There are still firsts

Ignore the lumpy fro and look at the awesome background

I’ve lived life.  There are lots of big things I have yet to do, like skydiving and seeing Table Mountain; but as far as everyday, tangible things go, I’ve done a lot of them.  I sometimes forget that I still have a lot of everyday firsts left in me.

So last night, I participated in my first open mic.  I was nervous and my voice caught and I…may or may not have jumped around on stage to “Niggas in Paris,” (the ratchet burrows itself deep down into my 9th ward bones), but I did it.  And it was totally fun.  Despite at times feeling like I choked through it, it seemed the people in the place dug it, and that also made me happy.  I’m always conscious about how people will receive me.  I can only be me, but I also wonder if, when the pressure is on, I’ll be choppy or off putting.  And I managed to gulp down my nerves and make it through my (mercifully) short poem.  I liked the feel of the mic though, so I can’t say this will be my last time.  I guess we’ll see.

 

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Lightning

When an artist is so overcome by inspiration,they’re electric, the feeling is incomparable.  The feeling when I’m spilling over with ideas is indescribable.  Temporary euphoric paralysis, perhaps?   I’m so caught up in the awesome potential of a great idea, I fear any sudden movements will break the spell.  I love whirlwinds.

I recently happened upon a bonus track on one of my favorite albums, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium.”  It was audio commentary where they discussed the majority of the album.  Two things about “Stadium”: 1) You need this in your collection.  It’s amazing. There’s a bit of everything that is good and righteous about music. 2) John Frusciante is giving Flea a run for his money as second favorite Chili Pepper by saying he sought inspiration from Wu Tang’s “Enter the 36 Chambers” during the writing of this album.  But what struck me more than anything was what Anthony Kiedis said regarding one of the songs:

You start to sometimes get the feeling that the music was already there before you walked into the room.

And that’s inspiration.  When art seems to come alive in a consecrated space, and you’re merely the instrument.  I never feel more connected to the universe than when I’m truly struck by inspiration.

However, if art was only about waiting to be struck by random divine moments, everyone would be artists.  Every soul has a moment where they’re touched by divinity.  Inspiration is akin to the lusty, love at first sight moment:  your future someone standing across the room, bathed in a warm glow, simply waiting.

To truly be successful though, is to grind in the muck for those few exquisite lines, perfect lighting, soul-rending notes.  There are days that I plead for the absence of fear and the use of my voice.  The fear doesn’t really come from underestimating the power of my voice, but rather, being acutely aware of said power.  The responsibility that comes with being listened to is humbling.

I’m obsessed with saying, not necessarily the right things, but the things that will echo my truths.  Sometimes I take breaks from blogging because I know what I’ve written was disingenuous.  If only one person reads my blog, that one person deserves better.  I try not only to write from joy and objectivity, but also pain and not so pretty emotions.  Praying for the balance to display both honestly is one half of the battle; working in harmony with those prayers is the other.

If inspiration is the infatuated love at first sight, then actively pursuing and honing one’s craft must be the marriage.  My craft is my voice.  Til death do we part.

Fruition

fru·i·tion

/fruˈɪʃən/  Show Spelled[froo-ish-uhn]  Show IPA

–noun
1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment: After years of hard work she finally brought her idea to full fruition.
2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.
3. state of bearing fruit.

If I were forced to provide a favorite word, “fruition” would be that word.  Even before you get to the meaning, it just sounds divine.  The entire notion of realizing one’s dream, destiny or potential is one of the most appealing prospects to me.  I am a woman who enjoys the journey, but I also appreciate that moment that says “this is why you did all of that.”  Fruition is what fuels award ceremonies, recitals, graduations and even good parenting.  We work hard to see some sort of benefit for our hard work.  The reason so many people quit school, jobs and even relationships, is because they feel unfulfilled.  Who wants to rise each day with their own personal universe devoid of progress and passion? A life without inspiration is no life at all.

I’m cool with that.  But what if you’re lacking passion?  What if you see yourself on a path that will not bear fruit?  Do you just resign yourself that this is the way it’s going to be?  Do you give up and scrap the whole plan?  I’ve built from ground zero more than a few times in my life, and I see a certain benefit in that.  However, sometimes, the plan isn’t the problem.  I think we need to be more willing to salvage the functional parts and scrap what doesn’t work.

This is coming from my realization that there have been certain facets of my east coast plan that haven’t quite worked out as I would have liked.  Part of me has thought, “Well, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’ve made it five years in a foreign land.  Let’s pack it in and bring it back to the 504.  Maybe having your family around will make going back to school easier.  Maybe you’ll get the breathing room to finish your book.”  Yet, I think that would be a grave mistake.  Just because it’s not perfect, it doesn’t mean that great things have not happened to me here.  I’ve made great friends who are family to me now. And the easy way isn’t always the right way.  We all need support, but I can’t expect my hand to be held all the way through to greatness.  It’s time for the big girl drawz.

