Let’s keep this party going, shall we?? This feels like ripping my skin off. How odd…But I refuse to believe that literature is dead and that all we care about are girlfriend stories, brothers on the down low stories, Jesus stories…there’s room for a wannabe Toni Morrison, right? Please?
Here it goes… part two….
“Fuck. No lie. I try to
Not like you but
You are a lost soul like I
And must I put myself
Aside to get larger than I
Am so that I can be better
But you are cool as shit
And he is just dick so
Growth means friend is larger
Than sex that’s harder
Flash forward forty years
See me on the porch with you
He married to someone else new
We laugh at jokes started just today
Grandkids at our feet to play
Yes this scene makes my heart swell with love
Rather than remembering a come that may or may not fit like a glove.”
It was one of her better poems and I’m not just saying that because it’s about me. Okay, maybe I am. But it is one of her better poems (all of us would agree later on this). Soon after this, she would start reciting her poems with her eyes closed and touching herself in a way that made most of us who knew her uncomfortable. Then came the sexual politics metaphors. Oil wells exploding. Eyelashes blinking back tears of hunger….blah blah blah. Most importantly, Gayl pulled a good poem out of her ass to be my friend. I mean, she did that for me. It was the first time anybody had ever written anything aside from a dopey obligatory love letter, just for me. That means she thought about me since we saw each other. More than though, she contemplated. And at that age, I didn’t know that people gave two shits about you once they walked away after shaking your hand. I told you I had issues. Chic Aunt Lucy with issues. I wrote one back but I don’t read out loud, on stage, all vulnerable and shit. So I sent it to her in the mail. This was before the largesse of email. I wrote it on a napkin that night on the C train uptown, with the lights going off and on and me trying not to be freaked out since that’s beginning of most horror movies. I write (sometimes I close my eyes and let them roll back a bit…so weird…like I need some wacky Ouija board visualization to tap into whatever talent I have…I know I’m crazy)…Well, I can’t really show you what I write because I’m not a performer like these guys. It will take me longer than this moment to be a writer. At this point in my life, I’m attempting to be a writer. I don’t have the shit in me to own who I am yet. And the poem I wrote her was about that.
Me and Gayl? As best friends as we could be. After all, we are artists and we’re about the same age and there is a suspicious unsure wall among us sometimes. Not because we don’t love each other. But because we aren’t sure of ourselves yet. I know, I’m starting to sound like a women’s cable channel but you’ll figure out what I mean by that when I introduce Vangey though you already probably have fantastical idea about it already. Basically, none of us have super sympathy for one another because we don’t have enough sympathy for ourselves yet.
Where Hiero and I go from here is a bit more tricky because there are more people involved and, well, so is sex so you know that shit is COMPLICATED (though I hate that word because we use it interchangeably for the word “dramatic” since that’s what we really mean but that word makes us look like we’re immature since we can all get rid of drama. But we can’t get rid complication easily, right?). But Hiero is no where near as complicated, I mean, dramatic as El and I were. El deserves a larger introduction but I think it’s cool to mention, at this point, that El is not his real name. El is what I use because it’s that general masculine Spanish connotation. He’s not Spanish. But he sure is masculine and general. More of El later. Not ready. Inside. Broke my heart. Bad. One word sentences must tell you something.
We’re back at the concert now because Gayl has come back and she is going to start wondering why I’m not talking and I can’t very well tell her that I’m telling the story of all of us in my head so that I can finally write a worthwhile book, now can I? Okay I could but that wouldn’t go over well. Too revealing of my own artistic insecurities. I might as well say “I’m wack” out loud.
“What did you say?” Gayl asks me. “Why are you wack?”
Inside voice, Larri, I say. Inside voice.
“I said, ‘This is wack.’” We are still watching MC Poet thrash around the stage like some bootleg version of Wu Tang, thinking that just because they say they’re “spoken word artists” that they don’t have to be held up to the same standard.
“Yeah. Vangey’s fucking that one right there.” Gayl points to the tall Bob Marley like one with locs piled on top of his head. Very roots, except for the fact that he’s wearing what looks like a fur tracksuit.
“He looks hot…literally. Why isn’t his ass on fire yet?” Gayl laughs with me. “Where’s Hiero?”
“Ran into an old girlfriend.”
“Are you serious? Fucking everywhere we go! Did I tell you we ran into a Hieroian—“ my word for his exes (I’m kind of one of them but that’s coming)—“in Florence?? All of us walking out to do that day tour of Sienna. We sit on the bus and there’s Rose.”
Gayl looks at me with a wrinkle-nose. She doesn’t remember Rose??? What kind of friends do I have?
“Rose! The beautifulreddreadloclegsunderherchinblemishfreefatfree Rose who started the nonprofit when she was thirteen.”
“Oh right! Saint Rose. I remember. Hated her. Except for when she got me that speaking gig when my rent was due. But I went back to hating her after that. Wow, things were kinda easy back then. All I had to do was say I needed a gig and somebody would come through at the last minute. I asked Hiero to see if there was work where he is.”
“You what?” Is this Gayl talking? Gayl who doesn’t unpack her suitcase because life might call? Gayl who, at one point, could go almost anywhere in the world because of all the damn frequent flier miles she racked up on gigs alone? Gayl who was on Off Broadway (I say that with envy. I’m strong enough to admit envy…to myself).
“Well, Lar, I need money. The magazine might go straight down and hit the bricks like ‘Savoy’ and all those other ones. This ain’t dot com anymore. What do you want me to do? Fuck. I don’t want to talk about it now. In fact, let me just be quiet for a second.” She starts looking around. I’ve learned to let her do her own psycho-dramas and wait for her to come back to earth when she’s done. That took awhile to learn so I hope I’m getting some applause or something.
I have to steal a moment to tell this story and hopefully I’ll use inside voice so Gayl doesn’t think I’m ready for the padded room. Gayl not remembering Rose, or, should I say “not remembering Rose” is for a reason. Let’s see, how to phrase this ….Rose was after me but before Gayl even though Gayl and Hiero didn’t do anything with penetration however it doesn’t matter because Gayl is possessive and still doesn’t even get along with Hiero’s wife, though she’s quite amazing. Make sense? Fuck. Fine. Here’s the story.
I moved to Harlem because it was cheaper even though everybody lived in Brooklyn. Plus I got fat in Brooklyn. I like Jamaican food WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much. And it likes me so much that it won’t go away. Anyways, poetry gigs starting coming uptown and sometimes Hiero didn’t want to go all the way home to Brooklyn on the train. So he started crashing at my place. Which was fine. I had an extra room, or opening—more like opening since it was a railroad apartment that was kind of crooked. And this happened on and off for about six months before I accidentally saw Hiero’s pee pee. He was sleeping and his boxer shorts were open and I was going to the bathroom. Pee pees aren’t pretty and I didn’t get this whole desire to do it to him then (I had to say that in case some dude got the wrong idea about how women see a penis and then just start salivating. Check yourself.). No, it started on a specific day. When he made me breakfast (he’d broken from his vegan diet around this time—but only for a second). Right. And it was good. It went something like this:
Hiero: You need to go shopping. You don’t have any food.
Me: I always eat in Brooklyn. There’s coffee though.
Hiero: Well, I went and got some stuff so I made you something to eat.
Me: What? What could you have possibly made?
Hiero: Cheese eggs and French toast. Don’t fall in love.
Me: I will…with the food.
Hiero: You’re like a dude, sometimes. You know that? But then other times, you flirt all passive aggressive.
Me: Do not.
Hiero: Do too.
Me: Prove it.
And that’s when he kissed me. Not like he stole my ball on the playground. Like a man kisses a woman, which didn’t happen very often to me back then because I was a baggy jean, thrift store girl who had no idea what “high heels” meant (I think I thought it was some sort of foot condition or maybe even what dancers had). We spent that afternoon kissing. Really. Just kissing. If men only knew that sometimes if you devote an afternoon to tongue foreplay that you would get the goods most assuredly…apparently Hiero knew that. Granted there was other stuff that got rubbed on but seriously, his lips…fine. Anyways, that day was the beginning of a lot of afternoons with Hiero and me and us separated from nosey folks because I lived where none of the crew lived…yet. He would call me from the train station on 125th St. and say “It’s me. We’re going on a date. I’m paying. You’re eating. No dutch. We ain’t going as friends.” And I would say, “Hiero, you don’t have to—“ and then he would say, “So five o’clock at the African spot? Perfect.” Click. Macho. Sexy. Not satanic and evil and demanding. Just macho. And sexy.
Whenever I went to Brooklyn, I kind of had to not show that we were um, “kicking it” because there were always eyes watching and, let’s face it, we were young and there was no way you could’ve told me that I was The Only. I wanted to be. But later I would discover that was only because of my ego and not because Hiero and I would make great babies together. So our “thing” was an invisible big pink elephant, shoved in the corner of the Tulip or the street or somebody’s apartment, with everyone else’s elephants. How fun! How tense!
After about six months, there’s really no way to avoid the “what are we doing” bit. I mean, maybe there is but I’m not sure I’m good at it. My heart is too heavy not to fall for people I’m sleeping with. And maybe that kind of shows in my behavior (what I wouldn’t give to just date me for a few months just to see how I am. Right now, I’m biased) because, as you know, things don’t always stay joyous and full of free Senegalese dinners.
It was a Wednesday. I was eating mafe (peanut stew with fish) and trying not to go stupid over the couscous. Hiero had stew vegetables and mac and cheese. I think I was wearing a shirt he left over my house. And I think that’s when the ton of bricks fell on him. Ton of bricks=you’re sleeping with a girl you like who is acting like she’s falling for you.
Hiero: “Um, is that my shirt?”
Me: “Oh, yeah. I think so. You left it and I didn’t do laundry.”
