Category Archives: S.O. He Says

6 Months Later … Now What?

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IAN_0224by Weusi

In my mind … I’ve been married for a long time. I’d committed myself to Shelli long ago. I didn’t need the government, our friends, or family to validate my love. God knew my heart and my commitment. Shelli also knew I was married … in my mind. I told Shelli all the time, “You’re my wife.” Not in a creepy, over-possessive, “it puts on the lotion” kinda way. Moreso, in a voice of reassurance. Letting her know that my love is forever and that I was committed and wasn’t going anywhere.

Because of my love and commitment to her, when she let me know that a legal marriage would make her happy, I didn’t fight it. I can’t say it was a no brainer though. In my mind, I’m a little revolutionary and can be kind of anti-establishment. When I realized how happy it would make her, I knew what had to be done. Then, on December 12, 2013, I did it. I said those words … “I DO.” And no, I didn’t go the Kevin Hart route and “say it with my chest,” but, I meant it with all my heart. I wake up daily and say it to myself as a reminder. But now what? What happens after “I DO?”

When I decided that I was getting married, I sought wisdom and advice from as many people as I could. I talked to a bunch of people, both male and female, about the dynamic that marriage brings to a relationship. Many of them said that after you say “I do” and the honeymoon is over, things change. And they said that we’ve got to work on learning how to evolve and grow as individuals and together as a unit. The great thing about that is, since we’re both people with positive spirits, positive change is inevitable! AND lucky for us, we plan to live the rest of our lives in a honeymoon like bliss!*

*please do not equate the honeymoon like bliss with ignorant bliss!

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We’ll just have to wait to find out what happens as time goes on. We are 6 months in today and I’m ji like, still excited about it all! I’ll try to keep you posted on things, but y’all should let me know when you would like an update too. Until then (and forevermore), join us as we rejoice in love. And know that we are in honeymoon mode … eternally! At least in my mind!

SHiNE

(p.s. In case you were wondering, “ji like”is not a typo, it is slang for “jive like,” which is DC’centeric slang for “kind of like.”

AND … I’m sorry if you are getting tired of them but … I will continue to write pieces about and use pictures from our wedding … FOREVER! I LOVE SHOWING OFF OUR LOVE!

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CLAIMING SPACE: The Man Cave

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IAN_0224by Weusi

I looked back and saw that my first post of 2013 was about claiming space in the madness of a product junky’s bathroom. As we are almost half of the way through the year, and I review my vision and plan for 2014, I think there is a need for another Claiming Space post. This time, it’s about what is called …

“MAN CAVE” noun: humorous 1. a room or other part of a home regarded as a refuge for the man or men of a household.

It’s important that your home feels and looks like a space that you would want to live, BUT if a Man lives with a S.O. (Significant Other), then they know rule #1 is … Keep them Happy to Keep a Happy Home! This may mean that at any given time, when you look around, you may not realize that you even live in a space. This is, in part, due to the FACT that discussion about aesthetic conflicts are more than likely tabled (or trashed) because there will undoubtedly be “more important things to discuss.” Anyway … earlier this year, I visited a friend and he had a new man cave. The wall behind his comfy couch said, “Life is Beautiful.” Some of his other friends thought that this was a little too “soft” in the midst of the lounge chairs, flat screen, and booming bass heavy sound system. But, it made sense to me. It was the man cave of a married man. He’s a happily married man, and little touches like that remind you that there are other things in life that make you happy besides food, drinks, music, and sports. And this is important to remember in the midst of testosterone-filled man cave interactions.

There are a few simple reasons why having a man cave is a goal for me in upcoming months …

1. Solitude: I love Shelli’s smile and sometimes we man cave dwellers need to get away and find a place of comfort and inspiration … without distractions. You know how easily we can be distracted! And sometimes … you just want us to get out of your way!

