On Frank Ocean “Thinkin Bout You”

channel ORANGE released on July 10, 2012

The Strings – the Vibe – the beat.

Because “longing” is probably one of the most inspiring topics one can write about. The turmoil of wondering is proportional the indifference given by the object of desire… isn’t it something we can collectively feel in our bones and relate to?

what bout you? : Do you think bout me still, or do you not think so far ahead – cause I been thinkin’ ’bout forever…

Abstract is my Art

Elated Strokes # 309, by Daphné Mia Essiet

Abstract is my Art

It all started with
The grainy sound of
A fine tip pen on construction paper.

It reminded me of
When as a child
I would write with my fountain pen on a blotting paper.

In chaotic times,
drawing the lines
brings me solace.

Abstract is my Art
I mimic life’s intricacy
Yet keep it simple,
It reminds me of myself.
It soothes my soul,
My healing process.

People expect my work to reflect
Experiences of
racism or
sexism or
both.

Yes, it can be challenging
to find peace
In a world you
don’t always feel
like you belong.

From the lack of representation
To micro-agressions
And assaults
The trauma we indure
Serves to normalize oppression
Yet we survi-
val mode
Leads to chronic stress

Headaches, brain tumors
& Alzheimer
No wonder women suffer
twice as much
from depression.

In chaotic times,
drawing the lines
brings me solace.

And activates
My parasympathetic nervous system
Countering the fight or flight
Triggered
By a world
You don’t always feel
like you belong.

People expect my work to reflect
Experiences of
racism or
sexism or
both

I give myself a break
And meditate
Combatting my depletion
By Self-consideration

Abstract is my Art
Not to ingratiate myself,
I just allow my hands
To let themselves wander.

Tomorrow, I’ll draw birds,
Or faceless brown bods

Still today
I’ll mimic life’s intricacy
And keep it simple
Cause it reminds me of myself.
It soothes my soul,
My healing process.

It all started with
The grainy sound of
A fine tip pen on construction paper.

Full Circle.

It’s been 3 months already.

It is hard to project yourself when we don’t know what tomorrow holds, which for lots of us, including myself, induces lots of stress.

My way of coping with anxiety has been to spend as much time as possible creating.

I was working with lots of black and metallic colors, then pastels – and here is something kinda new – acrylic paint on white paper.

Hopes it brings some joy in your lives!

All can be found and purchased on my website: https://bit.ly/2ZBokyR

“He Should Not Have Resisted Arrest”

Have you ever found yourself face to face with a bear? I’ve personally never had myself, but the simple thought of it is terrifying to me. 

Most likely, I think that I would try to run as fast and far as possible – understandably so: as human beings, we are built for survival; everything we do is instinctively wired so we can make it out alive the most stressful situations.

According to an article by Nicoletta Lanese published in LiveScience.com, Fight or Flight: The Sympathetic Nervous System here’s what’s happening:

Our sympathetic nervous system directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. A flash flood of hormones boosts the body’s alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles. Breathing quickens, delivering fresh oxygen to the brain, and an infusion of glucose is shot into the bloodstream for a quick energy boost. This response occurs so quickly that people often don’t realize it’s taken place, according to Harvard Medical School.

That said, according to the Human Society of the United States,

“Bears have acute eyesight and hearing. Their sense of smell is seven times greater than a bloodhound’s.”

In the section: “This is what you should do if you encounter a black bear“, one of their advice is: “Stand and face the bear directly. Never run away from or approach him.”

You are basically supposed to remain just here in your terror. Not so easy if you ask.

Well, I think it is a fair assumption that this is how POC feel, especially black males, when stopped by police officers – that is why black parents have The Talk (ain’t about birds and bees).

I hope that you will now understand how insensitive it is to say “He Should Not Have Resisted Arrest”.

Special Ladies

I had all this planned out.

Originally this post was to be published last month in honor of #WomenHistoryMonth but with everything that’s been happening, in New York and the world, the quarantine and whatnot, I had put it aside and focus on other things.

I’m glad to finally do this and share with you some figurative drawing inspired art I created by some of my good good friends!

I let you scroll up and down!

