Monday, November 2, 2015

Zodiacal Reassurances! I Just Felt like Making This…

I have a lot of fun reading these memes that get around about traits of the zodiac. Some of the ones I find for mine are accurate; I find some satisfaction in going “YES! That is SO ME!!” for some reason. Anyhow, I tend to also find that some of the traits can be a bit harsh; each sign has its “higher” and “lower” traits. I don’t know about yawl, but I hate being put in the “harsh critic” box all the time, and I know for damned certain I am NOT a neat freak. I wish I was sometimes (LOL), but it is what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m born so close to Leo, I dunno. 

But there are some standout “lower” traits that certain signs are famous for, and they may also cause rifts with friends sometimes.

At any rate, I got a sudden brainwave and decided I would create a list and perhaps a meme of my own to reassure people who might strongly exhibit the famous traits so much that they are a part of them, if that makes any sense.
Ready? Here goes nada:

Aries: You DO know you don’t have to be right ALL THE DAMNED TIME, right? It’s okay to be wrong. Nobody is going to flog you for being wrong. You will not be less of a person for being wrong. Go ahead and explore the possibility that --yes—you are wrong. And if you are entrenched in “I’M RIGHT, GAHDAMMIT!” it is also okay to open your mind and see another’s POV. Try it sometime. You might be surprised.

Taurus: It’s okay to yield to other opinions! It’s also okay to feel other feelings, and go against your own programming! Being stubborn and difficult for the sake of it isn’t going to help you to grow, Ferdinand. Stop it.

Gemini: It’s okay to stick to one decision or thing. It’s also okay to simplify things and not make them more complicated than they need to be. It’s okay to not know everything. And you don’t need to manipulate someone into doing something. Try ASKING THEM.

Cancer: It’s perfectly fine to come out of your shell once in awhile. Not everything outside your bubble is going to hurt you. One failure doesn’t mean you have to drop the whole thang, just try again. And on a side note: moodiness is okay. Just learn to be mindful of them, and flow like the water sign you are.

Leo: Hey. Telenovela star. It’s okay to not have drama in your life. It’s great to be alone with your own thoughts. It’s also okay to feel shame and humility. On that note, it doesn’t have to always be about you. Let someone else have the spotlight/take the lead for a change, and have a break.

Virgo: Oh, for heaven’s sake…you don’t need to have everything perpetually perfect! It’s fine to let the bathroom mirror be spotty, your hair to be a bit mussed, your curtains to have a wrinkle or fifteen. If you screw up, it’s fine! Just learn from it and remember not to do it next time. The world isn’t going to end. And stop being so damned hard on yourself.

Libra: I’m not sure if anyone said this to you, but you don’t have to manipulate people into doing what you want either, and you don’t have to embellish the truth or downplay bad stuff to be accepted—or if you want to actually have friends. It’s also perfectly fine, Scales, to weigh a decision, but you need to commit to it once you make one. And for corn’s sake, COMMIT TO MAKING ONE. You can only pro-and-con shxt but so much. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong… that’s how life is. And guess what? It’s also okay to commit. Stand up, dammit.

Scorpio: It’s okay to trust SOMEBODY, Bruce Wayne. I know you like your secrets, but it’s not so bad to let someone in that you trust and share a few with them. It’s okay to feel your jelly, just don’t spread it, lest you contaminate your relationships with it. And please… allow yourself to breathe a little easier and knock that resentful chip off your shoulder. Stop brooding in your Batcave. Talk to whomever it is that did you wrong…don’t just throw shade at them forever. Don’t you use those eyes on me. It won’t work.

Sagittarius: Stop. Fronting. Stop hiding behind that cocky veneer. It is okay for the world to see who you really are. You pride yourself on realness, but I bet nobody knows that real Archer. It’s also okay to be tactful. Tact does not equal sugarcoating; it equals politeness and not getting cut off due to your careless comments. Ease up. Think before you speak, man.

Capricorn: It’s okay. I mean, there’s more to that, but I feel I need to say simply: “It’s okay.” Why? Because it is…or it will be. The glass has something in it—it’s not half-empty. And it’s okay to not worry about the bills 24-7, Scrooge McDuck. They will get paid when you pay them. It’s okay to get out of your own way and just not look down on the rest of the world. Nobody’s perfect.

Aquarius: You know…you don’t always have to be contrary for the sake of being contrary. It’s okay to go along with something for once. It’s also a good thing to tone down the aloofness and mysterious airs with those who love you, because…they love you. It’s also okay to show these people you love them back. We know you have feelings. You ain’t fooling nobody.

Pisces: We love your sensitivity. We really do. Just know that it’s okay to not take every act of criticism as a deeply personal attack. Also, it’s okay to follow through on stuff you started—even revisit old stuff you started but never finished and DO THAT SHXT. And, it would do the world a great favour if you just chill out with that temperamental streak, Mr. Banner. Put the green guy away.




Saturday, October 3, 2015

Saying Goodbye Again; My Inner Superhero


This week has been a really trying one for meows truly.


Two years ago, on October 3rd, my maternal aunt, Caroline, died of cancer. Last week, I buried my other maternal aunt, Constance…who also succumbed to cancer—uterine this time. I’ve never had to help plan a funeral before, and needless to say it was emotionally trying. It was also exhausting in that we had to see that her affairs were in order; thankfully, her legal affairs and whatnot were (unlike with my other aunt), but cancelling subscriptions, alerting people, and all the other arrangements can indeed take a toll. Dealing with the harsh reality that someone who helped mold you in your early years more than you realised is no longer here…that’s a bit much. And, every death in my immediate family makes me brood on my own mortality, but this hit home even more so due to my abnormal-cells scare.

 Also… this leaves my mother, the baby of four children, as the last of her siblings. That, for some reason, breaks my heart. My mother and I haven’t always had the easiest relationship, but I cannot bear that she is the only one left. I have resolved to be there for her more than I have been henceforth. So that is why I’ve barely left my mother’s side for the last few days.

