Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anti-Social, Me?

Lately Ive been in my head and not welcoming anyone in so thats why Im takin my time in between blogs. Germany can be a depressing place. Not the air or the sights. I think Ive been to enough different atmospheres in life to where everything has its similarities and this is why I can find beauty. But the people here are very different and so is the system. I dig Socialism and see the great possibilities of it. But the positive outcome of Socialism is truly in the attitude of the people. In Germany, from what I can see, Socialism has made spies out of the jealous. I keep hearing stories of people turning each other in over "extra" unaccounted income, old time friends betraying one another because one doesnt want the other to have what he or she doesnt and although the majority of people I have met have been pleasant, they ALL have noseyness in common. And the noseyness isn't like what I'm used to. Usually in America when people are getting to know you they ask you, your name, about your upbringing, about your hobbies, food taste, neighborhood you grew up, education and occupation and who you may know at a party or function and how. They ask you things that will tell them about YOU as a person. In Germany one of the first things people ask me is my age and why I am here and what I do for a living. One of the LAST things they ask me is where I'm from. I listen to people carefully now. And while they are talkin and asking I'm wondering what they really want to know and what good the information is to them. It's hard for me to trust that everyone wishes me well. But everyone is smiling. It's such a subtle ugliness and it's turned me off from openness and pleasantries.

So, lately I've been stand-offish and to myself. I really don't want to share with you (friends and family back home) any more of my progresses and failures because that's not every one's business. I am displeased enough to leave Germany before my visa is up, this way, no one has any reason to be jealous or lie or even ask me anything. I am truly on a vacation here. When I get home, throw me a dinner and I'll share details then. I'll talk about Germany and other countries I visit more in depth after I leave them.

I remember recently when I went into a second hand store to buy some clothes to perform in and I didn't have enough money to get all that I wanted. I had on a beautiful dress that costed about 25 euro. I wanted to talk to the owner about the dress. While I was contemplating the dress in the mirror, this older German lady came into the shop. I walked over to the owner and asked if I could speak with her. She and I began to bargain. I was getting a good compromise out of the owner, I know I was, and was about to agree to the deal for the dress and a pair of shoes when the old lady appeared behind some clothes and commented to me about the deal I was getting. Now, in America, I would've said "Uhm, you should mind your business and not mine!" And telling her off was on the tip of my tongue but my friends who were with me saw it and calmed me. They told me that's how the people are here. Nosey.

Another case, I went to a club and a man began to talk to me. I didnt care for his conversation and tried to leave politely. He begged me to stay. I told him "no" stern and politely. This guy goes to the owner and tells the owner of the club that I found it boring and wanted to leave. Now, if I were in America, I wouldve cursed him the fuck out and been ready to beat his lily white ass for lyin on me. But, I am new in a city and not well known enough in the club to even debate the spoiled little piece of shit. So I rolled my eyes and left.

These are little cases and reasons why I don't talk to people much anymore out here, it's because they wanna know too much so badly and it's creepy. It's a turn off.

In other news, I got to see my friend Linda who is a German native and Diana and they are awesome. I dunno what I'm doin for Christmas. I haven't heard from my mother or my oldest sister at all. That's . . . too bad for me I guess. I told them to email me their land lines but no one has. I guess . . . whatever . . .

In the meantime, I'm tryin to keep myself happy. I've been writing a lot of songs and using everything I feel to create. I really wish I could find a meditation center nearby. That would be really helpful.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lesson 1: Part One and Two

A Few things I've learned in Germany:

  • How to appreciate black coffee (because hardly any one knows what the hell Soy milk is).
  • How to smile and nod politely before I say (in German) that I only understand a bit of German.
  • How to smile and nod and chew things I've told people time and time again that I do not like but they insist on offering me like chocolate and bread, which, by the way, I've learned to respect.
Lastly, the most important thing I've learned in Germany - to let go.

This lesson is gonna take a lot of explaining: last night I was - wait - a couple weeks ago. yes, we'll start there, on Thanksgiving I met a young man - not Patrick, someone else. A videographer. Nice young man and I forgot that I gave him my card. Anywho, he jokingly texted me and would not reveal himself. Now, if you have known me more than 10 years then you know firsthand that I have had some issues with a person in my past who would not respect my personal boundaries. So I got angry that the young man wouldnt reveal himself in the text message, but I didnt respond because, even though I didnt know it was the young man texting me, I knew that whoever it was was clearly unaware of my my past and I needed time to calm down.