Inspired by Bandleader/Vocalist/Songwriter/Educator Sarah Elizabeth Charles
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Harpist/Band Leader/ Composer Brandee Younger
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by my Urban Planner Gina S. : “Starlights”
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Ethnomusicologist/Producer/Educator Aja Burrel Wood
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Corporate Executive Safrate M.: “Met ton Clignotant”
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
DJ/Writer/Journalist Angelika Beener
Gold pen-touch + gel color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Flutist/Pianist/Producer Anne Drummond
Gold pen-touch + get color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Violinist/Bandleader/Vocalist Chiara Fasi
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by vocalist/bandleader/singer-songwriter Pyeng Threadgill
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Ria B, lawyer
Gold pen-touch + get color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in

Hope you enjoyed the view!

For daily updates, please check my Instagram

On The Crown Act

In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth + #theCrownAct I decided to make some figurative work subliming women’s hair.

*The CROWN Act is a California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture by extending protection for both categories under the FEHA and the California Education Code. It is the first legislation passed at the state level in the United States to prohibit such discrimination.

Here’s my story:

Early on I internalized that my curly hair wasn’t “good”. I was so excited to get it straightened and every time it happened people positive comments reinforced this idea.

Once in my early 20s, I went to an interview – first year living in Paris – I had a nice Zara pants and jacket with cute shirt and since I knew that I had to look “professional” I pulled my hair very tight into a ponytail. I can honestly say I had a magnificently manicured hairdo that day. Still the interviewer felt the need to tell me that if I got the job, I would not be able to wear braids or my hair out. I was so used about that type of abuse and discrimination that I enthusiastically responded something like: “of course!”. I got the job.

When I moved to New York, one of the first purchases I made was a curling iron. For me it was a survival tool as important as a getting plates and cooking pans.

I think it was around 2007 I started to “transition” when my friend Fatima sent me this YouTube video of Taren Guy (I think that’s her name) basically explaining how to take care of your natural hair. It took years for me to unlearn and rebuilt the self-confidence and acceptance around my own hair.

In 2015, when I started to work at my last company, I was interviewed by an old colleague of mine Lana from my flight attendant days. One thing was different tho: she had switched her relaxed black hair to beautiful blonde locks. It felt so good to see a woman being top executive of a company wearing natural hairstyle – and encouraged me to also wear mine the way I wanted in the corporate settings.

When I started to work I decided to confidently wear natural hairstyles, especially when we were meeting with suppliers in Asia and Europe – to make a point to show that my professionalism was in no way impacted by how my hair looked.

It’s been a journey but I can honestly say that all these experiences empowered me to be the confident person I am today and pushed me to deconstruct other preconceived ideas about beauty and power dynamics.

Here’s some of my illustrations!

More: https://bit.ly/3dR3wXz

Shop: https://bit.ly/2VZdoIR

On Van Hunt "Hello Goodbye" (The Reimagined)

For clarification, this is a « reimagined » version of Van Hunt first album.

TRIM, 2019

Van Hunt is IMO one of the most underrated artists out there.

Can I say I wish him all the success he desires, but also selfishly want to keep him to myself – sharing with us his artistry in human size intimate acoustic venues?

What can I say about the TRIM – Reimagined album, besides the fact it keeps me in my feelings – big time? I love every bits of it and wished I had known all the lyrics by heart last year at his summer concert downtown Brooklyn last year. The sound of this album feel like a long term relationship where you have beautifully matured into your grown-self and finally accepted that the textures and added layers accumulated over the years are what makes it *perfectly unique*.

I appreciate songs that make me think about my human condition, don’t you? In Hello Goodbye, Van delivers a potent truth: “love shouldn’t be so complicated”- yet, & once again – what would we write about if it was? (Asking for a friend)

Many have been stranded in *that* relationship – you know- with someone who can’t be in touch with their own feelings (you may have been that mofo yourself – shiiiiiittttt).

Well it’s healthy to bring what’s bothering us so openly – and almost taking the ultimate stand – not judging, just saying… it’s the first step towards untangling that type of situationships.

Hope it all worked out!

