Itchy-itchy ouch.

Both the hubby and I broke out into some kind of rash on Saturday morning. We have no idea what caused this. We just woke up itching. Under his arm was a large swatch of red, angry skin with fine bumps that just looked like he’d brushed up against a toxicodendron (poison oak, poison ivy, etc). Me? Just bumps all over my chest, breasts, face, and neck. For both of us, the rash briefly spread to isolated spots on our arms and hands. We found this wash that is designed for contact with a toxicodendron and we experimented. He used is Saturday night before bed, I didn’t. We both used Benadryl gel on our bumps. The next morning, his itching was less severe, but mine was still in hell mode. I hightailed it into the shower and used the wash as well.

We are marginally better today but we still have no idea what caused it. I stripped the bed and washed the sheets and blanket in case whatever it was that caused this was on them. The itching hasn’t gotten worse so we assume that one of the dogs had it on their fur and transferred it to the blanket. Probably Casper since he was the only one on the bed between when we went to bed on Friday night and Saturday morning when we got up to feed them.

All of this to say that it was an adventure in many ways. But the biggest adventure was searching for the German equivalent to poison oak/ivy. It seems there isn’t one. The worst they have is stinging nettles which do not present in the same way. So the mystery remains unsolved. We still have no idea what caused all this. All I know is I am in itching hell.

 

Games, games, GAMES!

Send help! I’ve found Unreal Tournament again!

It was purely by accident actually. I got an email from epicgames.com suggesting I secure my account. I don’t remember ever signing up for Epic Games or adding an account but I typed in epicgames.com in my browser and looked around. Apparently, at some point after I downloaded Infinity Blade to my phone, an account was created for me at epicgames.com with that email address that everybody and their mother now knows. Well, it’s either that or someone from Russia (the profile said my country of origin was “Russian Federation”) created one for me. If the latter – thanks dudes! now I have yet another game to distract me. Bravo! Anyway, while I am browsing around I notice this:

Unreal Tournament was probably my first foray into intense gaming – UT2K3 to be specific (HEAD SHOT). So seeing this … got me all kinds of excited and download it I did. /sigh

Apparently the ongoing side-effect of building a gaming machine is the return of my gaming “addiction” … and I put addiction in quotes because I am acutely aware of how we throw around words like “addiction” without giving real thought into how that diminishes the very real and very dangerous aspects of addiction. So … basically a gamer with societal and mental health awareness? Hmm … Whatevs … Unreal Baby!!!!

Well … after I finish this paper. heh.

Religion and Politics

I seriously have to ask this question: WHY is politics so intimately intertwined with religion? Serious question for anyone who is still reading my blog posts.

Religion – from what I understand – is supposed to guide our behavior while politics is supposed to shape policy for society. While I understand that the two are related, I don’t understand why they are so tightly intertwined.

Social media addict

So I removed the Facebook app from my phone and now I feel like I’m just swiping screens looking for a fix. Is it just me? I mean, frantically swiping too. It’s almost as if I lost something.

This is day one without the app on my phone. My goal is to do this for a month. Let’s see how that goes.

Dreadlocks

I’ve been asked several times about dreadlocks. Different question each time, but somehow people think I am a “go to person” on the topic. I’m not. But being that I sport dreadlocks, I probably know a little more than your average ‘baldhead’.

First lesson: those of the Rastafarian faith call everyone else ‘baldhead’. The explanation I got in my youth is that ‘badlhead’ simply means someone who does not subscribe to the Rastafarian way of life and spirituality. Benign, yes? In some quarters, it isn’t benign, it’s an insult. According to Urban Dictionary:

In Rastafarianism, a baldhead refers to anyone who conforms to common Western standards of hair styling. This is because the short, clean-cut look is often representative (in their eyes) of someone who has adopted a colonial, materialistic and spiritually-bankrupt worldview.

In contrast, a person who grows their hair out, such as into an afro or dreadlocks, is representative (in their eyes) of someone who has let go of obsession with external, physical appearances and turned their attention inward, into the spiritual realm.

The first time someone questioned me about dreadlocks was actually back in Jamaica when I first started my own journey. (Side note: it’s not just a hairstyle, it is a journey). In New Kingston, right at the intersection of Dominica Drive and Knutsford Boulevard, there used to be a local goods store out of a trailer. I don’t know if he still sells there or not. I haven’t been back to that spot in more than a decade. Lot of Rastafarian themed stuff, including incense and woven bags and wooden sculptures. One morning, I was walking along minding my own business and I hear:

”Dawta! Why such a pretty gyal ah follow Babylon tings?”

I was confused and asked him what he meant. (Side note: for Rastafarians, “Babylon” represents the oppressive Western state). Basically, he saw my baby dreadlocks and assumed I was just “following fashion”. I wasn’t. At the time, my journey was young. Very young, but it was NOT just a hairstyle for me. It never has been. I explained to him that for a long long time, I had chemically straightened my hair. It was what everybody did. After a while, I started to feel … “odd” about it. I could not put my hand on it precisely, but the discomfort was there and growing. When I was told that my chemically straightened hair was literally rotting off my head, I made the decision to go natural. (How odd is it that when black women cease to process their hair, it is known as “going natural”).

Because I worked in the corporate world, that connection with the so-called “oppressive Western-style state” required me to maintain a certain level of “Western decorum” – which meant my dreadlocks had to attempt to look neat. It felt like a contradiction then, but I had no other choice really. Not if I wanted to maintain my independence. And so, my dreadlocks were “cultivated” and “groomed”. It was a compromise.

For Rastafarians, embracing all that Rastafarianism embodies includes abandoning all aspects of Western ideals. No more Western style dress, no more Western style hair, no more Western style norms. Part of the criticism of Rastafarianism is the misogyny that is wrapped up in the movement – their women don’t work, as a rule, and are limited in the kind of exposure outside the home they are allowed.

So this Rasta and I chatted for a few minutes about how I had ended up where I was. It was a journey in discovering who I was, is what my explanation summed up to be. I was 16 when I began to question everything about the world I was born in. Dreadlocks was a natural and logical stop along that journey. I thought about just going afro. In fact, I did it once. Cut off all my hair but it didn’t feel right. Dreadlocks felt right.

At various other times in my life, I’ve been asked other questions about it. Is it ok for white people to wear dreadlocks. How do I do my own dreadlocks. Where does one go to get their dreadlocks done. And often my answers include the admonition that it is not just a hairstyle and that for anyone – including white people – that decision MUST include some amount of self-education about Rastafarianism, the history of black people, and the stigma attached to black hair.

I don’t personally have a problem with white dreadlocks. To each his own. But I am acutely aware of all the nuance surrounding it and I do my best to educate those who are open to it about how problematic it can be. At least one person I have spoken to about it seemed to have changed their mind about doing it. And if I can make one person think deeper about dreadlocks than “just a hairstyle”, then I feel I have done my duty.

As for my journey … I am still on it. Who I am is buried deep under all kinds of layers of history and nuance and complexity. But I can tell you that because I chose this route, I know more about myself today than I did 15 years ago and what I know now is empowering.