Then last night. I went to meet a new friend, Anita, who owns a nice bar and has been in Frankfurt for so long that some folks from some place in Europe wanted to include her in a documentary. Anita wanted me to be in the documentary but I just came by to help her in case she needed anything. So after they filmed her, I hung around and met two guys. One was from Scotland and I think the other was from England. They were funny as HELL. The one from England ordered a whiskey at the bar. The bar tender poured him SUCH a small bit and that guy from Scotland picked up the cup, examined it and said "well, that's a thought!" LMAO. you had to be there. Anyway, me and the guys joked. Most of the night I was sober and didnt feel like drinkin. But around like 1 or 2 AM another friend of theirs joined us and we decided to go to Kareoke. I kept tellin em I cant sing but they insisted that with the power behind my voice I could. So we went.

I sang Tiny Dancer (horribly) first. Then they got me a rum and coke and I sang Al Green's You Ought To Be With Me (A bit better) Then, after the second (and final) drink I sang Dr. Feelgood By Aretha Franklin and actually surprised my damn self! A few sets of lovers even got up and slow danced as I sang. And then I met another nice man with a big bright, perfect smile. We talked and I gave him my card.

So today, I was supposed to go back to meet Anita but I've been goin out every single night this week so I just stayed in. Well, the guy who texted me called me and I explained to him why I dont like people playing on my phone. And he really is a nice young man. And then, the nice man I met at the Kareoke with the perfect smile wrote me an email saying he likes my blog. The young man also quoted a piece of my blog and here is Part One of the letting go lesson:

I am very shy sometimes. I really am. Ask ANY long term lover I've had - ALL two of em (haha) can recall at least one time where I was so shy I hid or balled up into myself. When I feel unexpectedly exposed I become VERY shy. And I've been handing out a lot of business cards with this blog address on em because Im here on business (sorta). But I also hand out the cards because they have my email and number on em. So most of the people that I have hung out with and/or flirted with already know more about me than I do them after they read this blog and that makes me very shy. But Ive decided that instead of censoring myself on this blog from now on (cause I surely did give that idea some thought) I just gotta let go of trying to control how much information a person gets about me. What I write here is all me and they gonna find out sooner or later so fuck it.

Part Two
*deep breath*
My Love. Yes, I'm still in love with someone, and I'm gonna be in love with him until I'm not. Once again: no, we are not "together". Yes, he knows how I feel. No, he does not feel the same.

Ok. My Love and I recently had a conversation about dating - not each other (he's halfway across the world and even when he was standin right next to me we werent dating). He mentioned other womyn in this conversation and I swear on my soul, had this been even a month ago I wouldve gone ape shit at the thought of him  even smiling at another womyn's jokes. Seriously. So when he brought up dating I immediately did inventory and I was so proud of myself for really being OK with it. This is the first time in my life I have NOT been jealous in a situation like this and all types of shit ran through my head to test my emotions "what if he finds a womyn who is gorgeous, what if he falls in love with her and you come back and the entire friendship is gone, what if he marries her and blah bla blah" I dont care. I mean of course, I care about him - I'm in love with him. But the fact about it is even if he, by some miracle,  fell in love with me, that wont make him "mine". He's his own person. He can do what he wants cause I sure as hell am gonna do what I want. I love him enough to wish him the best joy and peace God can give him - even if that means Im completely out of the picture. He's a really special man, so he deserves nothing less than everything he wants.

Also, I still believe in God. And if what God has for me is really for me, then I just gotta keep learning how little control I have over what other folks see, or overlook, or gossip, or say, or think, or forget concerning me. I just gotta keep letting go.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bring on the New Years

I am so ready for the new year. I dont mean that in a celebratory sense either - I mean, of course I wanna celebrate. But I'm talkin about I am ready - already, for the new year. I was just thinkin of some of the things that I've had to do just to be my most authentic self. And the main thing I've had to do to be ME, is to be ME even when it hurts other folks feelings.

See I was raised to believe that a friend loves at all times. Actually, that's Biblical scripture. So one of the hardest things Ive had to do this year is cut folk the fuck outta my life who really didnt want to be in MY life - they just wanted to breathe my air. Cuttin people off is hard for me because I was raised in a family who just dont do that. We got all kinds of folks we still keep around and love on that we shouldve disowned before I was born! And honestly, I've cut them off too. My family members look at me in shock when I say "I won't have anything to do with Such N' Such and they are not allowed around my kids when I have em!" Its almost like sayin I aint a Christian. They look at me like "well, what are you?!"