Giza Pyramids

Original Drawing – Gold pen-touch by @sakuraofamerica and Acrylic Paint on 6 ply black paper 28in x 22in – available on Saatchi

The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, and most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance. (Wiki)

I was frankly inspired this past week. I have never been to Egypt, but I visited Mexican pyramids and there were already pretty grandiose. I hope one day ❤

Follow my Art page on Instagram

This is how it would look in your living room – Mockup by Saatchi

Ohhhh, Artsy, Artsy Me…

« The circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God (‘God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’ (Hermes Trismegistus).

It makes me feel but I feel peaceful watching these! Check out some of my latest creations, soon available on Saatchi

Gold pen-touch by @sakuraofamerica on black paper.

8.5 in. x 11 in.
12in. x 12in
22in. x 28 in.

On Anderson Paak “Your Prime”

Malibu, January 15, 2016

So, let’s start at the beginning: it is for me physically impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to AP. Like he has an ON switch for my happy mood (I can’t think of anyone else making me feel that way on the top of my head.)

When I first heard him I thought: James Brown meets Kendrick Lamar for some reasons (that’s how I felt- still feel).

This is a gift but it also can be very deceiving; for instance, Your Prime is full of cynicism: “Know what she want and she know I ain’t shit but a savage” sounds very dysfunctional, right? Yet the way he says it makes me want to try it anyway, well if I were 23 and live on a beautiful campus – that is… which is not the case, since I am a GAW (Grown A$$ WoMan)

Still on repeat tho…

On Amy Winehouse’s “I Heard Love Is Blind”

Frank, released on October 20th, 2003.

Authenticity is an interesting quality. It is admired but also feared by those who pretend to be someone other than themselves so to be liked by many. Her genuineness made Amy special – and also very vulnerable – but let’s talk about that song right here:

With an extreme nonchalance she delivers her simple and unapologetic truth: she was longing for her man. I know the lyrics sounds cold blooded but I have to respect how candid and honest her explanation was. Polyamorously…

IMO, the tune climaxes she call for forgiveness “How can I put it so you can understand: I did not let him hold my hand

Rest in Power sis.

On Doing What’s Right

Art by Daphné Essiet (myself – Check my IG)

Two people can do or react similarly for different reasons. Two people can do and react differently for the same reason.

Read that again.

It’s hard to tell which is which for many reasons. One: we project – we tend to empathize more with those who look like us or we relate to. We automatically side their way – the one we feel safest.

Two: conditioning. In order to survive, humans instinctively form groups and rely on patterns to know what’s safe or not; we follow the rules so we keep within the group. Unfortunately, these patterns, although accepted as facts, don’t always hold truth. That’s why it is important to understand who controls the narrative.

Three: we make mistakes. Our ego has a hard time admitting it could be wrong because it makes us uncomfortable – then, lacking comfort for too long leads to change and heighten humility. Our ego ain’t having that.

I won’t necessarily blame those who won’t challenge the status quo or « pretend » to be someone they aren’t so to be accepted, praised, liked, get liked. I can’t be mad at someone trying to do their best so they can « fit ». Been there, done that.

Honestly, I think a lot of people don’t even really know who they are, or what they like because they never really question whether they enjoy what they do or was done out of habit.

Authenticity brings alignment – that’s the type of feeling we are longing for. It takes courage to reveal your true self . Itv also comes with a territory filled with vehement hate, fueled by fear of being left behind.

Ultimately, I believe it can be really challenging to be who you truly are for some people, simply because being accepted is fundamental to our survival as a species and in order to do so, we have to comply with certain standards rooted into some sort of privilege. It’s fair to consider the reasons we have at hand to understand why people behave the way they do so we can respond in a more informed way. It is not about being right or wrong, it is about doing what is right and consider everyone’s humanity.

On the Way to Oz || Original Tune Exploring Mental Health Breakdown and Recovery

with my Ukulele in Central Park – Pics taken by my sister Roxane

“On the way to Oz” deals with how familial and societal pressure contributes to mental health breakdown – and the role of community and empathy into the road of recovery.

Live version of “On the Way to Oz” – Daphné Mia Essiet © All rights reserved.