Hiero makes sour face. Larri shifts uncomfortably. You see where this is going. Do you? Because I didn’t. Pretty shade of red! Who knew they were flags? We go back to my apartment. We have sex in my bed-in-a-bag sheets on top of my then-expensive futon (it would take me a while to go back to a real bed because futons seemed so much cooler though I’m not sure why because they were heavy as shit, not easy to move and never long enough for my, ahem, tall lovers). He gets up in the morning. And then never calls me from the train station again. No more free Senegalese dinners. No more marathon sex. No more macho. All on the platonic now. Without even a conversation (I’d get that later—but I was over it by then).
Do I act a fool and start boiling rabbits? No. After a few attempts at paging Hiero (I SO just dated this thing) with no calls back, I knew the score. After all, my whole life has been about being a “Cool Girl.” I’m the girl that men can talk shit with, laugh with, not worry about language, catty bullshit. I’m just mad cool. So Hiero gets off free. With me, anyways. More than a couple of girls would put his dick on stage, including Gayl. And that’s where were we are now. Aren’t we? No! Rose! Rose and Gayl! Fuck. Okay.
So, Rose came breezing through Tulip, the café spot, one day from some place like Ethiopia or London or something. She had one of those hard to place sexy accents, legs under her chin, curly hair that could almost be kinky if she had grown up in Alabama or something and not Botswana or Katmandu (I can’t remember where the hell she grew up). Everything was “charming” and “radical” to Rose. She liked to tell people that she wasn’t Rose the flower, she was Rose the verb. I mean seriously…so anyways, Rose walks into Tulip (hey! I never saw how ridiculous that looked on the page until I just thought about it) and every man with a pulse turned around with his tongue hanging out. She even pissed off the Masala Girls. She was dark like root beer but her eyes and smile were bright like stars on top of a Christmas tree. She was one of those sexy girls where you could see her clavicle. You know what I mean. She touched all the time so you could see how swan-like she was. I remember once I tried to recreate the whole African wrap over my jeans like I saw her do and I literally looked like Oprah’s Sophia from “The Color Purple” when she’s barreling through the fields towards Whoopie.
Rose and Hiero hit it off grand right when Gayl was making her move on him. No, she didn’t know really that he and I had a “thing” and even if she did know Gayl wouldn’t stop over a “thing.” She stopped over obvious relationships. You see the difference? My heart didn’t at the time but that’s okay. She’d been making her move. She’d been calling Hiero and buying him these obscure graphic novels, taking him to dinner, getting him booked on shows with her. I mean, anything she could do to get him at least somewhat engaged in her face, she would do. And not all pathetic like because that’s not Gayl’s style. In fact, she was very self assured the whole way through her plot to get Hiero in her bed. Then Rose comes. And Rose is so nice and so girlfriend-like, despite being almost unreal and completely the archetype of the “Hot Conscious Hip Hop Video Girl”. You could talk to Rose. Hell, I talked to Rose. With ease! The girl has not a mean bone in her hot body. Maybe a few flakey bones but that comes with age. What I’m saying is that she’s irresistible and I’m not sure why Gayl didn’t put two and two together. I know Hiero, as usual, was oblivious because he only understand like obvious plays for him and not passive aggressive shit.
Gayl is so passive aggressive sometimes. Like you have to think twice to make sure she’s saying what she’s saying which is annoying. I mean even right now here at the concert. She is acting out her psycho-drama but she REALLY wants me fall over her decision to get a job. She keeps doing the sideways glance at me while looking back checking for Hiero. I know the score, Gayl. Keep your eyes moving. It’s a good thing we’re listening to a DJ right now and he’s mixing Blackalicious and Diana Ross. Props to him!
Back to Gayl and how she totally fucked herself with Hiero, kind of. Anyways, I’m sure Hiero kissed her a few times because everyone during this time kissed everyone. That’s not a big deal. It’s totally an answer to a period of time when I think we all forgot about kissing…during our first fucking years. Fine. Great. But Rose and Hiero starting performing together. Riiiight. You feel me now, right? Rose is an accomplished violinist, along with all that other stuff she can do so perfectly (bitch). So Hiero got up on stage and did his performing skills which were somewhere along the line of Butterfly from Digable Planets and George Carlin—I know, hard to picture. That’s why he was good. So then add Rose up there with her red—yes RED–violin and you see. Right. So Gayl didn’t think twice, which I don’t understand because I could see it totally from the back of Tulip, sucking on a chai (which I hate but I drank because it was the new thing—so shallow). And then Gayl tells me that she and Rose hang out. So I think, cool, maybe they’re doing a threesome or whatever. Too public for me but that’s cool. And I imagined for some reason all of them hanging from that African fabric Gayl has hanging from her ceiling over her light bulb and pouring candle wax all over each other while listening to old records of The Last Poets (Gayl has a record player—cause she’s one of those kind of cool-like-thats) and sticking mangos in each other’s orifices. I’m so nasty. Not that nasty though because the image grossed me out. I think I just love Gayl’s afro-chic apartment. I was imagining lots of loving but you know that’s not what was going on for real. It went down in one night (don’t most things though?).
Picture this: Hiero and Rose get announced by Mic (pronounced like “Mike”—clever, so clever), the MC for that particular poetry night (because there are several—okay, three event nights at Tulip). And it’s Choco-ratica Night. So Hiero and Rose go up to the stage, dressed in chocolate brown together. Rose’s red violin attached at her side and…they come up HOLDING HANDS! Hiero is NOT a hand holder. I gasp. Out loud. Like. LOUD. And then I cough. Because I was so not trying to be that obvious. I look for Gayl. And she’s off to the side talking to Vangey (still haven’t introduced her properly aside from us being at her concert and her being a rimmed out SUV-lover but she’s coming) when I see her eyes get about as big as the spotlight on the stage. In fact, you could’ve used the whites of her eyes as a spotlight. Complete “What The Fuck” in her eyes. Sucker punched in the heart! Or the vaginal area. Not sure if she loved him or if she just wanted him because most girls did. Rose and Hiero proceed to do some kind of Jay Z/Beyonce type duet that makes me quite green and I continually talk to myself while I’m watching. It goes something like:
“Larri, you’re pretty. You’re smart. You were not the one for him. And that’s okay. Someone will love you too. You will love you. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and by golly…” You get it. Talking down from your internal ledge. Here’s what I know: I only wish I was Rose being loved. I know I don’t wish I was Hiero’s girl. Too many problems…like this one:
They finish their Richie/Ross-like duet and Choco-rotica breaks for a few moments (intermission, if you will) and then Gayl totally avoids them. Slithers off like a shamed snake and goes outside to smoke a bidi (bidi: small rolled tobacco like cigarette in brown paper that comes in flavors and probably lights your insides on fire) with some random people. However, said random people are really funny and catty as hell and so therefore have something mean and hysterically jaw-dropping to say about EVERYONE. And this time they are dissing Rose.
Catty Person #1: Somebody needs to tell Mahogany Diva that we don’t do violins, honey. We speak drum.
Catty Person #2: I’m saying! What is up with Nefer-nono and her one note fiddle twitching?? I ain’t heard that girl play more than two songs on that fiddle.
Catty Person #1: Member when she came out with the incense stick in her mouth while she played that Erykah Badu song?
Catty Person #2: Remember? I think I got a tattoo of that night on my back since Gayl made me laugh so hard. Gayl, do what you did that night! Come on, girl, that shit was funny!
And then Gayl caves in. I mean the Catty Club Kids are so funny that it’s hard not to cave in. Their wit and banter make you feel like the lion in “The Wiz “when he gets to the opium fields. All bad news. Gayl actually does more than cave in because cave in really could just be laughing with them. No, Gayl goes one step further and actually redoes that little pantomime she did. With great detail. To the point where she kind of looks like she’s playing charades or something while not being able to breathe. It’s pretty funny actually. Except not when Hiero is coming out of Tulip behind you. Does Catty Club give you a head’s up? No way. Gayl turns around and there he is, staring at her, like she’s the old used up tea bag on the bottom of his shoe. And he keeps going. Because what I like about Hiero is that he is not an immediate fighter. He will not cuss you out in the street. He will go home, he will shit, eat, sleep, do push ups, watch Twilight Zone reruns, listen to Abbey Lincoln or Frank Sinatra at two in the morning, clean, write and read without speaking to you until he has calmed down but he will not give you the satisfaction of acting a fool in the street. Gayl runs after him down Fulton Ave. but he has already turned down a dark side street with trees that look like bridges with Rose, who is shoving a spring roll in her mouth and wondering why Hiero’s jaw is clenching.
I am not sure how Hiero and Rose’s relationship went because there wasn’t that door for us to come in and out of their business. I mean, I know she tried moving in with him but that didn’t work because they both require too much personal space and found that they did better visiting. I know that she got him and a couple of us to do college poetry tours through her nonprofit which was really into promoting literacy (the one she started when she was like 15 when she found out her grandmother didn’t know how to read since she was from that island that I can’t remember). I know neither one of them was afraid of being with or without each other in public. I know he wasn’t a fan of her sister who liked fucking NBA players. I know she didn’t love his Masala family since they weren’t very warm to her but that’s because they weren’t warm initially anyway. And then I know the pregnancy scare put them both over the edge and they realized (there are rumors that one of them “realized” it more than the other but nobody can get it together to say which) that they weren’t right for each other.
“Two alphas leave no room for the rest of the alphabet to spring from our equation and bring forth new,” he wrote in a poem that he did one really sad night at Tulip. He pulled a Miles Davis. You know that story? Maybe you don’t since it’s a Detroit tale and not many folks are hip. Raining night in the 1960s in Detroit. Miles Davis walks into Baker’s Keyboard Lounge with his trumpet under his blazer. He walks on stage and plays a heartbreaking rendition of “My Funny Valentine” and is gone as fast as he came in. I love that story. That’s what Hiero did the night he and Rose broke up. He wouldn’t have a serious girlfriend until he met his current wife. Crazy. Lots of Hiero-ians in between though.