Well, what I am is ready for the New Year. I've grown so much this year. Fast, I've grown so fast and still gotta lot of growin to do. Hopefully next year life will teach me more about men because honestly, I just dont get em. They are the most outwardly fearless, inwardly afraid creatures Ive ever seen. I wish I could cut them off too but my libido is RIDICULOUS at 30 and unfortunately, I'm heterosexual. Oh Lord, and the men in Germany . . . Jesus Christ . . . Well, Ive only been here 3 weeks but . . . Cornballs! So Corny. Well, not gonna lie, the dancer, Patrick . . . he was hella cool. But Lord, he's an exception.

I miss my friend back home. We had hella fun together. Im not lookin to replace him (trust me, there really is no replacement and I thank god for it) but all I do is work and sleep out here. There is almost NO FUN lately. I think on New Years Imma do what I can to go visit my friend Paige and party HELLA hard in Istanbul, Turkey with her if I get enough money to get there and stay for a week.

Gigs are steady. Comin in slow and sure. Im making more and more connects. Met a guy last night who heard my CD online, loved it and came to see me perform at this open mic. I almost didnt recognize him. He was black, long thin locs, suit - no tie. Very handsome with a nice, shiny wedding ring on. He told me my CD surprised him. He was very impressed and rarely pays attention to whats on FB because so many folks post so many things. Anyway, he works for an international airline and is gonna try and get me to tour Nigeria. He said a great spot for me to perform is in front of Fela's Shrine. I told him I would be honored. Then he asked me a few questions about my trip. I told him the truth. He began rubbing his head "Sister, you came all the way here alone - with no set plan?!" I told him dont worry about me, Im fine. And I began to laugh at the look on his face. He looked like a worried father. Anyway. Nice man. We're supposed to get together on Tuesday and see what happens.

Right now, Im finna take my bored ass to the JazzKeller and see what's crackin. I aint been there since Thanksgivin.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Im In Germany

I know Angela is the right choice for a manager because in less than 2 hours after she became mine I had a cell phone and made two serious connections. In less than 2 weeks of knowing her Im staying in a VERY nice place in Germany (for a week) and getting a lot of rest but the hustle is NO JOKE:

We are always moving. Always hunting. Always networking. Everything - down to the way I eat, has become business. Not gonna lie, it's tiring and I want the payoff NOW. December is a busy month for me now though. Thanks to Angela I got at least two gigs a week, a new performing wardrobe and am headed to Switzerland in January - (not gonna lie, the Switzerland gig was kinda me and my charm but Angela is doin all the negotiatin, all I have to do is get on a train, perform well, sleep, and charm my way into more gigs. Which isa lot too now that I think about it.)

But I honestly dont know how I wouldve done all of this without her. Don't get me twisted - I wouldve done it all had I not met her, I just dont know how and it wouldnt've been this fast.

So, that's where Ive been these past few days - hustlin with Angela. I told her that Im takin today OFF. Well, not all the way off but I need a cretive day. After I finish tellin you all my business Im gonna buckle down and keep workin on my novel.

You know there are a lot of black womyn in Germany?! I knew there were a lot of Africans but I had no idea so many black American womyn moved here until yesterday. Yesterday was Thankgiving. I thought that since I was spending it in Germany that I wasnt going to celebrate it but I thought wrong. A week ago me and Angela went to this club called the Jazzkeller. She introduced me to the owner - a sweet older German man whose name I keep forgetting. He's married to a black American womyn. I think she's from the South. Anyway, he and I talked for a while and he gave me a invite to a private Thanksgiving party. 'My vife und hour entiyer fhamly vill be hure plez velcome!'

So last night I went. On the front door there was a sign in German that read 'Closed for the night, private party'. I went in and could smell the collard greens from the top of the stairs and I smiled and thought 'they didnt season em right' and that thought made me think of my family eatin away and havin a ball at Thanksgivin, critisizin every imperfect dish! I went downstairs and there was food EVERYWHERE. About 5 turkeys, greens galore, corn, chips, salsa, dressing (but it wasn't cornbread dressing - it looked like it was out the box so I didnt eat it) there were all types of breads and  fruits and cheeses and my oldest sister, Ariana, would've pulled out a straight razor over the desert arrangement if she were there! Lawd, every type of cake you can name. Cheese cake, German chocolae cake, carrot cake, strawberry short cake, pound cake. It just went on and on. On stage, there was a live band JAMMIN, the bar was serving $2 drinks all night and there were children, old folks, black folks, Africans, Chinese, Cubans, Germans, Indians, and all types of folks from everywhere. I had some turkey, cranberry and corn. Sat down to enjoy my meal, grooved with the band and looked around till my heart was full. And it finally hit me 'Holy shit, I'm in Germany!'