I wrote my aunt’s obituary, and as I was doing that, I remembered all sorts of things that we’d done together when I was a Gatita. She passed along to me the love of musicals, crafting, baking, and got me interested in knitting, sewing, and crocheting. She taught me to appreciate gardening, lavender, and tulips—so much so I insisted on having the latter in her floral arrangements.

I realised that, even though we’d stopped being close in my tweenage years (that is a weird phenomenon in the Closson family; do not ask me why), I really missed those times, and I really missed my Aunt Sissy. I also resolved that I would again take up sewing and knitting, and I would buy tulips every year in her honour. I will also teach my Grrl Cub all about “The Sound of Music” and “The King and I”, which shouldn’t be hard, since she loves singing and dancing.

Even in her last days, she joked… it seemed that she’d begun displaying this wry sense of humour I hadn’t seen in a very long time, telling me that if I was gonna sit and visit her at the nursing home, I was gonna have to deal with “this ugly noise”—she was in considerable pain despite the meds, and moaned a fair bit. She asked me to hold her hand and gently ribbed me about “not rubbing it enough”. From what I understand, all she really wanted at night was for someone to hold her hand whilst she fell asleep. I wish I had been there to do it that one last time.





Okay, now that I have feels all over my feet…I’m gonna add some more.

The last week has also been spent clearing out my aunt’s apartment. I mean, it was a lot of stuff, but not a lot of heavy furniture, thank goodness. We cleared out books, clothes, all sorts of stuff. We finally finished yesterday.

On our way to her apartment, I was riding in the car with my mother, my boyfriend, Peace, and my cousin, Robert. We got to the section of Avon Avenue and Springfield Avenue at the Newark/Irvington border, and Peace spotted a little girl crying and told us, “Whoa—there’s a little girl on the corner by herself crying, and nobody’s around her!” I look around and see the little girl and my heart died. She was hysterical. My mother stopped the car and Peace and Robert got out to get a better look.

 “Oh, my God—her mother’s on the ground!” I was already fumbling with my seat belt and on my way out of the car before I got it off good, praying that this woman hadn’t been shot to death on some street corner in front of her child. My mother was going to turn the car around but I didn’t want to wait.

So, we all ran over there, and it was lucky Peace and Robert even saw the mom because the weeds were so thick between the curb and the sidewalk that you couldn’t see her at first glance. We didn’t want to move the mom, as she was facedown on the pavement and I was horrified something really awful had happened to her. I looked at the little girl and thought of my own daughter, and of myself when I was small, and I said to her, “Will you come to me?” She nodded, and came to me so I could pick her up.

 I asked her what happened, and she said, “My mami fell.” I told her I was sorry to hear that. I asked her name; she told me, and I told her mine. She told me how old she was—just three. She wasn’t able to tell her address, so I just told her that everything was going to be okay, and that we’d get help for her mother.

Peace, meanwhile, had called 911, and Robert was trying to keep the mother, who had begun stirring, from getting up. I talked to her, too. I asked, “Ma’am? Are you okay?” She didn’t answer, but looked at me blankly. She couldn’t talk, it seemed. So I told her we were getting help and not to move, but she seemed intent on trying to sit up after awhile, and there was no stopping her. So Robert tried propping her up so she wouldn’t fall again.

A Newark bluecoat came down the avenue in his black-and-white, so my mother and I flagged him down and started telling him about what we’d seen, and he called it in to Irvington Police. He’d told us he saw her standing by a nearby fence earlier with her daughter. He said he was glad he drove back through, and that we saw the little girl.

The mother seemed to come around slowly, and asked where her daughter was. I said, “I’ve got her; don’t worry. She’s safe.” The mother said, “Thank you.” I told her: “No worries—I have a daughter too.”

Soon after that, an ambulance or three arrived—the first being the small type. Irvington Police had also arrived, and a lady officer came over, and we all explained what we’d seen and heard, and made sure the mother was safely in the ambulance. The officer asked the EMTs about the little girl, and they seemed at a loss. I said to the girl, “Do you want to go with the nice officer, so she can take you to your mami?” The poor girl looked me in the eye and shook her head.

“I want to stay with you,” she said.



OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG I GAGGED

I almost fell apart right in front of her, bouncing her on my hip. I didn’t know what the hell to do then! It took some coaxing, but we got her to go with the officer, and I asked my mother to give her a stuffed toy from the back of her car. We did, and we said goodbye, and left my card with the officer, asking her to give it to the mother in case she wanted to call or anything.

And THEN I cried, hee.

I really hope the mom was okay. We were really scared for her and her daughter—Peace and I, for sure, cuz we’re too damned sensitive to stuff like this. But my cousin said he thought maybe the mom had a seizure; he remembered what it was like when our grandfather had them and how his mannerisms were when he’d come out of it. I’m still hoping that the mom will call, if but to tell us how she’s doing. That’s all I’m really worried about. We’re still worried as I write this. I can only pray she and her sweet little girl are both fine.

Monday, August 3, 2015

It Is What It Is


It might seem odd for me that I'm blogging again so soon but I guess I'm feeling a certain type of way. It may come off as bitter, but I'm just being real, and face it--life ain't always sweet sometimes. This is just me taking inventory and sharing it with you.

This is written in the spirit of honesty and disclosing events in my life...owning up to the fact that everything is not okay in my world, and that I would be less than authentic if I didn't share this with you, GNOtaku (and the haters, as well).



I've been reflecting lately on the fact that even though I'm supposed to have this great team of people behind me, I am actually alone and on my own.

I think I said once before, back when we were still being distributed by another company, how it felt like everyone had distanced themselves from the GATA City project except me, and that I supposed it was my turn. And I guess I distanced myself a bit, too, out of protest, even though it was the only material I had to perform. 

Now that we are no longer being distributed by that company, I put a fair amount of enthusiasm again into promoting the project...and, again, it seems like I'm the only one who cares to do so.