So I’m coming to terms with never regressing, and not starting completely over.  I just have to reconfigure my path and make sure bananas are at the other end.

“I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”

Or alternatively, “Show a sister some love because it’s the right thing to do.”

Vote for My Auntie!

Can you deny such a beautiful baby this humble request?  I am gunning for “Best Personal Blog” and “Blog to Watch” in the 2010 Black Weblog Awards, and would greatly appreciate your support.  This is my first year participating, but truly want my blogging to be about something.  I would urge you to peruse my personal favorites:

Why I Cried
Ain’t I A Woman?
Four Sentences
He Hate Me

If you enjoy these, or can’t resist the pleading eyes of my beautiful three month old niece, click here, and nominate me in the above mentioned categories. Thanks a million guys.

Smooches!

“Plan your work…

“…and work your plan!”

I can’t tell you how often my mom said this to us.  Basically, the root of success is an organized and well thought out plan, accompanied by the tenacity to see that plan to fruition.  Truer words were never spoken.  What makes this  comical?  Bless her heart, my mother would not have known organization if it brought her lunch.  Dear Tree, I am your apple.

Point for point, I’ve followed in, and surpassed her footsteps:  notebooks with great schemes, ideas, ambitions; half-finished projects; meals no one would really enjoy, but they were new and different.  Yeah.  And now I’m 33, the age where she’d given birth to her final child, and I want to kick it up a notch in a different way.  But the thing that gets me, and what may well have been the thing that got to her, is the blues.  When the blues hit me, I got it bad and that ain’t good.  There are days I just feel set adrift, and it’s hard to get my bearings.  The other part is, once you’ve created your millionth half-ject, and embarked upon your trillionth unfinished plot, the feeling of being overwhelmed is stifling.  Partially because, it’s not just a feeling – we really are overwhelmed.  Quite honestly, I know I have the ability to see myself clear of anything in my path – that ability just happens to be blocked by a million other things.  You can’t see the forest for the trees, the book report, the sewing project, the business venture AND that casserole you left in the oven.

So I’m reaching out to you guys:  What do you do to beat back the blues?  How do you combat feeling overwhelmed or even a little afraid of the notion that maybe you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew this time?  Or, how do you prevent yourself from being in the position where you are overwhelmed and spread too thin?  Being the come-back kid is great, but it’s also emotionally taxing, and I’m not so haughty as to presume that someone isn’t doing it better than I.  Feel free to share, and perhaps we can get a dialogue going.  When you take into account the times we’re living in, I find it hard to believe that I’m the only person who feels this way.

Let’s build folks.

A Simple Take on a Complex Topic

A friend asked for my take on the Academy Awards.  Upon providing said opinion, he said that it should be a blog post, so:

I will first TOTALLY ignore the elephant in the room that is “Precious,” and say that James Cameron proved that a heterosexual white male can effectively make the “Oh No This Heffa Didn’t” face on national television.  The school word for this face is “incredulous.”  I don’t know the politics behind this.  I don’t know if while they were married, Bigelow worked the stroll.  I do know that watching your ex-wife clean your clock, when folks acted as though your movie cured cancer is pretty hilarious.

Now, I didn’t hear Mo’Nique’s acceptance speech, but she looked like she was reading from the sick and shut in list.  Giving Honor to God and asking that we pray for Sister But-Er-Um.  That being said, I (surprisingly?) have no opinion about her winning an Oscar.  Lots of Oscar winners have tragic stories (This is touched on at Cliff’s Crib).  We love a great tragedy.  I have mixed feelings about holding African Americans to a standard we don’t hold Caucasians to.  I also have mixed feelings about ALL of our stories being tragic.  And can we talk about how the Caucasian mama Oscar winner (Bullock) was the paragon of what motherhood should be, and Mo’Nique, the African American mother was the pariah?  This troubles me in a way I’m not sure how to fix.

It also annoyed me that on the news, when they did show a sound byte of Mo’Nique thanking the academy for looking at her performance, and not the politics behind it, the two African Americans on Fox 5 acted like they didn’t know what she was talking about.  Tony Perkins, you’re tight with Donnie Simpson.  Allison Seymour, your husband is Mark Clark. You know GOOD AND WELL what she was talking about.

There is so much more than can be said about this, but lets talk about how shocking it is that in the year 2010, blacks and women are still experiencing “firsts.”  Let’s talk about how we, as African American women must STILL combat these negative images that are all too prevalent in the media.  Let’s talk about how, in 2010, in a recent Vanity Fair article showcasing up and coming actresses to watch, NOT ONE was a woman of color, and it was done without them batting an eyelash.  This needs to be brought to the mat as often as possible until there is some form of balance achieved.