Two black womyn were conversing near me. One was a heavy set womyn, she looked like she was in her forties but she's black so I know that she is at least ten years older than what I think she is. The other looked like she was my mother's age (turned out to be my grandmother's age) and was built like a 26 year old. I dont know why but when I looked over there all that could come to my mind was 'Chicago'. I asked them where they were from. The heavy set one said 'guess' and I said 'Chicago?' and she said 'how did you know?!' I told her I had absolutely no idea. And the smaller one asked 'so where you think Im from?' and I hunched 'I'm from Las Angelos' I asked them where they lived now and they said Germany. Then more black womyn who knew them joined us. I met a jazz singer named Gina from San Francisco, and an Opera singer named Loren from New York - she was so dark. I wanted to snatch her skin off her body and wear it as mine it was so gorgeous - flawless! We all talked and drank and they all told me how they came to Europe chasin an artistic dream that came true. There were 4 black womny in font of me and more than 100 years of travel experience and artistic develpment and they ALL took time to school me some.

When they finally asked me - not what brought me to Germany, but what gave me the balls to leave the familiarity of home (because so few black American womyn are encouraged or raised to be encouraged to do so) I told them 'I just gotta see if what I imagine is possible' I told them 'In my dreams at night I can fly. I mean - I really can fly. I got it down to a T. There is a button that I push with my soul and it sends me to flight every time a monster comes along or, hell, when Im bored dreamin and just wanna see the earth from another planet, I pick up and fly, and when I wake up, I forget how. Sometimes I spend hours tryin to remember. Now, I aint gonna jump off a building and test it no time soon! But this writing, this is the flight that I imagine in the day time, so I just gotta step out on faith with it and see where the wind takes me.'

They all nodded 'yes'. And for the FIRST time in my life, I felt COMPLETELY understood.

We partied on. Sang some blues to each other - the two womyn that I first met are professional blues singers. They kept tellin me I got a voice meant to sing the blues. I blushed and told em sangin aint my thing. They told me to shut up. I did. lol.

There were men tryin to sit with us all night long. But everytime one came he got 5 sets of eyes that said 'You are in grown womyn's conversation!' And they tucked their tails and crawled away softly while we laughed hard. Lord, did I feel at home! One guy waited till I went to the bar to pick up a round of drinks for me and the womyn to talk to me. He made a joke and I looked at him. He wasn't handsome at all. Stood my height exactly and had a classic style of dress: A vintage white shirt (with an Italian peasant boy cut to it) black slacks, black dress shoes (with a nice shine) and black suspenders. I looked at him and smiled showing no teeth, just trying to be polite. I got the drinks and continued talking with the womyn. Some of the womyn went home erly but I wanted to stay. It was the owners 70th birthday at midnight and I thought the LEAST I could do to say thanks for inviting me to such an awesome party was wish him a Happy Birthday.

Sparkle-candles were passed around and we all sang happy birthday at midnight and the band began to play again - this time with a singer, but all the womyn I met earlier had left and that guy in the suspenders walked up to me with a friend of his and introduced himself 'Hallo, my name is Patrick' I smiled a toothless smile and nodded to be polite, again. His friend intorduced himself - I nodded again. 'And what is your name?'
I smiled big, still, no teeth. 'Why?'
They looked at each other with confused frowns.
'Why do you want to know my name, Patrick?'
He looked shocked and then grinned a huge grin
'Because you are a killer'
I grinned with teeth .
'A killer with an innocense and I want to know where you hide the bodies.'
We both laughed. Me and Patrick chopped it up in jokes and sarcasm and charm the rest of the night. He was really a breath of fresh air. Turns out that he's kinda like a sports doctor for ballet dancers. So he get's paid to make beautiful womyn flexible and fit. I told him what I am trying to do and he bought a DVD. He told me that he is from the northern parts of Germany and began life poor (which is a very hard place to build from in a socailist society) and on a farm. He told me how he worked his way to where he is. He also told me that for the month of December he will be in London, Paris with the ballet dancers and I can either come with him, or stay here in Franfurt all by myself at his home. I chose the latter. lol.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doin It My Way

Tomorrow will make 7 days that I've been in Germany. It feels like 2 days. Once, Chris told me that Germany is nicknamed "Little Mahattan". I can see how, time flies by here just the same. I caught myself feelin sluggish but I figured out why:

I been here 7 days right, and I got a couple gigs. 2 gigs in a week aint bad but I need more. Not tryin to be greedy, just tryin to put my mind at ease and I don't sleep right broke - never have. So, all day since I woke up my hand been itchin - and in my family the superstition is that a hand itch means money comin - soon. So I checked my emails and found some good leads to Universities that wanna hook up with me on some American Studies tip - smooth. There was also another email confirming me for a show in Mienes this Thursday - smooth.