2. Library: Real men read. ‘Nuff said! stacks of books 3. History: I think of a Man Cave as one of the places that will one day be a historic landmark. “The Office of Weusi Baraka.” “Weusi Baraka Slept Here.” The Man Cave is a museum space. It speaks to your interests, personality, and where the Smithsonian will come to collect archival pieces of one’s history. I want to be able to define how I will be remembered. I want a role in writing my history (see the Kwanzaa principle of Kujichagulia: self-determination).

My dream man cave is part office, part library, part music studio, and part creative laboratory. This sounds fancy, but in its simplest manifestation, this just means it’s a space that has a desk with a computer, pens and paper (I have my analog moments), books, speakers/good headphones, some space to pace and either a dry erase board or a chalkboard. A TV would be cool, but it can be a hindrance. Although a bar would be mandatory for most, there isn’t really a NEED for a bar or furniture because I don’t do well with entertaining, nor do I really enjoy it. I know to some this sounds weird, but I like to be alone at home. I’m kind of an oxymoronic social recluse?!?

I share all this with you because it is important that you know that when you share space with Significant Others and agree to a Man Cave, it’s not because we’re trying to avoid you … It’s because we love you so much that when we share space with you, you easily steal our focus. Sometimes we need to excuse ourselves from the presence of your spellbinding beauty so that we can get things in perspective. A smile is a helluva thing! Ok … and yes … sometimes, we do want to just get away and/or refuel our superpowers. We’re not asking for a Batcave! We just want a spot to go read, play a video game, and/or maybe watch a sport’s game!

BatmanArkhamAsylum_batcave pic(You know he’s reading an e-book in this picture right!?!)

SO … ask me about how my Man Cave planning is going in September!

Oh, and when I say I like to be alone … I mean alone … with Shelli! (We’re still honeymooning newlyweds … what do you expect?) IAN_0357

SHiNE

 

The Real Thing: Dieci Uomo Salon for Men

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17MihalikDieciUomoExt_1363by Weusi

NY’s “fake it til’ you make it” mentality has spread like a virus all the way through my beloved NJ. Now, in NJ’s everyday culture, there are a lot of things that I would call flashy, overkill, extreme, or extravagant. Cars, hairstyles, accessories, celebrations, parties, relationships, explanations, restaurants, etc. So, when Shelli forwarded me an email about this new “upscale salon catering to men” in Livingston, NJ, that also claimed to be environmentally conscious, I was skeptical. After a few e-mails, I set up a tour and an interview with a manager. They are kind enough to fit me in for a manicure too. The day arrives. I try to stay in journalist mode. I’ve done a little research on the owners and their other spot, but I’m still a little worried because part of the magic of the internet is that it can make any place and everyone look good. I pull up and it looks just like the picture. The building stands out among its surroundings but with its clean lines it looks  … square. I take a lap around the back of the building before I park. I don’t see any AC units. Why is this important? Because they promote a space for a rooftop lounge. If they put some patio furniture next to the massive, noisy AC units … that’s not a lounge … it’s just patio furniture on the roof! So now, I’m super suspect. But then I walk in … I’m impressed. The place is clean. Not just regular clean. This spot is like fresh out the box clean. And instead of the loud frantic energy that accompanies many men’s salons, there is a masculine serenity about the space. The clean design of the outside matches the modernist design of the space. The subtle mix of line and curve in the furnishing combined with cool, interactive colors make the glow of the sunshine the first “Welcome” as you enter. Then, I was greeted with what felt like a sincere, “Hello, how can we help you,” accompanied with an honest smile. I lowered my wall.

