First off, I MISS YOU. I haven’t been here in ages because, sadly, mi blog es no mas (my duties as Bumble and bumble‘s copy director leave me no time to properly shake my beauty. Or anyone else’s). The other thing? I finished my fourth novel! My first adult one since The Accidental Diva! The Perfect Find comes out in April — but you can pre-order it now and I’m aching to tell you all about it!
Backstory: When I was 18, I created a life goals checklist. Be a magazine editor, publish a novel, get married, buy a beautiful apartment in a fancy New York ‘hood. By 28, I’d done it all. By 37, I’d lost it all. I found myself laid off with no job leads in my downsizing industry. Divorced as fuck. Forced to sell the home I bought with my first book advance. I moved to a building attached to an empty lot populated by feral cats and empty Hennessy bottles — and fell catastrophically ill. For years. Friends, for a Type-A perfection addict, failing in this way (and in front of people, lord) was almost an ender. But I have a little girl. You don’t get to ugly-sob into bags of Pirate’s Booty forever. You fight. I wrote.
I invented my alter ego, Jenna Jones! She’s a 40-year-old superstar fashion editor who, in one nightmare week, gets dumped by her fiancé of two decades, fired by Darling magazine, has a messy nervous breakdown, and flees to VA for two years. Finally, she begs her evil rival, Darcy Vale, for a job at her street style site. But Jenna, who worries that gifs cause strokes and has never “Twittered,” is digitally clueless and surrounded by uber-cool millennials who think she’s a dinosaur. Worse? At her first party back in NYC, she gets wasted and hooks up with a fine 22-year-old, Eric Combs, who ends up driving her nuts in all the right, but also wrong ways (especially since he has a secret identity that makes him the one person who could destroy her big comeback). Will she risk it all for amor? I can’t give everything away — but click here to read the juicy (free!) chapter when Jenna and Eric first meet
Anyway! There’s an over-the-top villain, there’s fashion, there are flawed/hilarious/weird/witty/dorky/snarky/fun black characters, just being black and excellent out in the world (imagine that) and, at the heart of it all, is a delicious, sexy, star-crossed love story. A “that orgasm almost killed me” love story. Now’s a good time to note that the amount of sex in a novel is inversely proportionate to the amount of sex the author is getting #IRL. So, there’s mad sex.
Guys, I created Jenna as therapy. As Jenna rebuilt herself, redefining what “having it all” looked like — she helped me do it, too. No, I’m not who my teen self forecasted I’d be. I’m better (besides at 18, most of my goals were derived from Pretty Woman, so…perspective). In this IG era, we all put Valencia filters on our lives to make everything looks so glamorous. But the older I get, the more I realize that the fucked-up tales of loss, and hot messes, and failure — and having the sheer badassery to overcome it all — these are the most glamorous parts of a woman. I wear them proudly. Jenna does, too. And I hope you love her story as much as I fucking adored writing it.
PS: Billie and Jay from The Accidental Diva may or may not be huge supporting characters in The Perfect Find. FYI.]]>
It’s been awhile, I know. I’ve been away for good reason — I was finishing up my latest novel (it’s done, praise Him. Now I can clean my house and wax my entire body). More on that later, though.
Guys, I woke up yesterday sparkly-eyed and happy over meeting my writing deadline, but went to bed HEATED. I was having a conversation with a person — a black person — about the Golden Globes. We were doing what we always do after award shows; dissecting the looks with a healthy blend of thoughtful criticism and high bitchery. When we got to Kerry Washington, I told the truth. Which was that I LIVE for her, but that I feel that her stylist needs to ask herself some very important questions. Like, why does she always dress that stunning woman like she’s a maiden aunt (no shade, I’m a maiden aunt) who has approximately five minutes to pull herself together before fleeing the country? I mean, her kitchen was sticking out in the back. The dress looked like a comforter. My friend recoiled in horror when I said this.
My Friend: You need to revoke your black woman card.
My Friend: You’re being the worst kind of black woman right now. We have to support each other, boost each other.