 So I went outside to a bakery and linked up with Luke's mom. She's so sweet and beautiful and she was expectin me. She gave me a danish and some coffee and we talked and talked. She told me how much she loved my CD and catagorized it as "soft rap". I dig it. Most of the time we were talkin there was a black womyn there, moppin. She is tall and slinder with a very humble face. Her name is Angela. I thought she worked there at the bakery till we all began talking together. And then costumers began entering the bakery and Luke's mom had to tend to them and Angela sat next to me and we really began talkin.

She's from Nairobi, Kenya. She was a student in Germany, she studied business and has her own consulting firm, she was just moppin cause she saw Lukes mom havin a hard time and she felt compelled to help (so sweet). We began talking about the state of the Euro and what happened between the Euro and Greece and what will happen if Germany takes on Turkey. We also talked about what was goin on in Kenya with Somalia. Then she asked me what brought me to Germany and I told her EVERYTHING: How I want to make it to Kenya but I heard about whats goin down with Kenya and Somalia. I told her it dont seem like its really gettin worse out there so Im just waiting for it all to die down. I told her I'm in Germany with no particular deadline of anywhere else to be but I am an artist and I do want to perform and create and I am working on a novel and I don't want to go home until its publish-ready - but I do need to make more money so I can see more of the world. She told me that I have to go to Kenya - not now - but I have to go. She said it will touch my soul and I agree because that's how I felt before she even said it. Then she asked me about gigs. I told her that I only have three or four more lined up but I really want to perform almost every night if I can. She asked me why am I not performing every night then. And that got me to thinkin -

I was about to blame the structure of the poetry scene. I was about to say "well, I didn't book far enough in advance to do a tour and half of the people who replied to me said that I didn't give them enough notice - and how could I if I didn't know I was coming to Germany and blah blahblah."

But the truth is this - even though I adore the poetry scene, and appreciate it for all it's beauty and community and helpfulness (because people like Dirk, Ainsley, Mike Geffenr, Jergen and Mo Browne canNOT be replaced or thanked enough) the truth is - my goal is to surpass whatever I've conquered. And what I mean by that is: I am a slam poet - says ME with a comfortable tongue. I do not get excited when I say it because it is so true. It has been established in my soul and witnessed by thousands. So, what next? ya know - what next? Too little slam poets ask that question because it requires so much action and discomfort and it is a SAD LIE if you call yourself an artist and avoid ALL internal discomfort.

So I told Angela - there is absolutely NO reason why I am not working as much as I want to. All I can think of is that I don't know who to talk to and I cant speak German, but YOU Angela, are very International, business and economic savvy - and, what I love most about you is that you don't have any knowledge or interest in an artistic spotlight. But you speak 5 languages and you're young enough to know the pubs around here like the back of your hand. You said business is slow because what the Euro is going through, so here is my proposal: manage me. Speak me into some high end clubs on a regular and I'll give you a percentage of my earnings. I'm not doing anything this weekend, let's get it together.

A shy smile came over Angela's face. "Well, I've never done anything like this before, Joyce"

"Me either Angela. This is why it will work. I wouldn't be so quick to trust you if you had done this before. This way we can learn together. I have had people offer to manage me in America Angela and I always say 'no' because I have not met anyone who I believe can get me into a place I couldn't eventually talk or work myself into for free. But YOU can talk me into every place because you know the customs and rules and language and I don't. I have to learn and hustle all at once and I cant afford the rejections in the lessons - I need the money now. So how about this weekend? You take me to some of those high end pubs and talk to those owners you know who love international art that you were tellin me bout earlier and see what deals we can make?

"Why this weekend? Go home, put on a pleasant dress. Meet me back here at 6."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just One of The Guys

Yesterday I was supposed to ride out with some poets that I met on the 11th and participate in a huge slam. The audience averages about 400 people. I was supposed  to meet two car loads of performers at the Kino (cinema) on what translates to "Burger Street" in Frankfurt.

So I began my day with coffee (thanks to Chris who is a sweetheart and wakes me every morning offering me coffee even though he is sick as a dog right now). I got dressed and headed out the door, but not before i was invited out to a dance club by some new aquaintances. I told them that from what I heard, the slam began at 6 so I couldn't imagine being back in Frankfurt later than midnight and if that was enough time to go out and shake my ass, then I would gladly do so.