He eventually forgave Gayl but you know something else happened to change their relationship from potential to “hell to the naw” that neither one of them ever talk about. I heard it was after he and Rose were on the outs. I heard they met up at the Cadillac Bar (it’s exactly what it sounds like—long, leather, flashy, pimpy, red and time warped) for drinks one night, both to pour their broken hearts out, which was tricky since Gayl’s broken heart was because of her changed friendship with Hiero. And Hiero’s broken heart was over the girl he’d always imagined he’d end up with. One of the Catty Kids saw them kissing in the Clinton Washington subway. Gayl didn’t answer her phone the next morning (I remember calling that day for something so uninteresting that I’m not sure what it was now). Here are the words that they both let slip over the next few years about it:
Shit on neck
Favorite socks gone?
Bruise from stool
Painted circle on her floor
Anyways, this is my second novel and it’s called “Girls Boys Headwraps and Haikus” and it’s VERY loosely based on my time becoming a woman in Brooklyn during an artistic movement that was as authentic as my discovery of mangos in my 20s. No lie. Never had one before that.
To kick it off…something from my homegirl, my little mama, my Jessica Care Moore-Poole (buy a book dammit). Below is her poem “I Am A Work In Progress”:
I was born writing
This story just popped in my head while I was standing here. I’m about to do a fucking cartwheel amongst the half tickets, beer spills, lost gum and old hot dog buns. Let me tell you why I’m excited. I’m a writer who doesn’t write. I’ve come up with all of these really amazing “theories” as to why I don’t write (you know—“I think writing is beyond pen to paper; it’s idea to brain” or “I collect stories and wait for them to sort themselves out” or “This is a delicate story I have to tell; it needs care…”—I got a million of ‘em). Picture this: Hot day in New York. Sun is peaking through all the buildings like a child playing hide and seek. Millions of people are walking down the street—some poorly because they’re tourists and they’re looking up instead forward. All of us pedestrians, however, have our worlds wrapped around us as we charge to where we’re going. Almost like a force field that’s invisible to everyone but ourselves. Some are wearing the “where’s rent coming from” and some are rocking the “No, that shit didn’t just happen to me” when this happens to me:
“¡Oye bebé! ¿Puedo obtener yo de ese caminata?”
One of the first sentences I heard uttered by somebody I didn’t know in New York. Celebratory, huh? Some man thinking I was from his island cause I looked like his sister. Here’s my problem: I don’t speak Spanish. I speak Detroit.
“La chica negra, usted es bonito. Venga conmigo al Starbuck es para el café.”
“Starbuck’s is down by the Kmart on Astor Place, I think.”
He shook his head and licked his lips, staring at my hair, and walked away. I have no idea what happened. Which leads me to this moment. I thought of my intro to New York because I feel just as confused here, right now, as I did then, when little Pablo gave me his wrap…wrong audience.
I’m possibly the wrong audience right here in this stadium with the plastic cups of beer under your feet and the smell of hotdogs on a stick mixed in with some chronic smell that’s attached itself to tracksuits, hair pieces and thousand dollar purses. It starts at this moment because this is the last damn place anybody ever thought it would end up. We were just minding our business minding the world in a cliché coffee shop trying to be new and improved beatniks and revolutionaries when somehow it all blindsided us and took us on this road to this theatre where we’re watching…a poetry concert. Like a “Put your hands in the air! And wave ‘em like you just don’t care! And if somebody’s feeling prose instead of hoes let me hear ya say OH YEAH!” type concert. I mean so, so, so something I can’t name. More because some folks are like “OH YEAH!” I mean I guess this is better than wave your guns but, um, this feels like a bad movie that had good intentions.
I look at Hiero and Gayl and I think that we think we’re in some sort of time zone lapse because “Throw Your Hands in The Air” isn’t quite what we heard along the way to where we were standing. I don’t mean the literal walk from the car to the concert but way before that. And we’re just fucking hoping that Vangeline doesn’t come out on some old star-type shit…I mean she’s our girl and all but we haven’t seen her in awhile and this is Hollywood. And even Madonna wrote a song about “Hollywood” so we KNOW this place is Babylon. Plus she drives an SUV despite the war in Iraq. I asked her about it and she sucked her teeth like I was a hippy. “I got these rims for a steal, girl,” she said. “I have to go; somebody’s trying to cut me off on the 101. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, GRANDPA??? Sorry, Larri. Call you back…MOTHAFUCKA-“ Click. I was in Brooklyn. I didn’t know what a “101” was and it was three in the morning. Vangey doesn’t know time difference. Scratch that. Vangey could give a fuck about time difference.
What she does give a fuck about is us dropping everything to come see her. But none of us were sure why. It’s not like this is her first tour. It’s her first concert, maybe, that we’ve seen but we left the road of poetic ingenuity a long time ago so most everything poetry-related would be new to us. Gayl maybe less than us. She makes money from it still. But Vangey called all of us, out of the blue, demanding that we fly here to see her because of something she “had” to go through with us. I said “maybe” which means “no” because I just don’t do those things anymore where I drop shit to go see drama. Too old. Gayl was in Seattle covering a possible lead in the Biggy murder. Hiero would never turn down a free ticket, that is, unless his wife wouldn’t let him go. But she did. So he’s here.
“Dude,” Hiero says not in the white boy surfer way but in the ‘round the way kind of way, “This shit is on some old…man, yo…” Though not articulate right now, Hiero is one of the best poets of all time. He’s just a father, a husband and an advertising writer now. But he’s the bomb. He will do anything for anybody in his circle, no matter how much they have acted a fool towards him. That story will come out later.
“I mean…I could see if we were here to see Kweli and Mos, maybe even Jessica and her band but…did he just say…?” Gayl was an okay poet back in the day. I mean she meant well and all but she never quite hit the nail on the head. And then, self-admittedly, she got involved in the whole sensual politics thing, going around talking about war but doing it in that breathless Marilyn Monroe type way. It works for some people. Not Gayl. Now she’s a hip hop journalist. Thank god, for fate. And for the fact that her man is the Editor-In-Chief. Thank god for love and fate. Or lust. Or just thank god altogether since that might be a theme later. But let me not let you have sympathy or care about Gayl because she’s great. She is older than me by a few years but all I ever want to do is put her in my purse and walk around with her.
“Yo, ma,” this dude said to her at the Union Square train station, “you smell like cookies. Are you a cookie? With yo fine self…Let me conversate with you for a second, Bronze Queen. That your real hair color? It’s hot, like copper and shit. You dance in videos? You got that video vibe. I’m liking your style—“
She cut him off with just a look. Didn’t stop him from licking his lips. Didn’t stop her from spitting while she looked at him.
Me? I talk shit. From the sidelines mostly because I never really had enough courage to rock a mic or a stage like everybody else did. I’m the observer, the one voted mostly likely to write all this shit down later when our dust settled and our intentions didn’t quite live up to our goals. I’m Larri. Weird name. Portuguese. After my grandfather. Don’t trip. I’m a girl rocking the metro-gender name. And I’m a coward. I hide behind my own words. I’m a struggling writer. I had higher hopes for myself and my own inflated PR is running thin. It’s not like I’m about to get over on my looks. I figure, in the grand scheme of hanging out around this town, I could be one of the backstage girls, but not THE backstage girl.
I’m orange (I had a boyfriend call me that) or pumpkin colored with jet black dreadlocs (now—later it might be different since I’m addicted to hair color), chocolate eyes—I’m Chic Aunt Lucy. That’s what this girl said to me. She said I reminded her of her Chic Aunt Lucy that used to wear dashikis, black horned rimmed glasses, go go boots and sport a long Virginia Slim back in Evanston, IL when EVERYBODY thought the Black Panthers was a football team on the South Side. Chic Aunt Lucy with issues. That’s me.
Hiero and Gayl go get more mini-kegs and I’m happy about that because I like Hiero so much more now that he’s not a tree humper and professing some kind of unusual love for Mother Earth and only eating roots, twigs, leaves and such. Beer is natural, I used to tell him, the Indians drink it like water. He used to eat broccoli for fun…until the babies started coming. Try telling a baby how much fun broccoli is.
I didn’t begin that story right. Let me start this way. While they’re gone, I will introduce the both of them so I can properly do my reflection about everybody else without being rude. That way they won’t interject while I’m trying to describe them.
I met Hiero when I was trying out the subway for the first time after I moved to New York from Detroit. I was going to college in Brooklyn but I had no idea how to get anywhere. So I used to ride the train a lot longer than I needed to because god forbid I ask somebody. I would ride until I recognized something. That’s me: learning by fuck up. So anyways, one day I’m on the train reading Faulkner and in addition to not knowing where the fuck I was (the colors of the trains and the colors of the train on the map don’t add up! Just so you know…) I had no idea what the hell Faulkner was talking about towards the end of “Light In August.” I mean so abrupt. Like he was saying “Figure it out, asshole.” Like the train. So I had the only look of confusion on my face. And when I looked up, there were NO black people on the train. So I was screwed. Because this wasn’t Brooklyn. Then a stop comes. And I do the “Is this my stop” dance—body on the train, toe dancing from the platform back to the train in hopes that I figure out in the five seconds it takes for the doors to close, where I am.
“Don’t get off here,” a voice said. I hadn’t been to church in awhile. Is God talking to me? Then I see it’s actually this tall dark-skinned dude (Hiero=Posdnous from De La Soul—split at birth) with a backpack, some Pumas and a Charlie Brown t-shirt. Classic. “You get off here, you’ll be waiting until you’re crusty.”
I laugh. People around us are all in the mix because we’re having a strange conversation like the one they always wanted to have but never really had because most people are guarded by the time they turn twenty-seven (scientific, ain’t I?). Hiero is holding the pole and reading a Neil Gaiman graphic novel. I “hung out with” (code word: I liked him, he wasted my time) a wannabe illustrator once so I know who some of these rockstar nerds are. Hiero looks down at my book.