Me: Why should she be held to a different standard than Emma Stone? Why tip-toe around her just because she’s black? It implies that we’re some delicate sub-species of human that needs to be handled with kid gloves. Like we’re not on the same playing field, so we shouldn’t be judged in the same way. Kerry Washington is a fucking superstar. She looked nuts. I’m calling it out.
She had no response to this. Incidentally, I also didn’t love Lupita’s hair. Not because it was an afro, as my friend implied (she said this was a bougie response. I am bougie, but it’s unrelated). I just felt like all that hair overwhelms her itty-bitty, impeccably tiny little face. I didn’t like the robust fro for the same reason I’d hate a weave down to her ass. It’s too much hair for her! I’M NOT A NAUGHTY BLACK WOMAN. I’m a queeny armchair critic who slings equal-opportunity style judgment. Making allowances for black stars feels like saying, “Oh she’s black and a step behind anyway, so let’s all pretend not to notice the awkward length of that frock.” Please.
What do you think?
Love you mean it,
I love New York City. The hustle, the grittiness — the levels of shade that New Yorkers throw on a daily basis. However, as much as I put on for my city, I’ve never been a fan of New York winters. You know how kids fantasize about white Christmases? Yeah, NO, not me! I knew what the real deal was. All snow meant to me was that my hands and toes might potentially fall off as a result of the shoveling my mom made me do. Frostbite realness.
Aside from the frigid weather, I’ve always embraced the spirit of the holiday season. I get this warm, fuzzy feeling as soon as Halloween is over. That’s when I start lighting all my yummy candles and searching Pinterest for holiday recipe ideas (which ultimately don’t make it to the table). A huge, tis-the-season perk of being an SYB intern? I was invited to Coty’s Holiday Fragrance event — so fab. With you lovely ladies, I share my fave fragrance sets of the evening — each of which make fabulous holiday gifts:
My favorite fragrance of the night was Katy Perry’s Killer Queen Set. Still not sure if I love the bottle or the scent more, but regardless it’s everything. This festive floral was right up my ally. Invitingly light, Killer Queen still manages to be refined and powerful enough for the winter season ($21.99 for the set, which includes a perfume, body lotion and shower gel).
I tend to gravitate towards more floral fragrances, but this sensual scent was definitely worth mentioning. GUESS Seductive was different — but good different. Although musky, GUESS Seductive is still very feminine and enticing. ($29.99 for a set which includes a perfume, body cream and hair/body wash).
This one was set up next to Lady Gaga’s Fame and Beyonce’ Rise. Although I’m generally biased when it comes to anything Beyonce, I actually preferred Halle Berry’s scent, Wild Essence. The fragrance, while subtle, is quite sexy and endearing. This would be great for anyone looking to spice up their collection ($21.99 for the set, which includes a perfume, body lotion and shower gel).
I definitely had my share of sample fragrances (and cocktails) by the time the night was through, but I loved being introduced to new fragrances — not just for me, but for great gift-giving ideas. Plus, they’re all available at mass drugstores nationwide, so the prices are perfect!
I’ve just relocated from NYC to the Midwest, and I’m bummed (thankfully, it hasn’t gotten in the way of me interning for SYB!). New York gets me. I’m moody, I think every stranger who tries to speak to me is out to rob me. I huff at people standing the middle of anything — an aisle, the street, whatever. I’m always in a rush, even if I’m going nowhere. I give cab drivers instructions (even if they’re using GPS). Plus, I’m always insanely overdressed because in NYC, there’s always the threat of running into a celeb. Like, WHAT IF I SEE JAYONCE AND I’M WEARING GYM SHORTS AND OFF-BRAND UGGS?
Being in the Midwest is… different. For starters, it’s normal for strangers to engage you at six am, before your first coffee of the day. Everyone’s incredibly slow — slow walkers, slow drivers, slow service. Midwesterners are nice, patient people and I stick out like a sore thumb. Except for one thing. I haven’t seen a pair of sweat pants or college gear anywhere. It’s a total myth that the women here are backwards, style-wise. No, they’re fabulous. Target customers look like they belong on the Upper West side. Cute shoes, great coats, creamy highlights (my girlfriend explained that, since Midwesterners are aware of their frumpy rep, everyone’s into proving that they aren’t).
