A creative recovery

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Like many, I've been in a post-election hole. Alternating between being depressed, angry, physically ill, scared and numb, I am not ashamed to say I spent much of the last two weeks (has it really only been two weeks?!)  curled in a ball under my bed covers.

Avoiding all news and most of social media is the only way I can stay sane and productive right now.

But last week I was out and about 4 days in a row. A friend's book signing at one of my favorite bookstores helped me reconnect with friends and commiserate a little. A natural hair event held at a ladies-only co-working space boosted me with some much-needed black girl magic. Buying lipstick in a seriously out-of-character shade of neon pink lifted my spirits and made Andy laugh.

I also decided to resurrect my online store. Making things and being creative calms and grounds me when I feel like I'm losing my shit. So, just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season, check out THE SHOP.

It doesn't have a ton in it right now but my sketchbook is bursting with bits and pieces of ideas. Coffee mugs, watercolor art, notebooks, more stationery and baby name prints are in development. And I'm taking suggestions. If there is something you want to see in the shop, please get in touch and we can start the conversation.

The Shop is launching today but be sure to check back during the first week of December for new items.

This should keep me busy  -- and pleasantly distracted -- at least until inauguration day.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Gutted. That is how I feel in the last hours of the 2016 election.

As a black person. As a woman. As a mother trying to raise a compassionate child. I am so thoroughly hurt by this election that my body doesn’t know how to respond to the psychological trauma. My stomach is knotted and I have finished sobbing for now but, more tears will come between now and January.

To be clear: I am not afraid of Donald Trump. He is, by all measures, insignificant. However, I am afraid of the people who even thought about electing him. They are racist, gun-loving, homophobic morons who feel entitled to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. They are mostly white people who feel failed by a system that has built them up to feel superior.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The beautiful Sarah Bassett and I collaborated on fun T-shirt inspired by last night's Presidential Debate.

They are limited edition, custom hand-silkscreened tees, made-to-order. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Get yours at http://www.sarahbassy.com/shop/trumped-up-tees

And please vote.

Failure is always an option

Thursday, September 22, 2016
formerly on Fab.com
This poster used to hang in my design studio. It was a reminder that screwing up is sometimes the only way to learn something new. While it took me a long time to accept failure as a valid outcome, today recognizing missteps guides many of my decisions.

As regular readers know, I spent the early part of this year grieving the end of à deux, my luxury wedding stationery line, and intently looking for something new. I'm wasn't sure what direction to head but knew that being open and listening well would help me pave the path.

Back in June, a recruiter randomly contacted me about a senior design role at a small, scrappy design and production agency. They had a team of 3 designers and were looking to restructure and evolve. Since I'd been looking for a small company where I could make a big impact, I was intrigued.


First day of Pre-K

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Biscuit started public pre-kindergarten at PS 84 (aka Lilian Weber School) this week.

She wouldn’t let me take many pictures but video was ok with her. My little girl is more of a big girl every day.

There are more videos of her goings on at vimeo.com/thebiscuit.
Thursday, September 8, 2016



The Biscuit’s first day of school was a success. #thebiscuitlife #backtoschoolnyc (at PS 84 Elementary School)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016


At Parker’s request, Baby Bunny spent the day at work with me today.
Sunday, August 21, 2016


While everyone in the room was amazed by the beautiful bride in her gorgeous dress, The Biscuit had iPad chess on her mind. #murrayme2016 #thebiscuitlife (at Ventanas)


The Biscuit did a great job as flower girl for Erika and Michael's wedding.

Adventures in Connecticut

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Italy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

For my birthday this year, Andy and I spent two weeks (sans Biscuit) in Italy. That's two weeks of pasta, pizza, gelato, Prosecco and Chianti. It was an amazing trip from Venice to Florence to Central Tuscany and Rome.

The journey ticked off several of my bucket list items: wandering the alleys of Venice, seeing Michaelangelo's David and the Sistine Chapel, making an authentic Italian meal, touring the Vatican, riding a Vespa through the streets of Rome like Audrey Hepburn in the movie "Roman Holiday."

We saw ancient temples and walked on mosaic tiles laid down in the first century. The weather and the people were warm and the food was amazing. I came back about 8 pounds heavier but it was totally worth it.

An unedited gallery of the photos I took can be found HERE.

Ciao!

On blackamoors

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The husband and I are in Italy for a couple of weeks. It's been on my destination list for years and it was finally time. We started in Venice and have been getting lost among the winding bridges and canal-side streets.

Wandering down a narrow alley in Venice, I spotted a pair of brass door handles in the shape of a black man's head. Expressionless but easily identifiable as African: curly hair, wide nose, thick lips. When I saw him my first thought was "that's racist!" Andy disagreed.