My resources are limited, admittedly. I am single-handedly running the hardcore administrative duties, promotion/marketing, social media. I have someone who goes through my mail and someone who manages me. But for the most part, it's all me.

With the exception of one of the CEOs reposting what I post to people who couldn't care less (or maybe they could; wrong audience), I'm the only one who seems to care what happens enough to do the "legwork", so to speak, anymore.

A total of four credited writers (including myself) and two guests are on the album, names and all, and yet, I'm the only one posting any of its achievements, or promoting my shows, or anything like that. I'm the one taking classes, and trying to figure out everything.

A pretty big performance is coming up in my life, and I can't even get full support for that without balking or strings or indifference. In fact, the last time I had support from anyone of the writing team as far as the performances go was years ago. The most important person on my team/The Label's team who was able to do something and didn't feel like they were "too old" to do it moved away to get his life. You would think he'd still help via social media--and he did in the beginning--but he lost interest, threw me under the bus in certain cases, and I'm pretty much left on my own on the promoting front as far as the "legwork". I'm guessing it was because his friends didn't appreciate the the work he put into it and put it down because they thought it was a bullshxt project cuz it wasn't full of curses and gangsta-isms, blatant typical-female-rapper-style sexuality, and other shxt I don't do.



Now, there are certain things that I am being mistrusted to handle since, I guess, the new business model and the way the independent music industry now works is not working for The Label, and, as I pointed out before, resources from them are limited. Certain vital things that are the lifeblood of getting new fans. I can try to stay positive all I want, but the fact still remains that a potential fan--someone who doesn't know me from Adam's housecat-- will more than likely balk at paying full price for music, and that is going to hurt me in the long term. Not even established musicians are making money off music sales! To choose short-term profit over potential future money is possible career suicide. Oh, sure, The Label might make its investment back, but I will have lost more long-term customers. I mean, even drug dealers give free samples.



The reason why they don't know me is that proper promo never happened, the timing of proper promo never happened. Nothing was structured, GATA City didn't even have a proper video until a year after it was released. It should have been a year before its release at the most. They expected that the album would sell on its own because the music was good, with very little advertising, and just on the strength of me doing shows. Every idea and well-researched suggestion I put forth regarding its promotion and handling was initially shot down, with me being told I needed to "focus on the show and making good music" when that day in the industry--that way of handling things-- had passed. Then, a year later, suddenly my ideas made sense...but still met with much skepticism. I'm still going through this struggle now. The rules are different, yet they still want to play by the old rulebook...and my hands are tied.


Me.


I did and still do all I can to put my name out there myself, but it's not enough, and what I do manage to get accomplished is tainted by someone else glomming onto what achievements I do make by using constant confusion, lies, sabotage, and subterfuge. Yay.



Yay.


So, along with this and the unfortunate infiltration of aforementioned glomming demonic forces on something that was super important to me, the future is looking uncertain. Here I am-- again-- being forced by too many people to hide my light under a bushel. It's just perfect that one of these people happens to be the infiltrator and even more perfect that they are being helped along by the very people who said they wouldn't allow it to happen. The team who are supposed to support me don't care and don't understand how important the event is to me, and NOBODY seems to understand how a person who was and is still coming for my life--literally--is a huge detriment to my success there. (Sidebar: if you ever need to get a restraining order on someone and you think even once about dissolving it-- DON'T. You will indeed regret it eventually.)

How much do you want to bet that if something huge and good and groundbreaking does eventually come of the GATA City project, suddenly everyone will give a shxt about the cause, including but not limited to the other writers on the project? Then it will be theirs, too, and not just mine. It will be "our" victory, "our" baby. Then, people will want to claim it and me, say they always believed in me, they "knew me when", maybe even go as far as to say they taught me all I know and other BS. Never mind I've been working on pushing this one project for four years alone amidst life struggles and deaths and my health and everything.




I'm on my own out here. I'm doing all I can to help others so I can, in turn, help myself, and in turn, help them, but I. Am. Mostly. On. My. Own.

Yawl can sit there and pay lip service to "I got your back" and "You're not alone in this" and "It will get better" and whatever...but the fact still remains that...OnMyOwn. Like Patti LaBelle.



It is what it is.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Albums That Got Me Through Some Shxt...

Let's face it-- we all have that go-to song or album that helps us through some really tough times when we need it. Music has always been the balm to soothe my wounds, or uplift me, or comfort me when there was nobody else to do that. My taste in music has always been all over the place, so I have several albums that have never failed to put me right in the vortex when shxt got real.

Like when you saw this...you know shxt was about to get real!


I compiled this list using the criteria of albums that I never skipped through if I could help it, and that I played during times in my life (mostly Past-Life) that I clung to as if they were life preservers...because that's pretty much what they were.
Sharing time:

 
"Blink-182" from...well, duh.
This album marked a different level of sound for this band, and it's one of the few albums I own, period, that I don't skip through (although I have to be in the mood to listen to "Feelin' It", they played that damned song so much). IDKY, but it just spoke to me. The songs "Violence" and "Down" and its interlude really shook up some chakras for me. And I loved the 80s vibe of "Always". Barker's drumming on  "Stockholm Syndrome" is fxcking epic.
And Robert Smith...that is all. I don't even have to say anything else.





"In Utero" by Nirvana
OMG...just, OMG. I wore this thing OUT when I got my hands on a copy. Favourite songs in particular are "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle" (for some reason I love the part where the bridge comes and it's this tambourine in the background), "Serve The Servants", "Very Ape" and "Dumb".
Of course I love "Heart Shaped Box". That goes without saying.



"Unplugged in New York"--Nirvana
When I learned that basically Kurt was high off his damned rocker when this was recorded, I actually couldn't help but be impressed, TBH. This thing is damned-near perfect. My fave off this is "The Man Who Sold The World", easily.



