All posts by “Ashlee

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INTRODUCING THE GUMBEAUX

Hey everyone, some good news, bad news then good news. Pink Gumbeaux is sort of ending. I’ve decided to rebrand and merge some stuff. The results are the gumbeaux. “surviving entrepreneurship, faking my best life, and other important things (aka anything else I want).” Although I want to maintain my humor, I want to be helpful.

So, I need your help! Read my official first blog post with the storytelling you’ve grown to love. Be sure to follow me on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. The website is still under construction so don’t @ me.

I’ll see you soon!

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THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING COUSINS

A couple of years ago, the Cousins’ Group Chat turned into an annual trip. Last year, New Orleans (read about it here). This year, we decided to trot across the California wilderness also known as Los Earthquakeles (Los Angeles), almost wine country then San Francisco (why is it so hilly). Please note, there was a list of suggested cities, that I suggested San Francisco as well as the drive so any issues we encountered may have been my fault but I prefer to blame my cousins because I lack accountability, responsibility, and maturity. 

Cause it’s expensive AF to fly from Jackson, MS, I drove to my motherland (New Orleans) then flew to Los Earthquakeles. Several hours later, I arrived. We had lunch in Beverly Hills, then I had a minor heart attack as we drove through the Hills to my cousins’ new-ass, fly-ass pad, I died, came back to life, then took a nap. When I woke up, I put my toes and ankles in their new-ass, fly-ass pool but moved to the hot tub because I am more pleasant when broiled with light butter and cajun seasoning. Our other cousin later joined us but I was too tired to acknowledge her presence because I was tired and am a middle-aged woman. Note: I am not a middle-aged woman. 

Day two featured a moment in history that I will never forget. A mutha f***ing earthquake! Mom, sorry for cursing but it was a mutha f***ing earthquake, there is no other way to describe it. I added curse word pasties, hope that helps. Anyway, we woke up later than expected, I was hungry, then everything around me started vibrating. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. My spirit left my body and floated to the top of the bathroom while my physical body held on to the sink. I returned to my body in time to catch my cousin walking down the hallway and asked her “did you see that?” She turned to me, looked me in my eyes, and said “huh?” This is such a profound response that I have to type it again:

“HUH?”

After, I was fed and had mimosas (but not enough to forget that just 24 hours into this trip, I died twice). We learned the Solvang leg of our trip was canceled due to the earthquake and because all of Southern California fell into the Pacific Ocean (also this did not happen). We spent the day hanging in West Hollywood and Los Angeles, returned to the new-ass, fly-ass pad for a 2-week nap, got back in the hot tub for a broil then to bed.

The next morning we packed the Prius and I was judged for getting a Starbucks breakfast over my cousin’s concoction. We hit the road for the six-hour drive to San Francisco where I experienced anxiety as we drove through mountains, hills, and canyons. I kept thinking a giant boulder would roll over the Prius as a result of another earthquake or aftershocks. Obviously, that didn’t happen because I have published this post.

About 45 minutes from San Francisco, my cousin asked a very important question. What were the plans once we arrived? Yes, we had planned this trip for several months and were reaching the city limits without any plans. YOLO! Our Airbnb was down the street from Dolores Park which we walked through then to the Castro District and Haight-Ashbury. During the very long walks that were supposed to be a few blocks away but were miles, I learned that I had lower body weakness. The hills and steps should be illegal yet here we are. We took a Lyft back to the apartment for obvious reasons.

A cool building in San Francisco

We got an early start on day two. We had breakfast at Pier 39, I looked towards Alcatraz and silently whispered “free JT,” we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf then back to the car to drive up to Coit Tower, then to the Golden Gate Bridge where we posed like this:

Cousin and I doing millennials poses?

The bridge and the San Francisco Bay is the third most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen (after myself and Baby Gumbeaux). After, we crossed the Bay to go to Oakland, CA for “soul food.” Please note my tone via the quotation marks. 

“Soul Food” in Oakland, CA

My cousin recommended Lena’s Soul Food Cafe. I got fried chicken, turnip greens (which I have tasted maybe twice before this visit), and mac and cheese. The portions were very large (even larger than what I’ve ever received in Mississippi). Naturally, when eating at a place like this you have to get a flavored soda. I got grape (and hated myself for it). The chicken was OK. I won’t comment on the rest of the food because I know gangs are a thing in California and I am not trying to get smoked behind “soul food.” What I will say is that it was a very black experience. In addition to the grape soda, the Color Purple was playing on the TV while Afrobeats blasted through the speakers. I think each visit should come with a certification in African American studies or something. After, we roamed a somewhat vacant and almost gentrified downtown Oakland. I asked to be dropped off to take a nap and recover from the AFRICAN AFRICAN American experience but never did. Note: African African is not a typo but the best way I can describe it.

