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.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It JUST Got Real

Yesterday morning I was in DC recovering from a 24 hour car ride from Brooklyn, NY to Toronto, Canada to Baltimore, MD. I stayed with a very sweet and funny man named Mark who I used to work with in San Francisco. Him and his girlfriend Neta were so nice to me. Mark is a comedian an actor. He's one of the best impersonators I know but he hasnt really taken the leap that he feels he should and he said what I am doin is inspiring. I told him that I honestly didn#t think it was a huge deal and was almost numb to it. I mean, I've gone through a lot that I'm not tellin you all - not cause I dont want to, but because there just honestly aint enough hours in the day!

Toronto, Canada was fun. It was my first time in Canada. I was there for an erotic show called The Sweet Spot that my friend Ainsley puts on. There are burlesque dancers, poets, comedians, singers and erotic competitions. usually the show gets wild - really wild, but we had to really warm Canada up. The crowd was majority black womyn and they were very shy. Anywho, it was fun and I got paid in Canadian money so it all was a first.

This entire trip seemed like it would never happen. I thought I would NEVER really get out of America. Honest. I kept thinkin in my head that I would sooner get hit by a car and kept awaiting my sudden death these past couple of days. i dont know why my mind went to such a dramatic place. I think its because America has made itself such a . . . . reoccuring dream and nightmare to me and my familair surroundings. I dont know too many people (especailly womyn) in my family who have left it JUST to leave it. And the people in mz family are so strong willed that only something a hundred times stronger than them could halt them in anything they set their minds to - so I never thought this day would come.

Yesterday when Mark took me to the airport my heart began to pound out of my chest. It felt like I was somewhere between a panic attack and an orgasm. I sat silently and tried to keep my cool. I finally confessed "man, this shit just got real!" and Mark was like "oh you feelin it, now?" I said "yeah, I'm finally feelin it." And we both began laughing.

The plane ride was just like any other plane ride I'd taken before except this one flight attendant was really partail to me for some reason. Not in a sexual way at all. She was not old enough to be my mother but she was very motherly towards me. It was like our spirits were very old friends. I didnt sleep at all. I didnt feel excited. Or maybe I was so excited I went numb again. Either way, there was no sleep. This morning when I arrived in germany I couldn't believe it.

I walked into the terminal and the majority of things were written in German. I had someone waiting for me downstairs but I needed to find my the baggage claim. I didn't ask for help. I am determined to figure out as much as I can by myself.

I found my bag and my friend's friend Dianna. Dianna is an adorable straight faced german womyn with cat eyes and short, coarse hair. We introduced and then she took me for breakfast.

When we went outside it was foggy and all of the buildings are structured so differently. I kept saying 'I can#t believe I'm here'. We went to one of Dianna's jobs and she insisted that she treat. I'm on too tight a budget to refuse. She talks to the people in German and I listen carefully. Some of it I understand just from how the words sound and I would repeat what I thought Dianna said like 'you want coffee and a soft boiled egg?' and she would say 'yes!' and I would say 'you want double shots of coffee?' and she would agree again. She asked me had I studied and I told her just a bit - like an idy bidy bit. I told her that the English language is a mix of so many others that some of the words automatically translate for me.

Dianna and I sat and talked. We truly enjoyed each other. She was supposed to take me to breakfast, then to school with her, then drop me off at another friend of a friend's to rest but she decided to ditch her class and kick it with me some more over a beer. We talked alot about politics and social mannerisms, and do's and don'ts and blue collar workers and education. It was really nice till my sleep decided to catch up with me and she dropped me off at a "flat" in Frankfurt to get some rest. So, that's where I am now.

A young man named David let me inside and they had a room for me. It was David's first time meeting Dianna and her first time coming to the house so I have truly been at the mercy of strangers all day. David's English is not as fluid as Dianna's and I love it. I told Dianna to speak to me in German, and I kept askin David how to say things in German and he would ask me the English word for it.

I'm still working on the novel and it is coming out powerful and beautiful. My new goal is to finish and publish the novel before I come back home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

C is for muthafuckinCornball!