Then I started to see so-called BLACKAMOORS everywhere. Door handles, candle holders, lamps like the one above in our hotel and more. As soon as I found wifi, I started reading about them. Painted in deep shades of dark brown and black, they depict elegantly dressed people in acts of servitude: illuminating hallways, bearing trays and cups, holding up tables ... Not unlike the black lawn jockeys of years past, these footmen and waiters personify racial conquest. 

With more fallen black man in Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, I can't help but be struck by this ever-present fascination with "exotic" black bodies. Italy was very much involved in the African slave trade of the 17th century.

According to The Antiques Guild:
“The Venetians of the time employed these Northern Africans as servants and bodyguards and trusted heads of grand houses. The depictions of these works of art reflect this high regard … and have little relevance to the black Americana depicting slaves in America. Many people often mistake Blackamoors for these pieces of American history and have associated them incorrectly. True blackamoors hold much more value as antiques due to their age, and are crafted in a very different spirit.”
Although the images have been exploited and depicted negatively (most appeared to be servants of some sort), they never lost the grace and style inherent in the original people. In other words, beneath the brightly painted lips and dark black paint is a regal-ness. That may be both the appeal and repulsion of the blackamoor figures.

I definitely feel some kind of way about them. It's complicated.

Entry-level isn't beneath me

Thursday, June 23, 2016
"I think the role we are filling right now is too junior for you at this stage with all of your experience."

"Too much experience" will probably be the title of my memoir one day. And it's a bummer because, so long as I believe in what the company is doing, am enthusiastic about the brand, and have what it takes to do a great job, an entry-level position (with opportunities for growth) can be a wonderful thing.

Being an MVP

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
"We ultimately decided to focus on a candidate whose experience and aesthetic we felt better complement those already on the team."
This is from an email I received from a recruiter who has never met me, spoken to me or knows anything about me other than what's on my résumé and website. When I asked her to be more specific I got ... silence.

Sadly, this is the current state of hiring talent acquisition. Judgements are made not based on what you know or how well you do the job, but are instead based on seven seconds of interaction. I know that sounds bitter but it isn't. It's funny, actually. I am a goddamn MVP in the office but companies hiring right now for my "particular set of skills" will never know that. Poor them.

You're thinking, "That's a bit arrogant, isn't it? What makes you so special?" It's all about my four key abilities.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Me: I have a Yo Gabba Gabba song stuck in my head.
P: GET IT OUT!
Me: How should I get the song out?
P: Like this. {vigorously rubs my forehead}

Friday, May 20, 2016





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Current stats: 42.5 inches tall; 38.8 pounds

Tooth count: She’s got the full set of 20 and her dentist says she’s got “good spacing” for when the adult teeth come in.

New tricks: Lots of “why” questions

We’ve been in New York City for a year now. Still loving it, especially now that spring is warming things up. Just like last year, Parker is ALWAYS talking; to us, to herself, to her toys. Only now everything starts with “why.”

“Why is it raining?” Because the clouds are full.
“Why are the clouds full?” Because water evaporated into the sky.
“Why does it go up there?” Because it’s part of the water cycle.
“Why?” … and so it goes.
The only time she’s quiet is when she’s reading to herself, playing an iPad game or watching a movie. Current favorites are My Little Pony and The Powerpuff Girls.

FUNNY KID WORDS
Lightning the Queen  =  Lightning McQueen, the star of the movie Cars
Cake ee oh key  =  karaoke
Rain boops  =  rain boots
Money phone  =  payphone
High Bow  =  HBO
Pokey Pine  =  porcupine
The M store  =  McDonald’s

THE LATEST
We decided to keep this birthday low key. No party or anything but she had cake and the song at preschool.

That’s right: parenting achievement unlocked. I made my first-ever homemade birthday cake. She asked me for “an orange cake with orange icing, sprinkles, and a number four candle.”


This mama delivered. The raspberries got added so it was a tiny bit healthy. Yes, they’re organic.
Like the very specific cake request, The Biscuit also has definitive gift demands: a blue light saber (from Star Wars) and a tool set.


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Also, she’s been in the same crib/toddler bed for four years. She’ll be too long for it shortly so coming soon, from my wish list, is a fun, new loft bed.



image

For her birthday dinner, we went to Benihana. Their motto is “It’s not just a meal. It’s an experience.” Parker had never been to a hibachi “experience” before and she enjoyed the flaming onion volcano, egg juggling and shrimp tossing. Of course the ice cream sundae and song at the end made her night.

She refused to wear her menu/hat so Andy indulged me.

Speaking of Andy, we’re amazing parents. That’s not bragging. I’m very proud of how we’re raising her together. Yes, she drives us mad at times. Yes, I wish she wasn’t quite so smart and sassy. But with any luck, she’ll continue to be a kind, empathetic, worldly, intelligent young lady who laughs easily and looks at the world with infinite curiosity.