Not only am I inspired — I’ve been taking notes. One thing I’ve picked up on is the women at my spinning class all rock blue polish. A chic, deep, shimmering aqua blue that works on all skin tones (very Elsa’s gown in Frozen). Last week I copped my own from OPI, called ‘Teal the Cows Come Home — could there be a more on point description of Midwestern style?
Hiii! It’s been awhile, I know. Life has gotten hectic, work is insane — and somehow, half of my life has become shuttling Lina Bobina to and from dance classes. Speaking of hectic-ness, though (I do understand that “hectic-ness” isn’t a word), something sort of fabulous went down this summer that’s helped me deal with all my chaos. I got a life coach. Which sounds even weird to say, because I’m NOT self-helpy. I’m not new-agey. I’m stubborn and cynical. All of which makes it hard to deal with the ups and downs of, like, living. If you’re out here with no guiding light — things can get real confusing, real quick.
The weirdest part was that my friend, genius photographer Wyatt Gallery did the coaching. Now. I’ve known this person for a very long time. He’s like family. Would you take your play-cousin seriously if he offered to be your personal Buddha? But I’d heard rave reviews about his coaching, and I was feeling a bit spiritually lost, so with a healthy amount of skepticism, I said yes. Here’s the thing. He changed my thinking, completely. This guy didn’t give advice, didn’t try to tell me what to do — he gently asked questions that led me to the right answers, myself. He ordered my thoughts. He helped me learn how to speak with intention and manage my fear; how to liberate myself from victimhood! It was exhilarating. I would leave each call feeling motivated to break out of my creative and physical rut and better myself! I even started working out (well, I bought some outfits from Modell’s — which included a neon pink fanny pack, biker shorts and matching Nikes — and began taking brisk twenty-minute walks around my hood. Baby steps). And he ended each call asking me to name three things I was grateful for in the past week. It’s amazing how I never realized that something so obvious — gratitude — could help put your woes into perspective.
I say this to say that Wyatt is beyond talented. And now, he’s holding weekly group coaching webinars, starting on Monday! All you have to do is sign up here, and call in. Give him a try. Just make sure you’re ready to be seen in public wearing neon spandex, because it’s so going down.
Last month, Lancome invited me to go down to Memphis, to visit St. Jude Children Research Hospital (you know, the pioneering pediatric cancer facility?). A handful of editors flew down to participate in Lancome’s annual makeover event with teen patients — thanks to celeb makeup artist Mickey Williams, they all left looking like they were headed for the MTV Awards. It was truly adorable. The girls were beyond excited, and one of them — a baby Katherine Heigl whose Make a Wish was to meet Harry Styles — told me that she felt like if H.S. saw her smokey eyes, he’d have no choice but to take her to prom.
Yep, that was a good day. But the day before, when we toured the hospital, I was a mess. St. Jude pulls out all the stops to make their patients, which range from infants to early twenties, forget that they’re in a hospital, seriously ill. The decorations are plush, beyond — it’s like walking into a Lewis Carroll fantasy crossed with an amusement park. Plus, the patients (and their families) stay in the Target House, a massive apartment building decorated with such artsy-cool dopeness, the editors and I were taking notes on throw pillow placement. Well and good, but I’m a mother. I was the only mother on the trip. While many of the others were immediately able to see the beauty and courage in the kids, the triumph of the human spirt — all I saw was innocent children who might die. And I spent the day in tears.
It’s cliche, and it feels small to write, but being confronted so intimately with children facing life or death obstacles — and doing it with such grace and matter-of-fact optimism (“My medicine makes food taste throw-uppy, but whatever,” said the One Directioner. “My lashes are growing back in!”) — it gets you together real fast.