“No wonder you’re confused.” Then he goes back to his book. And I stand there. He smells like an incense shop. I imagine it’s because (as I later find out) he wears one oil on his body, one is probably left over on his shirt from when he wore it last, one oil he had stays on his jacket from last spring and one he runs through his hair. There are about four too many but that’s okay because they kind of compliment each other in that manly oil sort of way. Like when kids put ketchup AND mustard on their faces.
“I want to go to Brooklyn,” I say to him.
“Brooklyn is big.”
“I’m going to Levels Institute.”
“The smart school? Baby girl, you are so on the wrong train. You want to take this to Union Square. You want to transfer to the…”
I’m staring at him blankly. I’m a smart girl but this subway system is a maze. Like people who do bad things to society should be sent here to figure out how to get home. And if you die in the mean time, what are you gonna do? Later, I would find a fascination with the subway. But that’s another story. Hiero is tall and my neck is starting to hurt. He notices that I’ve spaced out.
“Look, I could go there now. I wasn’t going to but my boy lives around the way so I’ll show you.”
“Am I supposed to wonder if you’re about to kidnap me or something?”
“I don’t exert that much effort to get a girl.” And I knew I liked him. He could give two shits about me. This was going to be a great friendship.
Flash forward, he shows me how to get where I need to be blah blah. In true typical New York style, this is not the last I see of Hiero. Actually the next time I see him is when I see Gayl for the first time. Spooky. We had matching headwraps. That’s like worse than wearing the same damn dress to a party. Let me tell you. A girl can go out of her way to make her crown look unique. I mean sometimes we’re only peacocks to our core, screaming “Look at me! Look at me!”
It was like we were in the Michael Jackson “Beat It” video. She circled me. I circled her. All around us women are saying “Peace Queen” to each other. But we’re bitches. And we like it. We smile at each other and nod at each other’s headwrap. She looks at my Converse and I look at her cute Indian top.
“I don’t want to like you but I feel like I’m going to anyway,” she says to me.
And then, just as I opened my mouth, these three Indian girls with their saris and jeans, exotic complicated hair jewelry and champa smell and exposed bellies with legs for days walked in between us. Which was fine. Except forty-seven brothas, with dreams of exocticizing in their eyes, were trailing them like they just got off the whore boat, which they didn’t. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t treated that way. One of them even bumps us out of the way without an “excuse me.” And I’m mad.
“Yo! Are you so anxious to run your fingers through her straight hair that you gotta put your big foot on my toe and not act like you got a mama that taught you way better than that???” One day, my mouth is going to get me in trouble.
“My bad.” That’s all he says. However, the Indian tribe looks at him with the same crazy expression me and Gayl are giving him. Not only did he disrespect his queens in efforts to get some other country’s queens…
“You got moted,” one of the Indian girls says to him and the rest of us laugh. Even his boys start moving away from him sl0wly. They all sort of mosey along, even wack boy, leaving me and Gayl standing there.
“What ‘moted’ mean?” she asks me.
“Dammit. I’m gonna have to like that bitch too.” And we laugh. And then we see Hiero walking with one of the Indian girls. And we aren’t smiling anymore for a few reasons (at this point I can only give you my few reasons…Gayl had her own): 1) I had developed a crush on Hiero even though I hadn’t seen him since that day probably because he was the only tall black man I knew who looked like he could get me (so superficial—like a Charlie Brown t-shirt says “I love you, Larri!”). 2) At this point, I’ve been around enough to know that the straight haired girls with the fill-in the blank au lait skins usually get the boys that I think I would like. I’m average brown. And I’m wack for using the word average even though I’m bitter. 3) I hate underlying subtext and I’ve just discovered that Gayl (because of her reaction too) has some kind of connection to my crush who doesn’t really like me but obviously my heart is bored and needs a hobby.
“Don’t like her again.” Gayl says.
“Curry over collard greens. Happens more times than you can imagine,” I say, just as Hiero walks over to us with Masala girl.
“Y’all know each other? Course. What up, ladies?’ We are all standing around waiting for the show in the loft to begin. It’s hot as a whore house in the summertime and my headwrap is making me want to melt. But I’m styling. All of us are standing with some kind of internal dialogue going on. I know it. There’s pouting, there’s standoffishness, there’s oblivion (guess which one since men NEVER seem to be clued into woman shit?) and there’s defensiveness.
“You two know Prana? Prana, you know Gayl and Larri?” Hiero says in this sort of absent way. Like he abandoned this introduction mid-way through and only followed through because he has hometraining. We all nod at each other. And then I realize that Gayl and I didn’t know each other’s name. And I start laughing. Which makes me look certifiable since nobody knows what’s going on in my head. But they can’t hear me. Because the show is about to start.
“Lofty” is a space owned by this one tribe of web designers who live and work in this massive space in Brooklyn Heights. One night a month, they throw a big poetry night and everyone who’s anyone goes. There are a few people from my school but it’s best that we keep those boundaries clear. School. Social. Conscious. This is my problem. Everything is connected but I choose at this point in my life to believe they aren’t and I can control everything. Foreshadow! Foreshadow! Foreshadow!
Anyway, back to “Lofty.” It’s hot. It’s packed. Mostly everyone is hot in that “do it to you” kind of way, all backed up against the brick walls merging into the artistic graffiti. In fact, it does look sort of like a pre-orgy with everyone sitting all on top of each other and standing all close and what not. And then it gets worse when Lib gets onstage. I think Lib means “sex” in some language I don’t know because it comes out of his skin and floats through the air and lands somewhere on the inside of a girl’s underwear. I have confirmed this with a bunch of girls I know. Walking down the street, he’s not much to look at it, pretty average. But put his average height, average weight, average face on stage and something pretty much above average happens. His hair is in coils everywhere, his mustache hugs his face, he likes to take his shirt off to reveal a really lean vegetarian enhanced small build and he moves like a cat. Not to mention that he has the tattoo of a subway token on his chest. How many times he’s heard “Can I ride?” or “How much is your token?” I can’t tell you but I’m sure I said something dumber than those and still got the same evasive stare the other more clever girls got. Whatever. He rhymes like he ate dictionaries for breakfast, lunch and dinner (just as tasty as those veggie meals he comes up with, I bet).
With poetry, at least in those days, you didn’t need a DJ or a beat really because there was something in the air that made it for you…and it was collective. We all heard the same space in between each word. DJ’s got their own time. Poets had theirs.
We are all still standing their: me, Hiero, Gayl and Masala Girl. Don’t think I’m being racist. That’s what she calls herself, I find out later. She’s, of course, a “spoken word artist” (we aren’t sure what that means because it kind of sounds like smooth jazz) and performs under the name Masala Girl with a bunch of other girls from the Caribbean: Honey Coconut and La Dulce. Think Destiny’s Child except…well, not. Don’t think Destiny’s Child. Think poetry that wants to be ethnically sensual but kind of comes out like a cultural roll call.
“Baby let me tell you about my mama’s rice and beans cause that’s what’s up in these jeans…” begins one of their poems. “Ohhh ginger ginger ginger on the tip of my tongue, lingering everywhere I have been, burning through my body to satisfy needs I don’t know about yet…” says another. You get my point. I’m usually very hungry after they read a poem.
But let me stop because I don’t know about this, in the moment I’m telling you about. What I do know is that Hiero is surrounded by some dramatic female energy and we are potentially being catty in our heads and possibly with our battle language. Meow, kitty. Psycho-dramas ends when:
“Hiero, I’ll see you. I gotta get home. Remember Dad wants you to come over and be the ref for the kids’ game tomorrow,” Masala Girl says.
“Tell Mom to check your homework this time, dude. You can’t be pulling that bullshit ass shit about you seeing the answers with your third eye,” He says back to her. She flips him the middle finger and walks away. Her torso is almost as long as the column she passes and her hair sways around her waist like it’s playing hide-and-seek.
“Couldn’t pay me to be seventeen anymore,” he says. Gayl and I are confused.
“That’s your sister??”
“Yeah. I’m adopted by my parents’ best friends. They died.” He doesn’t look at us. But he should because we’re bitches. And we deserve the evil eye for being catty bitches towards a guy’s sister. We both feel it. And then…well, the obvious happens. We turn on each other, internally. Remember nothing is being said. But women know. And, in typical damn fashion, Hiero is oblivious.
“That nukka is DOPE!” he yells.
Nukka? What the hell is a “nukka”? It takes me two months to learn that it’s one of those attempts to not use “nigga” but still be fresh. I haven’t much of a stance on this since my entire family uses “nigga” but that’s because they never thought about it in the text book way. How does this relate to my Hiero thing? I instantly tried to imagine him around my family, at Belle Isle in Detroit, talking about some “nukka business” and instantly loosing man points around my daddy and uncles. I could HEAR my cousin Cece say “Yo, if he gonna not say nigga, then just don’t say it. Ain’t no in between, boo.” My daddy would say that he met some “niggas” and he met some black people too. Daddies have the last word. I hope Hiero doesn’t teach his daughter nukka as a last word. That would suck.
Anyways, next few weeks I go to class and I go to the spots. I battle my weight since I live in the little Caribbean and they love them some half & half and cheddar cheese on sweet bread. And so do I. Until one day I wake up on my futon like a beached whale and decide that I must do things in moderation. Do I hear from Hiero? Not really. Do I speak to Gayl again? No. We just eye each other. Until that fateful night (cue music) where we all congregate at Tulip, the café that turned itself into our “Cheers” only we’re not allowed to clap during the poetry nights because we’ll disturb the damn tenants above so we have to snap. But I don’t because it’s kind of obnoxious. Don’t judge though cause I have very good friends who snap. I’m just not the one.