As always, videos Parker are online at vimeo.com.
Sunday, May 15, 2016


She chose this look for school today.

Thanks to Auntie Erika for the headband and purse.
Friday, May 13, 2016

Parker’s classmate Owen had a pirate-themed birthday party in Central Park. One kid showed up dressed as a knight. LOL

Becoming a hedgehog

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I consider myself an autodidact polymath: a self-taught person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In other words, I have deep knowledge of many, disparate things. I used to believe this was an asset but I'm beginning to have my doubts. The secret to success, it seems, is to do just one thing exceptionally well.

Right now, I'm reading "Good to Great" by Jim Collins and I'm fascinated by the Hedgehog Concept. In his famous essay "The Hedgehog and the Fox," Isaiah Berlin divided the world into hedgehogs and foxes, based upon an ancient Greek parable: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

Another milestone

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
This morning, I registered The Biscuit for pre-kindergarten! That means she’ll be attending a city school in the fall. Damn! My baby is growing up so fast, I can hardly stand it.


New York City’s “Pre-K for All” program offers free, high-quality education to four-year-olds. The classes run five days per week from September to June and most pre-K options are on a full-day, 6-hour schedule.

When we moved to the city last year, we chose our neighborhood based on her planned attendance at PS 84, also known as the Lillian Weber School for the Arts. Even though we live in the school’s enrollment zone and are only two blocks away, we still had to apply for one of the 36 pre-k spots at this school. We got the letter last week that she had a seat in one of the two classrooms set aside for pre-kindergarteners.

PUBLIC vs PRIVATEAndy and I discussed early on that we didn’t want to send her to private school. For one, going private in this town is crazy expensive. The fancy school just down the block from our apartment costs more than $43,000 PER YEAR. That’s for pre-k (it goes up as the kids get older) and is more than what I paid for my entire education at The University of Georgia!

Outside of the ridiculous expense, I happen to believe in supporting public education. There’s no way public schools in this country can get better if parents put their kids, money and community support into private schools. This article from Slate a couple of years ago sums up my belief:
“Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better.” Read more here.
Also, I personally believe private school kids grow up in a bubble that doesn’t come close to reflecting what the real world looks like. They are not economically or ethnically diverse and there is a “velvet rope” quality to admissions and the academic community. No, thanks.

I’m not worried about Parker in public school. We’ve got an exceptionally smart kid who will have little trouble being an academic star wherever she goes to school. I’m excited for the this next step for her and our family. Free school = no more money spent on daily childcare.

Finally! This kid is starting to do something other than cost us money. :)
Sunday, May 8, 2016

Subway sushi, anyone?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
One of the many reasons I love living in New York City is the wealth of random, interesting things that just show up overnight in unexpected places.

Enter TurnStyle: an underground shopping and dining destination that just opened inside the Columbus Circle subway station. Head down from any corner of 57th/58th Street and Broadway to find high-quality restaurants and cutting-edge accessories in an unexpected environment.

I wandered around for about 30 minutes and saw some fun stuff and spoke to interesting people who were surprised to find Turnstyle on their normally mundane commute.

Life is still hard



Asleep on the floor after another exhausting day of being bossy, refusing to nap, screaming irrationally and being almost 4

The scene

Monday, April 18, 2016

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1MEn5Eb

Sitting outside drinking a Shake Shack caramel milkshake. The sun is shining but it's not too hot to enjoy it and an old black guy just rode by on a bike with a boombox blasting "La Vie en Rose."

What I'm reading

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Now that The Biscuit is older and needs less of my attention, I have time to read non-kid books again.

Before she was born, I used to love to read collections of short stories. While I was pregnant, I devoured every parenting book mentioned in the New York Times. In the last four years, I've read just four books: Between the World and Me, Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories and both of Jenny Lawson's hilarious masterpieces.

One book a year seems kind of sad, right?

Life is hard

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Completely passed out in the middle of the day after a long morning of yelling, throwing tantrums and generally being terrible to her parents.

Overqualified

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The job hunt has been going on in earnest since November. Here's what I know:

"Too much experience" is a bad thing. I don't know when this happened but I'm going to blame millennials those damn kids everyone's always talking about. In my opinion, it also means they can't pay me what they know I'm worth or they're worried I'll get bored and leave.

"Seasoned professional" is a euphemism for being judged as too old. The tech industry in particular make no attempt to cover up this obvious bias. Other discriminatory qualifiers include "too urban" and "family oriented," also known as too black and has a child who might require time away from work.

It doesn't matter how successful I've been, what's on my CV, where I've worked, what I've produced or where I went to school. All that matters is what I'm going to do next.

And if I'm going to be judged based on my age, ethnicity, family status or how many years I've been working, I want to be able to prove companies wrong by blowing them away with raw talent. Trust me: you don't want to miss out on what I bring to the table.