Before I really lean into the fussin like I am definitely going to do - we must ALL take a moment of celebration for my mentor's birthday! It's today and we wouldnt be reading about ME and this journey without her help and friendship and kindness. She's the all by herself. Real talk. Much Love and Respect and Blessings to YOU Arlene.

Ok, lemme get on this man's helmet really quick - OK the Rapper. Jesus Christ. So, I had a show last night. My friend Ainsley asked me if I wanted to feature for an erotic slam. I told him sure, I could use the money. So I get all cute and Ainsley is like "you gonna invite old dude?" (by 'old dude' he means the Rapper) and I'm like "I dunno - I dont think so. he made it sound like he had hella work to do tonight." So, Ainsley talked me into at least textin him where I was gonna be.

Long story short. I get to the club. Its hella hood so I love it automatically (black people are so fuckin real and beautiful with it). It reminds me of Dorsey's Locker in Oakland. The crowd was intimate and had a "we all know each other" vibe. I was having hella fun. All of a sudden, I turned around and the Rapper is there and I remembered how handsome he is. He was smilin and I was smilin. We hugged and I thanked him for comin out.

So, After the show me and him chillin tryin to figure out what the next move is. I wanted to know if he had energy and time to hang OUT as in "No Negro, I am NOT going to your house." So he keep askin me what I wanna do and Im like "Love, Im not from here. I dont know what my options are, but Im down to hang out." And he was like "for real, what do you wanna do, what do you expect from the night?' And, Ok, when it comes to subliminal messages or people expectin me to read in between lines, I suck. I need the plain and simple truth and I wasnt gettin it from him. Usually when that happens I feel like it is because something about me isn't welcoming the truth in the conversation. So I smiled. I held his hand and said "Listen, I don't understand you at all and I really want to. I want to have a nice time with you tonight. I am not going to fuck you. So if that's the need that has to be met tonight, I might not be the one to talk to right now. So, I repeat - I don't have any expectations. I want to get to know you better. Do you have time for that tonight?" He said yes. He told me that he's not the type of dude that's just in it for the panties and that he wants to really spend the night getting to know me too. Then he told me his brother was with him. So I was like "well, I would feel uncomfortable getting in a car with two men that I do not know and going anywhere. Does your brother have a lady?" he said no. So me being the mackin as Mack that I am, I told the Rapper to give me five minutes. I went to the Bartender of the erotic venue. She is a very gorgeous womyn. Same height as me, Puertorican, Brazilian, and Spanish with high cheek bones and a sexy gap in her teeth. I talked to her and asked her to come out with us. She said yes. So, Im thinkin: the Brother can kick it with her, the Rapper can kick it with me, and Im not alone with two men. Problem solved!

So the Rapper takes us out to a totally empty club. I mean it's empty for New York - for reals. It was like 10 people there besides us. The Bartender is lookin at me like " Gurl, Nuh uhn!" and I put my arm around her shoulder, made her laugh and convinced her that its the people who make the place. The music was nice. I started dancin and the Rapper started dancin with me. I thought the atmosphere was perfect because we had nothin but space and time to chit-chat and get to know each other. So, when the Rapper goes to talk to a friend of his I sit down and the Brother (who is supposed to be mackin the Bartender) comes over and starts talkin to me. I'm hearin what he sayin, and after while its crystal clear that he comin on to me. I was like "so you know I'm here with your brother, right?" and then I look for the Rapper - he over there flirtin with the Bartender! My mind was like "what the hell kinda cornball ass games is these cats tryin to run?! Whatever it is I quit . . .  But I'mma teach em a lesson before I go!"