"I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got"--Sinead O'Connor
This is another one that I wore completely out. This woman's voice would get inside me and just somehow make everything okay. Favourites from this were "Feel So Different", "The Emperor's New Clothes", "Three Babies", "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" (that familiar hip-hop beat!), "You Cause As Much Sorrow", and "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance".



"Use Your Illusion II"--Guns N' Roses
I played this shxt waaaayyy too much. I still get gooseflesh when I hear "Don't Cry (Alt. Version)" and "Civil War". And "Locomotive (Complicity)"...horee shxt. Just put that particular one on as loud as you can and let that beat the crap out of you for awhile, then let it wipe all of that away when the song switches up and gets all trippy on you. The ending of that track is hypnotic. In fact, 'scuse me a second whilst I put that on to finish this blog...

One sec...I'll be right witcha.

Okay, where was I...



"August And Everything After"--Counting Crows
I don't know what it was about Adam Duritz's songwriting (or his vocals on this effort, come to that) that helped me though a VERY difficult time in my life, but whatever it was...it did. Faves from this: "Round Here", "Omaha", "Rain King", "Anna Begins". Le sigh.



"Time's Up"--Living Colour
HOW THE HELL DID PEOPLE SLEEP ON THIS ALBUM?! I didn't. You couldn't tell me shxt about the title track. It was so visceral, and spoke to me so hard I actually was doing the African dance choreography I was learning at the time to it, LOL. People act like "Cult Of Personality" is the only Living Colour song, EVER--in fact, when they came here last year to Newark, they very wisely saved that song for last! Can't even be mad at them.
Faves for me off this were the title track, "Pride", "Someone Like You", and the first single, "Type"...which is so excellent.

There it is...the albums that helped me through some shxt. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did...and still do.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#LoveWins...Or Does it?

Okay-- admittedly, the title of this blog prolly smells of clickbait. But it's no less a valid question. Is this statement really true? Did love win?



In a HUGE way, yes--yes, it did. And yet, while same-sex couples all over the nation celebrate this landmark victory for the LGBTQIA community, there are some members who are definitely being overlooked...and since I happen to be one of them, I felt I had to speak up on it.

I identify as a bisexual woman. Yeh, I said it. I came out to my parents a few years ago (bye-bye to the hopes of the haters who planned to out me to them--too late, bxtches! They KNOW), and my true friends and family have always known. My partner-in-life knows and has always known. He doesn't care. He isn't intimidated. And his culeness with it isn't because he thinks he's gonna be up to his twins in wall-to-wall poontang, if that's what you're thinking. He accepts it because it's a part of who I am. He and I have enjoyed a surprisingly monogamous relationship for 7 1/2 years (yes, really). We have a daughter together (and two older cubs from previous relationships). We might get married. Anything can happen.

Despite this, I still identify as bisexual. It's why I chose to perform a few years ago at my local pride celebration. I think, though, that the moment it was known that I was pregnant at the time, and madly in love with a man, the general attitude from the LGBTQIA community here towards me changed (and they even seemed to go out of their way to clarify at the next celebration that they were "looking for LGBT performers", as if I wasn't one). It hurt, and I said as much. But, y'know, nobody takes that sort of thing seriously, because bisexuality isn't a thing (sarcasm font on). ::pfft::

I have often asked, "Why even have the B in LGBTQIA if it's just going to be ignored, overlooked, shunned, mocked, and ridiculed by the rest of the community?" I never knew that there was so much bloody biphobia and bi erasure in the world, let alone in my own fxcking sect. There are people who still think that it is a phase, that I came out to be cute and trendy --even my own mother met it with a little scrutiny, but when she realised I was sincere, she relented.

According to the world, bisexual people are confused, greedy, promiscuous, in denial, you name it. I'm here to tell you: WE. ARE. NOT. We know exactly what we want and who we are. And we know we can live life and love as we want to. Just because you might like savory and sweet things doesn't mean you have to enjoy both literally at the same damned time. It's the same for most of us. At least I know for sure it is for me. I'm bisexual, but I am not polyamorous. I learned my lesson with that the hard way; it is not for meows truly.



In the wake of SCOTUS' decision, a wave of rainbow euphoria spread across social media, and a wave of sheer hate did as well. I expected the hate (though I admit I was disappointed in where some of it was coming from, and what it was hiding behind). I didn't really expect that so many others, including but not limited to bisexuals, would feel as if they've been overlooked by the media, because it suddenly became all about "The Gay Agenda". They could have used phrases like "same-sex couples" and "marriage equality" as opposed to "gay marriage", a phrase which left the rest of the LGBTQIA community out of the celebration. Bi/Pan/Transsexuals are happy about this, too, y'know!

So, that is part of my reason for this headline. Maybe a better headline would have been "#LoveWins...But Did It Win For Everyone?"

I don't know. I'm happy, but we still have a long way to go.




Saturday, May 30, 2015

On Being An Alternative Hip-Hop Artist...and its Pitfalls

WARNING: THIS IS ANOTHER POPCORN ENTRY. So get comfy and grab some.


I might just join you as I write this.

I met a person of station awhile back who tried to clown me a bit because I said I was an alt. hip-hop artist. Challenged me, in a sort of condescending tone, to explain.




I did, and he basically "corrected" me and told me I am what is called "underground". I told him that there are many underground hip-hop artists that would disagree vehemently with that assessment. I've even been told as much by a respected so-called underground hip-hop "tastemaker", that my stuff is not underground.

Yes, I may actually BE under the radar, if we used the term "underground" in that sense, but I am still alternative, in the sense that what I'm doing is not what you would expect from hip-hop when you first hear that that is my genre of choice. There are artists under the radar with me that are doing exactly what one would expect of hip-hop, creatively. That ain't me.

I've also been called a pop artist, which, frankly, I am sick to death of.


I know pop really is supposed to mean "popular"--which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, being popular-- but in this day and age, for someone who strives to be authentic to who they are, it also means "death sentence", "disposable" and "dismissable", and I don't wish to own being any of those things, no matter what bent my sound might take in its journey.