Which is why your girl is returning to school and majoring in journalism.  It is for us to redefine success, and hold ourselves, not as “exceptions,” to black womanhood.  It is for us to show that we are the rule.

Sorry that I’ve missed out on you guys for the last few days.  I came down with a jacked up cold that slowed me down last week, and kept me incapacitated for the entire weekend; until around 6:30 Sunday night, just in time to get ready to go back to work.  Boo.

This week has been somewhat eventful (already), so I plan on having some juicy topics this week.  Feel free, also, to drop suggestion topics in the comments box, or email them to wrecklessendangerment@gmail.com.  Of course, being a woman on the go, it’s sometimes hard to be as faithful to my blog as I would like, so if you want 140 characters of instant gratification, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/afrodyte.

Love you.

Reality Bites

Charismatics and soldiers.  When you get right down to it, that’s what the world is comprised of.  Some folks just draw you right in, and the chips fall their way with little more than a smile on their part.  It’s both a gift and a cultivated talent.  These are the individuals that get under your skin and make you want to do things for them, spend time with them, cater to them, and you have no idea why.  Then there are the folks who spend every moment clawing and scratching.  They battle easy credit ripoffs, temporary layoffs AND the chow line.  Battle, and WIN.  The ability to survive is a gift in its own right.

No prizes for where I believe I fit in.  I don’t say this in a way to toot my own horn.  This gift I have, sometimes I abuse it, as my ability to survive occasionally makes me careless.  I think, “Well, I’ve made it through everything else – what’s one more thing?”  As there are drawbacks with being a charismatic individual, being a soldier can also be a bit of a curse.

The very core of the soldier is the story.  You’ve been battle tested and proven worthy; who doesn’t love a tale of triumph?  Unfortunately, there is where you find the practical joke of this whole soldier lifestyle.  The soldier’s story comes with a very weighty obligation.  It goes without saying that stories of bravery are welcomed.  A soldier can tell of being wounded or trapped.  Our scars always hold the deepest and most meaningful of stories.  If the circumstances meet a certain criteria, a soldier is even allowed to die, and it is celebrated.

What you can NEVER do as a soldier, however, is be tired. No one wants to hear the story of the tired soldier.  It makes one uncomfortable to witness a moment when their champion is neither brave, valiant or wise.  It makes their own vulnerabilities that much more frightening.  I remember being young, and my mother being exhausted and overwhelmed, and when she finally went off, I was terrified.  It was not because she was not well within her rights, nor was it because she was abusive, but when the lynch pin weakens, what are the rest of us to do?  Later, even in her illness, she did everything to minister to the minds and spirits of everyone who came in contact with her.  If you were not in her immediate company, you didn’t know she was ill.  When she lost the ability to do that, it shook us all, not because she owed us a debt, but because we felt that if someone that strong could crumble, we didn’t stand a chance.

And now, it’s my turn.  When I buckle, people have become so accustomed to me fighting through, displays of vulnerability make them uncomfortable.  The make me uncomfortable.  Sharing too much makes me feel like a complainer.  When I falter, it all goes to shit.  Everyone has problems, and I’m sure most of those problems are bigger than anything I will ever experience, so I try my best to keep moving.  My ability to fight is my color purple, and I believe to disregard it would piss God off.

But the truth of the matter is that being strong is so damn hard; and frankly, I’m honestly not convinced that I’m all that strong.  I fear that were anyone to tiptoe through my thoughts, they would label me a fraud.  I actually hate the idea of dating for this very reason.  On the inside, I’m a mess.  “Hey Awesome Guy, you know how you kind of thought that I was confident, collected, wise and beautiful?  Yeah, that’s all kind of a crock of shit, and I’m actually just a regular ass chick.  My bad.  Will you accept me anyway?  No?  Okay, well I’ll just go back to suppressing the fact that this has bruised every one of my internal organs, and I’ll wish you well.” I pride myself on being functional, but I think it’s been almost a year since I’ve felt that I was really living life.  I don’t even know what to do with that, so I wouldn’t dare subject a life partner to these shenanigans.

For the time being, I’m working on answering the question, “Well, if you’re such a hot mess, why should anyone listen to you?”  There’s this gaping vortex at my center where I believe my purpose used to live.  Outside of being a mother, I have no idea what my purpose is.  I don’t know that I ever had it.  I’ve always walked on the fringe of everything.  Not that I’m a fence rider, but rather, I don’t let anything box me in.  I’m the consummate eclectic, so it’s hard for me to fit anywhere.  It always has been, but that’s a separate post entirely.

So, starting in this very moment, I’m spending the next year pioneering my happiness.  Lord knows how that’s going to work out, but since nobody is gonna give me my free, I’m gonna have to air out the nina and take that shit.