Lyrics:

There are places we’ll never let ourself go

And to cope we drink, take drugs, have sex, and scroll 

Up and down until we numb ourselves so cold, so cold 

We pretend to enjoy things we don’t care for

And to cope we tell the world how much it cost, 

And we post until we numb ourselves so cold, so cold

Then one day, the chasm between our heart 

And the reality is so wide we can’t breathe

Then one day the pain we subject our soul

chatters our sanity way too deep 

Some believe that money will quiet their wounds 

When in fact it emphasizes their own flaws

And to cope they wander aimlessly 

in virtual reality 

We keep at it despite red flags and the signs 

Trick ourselves into contortionning our mind

Fool ur friends and hide in plain sight

Til we no longer can lie

Then one day, the chasm between our heart 

And the reality is so wide we can’t breathe

Then one day the pain we subject our soul

chatters our sanity way too deep 

There’s a way to get back t yourself

It’s not easy but

You gotta let it go

And if you want

We can hold each other’s hand

On the yellow brick road

On our way to Oz

And if you want

We can hold each other’s hand

On the yellow brick road

On our way to Oz

You can download a version on my soundcloud

Daphné Mia Essiet © All rights reserved.

https://linktr.ee/daphnemiaessiet

On D’angelo One Mo ‘Gin

From Voodoo released on January 25, 2000.

Produced by D’Angelo
All vocals performed by D’Angelo
Vocal and musical arrangements by D’Angelo
Bass: Pino Palladino
All other instruments: D’Angelo

Probably one of my favorite tunes on d’Angelo second studio album, Voodoo released 20 years ago, in 2000.

The intro is just a well-thought out foreplay to the song – and the layered vocals turn this particular performance into this almost elusive yet haunting feeling of golden love making – many can relate 👀

It is almost as if one could taste the compounded desire in their own mouth on this one, *while you sing or recite along’.

D’Angelo really makes cheating sound sexy.

Dayum.

Poetry – “Race” by Elizabeth Alexander

Elated Strokes #310 – Art By Daphné Essiet

“Race is neither biological fact nor dismissible fiction, but an unwieldy set of narratives that Americans live inside.” – Stephanie Burt

I fell down the rabbit hole that is the Poetry Foundation Website… Mind you I was just supposed to check out something – and go back to sleep – cause yes, I am jet-lagged…

I ended up reading this great Elizabeth Alexander poem titled “Race” on the topic of “Passing”. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, this refers to a person of African descent who has caucasian features/hair texture and is “passing” as a white person.

I never had heard of that word or the concept before watching The Human Stain then later reading Kate Chopin’s Désirée’s Baby in college.

If interested, you should also read  Stephanie Burt analysis of the poem which was very insightful and throughout. You can find it here

On Jill Scott – Crown Royal on Ice

From The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 released on September 25, 2007.

*Please avoid listening while driving or operating heavy machinery.

That snippet is as delectable as the breuvage, and may even burn the tip of your tongue, if not listened carefully.

I’m usually more of a Hendricks and Tonic kinda drinker, but I guess “Crown Royal” sounded better in a song.

It “almost” made me reconsider my (life’s) choices; although I doubt she is talking about whisky 🥃…

Most definitely for grown folks.

My Poetry Book on Amazon + FREE download !!!!

I am not sure I ever advertise the fact I had self-published a book on Amazon this past July 2019.

Well here it is. I’ll share a little bio with you and if you scroll down to the end, you will be able to download a free sample, and some video I made – and all the way, if you wish to support, I put the links by countries!

“On Love and Lust and Everything in Between is originally a series of 4 short thought pieces Daphné wrote between 2015 and 2016; the reflections triggered her creative-writing bone and she started to write prose as blog entries. Daphné always read poetry growing up and specially loved Baudelaire, De la Fontaine and Verlaine. However, it is when she started to read Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni that she realized her words sounded too like poesie. In September 2017 she took a poetry class through Interactive Poetry Workshop in City College lead by JP Howard, curator for Women Writers in Bloom Salon, and performed live for the first time her poetry. Still too shy at the time, she focused her effort on performing her music and songwriting, but kept filling blog entries. At the beginning of June 2019, she realized she would be able to self-publish through Amazon – that same day she decided to “go for it”. For the three days straight she sat in front of her computer to curate 50 of her poems, format a book, design and create her cover in Illustrator. The result was a 123 pages of content mainly revolving around self-discovery of a woman”

Free Sample

Thank you for your time!

SHOP HERE

On FriendZone by ThunderCat (2017)

From Drunk, released on February 24, 2017

Happy Post Valentine’s Day! I hope you had a great time.