People have a tendency to just kind of shove things in a box when they don't understand it, and more often than not, the box they shove you in is wrong. Because you can dance to the majority of GATA City, you would think that I'd be shoved in the dance category, but since people think of EDM/EBM, dubstep and the like when you say, "dance", I am demoted to pop. I also get told a lot that I don't belong here, I belong "Overseas" where I would "do much better", as if Overseas is one big land that will solve all my problems like it's the Emerald City.
And I know there's the typical/not-so-typical-but-accepted-cuz-they're-conscious hip-hop brethren, sistren, and cousins of mine who would look down their nose at me, side-eye me, or tell me, "That's cute, sis" and give me a virtual pat on the head, but go on and on about how ill certain mainstream female rappers are when I know I could run circles around some of them lyrically.

I won't pretend to make myself bigger than what I am; I won't even sit here and say I'm at-par with some of the other unrecognised ladies under the radar with me. There are so many down here that I've heard, been introduced to, or whatever...some, I've even been called upon to emulate, but my days of emulating anyone have been far behind me for years. I will, however, tell you that I know I deserve a fair shot at being taken seriously and listened to.

Talking of "listened to"... that's also another pitfall that comes not so much with being alternative, but just being a hip-hop artist-- NOT being listened to.

For example: there is an event that Newark is trying to do called Better Block Newark, and they were looking for people to get involved. Someone on its organisation team had somehow gotten hold of my email address and was sending me so much mail about it. So, naturally, I submitted myself... and got no response for a month, save for more email about volunteering.

When I did get a response, this is what met me (and two other people on his staff the sender sent to via CC):

Thank you very much for your interest in supporting our efforts in hosting Better Block Bergen. Unfortunately, the intention of the event is to provide family friendly entertainment for this celebration. Otherwise, we would surely be provide the platform to present your work. I'm sure it will be a great occasion and welcome you to contact my colleague Perris for an opportunity to setup a vendor table. 

Again, please accept our regrets. We hope that you still choose to support Better Block Newark as we intend to expand the initiative and need all the support from entrepreneurs/residents like yourself.


Mind you, I was asking about performing, but they're talking about selling at a table.

I replied, pointing out that my stuff is mainly profanity-free, and is indeed family-friendly--that in fact, I had been complimented by parents on that very thing (and sometimes, even shunned for it by others, but I digress). I mean, I wouldn't have been booked at family-oriented block parties if it wasn't, would I? But, I get this back:

I appreciate your cooperation and I must insist if you have materials or goods you would like to share and/or sell during the event we can surely provide space and a table to do so.

I did notice the lack of profanity and such in your performance and I commend that. Please continue to support the event and we can work to better curate the next event's programming to potentially include your stage set.

Huh. Okay, so, basically, "Get a vendor table and be happy. If you play ball, perhaps we'll let you do your li'l thing. but not now."
When I brought it to the attention of friends and GNOtaku, they thought that the "family-friendly" bit was a joke, with at least one friend surmising this:


Oddly enough, Peace had said that very same thing right before she posted that!
I'm pretty sure that they didn't bother to listen, just saw the words "hip-hop" and ran the other way. And for them to sit and say they "noticed the lack of profanity and such" when I could tell they didn't listen was insulting. If they had listened, pointing out that they were looking for "family friendly" entertainment wouldn't have been an issue.

I bet, though, that they'll have a local dance team that either a) has little girls doing inappropriate choreography but excused as cute (and wearing tutus...which didn't really start much here until after Fashion Is Art) or b) is using music that wasn't pre-approved and ends up full of curses and suggestive themes.

Why?

Because that's what's acceptable around here in the Brix. And it's acceptable because it's what they know.

Someone always tells me to look for ops in my own area; music blogs always suggest becoming a thing in your hometown first. Well, this is what happens when I attempt to do that...unless I meet someone like the true owner of Majesty Loft or someone else willing to take a chance on the weird girl in the cat ears. I'm mostly ignored (not even an email saying "no") by anything you'd think I'd be welcome to perform at in Newark--including Newark Gay Pride, if you can believe that. Newark is nothing if not afraid of new or different, and I think it is time that I truly accepted that and looked for gigs elsewhere, or make my own. Then show up at theirs anyway in full Nyan Regalia, like: "AND WHAT...?"



Which leads me to...addressing this past week's incident involving the "different".


For years, I have been trying to get involved in Afropunk somehow, due to the many suggestions of others (sent press releases, joined featured bands group), only to be mostly ignored, and I think a lot of well-placed badmouthing by certain individuals killed that to begin with. But, being somewhat undaunted and willing to believe that perhaps I might be mistaken, I entered the Battle of the Bands voting competition after much encouragement.
Days later, I received this:

We see some suspicious behavior for your entry, as it receives runs of repeat votes from the same or a series of closely related IP addresses.

166 votes come from duplicate IP addresses.

As this is evidence of cheating, we regret to inform you that your entry will be disqualified immediately.

Okay. Here is the math on the voting process:
--It is a single click voting platform.
--You must vote through Facebook.
--It will not let you vote twice from a single IP address.

And yet...I cheated, and was disqualified. Yup.

Of course, this brought cries of outrage from my friends/GNOtaku. Some thought "sabotage", some thought that they could have just discounted the duplicates, since there seemed to be trouble voting from phones and devices--a lot of people complained that they weren't sure their vote had even gone through. "With this knowledge," one said, "surely a malicious person could systematically get everyone disqualified, except the one they want to win!" And most agreed with that assessment. But I just chalked it up to Mercury Retrograde and the former badmouthing taking its toll.

Ironically, I didn't even enter to win, just get involved in something of theirs IN SPITE of them...and get noticed by their audience. I wasn't even as upset as I should have been about being accused of cheating.

What I was upset about--which I figured out after some reflection...was that here was yet another place where several people have told me I "belonged"...and it was very clear that they still don't think so...for whatever reason.