Anyways, I’m sitting at Tulip, in the dark wooden booth, looking around and at asses (yes, women do it too). I’m tickled about how this used to be some sort of glorified Lipton stand and now, after a few big mouths and a few regulars who got soda commercial gigs on the radio, this place is getting adult. Like exotic teas, signature smoothie blends, organic pastries. You can see them sitting in that pseudo-french bistro display case, waiting for the new Ohio migrant who came here with dreams of dancing on Broadway. Like, “Please, dancer girl, hand me to that fine tall brown skinned brotha who just walked in and looks like he could use some cane sugar root tart!” Everyone who walks in does the “look around” cause you can see everyone one in one turn of your head. Especially in the day time. There is no place to hide since it’s just a bunch of booths and café tables. Even the booths are dark orange so you can’t nestle yourself in the usually safe darkness of a restaurant booth. No, you’re on Front Street if you’re trying hide in Tulip.
I am trying to figure out what the white green tea I just bought smells like but I’m failing because Tulip smells like magnolias. I have no idea why and could never find the origin of it. But there are worst things to smell like, I guess. Much to my own discomfort, Gayl is announced as the first poet for the night. Gayl gets on stage and basically does the best job anyone’s every done of shocking the shit out of me.
I don’t ever remember not going to the movies. That means I must have been one of those noisy children, sitting up in the R rated movies. That means you’ve hated me before. Or I’ve hated me. Either way it goes, I have seen MOVIES. A LOT OF MOVIES. Very rarely did I take them for fact.
I bring this up because I was rehashing the film “The Passion of the Christ” with somebody who said they hadn’t seen it. “Not something you pop in the DVD over a bowl of popcorn,” I say because it really isn’t. It’s violence porn, IMO. But let’s continue. This conversation took me back to another conversation I had a while back (yes this is a double flashback—don’t die). When said movie first came out, there was a “minister” at my job (I’m not sure what kind of “minister” but the um, mall church comes to mind) who was obsessed with the movie. Like I think he mentioned his wife showed in bible study. Like one day he said, “The wife and I like to watch so we know what our Savior went through.” And I said, “Um, you do know it’s not a documentary, right? Because there were NO cameras back then..” I know. I’m a smart ass. BUT, this is a problem that somebody’s not addressing. There are some undercover naive people who believe some movies are REAL!
It’s crazy. I know. I’m about to blow your mind:
Hamlet did not look like Mel Gibson.
Malcolm X was taller than Denzel.
Billie Holiday was NOT as small as Diana Ross.
Sylvia Plath was not as cute as Gweneth Paltrow.
on the other side:
Sarah Michelle Gellar really isn’t Buffy.
Keifer Sutherland doesn’t work for any President.
Tyler Perry is not really a grandmother.
I just wanted to put these things out there. Just in case there’s any confusion. Because once upon a time there was confusion. For me.
That confusion was “Mahogany.”
I thought it was a true story! I thought Diana Ross really did design clothes and Tony Perkins really did go psycho and died in a car. I thought Billy Dee Williams and Diana were a couple. But listen. I didn’t write her asking for one of her strange kimono outfits she designed. I damn sure didn’t write and ask why she was wearing a mink at the unemployment office. Here’s my excuse: I was about five when I saw it. My only real connection to the movie was the fact that she and my Mom had the same fly wig (a la Kelly from Charlie’s Angels–FIERCE).
Nowadays we’ve got another epidemic. We’ve got films that a video games that are films that are video games that are films. Confused? Me too. So too are the kids who really think they are “smokin fools” on the PSP, then go see 50 Cent do what they did on their PSP, then maybe think they can do it at the concession stand.
There are people who boycott movies because they don’t like what they stand for. Munich. People boycotted Munich. Um…It’s a movie. We are not asking to rewrite history so that anybody else’s version of the story is eradicated. It’s entertainment. It’s drama. Nail biting. Uh oh…My other personality is stepping in….
I can see the point of the protestors ONLY because in this country we don’t read books anymore. We only see movies and of course we believe them so therefore anything that comes to the screen with the “based on a true story” replaces the four hundred books on the subject. Gone. Dead. Everything gets all screwy and you hear people saying “Denzel barely even cried when he got beat in Glory! He’s strong!” Uh…He’s an actor. He didn’t get beat. He played someone who got beat. Further, there ain’t NO way I’m going to see United 93. None. Zip. I saw the trailer and I convulsed. I was in New York on 9/11. I walked home. I couldn’t reach my family. I saw the second plane. I didn’t sleep for four days. I breathed in dust of human remains that traveled across Manhattan. I counted my blessings. I cried. I already know how awful it was. I already know that those people on that plane demonstrated a courage that cannot be put into words. And I’m a writer. We don’t need movies to tell us the weight of some things. Word of mouth does just fine.
She told me! My other personality is pretty cool sometimes. By the way, my Mom is the one who told me that Mahogany wasn’t real. I recovered fairly well after a few years of being obsessed with Diana Ross records. You see how resilient we are?
Today I thought I’d post some stuff that I find interesting on a day to day basis…All as I try to come up with my other blog name. Other blog name you ask? Am I leaving BGirl? NEVER! My dear mate came up with a brilliant idea to post my novel as a serial piece on a new blog. I’m up for name suggestions…I want to use a portmanteau somehow like one of my favorite stories “Alice in Wonderland” (not the Disney one…I like the hardcore book version—thanks). I was thinking Binkerbells to go along with my other favorite story “Peter Pan” (again, the hardcore lit one, not the Disney movie) because there’s something magical about us needing to keep Tinkerbell alive by clapping our hands and believing. So I think of my work that way. Except I’m brown. Binkerbell. Let it marinate.
Anywhoodle, the things that are running across my mind today:
Mos Def calls out Lil’ Jon- “Our priorities is gettin’ f*cked. Lil Jon-Ilove his music. But why are the East Side Boyz names Big Sam and Lil Bo? What the f*ck? What’s next, Kunta and Kinte? The South should know better. This is the same country that ran up in Fred Hampton’s crib and shot him in bed with his pregnant wife. You think the rules changed cause niggas got No. 1 records? What are we supposed to tell our kids? After Malcolm, Martin and Dubois we got Sam-Bo? I’m supposed to be down with that ’cause it makes me dance?”
-”Jimmy Iovine, Lyor Cohen, Doug Morris…all of these dudes were notprepared in their schooling or in any of their social upbringing for a world where they have to deal face to face with, not only people who are outside of their class, but people who in their minds could very well be their servants. Now you gotta deal with somebody you’ve been trained to deal with as your underling as your partner. It’s a bitter f*ckin pill to swallow cause now you need this person. Jimmy Iovine is not your buddy. Lyor is NOT happy about Jay Z being president of DJ. I dont give a fuck what he say. If the dude could go from rhyming to being a CEO in 10 years or less, what is he going to be in 15 or 20? He might have Lyor’s job at this rate”
-”Paris Hilton don’t really care about ya’ll niggaz, man. She can’t evenhear ya’ll niggaz. I’m just keeping it real. This shit is entertainment to them. We’re adopting their morals like we them and we never been them. We don’t have the same struggle. Dudes is no more than 20 years removed from real poverty. For dudes to have this much access to money and it’s not translating to people power, its inexcusable”
Agreed…sorry, if any of that offends you. Paris Hilton doesn’t care about chocolate or vanilla people, by the way. I’m not certain she cares about herself. I mean deeply. Like if she could spend some time in solitary with herself, she might rip her own hair out and eat it.
Remember Pebbles? “Girlfriend”? Former wife of LA Reid? Recently guest starring on her son’s RIDICULOUSLY STUPID MTV’s Sweet 16 show? Well…well…aside from the fact that she birthed a Heavy Diddy, she’s gone in a really interesting opposite direction that I knew about but that also kind of doesn’t fit in my head. Sister Perri is turning into one of those evangelists that scares me because, if you listen to them, they don’t sound crazy. But then you have to REALLY LISTEN to them and wonder how they’ve contextualized their faith. To me, IMO, Sister Perri is trying to rid herself of some crazy pain…still. Even after she sued TLC. If you’re in ATL, maybe you could go to one of her revivals and report back. Check out the “Girlfriend…I’ve Been Saved” merchandise too.
Next is my favorite website (aside from those to the right of your screen—they go without sayin) that entertains me to no end. Why? Because not only is the writing witty and delicious (like a cheeseburger and fries—mmm) but they also managed to successfully coin and utilize some really great slang. Behold the future of fashion critique. Let it marinate. But don’t let it spill on your white t shirt. Happens to me all the time.
Have you heard about the gay southern rappers, Da Backwudz? No, I’m not joking.
Make sure nobody can find you…this is serious.
If Yaze were to ever leave me or start believing in polyandry:
Are you serious? I mean…it’s crazy.
I’m excited about me finally getting over my envy and reading Zadie Smith’s old new book On Beauty. Is it wrong that I want her career? We could share, Zadie. You could take a few continents and I could take the others. I would even be okay with having America and London. Wouldn’t it be fun to live someplace where you weren’t the resident black girl writer? You could do it. I have faith. I’ll even move to the Dominican Republic so as not to make you feel funny. Sigh.
Not sure if you know this about me but since I moved to LA, I only listen to NPR or KCRW on the radio. No, I don’t listen to Paul Wall. No, I don’t listen to Lindsay Lohan. Ocassionally I’ll listen to some Salt N Pepa or whatever other song the oldie station says is oldies now although there’s no way Salt N Pepa could be in the oldies category. I clearly remember them back…in…the…day…I just realized I was rocking an asymmetrical back then. Never mind. Anyways here are the best bits for the day from those two:
1) The Chinese woman who was shouting during President Hu’s visit. Why does it make me laugh? It’s like an SNL skit. Wenyi Wang–SNL Cast Member. It’s not really funny because China has so many political prisoners (like we do—though we’re fronters). But she has great timing.