I started down the street and saw some AWESOME independent fashion stores. Some of it was shit that I would never wear because it would never look right on my body type and some of it was some things tht I would definatly go broke trying to buy. Lord, I saw these retro-80's shoes - even though the 80's are the new retro! These shoes were genuine leather and looked like a flat sneaker with a long sock but really the entire thing was a boot. It had a pointed toe and a think rubber sole. I just kept staring at the shoe and noddin 'no' and sayin "badass - hella badass" I would sleep in those damn things. And they only cost 50 euro which is VERY good for shoes out here. BUT, I'm on a budget and I have shoes so I dont NEED any. Man, there was this old fashioned tan leather purse that would look so good on my mother's arm! It cost 89 Euro. I wish. But then I told myself my mom has a billion purses. Then I argued "yeah, but she doesn't have ONE from YOU from Europe." Then I argued again, "Joyce, you are boycotting Christmas AND if you get your mother a purse, your sisters are gonna kill you if you dont get them one too and you aint got it like that so just keep walkin!"

I stopped and snacked and people-watched in between looking for the Kino. Then when I got up to leave I ask the shop owner if I was headed in the right direction and three men walked into the store. I tried speaking German and one of them smiled and said "what are you looking for, say it again" and I said "Im looking for the Kino" and he said "on what street" and I knew he was trying to get me to struggle through German a bit more and I hit him and he and his friends laughed. "Where are you from?" he asked "I'm from California"
"what part?"
"Oh - Oakland?!"
"Yes. Oakland, and you, where are you from?"
"I'm from Germany - what are you doing here?"
"Well, I'm a writer."
"Oh really. Why are you going to the Kino?"
"I'm meeting someone. We are going somewhere . . . . OK. Well, thanks for the directions. Ciao."
"Uh, OK. Ciao"

I continued down the street. Found the Kino and had plenty of time to spare so I checked out the street market. The Kino was in the center of it. Lord were there so many things to eat! I tasted some Israeli fruit that I cant remember the name of but it looked like a tomatoe. I ate so many types of seasoned olives - the guy told me they were Greek and he had sheep cheese. It looked so different, I had to taste it - AWESOME. I munched on grapes in between discoveries. The herb cart smelled so good. I was just imagining the magic my mother would make if they put a fresh herb cart in a farmers market - she'd never stop making soups and stews. I wanted to make a chicken, herb and red potatoe stew myself just starin at it. It would be perfect for the weather.

 After a while the time came for the poets to meet me and they weren't there. I began to wonder if I'd missed them or if I was late or something. I dont have a cell phone to call them and truth be told, I'm not really in a rush to get one. I like the way things are. I dont want to have to keep up with a cell phone - or people. My mother got around in the 80's without a cell phone and I didnt have my first one until I was 18. Before then, all meetings worked this way: when you said you were gonna be there, you were there!

Anyway, I figured I was early and began to walk back down the street from where I came when I bumped into the guy who gave me directions. "Hey!" he waved and startled me. I wouldn't have noticed him otherwise cause I am so in my head. "Aren't you supposed to be gone?" he smiled
"well, they haven't shown up yet"
"What do you mean? It's been over an hour since I met you!"
"I know, I know" I nodded "I'm sure they're coming, I'm very early."
"Eh - Germans are just late. So what are you doing now?"
"Im waiting"
"Well, my friends and me are going for drinks and dinner, would you like to come?"
"Uhmmmmmmmm. Are you sure it's OK with your friends?"
"Yes! Of course!"

So, we introduced ourselves and I met Dejan (pronounced Dayen) from Germany. He was about 6'4 all  muscles. Brown eyes, blond hair, and VERY neat cloths and clean shoes. Then there was Zarko (pronounced like Marco but with a Z) LORD he is so fuckin FINE it is RIDICULOUS. Dark eyes, dark hair that goes to the end of his neck, George Clooney beard without the grey, built like a soccer player with a perfect smile, he and Djordje (pronounced like George) are from Syria. Djorgje has dark eyes and is bald. Clean shaven and very, very quiet. We all sat and talked. Well, mainly me and Zarko talked because he was so outspoken and pretty hilarious. In the forty minutes that we sat there, ate and drank Zarko and I argued about marriage (because he feels that I should be married with children because I am 30 and time is ticking. And then I reminded him that he is 32 and not married with children and the clock applies to him too) Religion (because I wouldn't tell him flat out what my faith is, so he thought I was not a Christian and then we debated on "so what if I wasn't") Parents (because he thinks that my father should know exactly where I am and what I'm doing even though I'm 30) and, homosexual freedoms. Now this, Zarko and I debated all night. Well, after while we really didnt debate it - I got him to admit that he was pretty naive to believe that there are no homosexuals in Syria. And then he asked me questions about "them" "how do they think? what do they do for fun?" and I would answer his questions with questions "how do YOU think? what do YOU do for fun?" and at the end of these debates Zarko would say, "well, yeah, you know I don't care. People are people - I'm open minded." And we all would laugh.