I can't begin to tell you how many people have said "Oh, you need to join Afropunk, do their shows, get featured!" Anyone from a music business mentor of mine to the graphic designer of my CD art: "Afropunk is for you!" 

No...no, apparently, it's not.
And that has been sorrowfully driven home by this final nail in the coffin.

So, let's count the places I've been told I should belong and apparently don't: my city, the culture as a whole ("you're a pop artist"), America ("go Overseas!"), Afropunk, and let's not forget Hip-Hop Sisters Artistry, who apparently thought there is only one kind of female hip-hop. (Yup--ignored by them, too.)

This shxt makes you want to run away from home sometimes, LOL. Join the circus. I did actually joke in a Facebook status about buying a town like Kim Basinger did and establishing it for those of us who fit nowhere else.

But...I was reminded (thank you for finally being useful, Mercury Retrograde, you cankerous whore) of something I once told a young strangeling-in-the-making when he came in from outside play, disgusted that the other kids didn't want to play with him at all after they decided they wanted to play tag after he said he'd wanted to still play ball, and decided to confess to me.

"Do you still want to play ball?" I asked him.
"Yes."
"Then be proud that your vision of playing ball-- doing something you want to is strong enough to survive what everyone else thinks you should do. They might not want to play with you now, but they might later; someone might. Always feel proud that you chose what you really wanted."



So...I will reflect on that years-old piece of advice I gave my eldest cub, and take it myself and let it nurture me. They might not want to play with me now...but...someone eventually might.

Monday, May 18, 2015

On Finding Out You're Not Such a Crappy Parent After All

This past weekend, we laid my Tomcat's (my eldest son) father to rest. Upon hearing the news, my boy was amazingly strong, yet he'd expressed concern about not feeling more immediate grief about his passing. I reassured him that whatever he was feeling was okay, and that no-one would judge him for his feelings, and that everyone here would be there for him if he needed us. After a bit of a cry from most of us here Lairside, he seemed strengthened, and carried on as usual.

Soon after, he wrote this... incredible status on his Facebook regarding how he felt/his goodbye to his father:




 It was extremely well-received by not only people on his and my friendlists, but by family members and friends of the family he did not know.




He was asked to read his good-bye at the memorial service, and both before and after the service, people were so good to my son and said such nice things to me about how well-mannered and intelligent he was. Some even encouraged him to consider attending the college his father attended.

It was a bit overwhelming but gratifying to know that the work (and I use that word loosely, because it really wasn't work at all; it was a privilege) I put into making sure my boy loved to read, encouraging him to express himself, teaching him to be his own person, and insisting that he use his manners, if nothing else, was not in vain. To receive confirmation that he is indeed a wonderful kid is the best gift and comfort I could ever get.

I'm probably the happiest weirdo parent in the world right now. Thank you to everyone who was so sweet to my boy, and thank you for confirming that I'm not such a bad parent as was previously said.

Thank you, my beautiful boy, for being you.

And, thank you, Jermaine, for giving me our brilliant son. For that I will always be grateful.
Rest well.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Current Holy Grail For My Natural Hair

Underneath my loc extensions (and NO, not the type you see all the time as the current protective style being worn by like, EVERYONE)...I actually DO have hair. It's not this ::snap:: short, it's not down my back, but it does exist. It is a ball of fine, dense, fragile, low-porosity, mostly-4a-some-3c rebellion, but I am learning to love it. When I am out of lox for as little as 3 weeks to as much as 4 months (my last stretch), I coddle it and try to keep it healthy. It frustrates me--mainly its shrinkage is what does it to me, but the ends being old are a pain in the ass, too. Any natural-haired coily lady will tell you that she has her own struggles with her tresses.
Okay, granted--it's Merida, but her hair is crazy. Look at it. LOOK AT IT.

I had a setback where I cut off too much hair. I thought my dry, old ends were all split and grody, but that wasn't the case! They really just needed more love and care because they were old. If I hadn't cut, it would be much longer now than it is currently. To add insult to injury... my hair has been longer on one side for much of my life, so cutting it made it sooooo much worse. I had something like eighteen inches that got cut back to more like, sixteen and fourteen. Ugh. It also suffered thinning, thanx to some med I was on. I'm glad I've gained much of it back, mostly due to good care and partially due to a supplement I inadvertently started taking. I firmly believe that it has strengthened my hair; it even feels different when I touch it. I've been enjoying the journey and resisting the temptation to go back to a texturiser to avoid the SSKs (single-strand knots for the uninitiated) and the shrinkage. My hair shrinks about 60 percent, sometimes 70. Ugh.

I've learned that as it grew, the texture came out more, and I could really see what it looks like. I like it despite its tendency to shrink. I didn't know it looked like this--this coily and happy. It almost looks like it did when I had a texturiser, if it's not quite shrunk and still covered in conditioner. I sometimes wonder what it might look like now if a relaxer had never touched it, ever, and it was allowed to grow and I never cut it but for the occasional trim. The past is just that, though-- past!

I remember when I first went natural, I used to do a twist-out every few days because I had no clue what to do with it, and I got tired of that and started doing this one puff on my head...bad idea. I lost my edges in the front due to that...you know, the "corner temples" at the top, for lack of a better description. I started braiding it up again just to leave it alone, and to let it rest while I babied the edges.
When I got the texturiser it didn't take the first time, so it was trial and error until we got it right. I used to wash with shampoo once a week, leave conditioner and shea butter moisturiser on it every day. I was a bit of a product junkie--at one point I was using 4 products on my head(!), but I found that I could pare it down to two things for my wash-and-go: shea butter and conditioner. And it looked great.

I returned to that combination recently on my natural hair to give my hair a little extra love because it needed it...and it looked so happy. I imagine it felt like this:


And it retained moisture for several days,  right up to my next wash day!
So, here's the products I used.