A week before the trip, I was inconsolable because my novel’s taking too long to write, and my migraines are getting worse, and LINA’S DANCE CLASSES COST $600 THIS SEMESTER. Of course, I do think suffering’s relative, and the “it could always be worse” thing feels unfair and dismissive (if you feel shitty, feel as shitty as you need to feel, and then get over it). But I left Memphis feeling grateful. Grateful that my daughter’s healthy, and grateful that children who aren’t can go to St. Jude — a place that humanizes them, while offering treatments so ground-breaking that have pushed the survival rate for childhood cancer to 80%.
St. Jude survives on charity, and this month, Lancome’s raising money with their fifth annual Genifique Day initiative — i.e., fabulous in-store makeover events all over the country (on the 24th and 25th, they’re donating $7 to the hospital for every bottle of Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Génifique Eye Light-Pearl or Génifique Yeux sold). Plus, Lancome’s asking you to IG or tweet your hands in the shape of a heart, with the hashtag #LancomeGivesBack — and the brand will make a $1 donation in your honor!
If you have a sec, my loves, please send a tweet. It’s an eensy gesture for an enormously important cause. Love you guys.
It’s Saturday night, and Tia, my beauty bestie, has dispatched me to check out a slew of new cosmetic finery at Hard Candy’s fall 2014 launch event. I feel like it’s 1996, all over again — back when Hard Candy owned us all. Back when you wouldn’t dream of going to Club Cheetah or Life (look, Leo and J. Lo in VIP!) without rocking one of their glitter shadows. But now, it’s 2014, and I’m a grown-ass person who’s rocking a tasteful lip and who has Netflix patiently paused for my arrival back home.
No matter. The 90’s are back, and so is Hard Candy. I’m still air-drying my favorite acid-washed skinnies, still incorporating at least one neon accent into most outfits, and finishing the look off with Doc Martens (and a part of me while always obsess over brace-faced Gwen Stefani and her blue bob). So this collection, packed with chrome-coated lip pencil sticks that give full-blown, moist color (no initial-layer-of chapstick needed!), ten-piece eye palettes, and vivid polishes has sent me over the edge. They’re doing what they’ve always done, what they’re the best at — which is “flirty Saturday night” meets Halloween. But this time around, they’ve incorporated also CC creams, lightweight foundation sticks and updated cream nail polishes that round out the collection something incredible.
The other huge update? The fact that the once-high-priced line is now at Walmart. So, every item is between $4 and $11. Dying. Here are my faves:
Tricia Lee, beauty maven/owner of Polish Bar Brooklyn
I’m a needy girlfriend. There, I said it. But I’m self-aware enough to know how to pick my battles. I’m all for BF having a boys night out (that lasts until 6am), as long as he agrees to coordinate our work vacation days, and also snuggle with me in front of Real Housewives of Whatever.
But recently, BF landed a job at a glam fashion house that flies him first class and throws insane parties (where Cee-Lo and Janelle Monae perform. Yep). Fab, but now his jet setting lifestyle has taken over, and I barely see him! Wah-wah. The upside? I have tons of me-time. Which I now embrace with relish.
I’ve gotten back into my single girl activities, like eating whipped cream from the can and treating wine like AdvilPM. I’ve also become obsessed with apply this terrifying-looking, goopy face mask. You know, some face masks make you feel like Liz Taylor in Cleopatra. Pampered and luxurious. Bliss’s Rubberizing Mask is…not that. It’s a grey cement paste that you mix up and apply with a spatula. It’s utilitarian. It’s ugly. It dries to a rubbery goo that you literally pull off your face.
When it’s done, it looks like your face is melting off. Like that dude in Indiana Jones. Check out the 3 stages below.
But the results? Glowy perfection! The picture on the left is after the mask. No makeup or even face lotion. Smooth, radiant, and not a pimple in sight. That’s me! DIY realness…until BF comes home.
My name is LaToya, I’m an SYB intern, and I’ve made some huge changes. I’ve started running, I’ve gone natural — but the biggest switch-up is my new job. I loved my last one (and I was good at it; promoted-twice-in-2013 good at it). It was fancy! High end, with a bit of “you can’t sit with us” snobbery. My new company? Think Old Navy Outlet during holiday. Needless to say I’m having some trouble integrating.