Unrequited love and/or attraction is a cold place to be in, literally; and it happens to the best of us.

I’ve been that friend, but I have also been “friend-zoned”, ghosted and ignored.

One thing I can say is that this shit hurts like a mofo [Larenz Tate Voice] – you pace back and forth, stomping on our ego – and if you are not careful, you will think it has something to do with you, when in fact, the Universe always has a plan.

Somehow, this song feels this was a true story. Unfortunately, even if being one’s « biggest fan » is good, it is NEVER good enough! Either you are a fan or you are not, and if to think this should make a difference there may have been ulterior motives, which tends to end badly most of the time. I’d say the bullet was dodged from both side.

I really love Thundercat’s music and really like that song, He is one of the few artists I would just purchase their album without previewing. Once listened to it repeatedly from Melville to my house, this was a great ride. I event went to see him performed by myself – what a treat.

I’ll end up by asking if we could agree that despite the hurt caused, this was the ground for inspiration which lead to the song, or is it me being selfish?

On Being an Intellectual

I recently spent some quality time in France with family – I was staying at my grandmother’s house. One day we we had a disagreement and she said to me I was “such an intellectual” – she said it the same way republicans call you a “liberal”. I laughed things off and kept it moving as I usually do: to deflate the hurt a kin inflicts others when themselves are in pain.

To say the truth, I was annoyed at first, but then got curious about why she thought that voicing my opinion was a problem. It took some time, but after thinking about it for a while I came to some conclusion of my own. Every time I had felt powerless in front of injustices was when I did not know how to respond to attacks – which as a result had made me angry. So, I am constantly trying to educate myself on issue pertaining to feminism, racism and the like – because it felt empowering: in other words analyzing and instructing when feeling attached is my “defense mechanism”.

I had heard about Anna Freud’s theory on defense mechanisms for the first time a few months prior by watching The School of Life‘s episode on Psychoanalysis. I decided to find out more. Turns out that what made the most sense to me, according to this theory, was that I may champion at “Intellectualization”. 

According to Freud, intellectualization as a psychodynamic defense mechanism refers to an emphasized focus on facts, logic, and abstract reasoning to assert control over and reduce unpleasant emotions associated with internal or external events.

Yes, this made sense. I constantly need to know why things happen the way they do.

I tend to seek explanations to any and every out-of-the-ordinary-situations that may affect me – and by extension, others like me. I even wrote a poem about it:

When I feel threatened, my brain automatically fires up into “Overthinking” mode . Rationalizing helps me to calm down in stress-inducing circumstances. For instance, if someone felt entitled to say something out of line or mean to me, instead of reacting, with the tools that is knowledge, I can logically respond: I am only able to do so when I am educated on a topic. That say it does not mean you’ll be able to convinced the person in front of you – since facts are not enough to convince people!

In my research I also found out that there were a biological aspects of defense mechanisms: In short, the very ancient part of the brain called amygdala is responsible for triggering the sympathetic nervous system – which is responsible for the fight or flight response. Once that type of stress is triggered, there is no switch to turn it off on its own. Our only option to “calm things down” is to activate its counterpart, the parasympathetic system. There are efficient ways to do so, including walking in nature, breathing and meditation (more here). I should also mention that eating, although it is not mentioned,  triggers the parasympathetic system: oh that’s why, when we are upset your freewill is highjacked and your are uncontrollably drawn to the Ben and Jerry bin int he freezer!!!

Reflecting on this helped in many ways. Firstly, I learn ways to manage even better my anxieties by understanding how they arise; it also brought lots of empathy towards myself and others – in finding out there is a part that is rooted in “instinct” and early childhood experience – hence very hard to control. I am grateful I was able find some insight and happy my grand mother initiated this introspection.

On Glenn Lewis – Your Song (for you)

From “World Outside My Window” released on March 19, 2002

One of my friends once, jokingly said while listening to that tune, that he believed #StevieWonder had probably shut down Glenn’s career.

If you have ever heard that song, you may think this is funny (I did) even tho, it is very unlikely.

Since that day, every time I hear that tune, this pops into my head; although, according to this logic, there should have been others.

I wonder what happened to him… like fo real.