2) My new favorite song (aside from all of Yaze’s of course—well most of them—some I like a lot and some I love) is the Gnarles Barckley joint. Are you serious? This business is like crack. I hum this at the oddest times.
3) Angela will love this one. Happy 4/20 to all of you who know what that means.
4) One day, I thought, as an adopted New Yorker, that I knew everything hip and cool. And then I moved to LA and heard Garth Trinidad for the first time. And I realized that he and Gilles Peterson are prophets of the funky music world.
Random enough for you? One more for the gipper (what’s a gipper?)…Yaze and I are going to see this person tonight. Don’t front. You know that got you open. Love will conquer all!
Not sure if I’m peppy enough to be witty and what not but:
Jacquetta has given me a short one. Why my apartment complex is not like Melrose Place:
1) All of the people in our building are mostly Ex-New Yorkers and/or cool people by default. Except there was this one time I saw a cop car come early in the morning and pick up the women who lives in # ___ (you can’t be serious—you don’t think I’d tell you) after she had a fight with her man. That was a little bit ago. Last time I saw them, they were cracking jokes and eating Carl’s Jr. Wutang said it best: Life is hectic.
2) At Melrose place, they had a pool. We don’t have a pool. We do have a mirrored lobby, stairs and French movie posters. And lots of dogs. One chocolate lab that cries for his mama the minute her foot is on the gas. The whole street hears him. Don’t go “awwww” because dogs are like that. No matter what you do, you can’t break a dog of separation anxiety. There are all these books and people that tell you that you shouldn’t have a dog if you can’t be home to spend time with it during the day. Bullocks! Dogs are animals. Not babies. I love my dog but she won’t go out and earn her keep so I have to. Gotta keep the puppy in her doggy t-shirts.
3) Where did people park on Melrose place? Our neighborhood sucks at parking. I’ll probably hit lotto before I get a good one. Although one time I was praying to my dad and some spooky stuff happened. And I said, “Daddy, if the spooky stuff was you, then I’ll have a parking space in front of the building.” What do you think happened? Yup, Dad looks out for his #1 (that was my nickname for awhile, among others) even in passing.
4) Melrose Place didn’t have a crazy cat lady. We do. I speak to her. I really think she’s great. Except sometimes I hear her having a full on dialogue with herself when she thinks nobody’s around. She kind of looks like she belongs in a Shakespeare play as one of the witches. She’s in # ___ (ha! Sucka! I ain’t saying…)
5) I don’t remember any Latinos or Asians in Melrose Place. I do remember Vanessa “Keisha New Jack City Rock a bye baby” Williams in the first season (or few) but didn’t they get rid of her with the quickness? Maybe she didn’t look good in those power suits. Any whoodle, she made it big on the Soul Food tv show. And then she cut her locs. And got a perm. Well…maybe she would do good on MP now. She’s no Keisha anymore.
6) Believe it or not, my place is way bigger than anybody’s place on Melrose!
7) No dead bodies. No crazy psychos. Except there was a ferret that got loose. That was pretty crazy.
Our Amanda is named Lissett and she’s a mom and uber-Christian and nice and still has to work another job to make ends meet since she’s a manger and not an owner. So I guess she’s not Amanda.
I’m not sure where this post is going. But this is how my place isn’t like Melrose Place.
But if this didn’t make you guffaw, I got something for ya:
Some people have all the answers….
So this story really isn’t about the one time I dated a friend that I shouldn’t have dated although you might ascertain that from what I’m about to tell you. That’s one of the morals of the stories. The main moral of the story is that DJ’s are sometimes psychic.
It all started when I was on the rebound from this dude that stayed in my heart way longer than he should have. It’s not totally his fault. In fact, it’s not any ex-flame’s fault if they stay with you longer than you want them to. It’s yours. You have to learn how to pink slip motherf*ckas. It’s true. Anyways, cursed ex-flippant bastard (ha! That felt good even now though this was years ago!) was chilling in my heart without calling me again and a friend of mine who fit the doable profile (tall, dark, dreadlocs, bohemian, blah blah) started calling me. He himself was on the rebound from some faux Yoruban priestess who may or may not have run over his feelings with a garbage truck. I wasn’t there so I don’t know. But I do know that we were two wounded friends who, one minute were getting together to celebrate my birthday, and the next minute eating fried fruit off each other’s fingers. Right! I know! WTF?
From the beginning there was a little man on my shoulder cursing me out for actually entertaining the thought of going down the doing-your-friend road. But I just assumed it was the ex-flippant-laissez faire bastard who could care less. I mean their voices were the same. You’re going to tell me, I know, that plenty of friends get together and it turns out wonderful with them skipping down the aisle throwing roses at people and retreating to some PBS lifestyle. There’s a fundamental difference between my experience and that one: we were friends having sex who didn’t have the “what is going on here conversation” clearly enough for both of us to clear the space for anything real to happen. It’s true. We were both in pain; we were both putting our opaque ideas of intimacy on each other. It was a mess the mafia couldn’t clean up. I mean you could’ve found Hoffa if you dug deeply into our issues.
All that is fine and good. I mean these things happen. You can’t beat yourself up for being open because there are plenty of Kookoo For Coco Puffs out there who insist that they want a real relationship but keep sending their carefully made up representative in their place when it comes time to show yourself. So I don’t mind that I was wading in crap for a little bit. So, how, you ask, did two raw emotional confused wounded individuals finally hit the Berlin wall running, you ask? He may tell you differently and that’s fine because that’s what makes the world go ‘round. I say it started with a lie. A little side note about me: I’m very skilled at defending those who never asked to be defended. I love making excuses and rationalizing to avoid confrontation (for the most part) BUT once you lie, it’s over. I got enough liars running the country. I don’t need your less-creative bull.
So he lied. And then he fronted like he didn’t lie. And I kinda have to say what he lied about (even though I don’t want to get all into personal details because this is more about what’s about to happen a few paragraphs from now). I referred him to a great vocal coach’s class. He loves said class. Tells me that I’m invited to the recital at the end of said class. He asks me to pick up sheet music for said class. He drifts during said class. He has recital for said class. Guess who wasn’t invited? Right! Now, ladies (and some dudes), what does that tell your spidey sense? Hmm? Yes! He met a girl during said class! You get a gold star in the mail if you guessed that. So any whoodley who, I, being the black woman that I am (however that happened), opened my mouth and called it. Big fight. Blah Blah. Forget you then…I can’t believe you…This was never that…That was never this…I don’t have to go on because everyone has had this conversation with somebody before.
I spend months pissed at myself. Why? Because the little man on my shoulder was not my ex-flippant rat bastard BUT my common sense (see how things get freaking crazy if you don’t evict people? You get all screwy!). No, you don’t start doing it to friends who are as wounded as you are. No, you don’t start entertain ideas of longevity if said person says his perfect ideal is Hagar from Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” and you are more Toni than Hagar (read: way more regular/boring than the character). Yes, you do start to wonder when homeboy, during one of your ENDLESS phone conversations, says he doesn’t really think of you as a person but more as the voice in his head. Um…Yes, you do get mad when somebody lies/disrespects you. You have that right. Life is too short to worry about what the other person will think of you. Because, if you are really friends (and he and I are), you will find something better than what wasn’t meant for you. In our case, it was a dating thing. Not meant for us. At all. All good though because it made room for his wonderful wifey and my wonderful hubby.
But back to how the DJ saved my life…with a song (I have to say the whole thing for some reason). A few months after the LIE planted itself in the messy chaos we called “seeing each other kinda,” I was still pissed at being lied too. Not pissed at him. But pissed at injustice. I couldn’t figure out how people could walk around and, in the immortal words of Molly Ringwald from “The Breakfast Club”, “dump all these tremendous lies” all over the place. I wanted justice! I wanted public ridicule. I wanted…well, I also wanted to not feel bamboozled by somebody who didn’t really have the potential to be my life mate (nor I his). I got duped. I hate feeling duped. I feel duped as an armchair activist; don’t let it spread to my life. So I go to this party for a common friend (who remained like Switzerland—but he also introduced me to Yaze so that’s fair) and I had a feeling that homeboy was going to be there. I went because sometimes facing your anger/fear is the best way to make yourself over it. Confrontation. It’s the hardest thing but it may also mean that you will release yourself. It takes a lot of red wine and courage, but more wine. So I’m there, dancing, blah blah, saying what’s up to folks, looking okay. And that’s when it happens. I look over and see homeboy dancing with his new girl and they are happy! Joyous! And what does the DJ play? The best mix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” And it was like the heavens opened up in the East Village because I could breathe. And forgive. And realize that I didn’t want to hold on to it anymore. Did he see me? No, but that’s okay. Because with the beat of the song, I sauntered up the stairs of the club and just as the song ended, I was out the door.
I don’t even know who the DJ was. Nor does it matter. What I do know is that DJ is psychic. Out of all the psycho dramas going on in that room, he/she chose mine to address, giving me permission to walk to the train, laughing and proud. You see, that’s the goal in all of this love/life stuff:
Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin’ on by you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new dayIt’s a new life
And I’m feeling good
Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel
Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
And with that, congratulations to Kerry and Irvin and Kyara Marchand for welcoming their newest addition: Kennedy Kristina Marchand! She’s got a whole lot of love already…
I always wanted to be action hero. That’s been my dream. My impossible dream. And it’s all because I was a chronic daydreamer.
I’m not sure when I discovered that daydreaming was necessarily part of everyone’s life. I think it’s when I heard about “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and realized that the movie/story was such a big deal because not everybody escaped behind their eyelids. What a crazy disease, I thought. Not being able to daydream!
