Posts filed under Essence Revealed

Happy Loner Life

I write: happy loner life on the top of the page then cover it up with an ink circle curly q tattoo. I'm sitting outside at a table at a local bar, alone. I'm sipping a ginger cocktail watching my quickly changing neighborhood go by. I'm happy, relaxed and content. I love being in the company of my own mind. Solace gives me great comfort. Solace is reminiscent of being a device plugged into it's charger. Solitude energizes me.

The inverse drains me. Interaction with several people at the same time leaves me feeling depleted. I joke around that I like books way more than people (yes, I still read paper books). I never tire of turning pages that reveal more and more about the journey within them. I've curated a world where spend more time being authentic and less time having to code switch(look it up, if you don't know what that means). The landscape society has tended to, sprouted a people who cling to ways of being taught to us in childhood. They cling as if life itself depends on it. There are rules of engagement that are deemed respectable, correct. Typically, that roughly translates into: shut up and be pretty. It creates too much stress for me having to gauge how to operate with the right amount of respectability and pedigree. As someone who makes up her own rules, time spent with strangers is not always fun.  

Because I am a performer, I have to interact with a large number of people. I often quietly listen to the things that strangers say. I wonder if people think about the ways in which they impose their opinions onto others. A Christian zealot talks excitedly expecting me to share in her enthusiasm for the Bible. A random white person compliments me on being so well spoken. After I have stripped onstage, of course that means I want to hear your thoughts on my body! I'm lying. I do not want to hear about what you think about my body. I hear the worry of some family members as I share stories of my latest travel adventures. A lover cycles through the predictable phases: I don't care what you do. I want to be at every show. I'm tired do I have to go to the show? Can you not do what you do? OK, honestly, I do not like what you do but you love it so I put up with you doing what you do. People never seem to tire of believing that their opinion is factual.

Alone, I have my thoughts or the lack there of depending on what I choose. I may make up silly songs that only entertain me. I act spontaneously on my whims & go. I read and read and learn and read. I'm content. There's no committee to check in with. If not alone then I prefer the company of one or two people. There's a thing about actual connection and communication that I prefer. Large groups don't seem to allow for this. By my own design, I exist mostly in a world of people playing by their own rules. Even an introvert like me likes their company. I'm inspired and happy to have connections like this. They dare to stare in the face, everything that someone ELSE ever told them they believe in the face and stick their tongues out at it all. Unmitigated joy is what I derive from these spirits. I can relax and experience joy in their presence.

Still, the ultimate sense of ease for me is when I fly solo. Whether going to have a meal, traveling across the world or catching a show, alone is my preferred way to go. Society has too many people bound and tied. It stresses a weirdo like me out to be around normal people. I've learned how. I can do it. I do it when I need to. It's not like I can't enjoy the company of people. I do, just in small doses at a time.

If you know someone that is sparingly available for large social outings, they may be a loner. If I can't release my shoulders and speak without a filter, I'm likely feeling awkward inside. It's not personal at all. My alone time is an essential piece to my peace. Much in the same way extroverts are fed by being the center of attention, the inverse is true for the introvert loners of the world. Surely, there is an extrovert that lives inside me but she only comes out when I'm on stage. After the show she goes home alone. Loners of the world, I get you because I am you.

 

 

Mourning Loss

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    Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

LOVE ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection. 2. a person or thing that one loves.

TRUST trəst/ noun1. firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

DESIRE dəˈzī(ə)r/ noun1. a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

PROMISE ˈpräməs/noun1. a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.  

Verb 1. assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen.

JOY joi/ noun1. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

SUSPICION səˈspiSHən/noun1. a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

BETRAY bəˈtrā/ verb1. expose (one's country, a group, or a person) to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy.

LOSS lôs,läs/noun1.the fact or process of losing something or someone. 2. the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value.

DISAPPOINTMENT disəˈpointmənt/noun1.the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations. 2. a person, event, or thing that causes disappointment. 

plural noun: disappointments

PAIN pān/ noun 1. physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.

SADNESS ˈsadnəs/noun the condition or quality of being sad.

SICKNESS ˈsiknəs/ noun 1. the state of being ill. 2. the feeling or fact of being affected with nausea or vomiting.

7 STAGES OF GRIEF:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL

2. PAIN & GUILT

3.  ANGER & BARGAINING

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS

5.  THE UPWARD TURN

6.  RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

7.  ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

Medical Definition of SUPPORT SYSTEM. : a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support.

SELF-CARE  self-kair/ noun 1. care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

FORGIVENESS ˌfərˈɡivnəs/ noun the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

CLOSURE ˈklōZHər/ noun 1. the act or process of closing something, especially an institution, thoroughfare, or frontier, or of being closed.

ACCEPTANCE əkˈseptəns/ noun 1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

FEELINGS ˈfēliNG/ noun plural noun: feelings 1. an emotional state or reaction.

CLEANSE klenz/ verb 1. make (something, especially the skin) thoroughly clean 2. rid (a person, place, or thing) of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted, or defiling. 3. free (someone) from sin or guilt. 

HEALING ˈhēliNG/ noun the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.

RENEWAL rəˈn(y)o͞oəl/ noun 1. an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption.

HOPE hōp/ noun 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

FAITH fāTH/ noun 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

LOVE /ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection 2. a person or thing that one loves

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” - Kristin Chenoweth

 

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Alone is Good

Self Care, Self Love, Sweet Self Talk as much as possible...

Self Care, Self Love, Sweet Self Talk as much as possible...