So, I play along with the Brother. I squeeze this cat for all types of info that I know the Rapper didn't want me to know about him - but I had to know what the Rapper's deal was just outta sheer curiosity! I'll just say: I had ideas, and his Brother confirmed them. Then after the conversation the Brother realized that he had JUST told me a bunch of shit he shouldn't have. He told me not to tell the Rapper and I looked at the Rapper and I got up from my seat and went in the back of the bar where there was a restaurant. I went there to calm down. There was a Jamaican chef back there and he and I started talkin and laughin. He said he wants to take me to a dance hall today but honestly, I dont have energy for anymore men before I leave. Anyway, the Chef makes me a nice meal to go. I stay in the kitchen with him and go through his spices and joke with him while he cooks. He was really fun with sneaky eyes and horrible teeth - but HELLA fun. So I get my plate and come back out to the bar. I see the Rapper still flirtin with the Bartender. The Brother aint talkin to nobody. He sittin at the bar drinkin & lookin like his dog died. So now, after takin a moment to laugh with the Chef, I'm calm enough to finish out the lesson.

I walk over to the Bartender. I whispered in her ear "so, i'm over it - how bout you?" she was like "Oh, I been over it for a while." I look at the Rapper, he lookin at me but has NO IDEA what I'm whisperin in the womyn's ear and I KNOW that he reeeaaaally wants to know. I smiled and whispered in her ear again "Hey, lemme get your number. Let's try this again tomorrow minus the men" when this beautiful womyn pulled out her phone and exchanged numbers with me. Then the Rapper felt ignored, like I wanted him to feel. He got up, like I needed him to do. And I whispered, "say, Love. Take me home? I do not feel comfortable goin with these two men at all. That's why I asked you to come with me. Let's just go. I dont even wanna say bye to these cats." She picked up her purse and was out the door with me within the next 7 seconds. I wish I had a camera to show yall the LOOK on the Rapper's face as he practically chased the two of us to her car! LMAO. So priceless. He knew when we got in that car we was gonna talk and boy DID we. LMAO. Now, I'mma kick it with her tonight. But I gotta make it an EARLY night cause I gotta go to Toronto, Canada FIRST thing in the mornin for a gig. Then as soon as I get back, I'm headed to DC to go to Germany!!! YAAAAY!

P.S. What a cornball the Rapper turned out to be! What kinda womyn did he take me for?
P.S.S Guess what - I got my days switched back and I'm not tired anymore!!! It's about to go DOWN!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

End of Mental Health Day

So, as of right now its like 1:15AM and I am still out. Im spending the night over an old friend's house. She lives right next door to Central Park where we met, went for a stroll, had somethin to eat and then came to kick it at her crib. I didnt do any of the things I said I would do as far as washing my clothes and stuff. When I got out of the house I just didnt want to come back inside.

The rapper called me and asked me out on a date . . . . *sigh* Honest, the thought of it just made me tired. I told him I might be down tomorrow and right when I got off the phone I went to sleep at my friend's place. Yup, sure did. I told her that I think I have mono but I have no idea from where cause I aint kissed no one since the beginning of September. We looked up the symptoms of mono to see if I needed to go to the hospital and the ONLY symptom I have is exhaustion and its not that bad. like I dont feel like I cant walk ten blocks. I just feel sleepy all the time. So I'mma say Im just tired.

But my nap wasnt as long as the others. I am more energetic and at least im trying. I'm just ready to get the hell outta America truth be told. I'm ready for the weekend to come and go so I can too.

On a flip side my friend and her friends are pretty phenomenal. Her sister is absolutely beautiful and her brother-in-law is a very talented painter. The place they live in is nice and comfy and they gotta baby here. He is absolutely adorable. He is 4 going on 50. He came home from Pre-school today and I thought he would be afraid of me because most babies are at first and then by the end of the hour they are all over me. Well, this little nugget came over, introduced himself, shook my hand, showed me his cut on his hand from school, jumped on the couch and snuggled right under my arms within the first five minutes of meeting me! He wasn't afraid of me at all. And he is so sharp! Every question I asked him he stopped to examine and then answer. He is really somethin special. After he took a bath he sprayed his father's cologne on his onezy and ran over to me saying "smell me! Smell me!" so I sniffed his neck and chest and said "ooooh, you smell awesome" and without warning, in front of everyone in the room, he shoved his head in my breast and breathed in! He said "You smell good too". haha! The action was SO inappropriate I was stuck. His mom, aunt and father laughed and gave me a long list of stories that top what he just did. Apparently, this litte guy just loves womyn. He actually prefers them in fishnet stalkings and high heel boots. Haha. He is really somethin else. He made my day.