When I was young, I used to do it all the time. Sort of like one of those powers from the Super Friends that wasn’t quite in control yet. People could be having a full on conversation with me and I would be in my head, daydreaming about having Michael Jackson’s children, complete with their mini glitter gloves. In fact, most of my daydreams back then were about love. Deep love. Obsessive love. The kind of love that literally makes you cover your ENTIRE wall with pictures of somebody that you’ve never met. Ever. The kind of love that makes your insides pang with want (at the time, you have no idea that the pang has NOTHING to do with the object of your affection—this I will learn when I start dating, ay. That’s another story). But everything changed when I got my first pair of headphones.
Let me preface all of this by letting you know that my household was one that was FILLED with records. I mean, I went to bed with Teddy Pendergrass’s record cover for a week straight once. And I think I’ve memorized a few of Luther Vandross’s. And how can you EVER forget the record covers of Lakeside (“Come alonnggg and ride on the fantastic voyage….”), Roy Ayers (I really wanted to be that woman covered in gold) or Michael Franks (and his strange soft pastels that were about as light as his voice)? So when I got my headphones, I created a world that NOBODY else could be in.
First it started with getting lost in the music. Then I made up stories. And this, ladies and gentlemen, this is where it all went in a crazy direction. I made my own stories according to the music. I can tell you my videos-in-the-head for most major songs (this is where the action hero star stuff comes into play, pay attention):
Soul II Soul, “Back To Life”:
T. Tara stars as a driver for a heist team when everything goes awry and she’s forced to drive the streets of the city to rescue her squad (I’m not joking).
T. Tara stars as a vampire assassin. Video opens with T. Tara standing on top of a high building during Mad Max times. T. Tara has just finished praying as Caron Wheeler finishes up her acapella. Then T. Tara swings through the empty streets after the bad guy.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “All Around the World”:
T. Tara stars as a member of a team of special ops that get dangerous criminals off the streets of a futuristic city a la Fifth Element with its hydro craft and streets in the sky. At the guitar break, T. Tara runs like Jackie Joyner-Kersee to get some criminals that have just passed her and her team at dinner (alerted to the criminals proximity by a special criminal detector watch—right). Criminals caught! Then, as they reach their 2001-like home base, some crazy large monster criminal is there to threaten the team. T. Tara slides into the outdoor chamber (like that movie with Laurence Fishburne where the ship is alive) and beats up the criminal with her capoeira skills. What!!?!?!?!?
Thelma Houston, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”:
Um, basically this daydream is called “Dancing with T. Tara.” I am obviously a multi-talented ballroom dancer who’s rocking the crazy tango to a disco song.
Bad Boy, “Victory”:
Yes, rap does it for me too. In this one, I’m starring as a special ops helicopter pilot (think Trinity in the first “Matrix”) who’s trying to rescue some folks stuck in a war zone.
Sting, “Desert Rose””
T. Tara stars as a princess of a desert nomadic tribe who’s been given some kind of poison that makes her paralyzed. Her ex-boyfriend/warrior takes her through the dangers of the desert (thieves, fires, any kind of Mad Max stuff you can think of) to find the cure. Of course, at the break of the song, she regains her strength just in time to fight the tribe that has surrounded them. Can somebody say Xena?
Okay, that’s enough to give you a picture of my secret desire (not so secret anymore). I got to action movies partly because my Dad loved them and partly because I will, without hesitancy, steal some of the battle scenes for my video-in-the head. My heart rate goes up, my palms get sweaty. This is how I work out! I day dream action hero sequences. I had to stop using the treadmill because sometimes my feet would go too fast and I’d fall off because I was in the Thunderdome in my head!
Why, Jacquetta will ask, is this a dream deferred (our challenge this time)? Easy. I will never be an action hero. Real action heroes don’t have movies. They fight in dumb wars for armchair activists on the left and the right. We don’t really know their names unless they die from “friendly” fire. They might go set up villages in remote countries most Americans can’t spell (either because we don’t care to, are too lazy to learn to or because we actually believe everything we read) BUT when they come back they face totally not having the job they had before, like welding Ford car parts together. Think about it, Rambo would totally be living in Indianapolis facing plant shutdowns and trying to calculate his pension (if it still exists) or his severance pay (if they still have to give and he didn’t hold out for more money only to find out there isn’t any). He’s probably be in the middle of a divorce because his wife totally cracked under the pressure of him not having a job and her trying to not be resentful but feeling guilty because she is. Then he ends up homeless cause he looses his house because he was a part time farmer and we don’t care about farmers in this country, obviously, or else we’d actually buy from them and not get our food from overseas all the time. Then he’d go into a mental institution but that would close down and put him out on the street in his gown with his stuff in a plastic bag. Then he’d arrested for arson, for setting an empty building on fire when he was trying to keep warm. Please note that this story could change depending on Rambo’s last name. If it’s Sanchez or Lopez and he just got to this country like yesterday after having fought in his country’s original war, then he’d be a felon, according to the new law they’re trying to pass. AND, if he’s from Mexico, we’re calling him an immigrant even though this whole side of the country was once Mexico and we got it by trumping up a false war when we find out “there was gold in them thar hills.” And most of us black people can’t be immigrants if we were forced here. Native Americans aren’t immigrants but they live like they are on reservations. Most Jewish and Irish people were confined to “ghettos” when they first got here because the original boat people (most white people who can find an ancestor on one of those big OG cruise ships) didn’t want them in their neighborhoods. This is all so confusing and fucked up if we had to explain this to an alien who landed. Or our children. Sigh.
So this is why my dream is deferred. Action heroes only exist in my head, and in the movies. We’re all just people on earth.
So now there’s different colors
And there’s different breedsAnd different people
Have different needs
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you
So what I could I have done
It goes a little something like this (Jacquetta, I’m cheating by the way):
It’s nearing evening with a lovely sunset coming through our two story house in some hills some place where smog isn’t killing us but you can also actually see some greenery. I like to call it, in my head, Los York. I am running around making sure martini items are in place and that my 60s Breakfast At Tiffany’s cocktail sheath magically gives me longer legs and actually looks good on my super hourglass frame. We’re having company! I call out to my maid and butler (yes, dude, I got me some of them. They are of questionable race because, in the future, we will all be of questionable race. All I know is that they listen to Guns N Roses and fry some mean chicken with a side of lo mein) and ask them politely (because they are HUMAN after all and the immigration issue has been fixed by this time because America finally realized that we are ALL immigrants–some of us by force, some of us by choice) to make sure the food and the snackitzers are all set to go. They confirm (which they should do since I pay them above minimum wage and they hover somewhere over the cost of living).
Even though it’s the future, me and Yaze’s house looks like a throwback to the Rat Pack 60s era. Why? Because we like it that way. We got the baby blue, gray tones happening. We have the sleek furniture. We have drinks. We have drinks. And we have drinks. Yaze is in a smoker’s jacket at the piano, his slim sharkskin pants have a razor like crease in the front. Sammy Davis is on the CD turntable. That’s right. This is happening. Doorbell rings! First guest!
“Scherherazade!” I almost scream. She’s gorgeous in her hijab. She immediately asks for water. Telling stories to keep herself alive has apparently made her mad thirsty. I have Yaze throw a little extra zing in the water. It’s hard out here for a girl married to a king with ADD.
Scherherazade sits on the floor because she’s more comfortable that way. She lays her head back on the couch and taps her foot to the Sammy tune. Tonight, she tells us, she’s gonna keep the talking to a minimum. To save her voice. You’d think, she says, after three hundred years or so the bastard would be in love with me by now. Who knew he’d love the stories more? Doorbell…the maid and the butler (shit, their names—Salome and Washington) are discussing the meaning of existance through food presentation. Fine. I’ll get it. I think Zade is dozing off anyways.
“Mr El Shabazz, welcome.” I bow. That’s right. I bow to Malcolm X. Wouldn’t you? Jeez. I realize he can see my calves and I’m ashamed. Why didn’t I factor in my guests religion? I think I just got so excited that my invites reached the afterlife that I didn’t even think about details. I offer him a glass of juice. He takes it. We don’t add zing for him. Zade wakes up and bows too. Wow. She says she heard all about him and even did a little story on him one night to save her life. Malcolm just smiles and says he’s honored. I suddenly get the feeling I picked a bunch of people who may not feel like talking. Yaze keeps playing the piano.
Malcolm says he loves our view and it’s too bad Betty couldn’t accept the invite. She’s been so busy watching over some kids and making sure Ward Connerly doesn’t continue to spread his rubbish (that’s all me—in my head—shhh!) that she got tired and fell asleep. I completely get it. I get angry tired thinking of Ward Connerly too. Malcolm goes to make prayer as the doorbell rings again. I answer it again because I’m partly too excited to let anyone else do it and also because Zade, Malcolm and Yaze are making prayer together. Nice. I’m Islam friendly but I don’t know it’s right for me.
Of course they come together. They were friends. What’s a party without a few tragic birds? I’m dying to know how they both died so hopefully we’ll get to that come desert time. They both look a bit sad so I ask them what’s wrong.
“It’s all so ridiculous the lack of control you have when you die and people just spread dumb lies about you,” Marilyn says, pouring herself a drink. We don’t have any medication and I didn’t invite any mob-like characters that I know of nor any major politicians that may or may not have slept with her so there won’t be any repeat “accidental overdoses.” She sips on the drink, to my own surprise. I always thought she’d take it to the hole. Anyways. She watches the praying trio and sits down on the couch. She smiles when she watches them make prayer. “That’s so beautiful,” she says.
Dorothy doesn’t want a drink. She goes to the kitchen to make sure the food is going to taste good. But not before agreeing with Marilyn. She also said she licked that ex-husband of hers who stole all her cash real good when she got the call that he was dead. She said Otto wasn’t happy with her either. Oh well, she says, what did R. Kelly sing? “When A Woman’s Fed Up…” she sings. She actually sounds good singing that song. She gives the sista girl nod. Doorbell…I can’t remember how many people I invited. Uh oh.