I abruptly left the guys because I wanted to wait again outside the Kino and see if the people would show but they didnt. Then Dejan came and gave me the mittens I left in the seat and invited me back to hang out some more. I concluded "ef it, why not" it seemed like me and the poets missed one another for whatever reason.

The fellas and me bar hopped a bit, ate and drank. Djodje went home for a while to do who knows what and Dejan also went home to wash up because he had a party to go to later so after a while that just left me and Zarko in his car jokin around. I asked him what kind of music he liked and he turns out to be a true lover of most types of music EXCEPT blues (booooooooo). But then, he put on The Lost Boy's 'Music Makes Me High' and we cruised around Frankfurt bumpin it and rhymin along. But THEN, he took out The Lost Boys and TOTALLY macked me. He put on Anthony Hamilton 'Be With You'. It was smooth. Then he took me to an American joint. We talked more, he ordered me drinks but I felt awkward drinkin because Zarko doesnt drink - and he shouldnt! He is full of energy all by himself. Afterwhile the guys showed up again and we all hung out again - talked, joked. Then Zarko got tired - it was late and he's an engineer so it was curtains. We shook hands, he gave me his number, Djorje did the same and Dejan drove me home and went to the party he got all spiffy for. It really was an adventurous night. I don't know if I'mma call any of em. Even though Zarko is handsome and would be a chill friend - I'm on gaurd about motives. Actually, the entire time I was hangin out with those guys I was on guard - I didn't know what they were gonna do but I KNEW that I wasn't going to be anyone's victim! I figure, if it's meant for us to hang out again, Franfurt is a small enough place to bump into each other a third time, ya know?

I came home tipsy and FULL from the dinner and snacking before I met the fellas. I told Chris about my day. He gave me some simple and sound advice "you take things as slow as you want - that's actually wise. I mean, you've only been here in Germany for three days".

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today I awoke ready to see the city of Frankfurt. I wanted to see it yesterday but I was kinda bummed out because I couldnt find what the hell time it was for so long. The flat that Im stayin in has hardly any clocks, everyone works, my computer closk is hella off and I dont have a phone so I gotta fight to find out what time of day it is. Anywho, today, I told myself it would be different and it was. Chris, the adorable flat mate knocked on my room door at ten this morning and found me wide awake and writing. He gave me a book on all the sights in Germany and I held it. Looked through it. Sincerely thanked Chris for being the sweetheart that he is while thinking to myself (I aint doin no touristy shit) and putting the book down.

I got hella cute. All tight clothes, scarf, mittens (thanks again Sue) with full red lips and black eyeliner. Chris asked me where I was going and I hunched my shoulders "I dont even know where the hell I am. Im just goin outside." He tried to show me a map and I nodded 'no'. "Im gettin lost Chris. It's the only way I'll learn. See you later. He insisted on at least showing me the direction of gig I had tonight. It was helpful so I let him show me. I walked out the door and went right. Why not right?! I kept going right and breathed in the air. Stared at all the gorgeous leaves falling and marveled at the narrow streets full of mercedes, bmw's and vw's parked bumper to bumper. I walked about twenty minutes and stopped for some Italian food. I got a salad with vinegar and a pesto pasta that tasted like NOTHING I've EVER had in the US. I paid 5 euros. I felt like I'd just been told that my mother wasn't my real mom. Like I'd been lied to all my damn life. I enjoyed my meal and kept walking towards the gig. From the look of the map it was only about a 45 minute walk. Not bad at all. It was 2 o'clock and I didnt have to be there until 9PM but I wanted to find it early then find nearby sights to see to make sure I wasnt too far from the gig to be on time. I walked and walked and noticed how truly beautiful Germany is until . . . . until I saw a Pizza Hut. All that was going through my head was the delicious food I'd just had and as soon as my eye caught the Pizza Hut I said aloud "you gotta be fuckin kiddin me." The old lady that heard me just stared me up and down as she passed. I let her look! I kept walking and exploring until I saw Diana! The young womyn who picked me up from the airport. She was walking with a teenage girl. I waited till she got close and said "uhm exscuse me miss, I'm looking for the University of Applied Science, may you direct me?" and we both laughed and hugged. She asked me what I was doin and I said "shit" and she hit me. I forgot she does social work and was with a client. She told me to give her five minutes. the young girl asked "Is that your friend? Is she American?! You are SO cool!" Diana came back and we kicked it for a sec before she caught a train to mind her business. We walked and talked and I had to confess to her "you know Diana, I been here for a few days and I got over my jet lag in New York - no shit, but I still dont feel like Im in Germany." 