White Rain Coconut and Hibiscus Conditioner

White Rain Coconut and Hibiscus Conditioner. I used this to co-wash, sometimes left a bit in. I'm not crazy about the smell (it's practically non-existent and powdery), and it could use a little more slip, but it was okay for co-washing once I watered it down a bit. It's good for combing, but I like something a wee bit more slippy, so enter...


TRESemme Flawless Curls Curl Moisturising Conditioner
TRESemme Flawless Curls...OMG. The boyfriend bought this to sub for my usual TRESemme condish--I think it was Smooth and Silky. I fell in love with the scent and the way it made my coils pop. I'm hooked.

On top of that stuff, I just ran some shea butter over every section, then let air dry. Done. And the coils were ecstatic. They were bouncy and springy and shiny and happy, which didn't help my hand-in-hair problem (gotta work on that). It's funny how you come back to things that worked well before.

My mami, who I convinced about growing her natural hair out (she used to cut it all the time) a few years ago, just tried the Dove product line for curls and is raving about the definition she gets with it. Once my hair comes down out of lox I may try it just to see if I like it.
As I write this, I am deep conditioning to prep for going back into lox. And I'm already looking forward to seeing the coils again once they come out in a few months. My journey always seems as if it begins again once I try something different, or something I haven't done in awhile. So, it's never dull, that's for sure.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Adventures In Finding a New Unison Phunk Regime Recruit

::sigh::
Good Lord...talk about a laborious undertaking.
We used to have a pretty great relationship with a dancer who was young and funny and rather skilled. I like to treat the dancers like family--not as an accessory. He was like a younger brother...and he up and moved to Florida, because NJ wasn't treating him very well, to nutshell it. He's doing much better in Florida, and we're very proud of him.
But that left me with no dancer... for nearly a year. This didn't help my confidence in the act much at all. So I stopped looking and got really bummed about it. I was starting to wonder if the position was jinxed like the Defence Against the Dark Arts teaching position of Harry Potter lore.

See? Like that.



So recently, we aggressively recruited for a show that fell into my lap, promising pay. Of course, all of the sudden people we'd asked before-- and who gave no real response-- were eager to comply.

Okay, maybe it wasn't this serious.





Now we have our pick, but it's still not easy. Schedules, lives, work, everything. Wondering if they'll be a good fit. Wondering if they take this as seriously as we do. Hoping against hope that they can actually dance and that they won't bxtch and moan about having to hear my stuff over and over again (yes... this actually happened once). Praying that they'll do the work.

I remember the kid I mentioned earlier admitted, months after he got the gig, that he actually showed up to the audition smashed. On Everclear, of all things. We couldn't tell! I asked why he felt he had to show up like that, and he said he was afraid I'd be a taskmaster, like Debbie Allen in Fame or something.

He was right on part of that, in that I do tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, but, to be fair, he hadn't even met me yet before the audition, so that struck me as some serious foresight on his part.
But I digress...

The process of finding the right person is annoying. At one point I was getting resumes from dancers that were waaay out of the spectrum in which I was searching. These people had credits like you wouldn't believe! All I wanted was a good-looking dude with a good personality who could keep up with Peace, wear the clothes, do the work, be professional, and come to rehearsal regularly. Not Grand Jete UberDanser of the New York City UberDansers.
And then I was getting the odd person who wanted to dance because they went to the club and someone told them they were good, and they send a video and they look like

Oy.

Then it was I'd find someone who might be awesome for the role, and they hear what they're potentially getting into, and never respond again. Well, eff you, too, LOL.
As I write this, I'm already in a panic because the person we chose so far is flaking, and I don't take to flakes kindly. People who know me know this. I will cut you off completely if I find you are a flake, and at this point in my life, I have dispensed with my usual three-strike rule. You flake once, yer out.
I'll just move on to the next on the list if I have to.
Yup. We're done.
I have faith that someday, we'll find the right fit. Until then, I'll keep looking and working with who the universe brings me.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

InvestiGATA: The Ask-Me Video Series

I have a good friend, Ericka, who was listening to me hem and haw over content choices for my channel on YouTube. "Why not do a question/answer/advice thing?" she suggested.


"Why not," indeed...
Frankly, I didn't think it would matter if I did or didn't-- I mean, was anyone really willing to ask ME anything? It just so happened that she was actually right. Much to my surprise (and in some cases, my chagrin), I did manage to get a few questions, and some of of them are tough, so you know I wouldn't ask myself these things, for those of you who might think I cheated or something. I've compiled the best and will be posting these in the first of a new video series called "InvestiGATA".

Know what that means?

That means you can ask me some questions!
Though hopefully not as intense as the ones asked by THIS woman.



What kinds of questions? Ask advice, my opinion, stuff you wanna know! AS LONG AS THEY'RE RESPECTFUL QUESTIONS, I will answer all I can and post it in a video to my YouTube and Vimeo channels. Deal?
You can ask via my tumblr or shoot me an email. Please keep them respectful. Ask yourself, "Is this something I would want to be asked?" If not, then, maybe think of something you'd want to be asked.
Let's keep it fun and interesting...can't wait to see what you ask!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Need To Be Free! (or: "I Need To Dance...Like, NOW"*)

The need to shake my kitteh tail is O. VER. WHELMING.
I...must...DANCE!!!

I don't mean like, go-to-the-club dance...I mean put-in-like-five-or-six-hours-a-day-in-rehearsal dance.
I used to go to a dance academy on a scholarship when I was a teen, taking five disciplines in one week...and then had to go and TEACH dance in the middle of all that. My body actually misses doing this. I think it was the happiest time of my life...with the exception of ballet, because I am low to the ground. I preferred the grounded-ness of hip-hop and house styles. But I still loved ballet in spite of myself. This time in school even helped inspire my first novel...but that's a different subject altogether. (^_^)

It's funny... because as a Gatita, I had absolutely NO rhythm. Couldn't even jump rope. Man, did I get made fun of! But eventually, with some guidance (thank you, mi amor) and some practise on my own (and a fxckton of music videos), I got it together. Yet, I eventually let it fall by the wayside.