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One of the hostesses took my jacket and offered a beverage (coffee, expresso, tea, water … or wine). Another introduced me to Maria. Maria was my manicurist. Now, I like manicures. I can be kinda critical about them. I’ve had a few. Maybe more than a few. Some good. Some average. An occasional great one. As I’m soaking my cuticles, I strike up some conversation and find out that Maria has been doing manicures for 8 years and us obviously a professional. She pulls out the freshly sterilized gear and then … then she proceeds to give me the best manicure that I’ve ever had. Now, I’ve had manicures in 9 different states and overseas … so what made this one so good? There was no mental or physical discomfort. She not only took the time to look at my hands, view the shape of my fingers and nails, but she also invested a few seconds to touch them before she started and it made a difference. Then, after the manicure, the exfoliating hand massage was exceptional. It wasn’t just rubbing my hands and forearm with some goop. It was a real massage. I watched her eyes as she focused on my hands and responded accordingly to my points of tension. Not only did she really know what she was doing, she was invested in making my experience a pleasurable one. AND … she didn’t ask me if I wanted some damn clear polish! Over the next week, I found myself looking at my hands. They looked and felt great!

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After the manicure, the owner Paul Gaglioti was kind enough to give me a tour of the space. He explains to me that he started sweeping up salons at 19. Now, 4 decades later, with Dieci Uomo, he and his partner (his wife Marie), have jumped ahead of the trend to create an incredible space for gentleman to reward themselves.

Photo of Marie and Paul Scratch Surface 2009

The world class salon has a spa on site, with semi-private manicure rooms and private pedicure and waxing rooms. Their state of the art massage rooms house independently controlled sound systems to customize your experience on the upper level. Also on this level is the “Outdoor Lounge.” Paul and I walk outside and stroll past a few guys kicked back on lounge chairs, sipping on some scotch while they enjoy the day’s mild weather. He opens a discrete door and shows me the AC units that I was looking for earlier. Now I get it. Not only are they hidden behind 4 walls, but he explains that the space which houses them is designed to isolate and disperse the noise created by the whirling units, so as not to disrupt patrons’ lounge experience. With plans to add a full bar, (possibly a humidor?), as well as additional seating and shading, I’ll definitely be back to partake in the rooftop festivities! *(They are starting weekly events on the rooftop as the weather gets nice!)

diecouomorooftop

Oh, and the environmental aspect of the building isn’t a vanity item. This is the real thing! The intent to create a clean look and parallel it with a clean building was successful. A LEED energy certification makes this more than official. This may be the only LEED certified men’s salon in the state. A variety of high tech components infused within its infrastructure that assist with water circulation and energy efficiency truly enhance the experience. In addition to the recycled materials used in the buildings structure, low tech components such as super fresh sinks created from cement and broken bottles are one of the many highlights of the space. My green side got really geeky in our interview and I have a bunch of info about it, but you can check out their Environmental Commitment Brochure here. The other component that makes a man spa experience special is the hospitality of the staff. As we spoke, Paul made it clear that the Dieci Uomo experience was far superior to having a haircut in a swanky salon with a few big screens and staff dressed like waitress from Hooters. There were some big screens, and there were both make and female staff members. Paul stated that he considers his employees his professional family. He hires staff that are committed to the work of serving people, not just stylist, technicians or masseuse that are looking for a gig. He has been determined to create a team who is interested in learning how to best serve others. They are educated locally and internationally on the latest techniques and technology in hair and spa services. What I find interesting is that even with the international diversity in the staffing that mirrors the United Nations, there is still a very old school Jersey feel to the place. No … not Tony Soprano gangster like Jersey. More mom and pops store, show respect to everyone, speak to your neighbors not only because you know them but also because you know that their being safe means you and yours are safe too! Tactfulness, professional knowledge, a sense of community, progressive visioning, environmental consciousness and great customer service …  this leads to a spa treatment that I am sure is amazing. Yes … This is really the real thing. SO … if you live near Livingston, NJ and have a Significant Other that would appreciate the comforts of a spa experience … Or a man in your life that deserves a little something special … or are a dude that gets tired of the regular barbershop experience and wants a nice spot to get a fresh cut or shave  … OR are a groom that wants a spot to get all your dudes together and get fresh & clean for your wedding … check it out! I’m going back in about a week to get a cut and a shave! (*They also have these 6 and 12 month membership program that allow for UNLIMITED haircuts, express manicures, shoe shines and discounts on retail products! They have an entire line of men’s grooming products that I will expound upon in another post!) I’m reminded that sometimes there is a thin line between something that is cool and something that catches your eye because of a flashy presentation. Oftentimes the difference is intent. The Gaglioti’s have matched intent with both form and function. Dieci Uomo is the real thing, a full service salon and spa designed for men. It really is a cool spot! Swing by to check it out … or set up an appointment …