"Joyce, where do you feel like you are? Does this narrow street look like America?"
"No. But yes, I mean why not? It looks like a part of America I aint seen before, ya know? Even people speakin German. It dont really hit me no different than America, I dont understand what most folks say there either and we speak the same language and I know they dont understand me. The only thing thats different here is that I dont know anyone and I dont have a phone where people callin me and askin me for a million things and I like that." 
"you know Joyce, I hate to tell you this, but you might have to do some touristy shit. It's the only way it'll sink in."

We laughed. Talked more and went our ways. 

It was about 5:30 when I got to the gig. Way too early so I decided to hang out at a local pub. Not drink, just hang and mingle. A very pretty womyn named Anna told me where the nearest hole in the wall pub was because I asked. It was about 4 blocks away. I went. It had a million posters of all the greats up: Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Sammy Davis, Nina Simone and so on. As soon as I entered a cute puppy ran to me and sniffed. I am NOT a pet person but this puppy had the sweetest eyes and I just kept pettin it. Her owner kept callin her back to him but she wouldnt go. I finally walked her over. "the best touch is a womyn's touch they say" he had a never ending laugh - like he had to slow it down in giggles, then mumbles, then deep breathing to stop it. He looked older than he was, Im sure. He looked about 70. He sounded around 64. I introduced myself and we talked. His name is Olrich. He is a blues lover and I told him that I am too. He asked me who is one of my favorite artists - I said Nina Simone off top. Then I started singing House of The Rising Sun (the fast version). And Olrich gave off a strange energy. Not mean or sad. But I felt him yank away. So I changed the subject. "You married Olrich?" 

"No, I'm widowed. Been by myself for 15 years but I like being alone. I was married for 15 years and the heart never forgets. The soul is forever and my love had a huge soul."

"She died fifteen years ago?"

"No. She left me 15 years ago."

"Olrich - wait - I thought you said you was a widow."

"We never really married but I loved her and I love only her till this day. She left me for a blues singer. He used to sing that song you was singin - House of The Rising Sun. That was my loves favorite song. She left me for him and he left her . . . . She jumped to her death. 16 stories . . . but the heart never forgets. I still love her. My only love."

There were tears in his eyes - and mine too. I ordered a shot of whiskey. 

"Olrich, I've never met a man who's loved like that before. It's an honor to know you" we clinked glasses and drank. We talked more and Olrich introduced me to an old German film director who worked with Harry Belefonte (I know I spelled that wrong) and who also brought the BEST cheese, bread and onion snacks everrrrrr. Before I knew it, it was time for me to feature. Olrich begged me to come back after, I promised I would. "OK, I'll wait right here for you." I kept tellin him not to but he insisted.

The feature was OK. it felt weird saying poetry for folks that may or may not understand one word that was coming out of my mouth but I did the best I could and sold a couple things. I also announced to the audience that I had no intentions of going back to the US anytime soon and gave them some ideas of how to help me. during the intermission a young man began walking towards me. I just KNEW he was not coming to talk to me as big and familiar as the smile was on his face - but he was. He came and sat on the couch next to me and introduced himself "Hello, my name is Luke" I introduced myself too. He was very handsome. Tall, bronze skin, long dimples, cheekbones, perfect smile, shiny black hair. he looked Persian. "I think may be able to help you stay. I have some ideas."
"You Persian?"
"Ha! No, that's an original guess though. My mother is from Trinidad and my father is German."
 We discussed some things. He sounded smooth. He bought a CD and told me he was into film and wanted me to do a poetry video with him and a friend of his. I told him we'd talk about it and that my email was on the back of the CD he bought. He shook my hand and left. By the end of the night I had 4 more gigs lined up. So that was cool. It was getting late and I was ready to go home but not before I kept my promise to Olrich.

After the slam folks kept wanting to talk and I tend to wear how Im feeling on my face. So I did all I could to get outta there by 1AM. I was thinking how I told Olrich the show would be over an hour ago and had no idea it would overlap this long. I was hating the thought of him thinking of me as a liar. I jetted as fast as I could to the bar to find Olrich in the same spot talking to another set of friends. When he saw me he yelled "Heeeeey, look who brought the sunshine with her all the way from California!" We hugged. he introduced me to some more people and asked me to stay and drink a glass of wine with him. I told him that I didnt come to stay, I just came to keep my promise about coming back. We hugged again and he thanked me for existing, and I thanked him back and meant it. He was really worth all the walking.