My family did some traveling in the last three days: 1 night in Springfield to visit my family, 2 nights in Green Bay, WI, an afternoon in Chicago, and we’re HOME! I got my husband a ticket to the Packers/Bears football game for Christmas night hence our stay in Wisconsin. We’ve had a lovely time for the last few days!


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Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes I feel like this young man
While we were waiting on our chicken gyros at Pita-Sub yesterday, I was telling Noah about my day when I felt his eyes wandering up to my hair. Without a word, he quickly grabbed a napkin and got up from the table. He plucked something from my afro and threw it in a nearby trashcan. He looked as if he had averted a minor crisis. “You don’t want to know what that was,” he said as he sat down.
I didn’t. 
I appreciate it when my husband removes stowaway insects from my hair. When I find them, it is a minor crisis. I thought about it and realized that strangers and friends alike are usually quick to extract things from my hair. It’s usually noticeable leaves, flower petals or in the case of yesterday. . . errant critters. 
When we were spending the weekend in  Atlanta, GA, Noah and I were sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe when a gentleman passed by. He took one look at my full-on-fro and said, “Let me get this for you.” He pulled a flower from my hair with the grace of a birthday party magician. “There you go.”
What could I say aside from thank you?
That’s just one of many experiences I had where people have behaved like our chimp cousins, grooming without hesitation, as if there is nothing unusual picking through a stranger’s hair to retrieve debris. I thank them all. Without them, I walk around with unintentional hair accessories. 
With hair that’s a foot away from my scalp, I never know what’s going on without looking in a mirror. I don’t have the time to examine my hair in a mirror every minute of the day, so it’s nice to have a community who’s diligent about keeping me fly.
My many thanks to you, The Pickers.

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Conditioned Dreams


I wake up to a glorious morning with birds that are chirping cartoonishly. I’m wearing a beautiful flowing night gown that isn’t hot or itchy and my face is already impeccably made up, not the usual crusted mascara bits that are stuck in the wrinkles of my undereye. No, it’s a beautiful morning, nothing less than perfection.

As I float to the bathroom I’m greeted by woodland creatures that talk and have made themselves useful by making my morning tea. “One bag of peppermint tea or two?” I ask a smiling deer. “Two!” he exclaims with enthusiasm that only a cartoon deer can muster. I take my tea and throw open the bathroom door to find it much bigger than the six sq ft that I’m used to and without bras scattered on the floor.

Along the walls are shelves of every imaginable organic and expensive conditioner known to man. Aubrey Organics, Aveda, Yes to Carrots; you name it, it’s there perfectly stocked and polished.

“My word,” I whisper softly. “How did this happen?”
My husband appears in the bathroom doorway and says in a faraway voice reminiscent of the nanny from The Omen, “It’s all for you, babe. It’s all for you.”

I give him a quick peck on the cheek and slam the door on him. I then dance around bathroom, twirling about with arms reaching upward, head thrown back laughing. What a blessed morning.

Which one do I try first? Should I give myself a deep conditioner with Miss Jessie’s Super Sweetback Treatment or should I get a couple of the cartoon racoons to do it for me? After all, they have such agile fingers. 

Conditioners in the air, conditioners in my hair, Conditioners everywhere. Conditioners, conditioners, conditioners. . .

“Babe?” My world begins to crumble. . . “Babe?” I feel a strong hand on my shoulder as I frantically grab all the Giovanni Leave-In I can. No! Not now! “Babe, I gotta get going.”

I roll over in bed to see my husband fully dressed for work; waking me up to kiss me goodbye. There are crumbly bits of mascara stuck in my eyes. “Love you, babe,” I murmur to him. Blurgh. Gotta get up and feed our rabbit who is not trained to make tea.


Tea Parties, Beer Runs and the Return of Henna

After Noah and I did our laundry, we wanted to try a world tea shop to see if we could find a new steady source of tea. It’s all Noah drinks aside from Americanos and I love a good hot cup of tea in the morning if it’s available.

The place we stopped inside promised some interesting things to choose from, pu-erh tea, oolong, red, and sencha. The guy who owned the place seemed a little out of place though. He didn’t seem like the chill old man that I assumed would sell tea. Instead he was a conservative republican who didn’t believe free-trade tea existed.

When I asked him if any of his tea was free-trade, he sighed and rolled his eyes. “Free trade tea doesn’t exist (little girl)” he didn’t say that last part but he might as well have, cause I felt 12 years old again.

“Here’s a map of tea estates in India,” I looked at the map. He proceeded to tell me in so many words that the people over there are fine and exploitation wasn’t something to worry about. “In China, all of this stuff is subsidized by the government and they set the prices. No one’s gonna try ato tell the Chinese how to set their prices.” He said a few more things about China, about how we’re not to trust in anything they tell us. . .

Noah was on his way out the door, taking his Communist leanings with him, but I was persistent. I wanted him to tell more about his teas. He was quite knowledgeable, especially about his Japaneses teas, but he slipped up again. “They’ve got those fancy tea ceremonies in Japan, not much to them. I’ve been to one and I don’t think I’ll back. Kinda boring really.”

Our field trip to the tea shop ended with the owner telling us what a bang-up job Scott Walker was doing in Wisconsin and how those ideas need to be implemented here in Toledo. This was, of course, before Noah told him that he was an English professor. Sigh. That’s one less place to spend our money.