www.DieciUomo.com

48 West Northfield Rd
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 535-1400
info@dieciuomo.com

or their sister spa (Shelli said that it’s really nice!)

www.DieciSpa.com

90 West Mt. Pleasant Ave
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 716-0101
info@diecispa.com

So, yeah … in the end, Dieci Uomo (and New Jersey) restored my hope in the goodness, honesty, and beauty of people wanting to help other people. I walked out feeling so good that I forgot my coat! So, I went back in and grabbed my jacket, then headed to the car. As I walked, I thought … “Yeah, I’ll be back.” But wait, there’s more …  AND … because this is my new favorite song … and it matches the sharing and giving sentiment of this post … straight from the Muppets Most Wanted

I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu) by Brett McKenzie

 *yes … Even Kermit knows what natural  hair lovers want … at 1:20 he says “You want a satin pillow? I’ll give it to you!”

  SHiNE,

Weusi

Shine Shantrelle!

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181922_1847487628641_4791108_nby Weusi

I woke up Sunday morning to work on a post, but checked my personal Facebook page first. I’ll get to the other post at a later date. But first, I wanted to share this post from my sister Shantrelle Patrice Lewis (@APshantology) who, as a curator of national and international art exhibits, is viewed as a defining voice for Black culture.  It kinda moved me, so I wanted to share it with you.

Focused on the Positive

I will do most anything to avoid catching the bus in Philadelphia for multiple reasons. Pretty much hate it actually but had no choice today. An elder gentleman sits next to me and says “that purse is genuine leather isn’t it?” I tell him yes and say that I got it in Egypt. His eyes opened wide and he said “wow! What was that like?! They say traveling broadens your mind.” I replied that it absolutely does and that I’ve been all over – Nigeria, Ghana, Brasil…” He said, ” you’ve been to the motherland?! That’s incredible! That’s my one wish before I die, to go the motherland.” He then tells me that he’s originally from South Carolina and that he traced his family back to Mali. We got off the bus and I asked if I could take his picture.

shantrelle's philly elderMr. Columbus, Germantown, Philadelphia ca. 2014.

I then told him that I was on my way to [the] UN office in Geneva. He says “You’re going over to do what Malcolm did?! And tell them about what our people have been through?” I paused and said, “yes, I will do my best.” I almost forgot about Brother Malcolm’s appeal. In the presence of my elders I’m always reminded of the path that I travel. He goes on to tell me to keep up the good work and that he liked my hair. It looks strong and healthy and I didn’t have all of those chemicals in my head. Blessed. And Focused.
shantrelle big hair
There is no doubt in my mind that Shantrelle will represent Malcolm, Black people, our angels and ancestors, Mr. Columbus, and the natural hair community and its supporters proudly!
shantrelle to geneva
Do what you do …
Shine Shantrelle! 

News Anchor Reveals Natural Hair

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newsanchorby Weusi

This is a salute to natural hair and to the strength of the human spirit. A quick reminder that being natural isn’t just about vanity for everyone, but it is a gift for those who choose to embrace it!

Please check out this 4 minute story …

SHiNE

Thank You … See You in 2014 …

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IAN_0355by Weusi

I have at least 5 notes and/or drafts of post to share with you all on the wedding and honeymoon and about life in general. The outpouring of love and support for Shelli/Hairscapades and our marriage has been beautiful and inspiring. Honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming. So let me simply say this to you all … THANK YOU.

Holler at you in 2014!