More things I've learned here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


#vacationmode #thebiscuitlife (at Ft Lauderdale Beach)
Saturday, March 26, 2016


We travel in style.

Love is love

Wednesday, March 23, 2016



#NYC #streetart #blog
via Instagram http://ift.tt/22FBIL1

Biscuit bathing suits

Is weird that I think baby bikinis are gross?

I would love to know: where do you stand on little girls wearing bikinis? Many of my friends think they are completely normal and fun and innocent. I think they sexualize innocent little girls. For example:


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A bit of context: we’re taking a family vacation to Florida soon. This is P’s first trip since being toilet trained and I’m happy to be done with stupid, ineffective swim diapers. Of course, she’s outgrown all of her suits from last summer but, in shopping for new ones, all I can find are skimpy two-piece things.

Why?! For a grown woman, a bikini is basically like wearing a bra and panties to the beach. When they were introduced in 1946, the public initially thought the design was risqué or even scandalous. According to French fashion historian Olivier Saillard, the bikini is perhaps the most popular type of female beachwear around the globe because of “the power of women.” As he explains, “The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women.”

WOMEN! Not little girls.

A bikini top sexualizes and highlights something that doesn’t exist on a prepubescent girl. There is nothing sexual about a little girl’s chest. When you put a bikini top on it, it draws unnecessary attention to her body, in my opinion. Besides, you don’t see little boys running around the beach in Speedo briefs (a.k.a. man panties) like most European men. In fact, in my shopping lately, boys’ swimsuits completely cover them up in short-sleeve shirts and long shorts.

Children’s clothes makers produce these overly sexy things because people buy them. And I get that wearing a one-piece suit makes using the bathroom more difficult. But, for as long as I have a say, The Biscuit will be in one kind of two-piece: a sleeved rash guard with either shorts or a full-brief bottom. Like this:
Or this:
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Never this:


Or this:



Those are just … ew!

My choice is not only for modesty but full sun protection. The swim shirts make avoiding UV rays so much easier. Have you tried putting sunscreen on a three-nager? That shit’s no fun.

Short hair!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Every woman gets a bad haircut at least once in her life. Thankfully, The Biscuit’s hair trauma befell her before she could really appreciate the horror.
With near-waist-length hair, Andy and I had been battling P’s serious tangles. Every bath included tears and shouts of “you’re hurting me!” while struggling to detangle her knots. We decided it was time to remove the drama and get her a short cut.
Cozy Cuts is our neighborhood kid-friendly hair salon. It’s where she got her very first haircut last year and she likes the toddler-friendly environment. Here is a picture of the goal:




For the uninitiated, curly hair is a challenge to cut and style and I have my own bad haircut stories. When we lived in Boston, I insisted on traveling to NYC every three months to make sure my curls were taken care of by stylists who specialize in textured hair. As it turns out, my salon doesn’t service kids under five so we went back to Cozy Cuts with fingers crossed.
MISTAKE!




While Parker was happy to be free of the excess weight, the result was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Haircut. The stylist had NO CLUE how to cut non-straight hair and basically just lopped off six inches without even attempting to layer it into a nice shape. The uneven mess of a result was so unacceptable, I immediately made an appointment at Ouidad: the curly-hair experts.

She was a great client and sat patiently for two washings. After a stellar re-cut by Virginia, some styling tips, a bit of product and 30 minutes under a hair dryer, The Biscuit’s curls look a thousand times better.


While we are thrilled with the result, this was a grown-up hair experience with a VERY grown-up price tag. Virginia assured me this will grow out nicely and shouldn’t need to be recut for a while. Good.

Some things are too good for my child and there’s NO WAY P and I are paying the same price for haircuts.

New obsession

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Andy gave me a fountain pen for Christmas and I'm in love with writing again.

Don't get me wrong, I've always been fond of hand-written notes. But in the age of email and other electronic communication, I really only write thank-you notes these days.


Big chop

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
The Biscuit got more than six inches of hair cut off yesterday. She seems to like it and we’re hoping it alleviates detangling battles.

The Nu Project

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Last fall I posted about my friend's art photography project. He's traveled the world taking pictures of volunteers who want to display the human body as it really is — without editing, airbrushing or alteration — in their homes, smiling and enjoying themselves.

In an effort to increase the ethnic diversity in the collection, I opened my big mouth signed up to be a part of the second edition of the book. It arrived in my mailbox last week and it is stunning. I noticed more diversity right away. Not just ethnicities, but also age, gender and body size, among other things. Like the first book, this one is an honestly beautiful work and the back cover image is truly fascinating.

The book and the bodies within are beautiful and I'm honored to be part of such an epic piece of art. If you're into this sort of this, both volumes of the book are available on The Nu Project website. Wheee!

This is an outtake from the shoot and NOT the image of me that appears in the book. You'll have to buy a copy for that.
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