Cool-Ass Building in Downtown Oakland

On our final day, we had breakfast and per my cousin’s request, attended church (aka vacation church which is attending church while you are supposed to be sipping mimosas on vacation). The East Bay Church of Religious Science was a new experience for me but I had been learning about similar beliefs via my cousin Rev. Karen Frost and Spirit Uncensored. The only expectations I had was that the service would be as quick as my cousin said it would be. I was surprised by the diversity and not because diversity doesn’t exist but because the church was clearly Afrocentric and unapologetic about discussing police brutality and immigration. They kept saying none of us are free until all of us are free. It was fascinating, the people were nice (a little too touchy), but I was glad for the experience; particularly, because several people called me beautiful.

East Bay Church of Religious Science

We left before the service ended and experienced traffic nearly the whole way back to Los Earthquakeles. I ate, slept for a few hours then caught a flight back to my motherland entirely too early. My Dad picked me up from the airport, we had lunch in Treme then I put the pedal to the metal back to Jackson, MS where I am still recovering. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and follow me @pinkgumbeaux on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Allen Toussaint Mural in New Orleans

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“GIRLS TRIP” FT. BABY GUMBEAUX

Last weekend, we took a short trip home, to New Orleans to celebrate a list of things Baby Gumbeaux didn’t agree to celebrate. For Father’s Day, Zaddy Gumbeaux ditched us to get some rest so it looks like it was just us girls which made this a “Girl’s Trip” Once back home, in Jackson and when Zaddy Gumbeaux walked through the door, Baby Gumbeaux proceeded to express her grievances, in no particular order, they include:

  • 2-hour drive, out past my bedtime.
  • Great Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s hot-ass house.
  • Waking me up for breakfast.
  • Mommy telling me I “can’t just eat the biscuit, that I have to eat the other breakfast.”
  • Paw Paw not paying attention to me.
  • Paw Paw paying attention to me.
  • Bath time.
  • Mommy combing my hair.
  • Paw Paw touching me.
  • Paw Paw not touching me.
  • Mommy walking out of the room.
  • Mommy getting dressed.
  • Mommy not paying attention to me.
  • Being sleepy.
  • Mommy making me take a nap because I am sleepy.
  • Mommy waking me up from my nap.
  • Car seat, again?
  • Hungry.
  • Other Paw Paw, why do I have two Paw Paws?
  • Lunch being too hot.
  • Fries.
  • Mommy telling me to “eat my own food,” I want her food.
  • Mommy not letting me drink her pretty drink, something about me being “underage.”
  • Shoes.
  • Socks.
  • More family. What’s a family? Who are these people?
  • Family talking to me.
  • Hungry.
  • Mommy cutting my food up, I am a grown and independent toddler who don’t need no man.
  • Me choking, Mommy should’ve my food up.
  • Mommy asking me to eat the other stuff.
  • Mommy touching someone named “her little brother.”
  • Some lady (aunt) touching Mommy, saying “it’s my Ashlee.” Who’s Ashlee?
  • Me Me touching Mommy, these people are the worse!
  • Some lady (aunt) giving me cake.
  • Some lady (aunt) not giving me cake.
  • Mommy making me leave. I won’t go down without a fight!
  • Chuck E. Cheese.
  • Mommy not letting me hold wine at Trader Joe’s.
  • Hungry.
  • Paw Paw touching me.
  • Paw Paw kissing me.
  • Mommy making me eat.
  • Car ride.
  • Hungry, why isn’t mommy feeding me.
  • Where is Daddy? I’ve asked this before.

Her constant outrage prompted my mother to give me a call, warning me to “prepare for her independence and strong will.” First of all, I’m from the 9th Ward. I ain’t scared of a 19-month-old who still uses a pacifier at home but isn’t brave enough to walk in her truth and use it at school. Secondly, my aunts and mom talk about my independence and strong will like it’s a curse. It’s hereditary, I get it from them. And, it’ll be nice to see where that attitude goes when molded properly opposed to endless punishment and nonstop church activities. Side note: Fairly certain, I’m still on punishment. If not, my mom will likely confiscate my phone and TV after reading this or maybe I will not pay her phone bill until she shows me some respect. I’m the captain now!

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4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY FT. MY SISTERLOCKS

I’m taking an unprecedented approach to celebrating my 4 Year Sisterlocksary (something I am sure no other blogger is brave enough to attempt). Instead of listing the usual questions, benefits, and challenges, I interviewed my Sisterlocks. Although reluctant, my Sisterlocks can be easily persuaded with brunch and mimosas.

Pink Gumbeaux: Hello, gorgeous! Thank you for agreeing to chat with me. How are you?

My Sisterlocks: Hydrated, glowing and growing.

Pink Gumbeaux: Every time we’re out, someone compliments you. Why do you get so much attention? Is it always positive?

My Sisterlocks: I think it’s because I’m long and beautiful. People also like that I’m tiny and “neat.” It makes locs more palatable. When you first got me, people were asking if I was going to loc and obviously. I mean, my name is Sisterlocks.