SHiNE,
Weusi

To Tiana …

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tiana_parkerby Weusi

Some of you have heard about the young lady that transferred schools because her locs became an issue at her prior school.

Honestly, after hearing about the story, my testosterone kicked in. I wanted to challenge the school’s board and their views of what an acceptable hairstyle is. I got into the language of the school’s policy. I wanted to reach out and dap up Tiana’s father for protecting his daughter. I wanted to start a conversation that would make people uncomfortable and agitate change. Then it hit me. What can I do for Tiana?

Then, like a ray of light, comes Dr. Yaba Blay …

A Care Package for Tiana: Locs of Love

A digital book for Tiana, with messages and pictures from dozens of sisters affirming the beauty, strength and wisdom of her natural hair.

A_Care_Package_for_Tiana(Give it a few secs to load after clicking the image.)

Check out the homie, Dr. Yaba Blay, she’s at the top of her game!

SALUTE TO YOU ALL!

SHiNE!

The Doc Didn’t Want His Wife to Be Natural

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by Weusi

As you may, or may not, know there is a growing trend to hear the voices of brothers that are involved with sisters with natural hair. I kinda dig that. An interest in our perspective is cool and empowering for us as men in many ways. Yes, our club is growing!

I am just being hipped to this article by Dr. Corey Guyton, of Durham, NC (thank you Toussaint). I know the title is deceptive, but he’s really on your side. Not only is this brother a reformed “NatHaHa” or “NHH” (Natural Hair Hater … can we add this to the Lexicon?), he has a FREE e-book, Supporting Your Queen on Her Journey of Returning to Being Naturalto help guys who might need advice on supporting natural sisters. YES … FREE!

Here he speaks on a few of the reasons some S.O.’s are resistant to embracing natural hair.

The Reasons I Did Not Want My Wife to Be Natural

by DR. COREY GUYTON

When I met my wife, she was everything I wanted in a woman. She was educated, Black, took great care of herself, and had long flowy hair. As a youngster, I was always encouraged by older men, my peers, and even some women to find a woman who had “good hair.” Equipped with this advice, my wife’s hair was the icing on the cake to complement her other wonderful qualities.

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After dating for a while, my world got turned upside down as my wife uttered these dreadful words … ”I am thinking about going natural”. At this point I thought, what is a man to do when his wife is thinking about getting rid of the icing on the cake? Now, I had seen tons of women who were natural and I admired their look (one of those women being my mother), but for some reason I did not feel natural was for my woman.

As the days went by, I progressively started researching as much as I could about the entire natural process to figure out what in the heck my wife was about to do to herself. As I learned more and more about the process, my mind started playing tricks on me. The questions in my mind began to transform from being about why my wife would want to be natural to why did I want to keep her from being natural. This is the point I started evaluating myself instead of my wife.

So the million dollar question is why did I want to keep my wife from embracing her natural hair?

Insecure

The truth is that I was insecure. I was insecure in the fact that my wife had to cut her hair. I was insecure in the fact that she would have a TWA (Tiny Weeny Afro).  And I was insecure in the fact that she could possibly look different. The underlying issue was that I was not comfortable in my own manhood, because subconsciously, I felt I would be less of a man if my wife did not have long flowy hair. It was not about her, it was about me and my insecurities.

Blinded

I was blinded by so many things including Eurocentric values, the media, and my own people.

Growing up in a country where the standards are based on Eurocentric values, I fell into the trap of thinking that my definition of beauty was supposed to be the same as their definition of beauty. This false sense of understanding lead to me having the spirit of oppression towards my beautiful Black sistas, including my wife. Sadly, I tried to place those Eurocentric values on my Afrocentric queens.

I was also blinded by the numerous images of “beauty” that were portrayed in the media. Anytime I would see a Black woman who was in movies, music videos, pageants, or on any day time television, she had long flowy hair. This played into my psyche and caused me to think that these women were the definition of beauty.