Our beverage excursion wasn’t totally in vain, we did find a package store that sells a Thai beer I haven’t been able to find here in the states.

Chang Beer was almost all I drank in Bangkok and I’ve been longing for it since. I don’t think the owner of that store completely understood how amazing this find was. I was on the verge of tears because of this beer while he quietly rang it up. Noah and I expect to return to this hidden gem in the future.

Our last stop of the day was at a local coffee shop called Biggby Coffee, where I got back to using my henna. It’s been sitting in a suitcase going stale. After a few goes with it, I managed to get out a proper design. I’ve gotten a little rusty with my craft, but I think by the time we finally settle down, I’m going to seek out an Indian grocery and stock up again. Like most skills, if you don’t practice often, you can get real rusty. Here’s what I came up with though:


Spending Time with Me

After a lovely night’s sleep, I woke up to Noah telling me he was off to the office. It must have been before 8 am, an ungodly hour for me these days. That’s what happens when you don’t have structure in your life. I didn’t get out of bed until 10:30 because it was my prerogative.

Breakfast consisted of a bowl of this cereal with almond milk and a few chunks of cantaloup. It’s probably the best breakfast I’ve fed myself since our transition to Ohio. I deserved to feel this great.

 While I munch on my flax, I finished the second season of True Blood that we rented at Family Video. Did I tell you that Family Video is only a block away from our apartment? It’s been a major help to us considering we don’t have cable yet.

I took an extremely long earth killing shower and co-washed my twists that are managing to stay together. I dressed myself like a bum, didn’t put on make up and headed outside to the back stoop to smoke two cigarettes. I know this totally cancels out the awesome breakfast I had, but I’m working slowly towards a healthy lifestyle. Real slowly.

While I was out there, I thought about what I wanted to do with myself for the rest of the day. The sun was hidden by clouds and it wasn’t too hot. I decided I would walk off my two cigarettes and head downtown. On this nice long walk, I listened to my walking playlist and a few other songs. It was wonderful to get the exercise of walking on safe sidewalks, a luxury I didn’t have in Georgia.

I stopped here at Chandlers Coffee:

I had an Americano, black. And another cigarette.

I sat down and cherished the alone time. Whenever I go out, it’s usually Noah and Me time. Today it’s been Me time only. It’s easy to take Me time when you don’t have children climbing all over you, my mother told me when I was younger. She’s most likely correct about that, if not a little tactless.

In this time, I got to think about my goals, ask myself questions and get completely narcissistic.

What doesn’t Charish want to listen to? 
She wants to hear some Led Zeppelin
What websites does Charish want to visist?
She wants to read the news on
What does Charish want to read?
All of the books she brought with her on her journey, including this one:

While sipping on my Americano, I overhead two elderly women softly debating who would be paying for who’s coffee. One was relentless: “I’m treating you!” The other’s rebuttal was “I’m treating you because you drove!” It was sweet but it suddenly made me a little sad. Just as I was getting used to the idea of Charish Time, I suddenly missed my friends. I wondered what Evelyn was doing? Was she playing with the baby? Making pumpkin bread and getting ready to ship it to me? (hint hint) I also missed my girlfriends in Georgia. Were they teaching classes right about now? Running errands?

Sigh. Solitude is nice. . . for a while. It centers you and makes you more conscious of your place in the universe. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing my husband when he leaves the college. I want to ask him how Noah Time went. Did he get what he needed accomplished? Did he learned anything interesting about the world? Did he enjoy his solace?

Like most dichotomies in the world, solace can’t be enjoyed without being amongst the crowd first and the opposite is equally true.

Well, what do you know? Noah’s walking through the cafe right now. I think I will catch up with him. . .

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We’re HERE!!

Noah and I drove 15 hours from Georgia to Ohio, yesterday and we’re both dead tired. We still have work to do and many more miles to get settled. Turning off utilities, setting them up. Moving our stuff from the truck to a storage space (because our apartment won’t actually be ready til the first week of August!).

I have a job interview with Noah’s college for a Admin Assistant position. Yes, that’s right, your girl hasn’t had a “job” since April and it was working at a pub. But I’m very ready to use my skill and intellect in a better environment.

I’m also going to scope the location and hopefully meet up with the people of the Natural Hair and Beauty Expo. Hey! If you’re in the area and you don’t mind spending $10, come visit with us. Evelyn and I will, of course, be there. Okay guys, I gotta go move my furniture to storage. . .

-xxx charish


Moving to Ohio!

So I should tell you all why I’m very slow to post these days. Ev has been great enough to fill in the gaps with some great new information. (Please sign up for The Science of Black Hair drawing, this looks like a must read!) But Ev is aware that I’m under a little stress right now because my husband and I (and the rabbit) are moving to Toledo, Ohio!

Noah and I are excited for his new opportunity to teach back in the Midwest. We miss the area very much and have had our fill of the American South. We will get back to fall weather, lower cost of living, and Meijer Grocery stores! We’re moving everything near the end of July, but I will be headed to Illinois to see family and friends before then. So be on the look out for a reunion blog featuring Evelyn and myself finally getting a chance to hang out again!

The bogus thing about moving is the packing, of course. Here’s what my bathroom looks like with all of my hair products!

Anybody wanna help me out?