Pink Gumbeaux: OK, I get that.

My Sisterlocks: And, I want to add that if you didn’t like me at my shortest, don’t compliment me at my longest.

Pink Gumbeaux: You seem upset.

My Sisterlocks:

Pink Gumbeaux: Ok, you look really pissed. Let’s take a break, order another mimosa.

My Sisterlocks:

Pink Gumbeaux: People are often flabbergasted by the cost and time it takes to get you installed. Why?

My Sisterlocks: Well, it took 20 hours to install me into your head. No one is doing that for $55.25. Also, consider the longterm benefits: minimum maintenance (we relock every 5 to 6 weeks and wash every 2 weeks), little to no product usage, and you barely style me because you’re basic.

Pink Gumbeaux: Well, I’m busy.

My Sisterlocks: Yes. Busy and basic. Do you even get paid for blogging?

Pink Gumbeaux: Do you get paid for that gray hair? I just dyed you two weeks ago grandma. You’re low maintenance but we break the rules every now and then. We do use products.

My Sisterlocks: Your mama and yes, you do dye me black *coughs* basic. You bathe me in Love & Beauty Planet’s Murumuru Butter & Rose Shampoo and spray me with Rosewater. It makes me feel beautiful and wealthy. Sometimes, you add Curl’s Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste and use what’s probably expired setting lotion when you want a wave. Most importantly, you recite affirmations to me. You tell me how long, beautiful, thick, and shiny I am. I really appreciate that.

Pink Gumbeaux: We were really concerned about your edges after your body was released from incubation (aka after giving birth). We read horror stories about women shedding and losing their edges. We had some thinning on a few locs but largely avoided it. 

My Sisterlocks: Honestly, luck and the Holy Spirit was wrapped around me.

Pink Gumbeaux: Any advice for someone considering Sisterlocks?

My Sisterlocks: Research. The Sisterlocks website (which needs a makeover), blogs, vlogs, the Better Business Bureau? I’m literally just hair. Like, figure it out.

Pink Gumbeaux: Any plans for the future? Color? Maybe shave the side?

My Sisterlocks: *stares in you only wear your hair in two hairstyles so why are you even asking me this*

Pink Gumbeaux: Well, thanks again. Where can people follow you?

My Sisterlocks: Obviously, everywhere they follow you.

Well, that was probably one of the most challenging interviews I’ve ever had. I’ve already written a ton about Sisterlocks, check it out here and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @pinkgumbeaux.

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SALTY

I’m done with this year, throw the entire year away.

Photo Courtesy of my friend Natalie and Soul Synergy Center. Also, my ponytail is cute.

A combination of rave reviews and a shit week resulted in me booking an appointment to visit Mississippi’s only salt cave located inside of Soul Synergy Center in Flowood,  Mississippi.

WTH is a salt cave? What are the benefits? Such an inquisitive little reader. For more information (including cost), visit their website.

The Friday before last, I sashayed into the center in camo and platforms, with the appropriate clothing in tow. I arrived earlier than expected so I walked around their store, checked Facebook to judge you guys then walked around a bit more. I didn’t really have any expectations, was borderline skeptical but was hoping to be surprised. I thought it would be cool if I floated out of the session, glowing.

While waiting, I was informed I could get a foot massage while in the salt cave and because Husband doesn’t rub my feet longer than 3.2 minutes, I thought why not? Once in the cave, I picked one of the several zero gravity chairs, was given a warm compress for my neck and a blanket (because it’s a bit chilly in the cave). And, because I had a bit of a stressful week, I did not do a great job relaxing. Basically, my brain did the following for 44 of the 45 minutes in the cave.

And when I was finally able to clear my mind and relax, the bell rung. My time was up. I wondered if it was a waste of time and money but once I left the cave, I was able to breath better (I was a bit congested when I first entered). While my brain was still a bit frazzled, my body felt completely relaxed. Once home, I was super shocked that my eczema outbreak had completely dried up. I had a patch that had been there for a couple of weeks, most likely triggered by stress.

There was a group meditation in the salt cave the following week so of course, I went and arrived 2 seconds before the session was scheduled to begin (Flowood is far AF). I didn’t want to attend because my sucky week rolled into the new week but that was also the reason I needed to go. Once again, I really didn’t have any expectations and was too stuck in my head to wonder what group meditation would be like.

I was not as successful at clearing my mind but thanks to the instructor’s reminders to clear our thoughts (hey Beth), I took those as opportunities to start again. A few times during the meditation, I felt chills and was later told there was a lot of energy in the cave. I thought I was just cold, should’ve wore a sweater. Maybe, it was my pony tail growing to the butt-length I’ve been desiring for the last couple years. Either way, I’ll be back.

If you’ve ever been to a salt cave, tell me about your experience. If you’ve been to the one in Soul Synergy Center, how was it? If you want to buy my friendship, please buy a session for me.

Follow me everywhere @pinkgumbeaux.