Takin A Mental Health Day

What I wrote to a friend earlier last night  

"Lord. It's barely been a month since I've been gone but because I have no idea when I'm coming back home yet, I really miss everyone. Especially my nieces and my nephew. usually when I go away on trips I dont miss anyone because I am scrounging for as much freedom from them within the time span of my leave and return. But there is something so different about this trip. Today, even though I awoke early and went for a stroll and it was truly beautiful in Brooklyn, the moment I came home I went to sleep. I didnt want to eat. I just felt exhausted. I really think I'm depressed. I had these same symptoms when I was going through my divorce - but the difference is that I'm not sad at all. I feel pretty balanced. Im not even anti social. I just want to sleep all the fuckin time. All day all night I just wanna sleep. It's never been this bad before . . .  it could just be the year finally catchin up with me. My body is probably shitting out all the exhaustion I've made it hold in but it's been like 3 or 4 days. I feel like I'm on Night Quil all the time - that's how tired I am. The only good thing about mild depression is that it doesnt last always."
Im about to get up. Go get some coffee. Wash my clothes. buy some groceries to tide me over for the next few days and make every effort I can to stay out of the house till night time. Im actually thinkin of hittin up the Nuyo and entering the slam. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scary Stories

So its around 7AM and Im just waking up. A good writing prompt for my novel awoke me from my sleep. I haven't written it down yet - its still in the back of my head festering. Im really taking my time with this novel. I want to make sure all of the pieces and words and ideas are servants to one another so I am not just waking up and "flowing" in any way. Instead, I'm treating this process like a crime: I want to make sure the details and executions are as simple and precise and clear as possible and Im not doing all of this thinking and planning to get caught up in unneccessary emotional evidence and have to apologize in the end. So Imma blog before I get back to my novel just to get the extra shit off my mind.

You know whats scary about bloggin? People actually read this shit! I mean, I thought that most people glanced over it and thought "yeah yeah Joyce, we know you travelin and doin your thing. I just wanted to check in on the date for your last entry to make sure your silly ass is breathing" but its not like that at all. People - who are NOT subscribed are actually readin this shit. Thats scary. Because I have promised myself to be candid in this thing and . . . . Ok, good example:

In a past blog I wrote about how I had to change my trip from Africa to Germany and I mentioned that I didnt consider how I didnt have any winter clothes until it began snowing in New York. Now, I swear on my soul, I was just giving friends an update on my little adventure. But last night I got a phone call from a friend Sweet N Shamelss (thats her stage name) and she was asking me where I was because shed put together a care package of mittens and a winter scarf, long johns, and a couple of sweaters so "you won't freeze your tits off in New York or Germany" <== her words, not mine. Now Sue (her real name) is a giver. She's just a kind hearted person - she cant help it and I appreciate her so much for her giving. But honest, it caught me so off guard that it scared me.

Another example: I am in love. I have been for several months now. The man I love doesnt feel the same. Its not a big deal - we have an understanding. The understanding is: I love him, he dont love me and I'm dealing with it as realistically as possible. He is one of my best friends. So yesterday we are shootin each other little Facebook messages back and forth and he shares a quick piece of writing with me. I read it a couple times, give him my favorite line and tell him about my novel and he responds "yeah, I read your little blog" and my heart swallowed spit. I wanted to go back and erase the rapper and bartender I flirted with. Not that my Love cares - he doesnt. But I do. I dont want him to believe that my love is a lie and that now that he is out of sight he is easy to replace. That's not true. What is true is what I wrote and what I will continue to write. I mean, even this confession will be read. And I may have to answer for it but so what. Its how I feel and I cant keep censoring myself for fear of confrontation. Ive done that often in my past until two girls showed me a mirror and I disliked what I saw so much that I shattered it and burned the bridges of it's frame.

Well, thats about that. Im up in the morning (yaaaaay) and I am about to write and read and go for a serious stroll today. Later for now.