Finally, I was blinded by my own people (including myself) who constantly displayed self-hate. The men constantly spoke about how women with short hair or non-straight hair were nappy headed and sistas put tons of weave in their head for the purposes of “increasing their beauty”. We created the thought that we were not beautiful the way God created us.

The Reality

I am blessed to have a wife who challenged me by not giving in to my insecurities. Her journey of rediscovering herself was a pivotal point in my life because I also discovered myself through the process. I broke free of oppression and am now one of the biggest advocates for my beautiful sistas returning to their natural roots. Since the blinders are off, I would not want my wife to be any way other than natural.

Moral of the article is brothers support our beautiful natural queens and sistas embrace your natural beauty!

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Thanks Dr Guyot … please check him out at www.TheGenuineScholar.com

and click here to see how his wife responded!

BULL CITY … NCCU … HORNS UP

THAT’S ALL.

SHiNE

Look Who’s on TransitioningMovement.com Now!!

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That’s right!! It’s Weusi’s turn!! LOL!! When Carol’s Daughter was seeking pitches for TransitioningMovement.com, they were interested in male perspectives too. So, of course I had to put Wei on it!! Now … see, what had happened was … he wrote this post for me last summer … and I just never got around to editing it for the blog!! #boohiss. LOL!! But now it finally gets to see the light of day!! Read the full article here: My Hair Cut by a Natural Hair Stylist. Hope that you guys will check it out and comment ;)!!!

Summer Sexy 2013

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by Weusi

HELLO SUMMER 2013!

I am really excited that summer is here.

I LOVE the summer. I love it when it’s hot. Some of you may remember my post from around this time last year when I talked about ways to beat the heat.

While I know that you are really looking for protective styles, you need to go here to find that info.

This is the S.O. corner … and I didn’t really expound upon much in the other post, but I feel like now is the time …

There is a misconception that naked women are sexy to men. Naked women are sexy to boys. Men recognize that a woman can make almost anything sexy! On this note … I would like tell you a few things that I think are SUMMER SEXY.

SO … in no particular order … (but in one sexy package)

Sun Dresses, Shoulder Blades, Ankle Bones, Nice Hands and Feet, Shoulders, Legs, Collar Bones

Jada-Pinkett-Smith legs

and my favorite,

AUTHENTIC SMILES

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Independently, these things aren’t necessarily  considered SUMMER SEXY. The key is to figure out how to make it look kinda natural … but special at the same time. I refer to it as the, “made you look” style, but not the “Look at me … LOOK AT ME!” style. You know what I mean here. It’s like the difference between … say … Niki Minaj’s “look at me” style versus the “I know you see me” style of Janelle Monae … or Kanye v. Common … Rick Ross v. Heavy D … Diddy v. Jay Z …  Donald Trump v. Russell Simmons … you get the point.

Just be you … know yourself enough to know what you are comfortable with rocking … when you do you and shine your light for the world to see, it’s SO much more attractive than someone who flaunts their assets … but it’s still ok to be different. so yeah, this summer, do what you do …

And ok … some women are sexy naked … like … Taraji posing in an anti fur ad. Part of the reason she’s sexy is that the nudity isn’t really about her. BUT … a larger part is because she’s just a cutie that’s naked! That was the kid coming out in the man! (I’ll explain the multiple personality traits most dudes try to balance in a future post!)

OH … and since we are talking about celebrating your inner and outer beauty … I’m gonna hit you with this …

Treasure by Bruno Mars

(This is the live version from The Voice finale)

AND …

because y’all were basically threatening me on here and on Facebook a few weeks ago … I figured that I’d be wise to slide this quick dedication to my ONLY ONE, Shelli.

Only One by PJ Morton

(Stevie Wonder is featured on the harmonica solo.) 

Don’t let of him being on Lil Wayne’s label, Young Money, scare you. This is one for the family cookout … HHMMMM, it might even be good at a wedding reception!

SHiNE