“Toni Cade!” This is my homegirl. My friend-in-the-head. My mentor who’s never met me. Her writing changed my life. I suddenly realize that she might hate me. She might be one of those divas who give you the up down look while you jock them, telling them how dope they are. But she doesn’t! She hugs me and gives me a casserole dish! “Girl, I don’t come empty handed. I wasn’t raised that way. This is baked macaroni and cheese.” Mmmmmm…. She sees Marilyn and Zade and heads straight for them. Yaze and Malcolm are talking about the meaning of life and whether or not there is more than the journey that we all share. My heart is beating fast. This is the best party I’ve ever thrown!
Salome and Washington are talking to Dorothy in the kitchen about the secret to their fried chicken and lo mein dish. Dorothy has never heard of lo mein but she thinks you can improve anything with hot sauce. Doorbell! This should be the last of it.
“Thomas Jefferson! For some reason I have to say your whole name…” He likes chocolate women. I’m wondering if he would’ve owned them had he been living in this modern time. Then he could be free to date them like Bill Maher. I am torn between my feelings for Thomas, who makes a beeline for Yaze and Malcolm and now Dorothy. I worry about Dorothy. Is she TJ’s type? Marilyn likes ‘em tall and smart I hear too. She slides over to the group. Finally! Everyone is getting together! I know, it’s a weird way of getting together but they are.
We sit down to dinner. Toni is giving TJ the evil eye. Malcolm, Yaze and Marilyn are discussing psychology and whether method acting has a fundamental affect on the audience if they are just observers, if there is such a thing as just an observer since audience members must go through an experience alongside the actor. Fascinating. TJ is just nodding, hoping Toni Cade doesn’t give him the whatfor. Marilyn’s dress strap keeps slipping…in TJ’s direction. At least she’s not going for Malcolm. Later he tells me he’s been there and done that. Not Marilyn but women like her. No dice for him. Props.
Nobody is eating the fried chicken with the knife and fork but they are tearing into the lo mein and adding tons of hot sauce and soy sauce, making it like that Yako Mein (noodles, hot sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, your choice of protein and/or onions—all in a big plastic baggie) that Yaze made me try in our trip to Virginia. I thought me and Yaze would get to ask all the questions but they instead ask us…
Toni Cade: “Can you explain to me how you can separate black literature from revolution and evolution? What are y’all writing about now?? What’s with all these stories about plagerism, church drama, women trying to get their swerve on and men keeping secret they like pee pee?”
Me: “Ummm, well, Toni. I know we’re not writing anything like The Salteaters anymore but, uh, well…shit. I don’t have a book deal so I can’t tell you. I can tell you that a bunch of us don’t care about a bunch of us anymore. We only really care about our own opinions. Yaze?”
Yaze: “I grew up in the church so I find all that interesting.”
Marilyn Monroe: “Why is everybody trying cop my style?”
Me: “Well, it’s because you left us with questions. And you were fragile. And you really really wanted to be considered a craftsperson. And you wore your psychodrama like an Oscar gown. Fierce.”
Zade: “I did a story on you to my husband.”
Dorothy: “Zade, when are you going to divorce him? He only keeps you alive for your stories!”
Zade: “Most men don’t even want to hear their wives.”
Malcolm: “Most human beings don’t want to hear human beings. Human rights has fallen to the waste side. Zade, there are women in the Middle East who cannot read the Koran.”
Zade: “Ha! Trumped that rule! I come to them in their dreams. They know what it says…watch.”
Marilyn: “Dreams! I don’t dream much anymore.”
Dorothy: “No? You sure do talk a lot in your sleep. Tell me something, did people really like the movie about me that Halle Berry was in?”
Yaze: “Not a Halle fan. She’s stilted.”
Me: “I thought it was okay. Except Clark from Mo’ Better Blues. She played your sister. I didn’t get it. Who killed you?”
She ignores me.
Dorothy: “This is the problem with being dead! Nobody asks you what you think anymore! I would’ve gladly sent them some messages or something from the other side.
Toni: “Malcolm, are you upset that you were murdered?”
Malcolm: “Of course. Did you see that whole part Denzel did in my movie where I was in a daze? That was true.”
Toni: “I want a movie.”
Me: “I’ll work on that.”
She winks at me. Yaze winks at me.
TJ: “At least Nick Nolte didn’t play you. I worry about him. Not sure he’s happy. Thandie Newton was hot though.”
Malcolm/Toni: “Easy, TJ. Easy.”
Marilyn: “I like all the people that played me. Everyone of them got something right.”
Dorothy: “You have a lot of sides to cover, honey.”
I wish I could say the night got more political but it didn’t. Psychological and pop cultural if anything. Marilyn kept flirting with TJ who kept flirting with Dorothy who wanted nothing to do with either and was only interested in Yaze explaining why young people don’t do supper club shows anymore. Then she got on me about why theater fell to the crapper since everybody loves movies now. TJ had to remind a few people that movies aren’t documentaries and he’s wondering why Mel Gibson’s Jesus movie had so many people crying before the movie even started (or maybe I said that part). Toni Cade was wondering where Marian Wright Edelman was since education was falling to pieces and she talked to Malcolm a bit about Ward Connerly’s plot to make most children of color stupid. He said Betty was haunting him already.
Salome and Washington took over the conversation because they had some whatfor to give TJ and his mathematical equation over who was black and who wasn’t (I was getting cotton mouth being the Modern Time Representative and Yaze couldn’t stop chatting with Malcolm). Marilyn said she thought she had some black ancestors because she sometimes feels misunderstood.
Honestly? I couldn’t take all the yapping anymore and I went to bed, after a few cocktails. I’m not sure what time people left but Yaze said they left the place a mess. Our only solace was Dorothy left us some breakfast, Toni Cade did some wicked graffiti in the living room, Marilyn underlined some really interesting passages in Yaze’s book on Freud, Zade left a DVD of one of her story telling sessions and Malcolm was doing the call to prayer before sun up. Salome and Washington said they had fun and wanted to know when the next one would be…Man, all I know is that those zippers from the 60s dresses are no joke. My ribs hurt.
The biggest treat of all? My dad was sleeping in the guestroom when I woke up. And my grandma was downstairs, ready to go to the library like we used to do when I was a kid.
Okay! Love it or hate it! Totally weird I know but me and Jacquetta were supposed to write about what dead person we’d want to meet and what would it be like if they were around today. I took some liberties. But she knows me.
My friend Jacquetta has challenged me to write more. And then she writes more because I write more because she writes more. So you have to click on her blog in addition to reading mine to keep us in check. That is your responsibility should you choose to accept it. What does that sentence do? Does it give you hives or are you excited by the idea of responsibility? I think your answer could say something about how you feel about working for a living.
Me? I love somebody asking me to do something like that. I get excited! I’m responsible! My friend Jessica says I’m never without a job. And she’s write. For over twelve years I’ve managed to hold down a regular job and write. Some say my writing may suffer because of that but that’s so not true. Suzanne Lori Parks wrote several plays while working at the telephone company. Harry Crumb worked at the post office his entire graphic novel career. Tons of people balance work and joy…uh, wait. Did I just type that? Is work not joy? Am I working because I’m terrified of being poor and eating out of garbage cans while typing out my masterpiece on a word processor from 1995? For shizzle. Especially when I don’t have to. When I first started working, I wanted to work in glamorous entertainment. You know the whole idea that you slave around some place and then somebody finds out you’re a artistic genius and you get a deal/contract/make over/whatever. Um…that doesn’t happen. Unless you’re watching a really bad Pop Music Movie or a kiddie flick. But it doesn’t. I learned that. I also learned that those entertainment place don’t want you to be an artist for two reasons 1) that means you’ll leave if you get discovered and they get nervous about somebody leaving 2) in rare events, they actually care that you might start to hate “the business” and you don’t ever become the artist you could have been (I was told that at ICM). You don’t want to work at those places for these reasons: 1) they don’t pay enough 2) they don’t respect you enough 3) they don’t pay you enough 4) you work long hours 5) you’ll become a miserable asshole who will rely on your petty small “perks” (read company t shirts, a ticket to an event or two, seeing a celebrity come out of your company’s bathroom) as the rewards for your life. Don’t do it!
The important thing about working is to find the environment that you thrive in. Don’t go on the superficial stuff. Who cares if the lobby looks like an MTV show? Who cares if everyone dresses like a Abercrombie ad and blasts Wu Tang? What you should care about is if they treat you like the person you are and can be. I used to go to one of my jobs with a pit in my stomach. ALL OF THE TIME. My boss was awful and if I disappeared off the face of the earth, he would’ve never noticed. He would’ve wondered why somebody didn’t answer the phone and how come we (me and the 1st assistant) can’t find his helicopter even though we are in another country.
Lastly, please don’t buy into the starving artist bit. If your ancestors could pick cotton, farm, or whatever they did in addition to creating some of the great folk art we have around today, you can go to work and answer a phone, file, teach some kids, save a dog, run a company, whatever you can do that brings you joy in addition to what already brings you joy, you should do. It’s not cute to borrow money from your parents while you rock on in your apartment,looking for a record deal. You are not being focused. You are just selling yourself short. If human beings continue to pretend that they are not multi-talented, our world will end up full of lazy idiots. There was a time when most of us knew how to build a house, chop wood, churn butter, sew, live off land. Well, we don’t have to really do that anymore. So what have we done with all that energy we needed to just physically survive? Playstation, US Weekly, Grillz, surgery enhancement, “trying to maintain”, watching videos, etc.
You really only get one life. And if you think you know everything you want in your life, imagine what you don’t know. Crazy right? You could die not knowing that you could’ve made a helluva ESL teacher while you were busy watching American Idol, waiting for your agent to call so you could walk past the . Push yourself to your limits! By the way, don’t ask me what I’m doing with my energy…I got an email to write at the job.