Why?

 I think being responsible and putting all my focus into being a mami, dealing with depression, then not going out to dance as much until I stopped altogether...plus being forced to hide my light under a bushel in certain relationships... then the weight gain-- all of that took its toll. And it didn't help when people in my own camp seemed to belittle the dance part of this brand. Never mind that most of the music involved in it is danceable.

Well... since dance is a big part of the GATA Experience, I have to pull up bootstraps and get dance-ready again. And with Peace's help/participation, I'm slamming myself back into a disciplined bootcamp thing. I need to do this for me and for my spirit...gotta be happy, y'know?

Well, mebbe not THIS happy. But close.



I'll be sharing as much of this journey as my pride will allow. You know us felines. We're a proud bunch. We don't like for folx to see us fall on our faces-- even though when we do, we get up and act like it never happened and totes ignore those who maliciously point it out.
Whoopsie. And recovery!



We'd rather show you all the times we land on our feet with grace. But I believe grace is also showing vulnerability as well--divine grace. What better reason, I ask you?
It's going to take some time, but I hope to be back to fighting form in a few months at the least with the plan I have for myself. The body doesn't forget...even though there's folx out there who think  mine has and I won't or I can't do this (::cough:: FXCK OFF!::cough::).

Okay... even better when Prince sez it.



So, GNOtaku--keep your eyes on my YouTube channel to see me fall on my face get my kitteh shake on...if you wanna!

*reference to this...of course!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cat's Jumping Out Of The Bag--Again

I was up waaaaayyyy too early yesterday morning and bumped into the rest of that Twitter media explosion about Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks, Solange, Q-Tip, T.I., and God-knows-who-else. Somewhere in there I saw a barrage of tweets regarding Iggy failing to properly freestyle. Some of these gave me a good giggle:





(Sorry about the Vine link. It went missing. This is what was there [start at :05]:)




I couldn't. I just couldn't. That last one had me lying on the floor with a lily in my hands.
But I also saw a lot of people calling for Iggy to go up against the likes of Azealia, Minaj, et al, in a head-to-head freestyle battle. The general consensus is that Iggy would go down in flames and it'd all end in tears. Don't shoot the messenger. Google it yourself; search Twitter.
"How does she call herself a rapper and don't even freestyle?" more than one wondered.
And this was me:
(Had to actually make this one, cuz it didn't exist till now!)



Hol' up. Uh-oh.
Well, to be honest, this has been at the back of my mind for years...in fact, I think I even said something about it on my website:

Yup. I did.
I am, and always have been, a rapper who exclusively writes. I have always also been transparent about that fact. It has never been my strong suit. I have a few reasons for why I don't, too.

First off...that's not how I learned. I was always under the impression that you wrote lyrics. Like, on paper. With a pen. That's ALL I ever did. So I'm really not accustomed to off-the-top-of-my-headness, really. I know that I can come up with rhyming words, yes, but I kind of... construct lines as opposed to just going, "Blah". This is not to say that people who can and do freestyle aren't constructing lines; it's just in a different way that I didn't learn.

Which brings me to the next thing. I don't have that seemingly effortless mind-to-mouth connect flow. My mind goes waaayyyy faster than my mouth (damned Virgo). So by the time I get anything out, I'm fxcked already. Oh sure, I can prolly come up with plenty of words, but getting them out in a flow off the top of my nekomimi?
Yep. Nope.


There is also the issue of the rhyme actually making some kind of sense. I have seen freestylers do that and come out sounding like they wrote it, but not always successfully. I need for my words to loop, ebb, flow and do interesting shxt. I'm doing incantations sometimes, LOL. It requires ink and paper. I'll say the line first, then write it down. That's all there is to it.

I never really saw the point of battling--as far as me. I wasn't about slugging it out verbally to gain dominion. I just wanted to be a part of the experience-- of the culture. It spoke to me at a very young age. It had already infiltrated my immediate family via my cousins, who had a dance troupe, and it seemed that everything they did (in Newark, anyway) eventually was adopted by other dancers who were inspired by them. Since I bloody well wasn't gonna ask them to teach me to dance, little rhythmless Gatita just watched from the sidelines. And once I knew most of the songs they had played, I knew I was gonna go in that direction--be an MC. It was challenging for me.
I come from a songwriting background. 'Nuff said.

In spite of the fact that I don't freestyle, I still craft bars. I've dropped some bombs--and I'm not saying this to sound like I'm the be-all end-all--people have literally said I dropped them. And it is very humbling to find out that people who I thought didn't like me much, actually had the utmost respect for my "lyricism", as they put it.

I'm not gonna say ”I can't”, because that's limiting. I say ”I don't”, because that much is true. But this issue coming up--again-- sometimes does have the insecure side of me kinda doubting myself, TBH. Questioning if I'd be considered a ”real” rapper/MC. And does that really matter, in the grand scheme of things? ::shrugs::

I can only guess it depends on your own perspective. I saw someone say that Iggy not being able to freestyle is like a singer saying they can't sing.

Uhm...what?

Bruh. Singers...usually end up having to sing LYRICS. That were WRITTEN. WITH A PEN (or MasterWriter or what have you). And sometimes, BY SOMEBODY ELSE. Not a great argument; buh-bye.

I think that if you are indeed a rapper/MC by vocation, balls deep in the culture, and you can execute the words you wrote with a sick flow, and blow at least most of the room away (you always gonna have a few haters), you ARE a real MC. I can and have done those things, but art usually requires tools. Painters need brushes (or spray cans...see what I did there?) and "canvas" (wall, face, actual canvas) to paint, bakers need pans and a mixer to bake, contractors need tools to build...I need a pen and paper...and, of course, my brain.

That's my (TRUE) tale...and I'm sticking to it, mane.
And walking off just like this.