I’m just going to say it. My boss is unprofessional. For example, last week in a meeting, which included my colleagues and her boss, I presented my business plan. It was filled with sales goals as well as my growth plan for an associate I’m mentoring. Instead of providing feedback, she clutched her chest and exclaimed, “I just…LaToya I am shocked you are just so articulate.” That was her only statement. Yes, I am the only black manager. Yes, I am the only one she said this to.
My response was a slow blinking silence. The fact that I was wearing Avon’s Big & Daring Volume Mascara and my lashes were out to HERE made the moment even more vivid. Seriously, my colleague said I looked like a live doll. Just blinking! My job might be filled with challenges, but at least my lashes were the longest, thickest, and most lush in the room. I can live with that.
Last June, I performed in a flash mob at Lina’s elementary school. It’s a big deal, this flash mob. Like, forty moms and two dads surprise the kids on the last week of school, during morning drop-off. And since this is artsy-fartsy Brooklyn, a lot of the moms are, like, former ballerinas, or Broadway hoofers, or yoga teachers, or Cirque du Soleil-level arial-spinners…and so the choreography and performance level are taken quite seriously. I didn’t realize this, though. I showed up to the first practice feeling so smug, like, I WAS A W.T. WOODSON HIGH SCHOOL PRECISIONETTE, I WILL CRUSH THESE PEASANTS WITH MY 5-6-7-8 FIERCENESS. The truth? I could barely keep up with the choreography. There was an African dance section with an authentic percussionist (a mom who’d once been a drummer in a grunge band). A pop routine to the chorus of “Happy.” A jazz routine to “Kiss.”
I stood there, at the practice, overwhelmed and suddenly motivated to the point of madness (I told myself that I was doing this because it would’ve been terrible if Lina looked out into the crowd of dancing moms and didn’t see hers). Somebody’s husband taped the first rehearsal and put it on YouTube so we could practice, and I did…every night. I volunteered myself to be one of the five ninja-moms who kick off the flash mob, crawling over the chain length fence surrounding the school yard, and then prowling through the sea of students…while the “Flash Gordon” theme blasted from the speakers. You heard me.
The big morning came, and I was all aflutter! I’d figured out my look. Since most of my face would be covered with a ninja mask, I decided it was only right to have gleaming red lips. Like this:
I settled on Smashbox’s Be Legendary Long-Wearing Lip Lacquer in Firecracker, a geeenius hybrid of a luscious moisturizing gloss (tons of vitamin E and vanilla) and a last-forever lip stain. So, vinyl-like shine, but smudge-proof enough to stay put while I’m scaling a fence in 90 degree weather. Guys, I looked cool and my performance was everything. I felt like a spotlight was shining on me. As I was dancing, I looked into the audience a couple of times for Lina, didn’t see her, but performed my heart out anyway. Jazz hands on a thousand.
I found her in the raucous crowd afterwards, surrounded by a cluster of friends. She had a huge, confused/nervous smile frozen on her face and was practically mute with shock.
Me (so proud): DID YOU SEE MOMMY? WAS I AWESOME?
Me: DID YOU SEE ME ON THE FENCE? DID YOU SEE ME CLIMB?
Lina: Sort of. Mackenzie said it was my mommy, but I didn’t believe her at first. It was…funny. You look funny in your mask! I’m…I’m hungry.
Hungry? Hungry? This was not the reception I’d anticipated. She was a little weirded out, you guys. Legit bewildered, really (like, why the fuck is my mom shimmying SO HARD to “Roar” with my principal — whose wearing a hula skirt?). It hit me then, that we were all doing it to prove to our younger selves that we were still awesome. Who was I kidding? It was about me, not Lina. Which isn’t so bad, I just shouldn’t have expected my kindergartner to hand me a bouquet at the end of my performance. In any event, my lips were popping! Try the Smashbox, it’s revelatory. Like my dancing.