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” - Dalai Lama

I haven’t blogged much over the past six months.  My personal life has been going through many shifts.  Upheaval sounds like a good descriptor.  The result is not only a lag in blogging.  There are lags in other areas of productivity in my life as well.  I have felt extremely vigilant in preserving my time alone.  Sometimes, the time alone has been for brooding.  Most of the time has been for thinking, nothingness and planning.  Transitions are not very comfortable ever.  Some comfort zones can be breeding grounds for stunted growth.  I like growth unstunted.  I have come to the understanding that self care has always got to be job one.  Believing that I am somehow too busy to take self care moments to stop lead to the devastation of my soul.  I hit one of the darkest times ever in my life.  I’m not trying to sound dramatic.  It was traumatic.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~ Maya Angelou

What I’ve learned about myself is that I like to hear many different takes on a situation first.  After that I like to go off alone to deliberate and come to my own conclusions.  My close circle is the jury but ultimately it is my courtroom.  I make all the final decisions.  I am very much a loner at heart.  I enjoy keeping company with myself very much.  It is really important for me right now to hunker down and take that time to recharge.  It’s a challenge, especially being a performer.  Also, I’m a worker bee.  I don’t like feeling as if I am not moving forward, closer to goals or simply putting in the full effort it takes to be an independent performer.  However, the universe always takes care of me.  Unexpected helping hands extend toward me in unexpected ways.  It could be friends making sure that I eat (even if it means coming to my door to get me).  It can be long time friends sending me texts just to make sure I’m ok in here by myself.  It can be a residual check from a past gig.  I get sign after sign that I am supported.  I get the message loud and clear that it is OK to be in a space of not knowing.  It is totally acceptable sometimes to just stop.

“Let your heart guide you.  It whispers, so listen carefully.”  ~ Littlefoot’s mother, Land Before Time

I’m enjoying the slower pace.  I’m enjoying getting eight hours of sleep whenever possible.  I’m happy that I have been working out several times a week.  I feel much better making healthier food choices more days than not.  I even gave up sugar for 30 days.  I chose not to beat myself up for the times I slipped.  I’m letting myself have the space to cry it all out.  I have been very careful about who I share what with.  I’ve been accepting of the support I get offered from friends.  It’s been an interesting space to exist in.  I’m slowly becoming comfortable with it.  It’s not an easy space for me to feel comfortable in.  Despite the discomfort, I know that it’s the best place for me to be in at this moment.

“[G]rowing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.” 
― Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit

Throwback Thursday

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On throwback Thursday, I’m thinking way back to ancestors. 

I laid on my back.  I closed my eyes.  I breathed and listened to his voice leading us into meditation.  I usually am alone in my happy meditation place in my mind.  I found myself standing in front of my Mother’s mother I was surprised to see her.  She never was a warm and squishy type of grandmother.  Her love was always shown in her own ways.  She never gave us candy.  Only healthy snacks were allowed.  We would get sandwich bags filled with peanuts and raisons.  I looked forward to it.  Her apartment was always quiet with yellow post it’s everywhere with facts from her nursing books (She was the first person in my family to graduate from college), inspirational sayings and Bible verses.   When I find out what a colorfully bold life she led (like, banished from a country colorful), I understand her militant protection of her right to quiet.  I get it Granny.  We look at each other speaking silently.  Finally, she says, “You got it honest.”  I laugh.  We laugh. 

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Then I feel someone standing behind me.  I turn and look and it is my Father’s mother.  All 4’11 of her put her hand on my shoulder.  I turn around and look at her.  “Wuck up does be good for ya,” she tells me.  I nod.  I remember her saying this when she was alive.  I look at her hands.  I remember looking at her hands when I said the final goodbye to her physical body.  I remember seeing all the hard work she did with them to take care of her family.  I grew up on stories of her legacy as “Doll Baby” because she was so small.  She had a reputation for wearing the highest heels in the dance hall & being a favorite dancer at the parties.  We all shift to form a circle.  We have an impromptu party of three.  Holding hands we laugh and smile and clap and dance.  I wonder if they had met each other in the spirit world but don’t want to interrupt our party to ask. 

I hear his voice saying that it is time to say goodbye.  Sigh…  Already? 

My two grandmothers walk off together hand in hand.  A small light glows around their hands.  It slowly grows bigger and bigger.  It eventually envelopes them and they are no longer visible.  I’m so grateful that we belong to each other. 

Here we go 2014.  I’m excited for the journey of another year.  May this be one of the best years you've ever had! 

 

 

Essence Revealed  is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She's been published in two anthologies: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/07/31/asian-girlz-video-music_n_3684577.htmlPros(e)Prose & Lore 2,  &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and with Sweet Spot.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

I Don't Identify as Feminist, I Identify as Me

Not only am I one of the only Black women that doesn't watch Scandal (but to be fair, the only TV I watch is The View because I love Whoopi) but I also have not listened to or watched Beyonce’s new album.  I like Bey.  Don’t worry this isn’t about the her or the album.  However, conversations about the album have caused me to have to clarify repeatedly that I don’t identify as feminist.  I was also asked if I identify as a womanist.  Nope, I don’t identify as that either.  I don’t even know the rules of these clubs.  However, I see clearly what happens to people who do identify as such when they break the rules.  YIKES!  These rules change depending on the beliefs of the person who is defining the term for you.  Ask ten feminists for a definition and well, you know.  I suck at rules.  I do.  So, I simply identify as me.

I have a difficult time fitting into neatly shaped labels.  In regards to feminism, I lose already because I choose to celebrate my sexual energy.  Then, again, depending on what feminist you speak to, I may also be a champion of feminism because of that same very fact.  Confusing, right?  I choose to move through the world from a space of being power filled despite, no, in spite of all of the isms I get hit with.  These isms are restrictive labels that someone else put on me.  I did not choose or make them.  They are not mine.  I do have to move through a world where they exist.  I do not, however, have to give them power over me.  They are not welcomed to live in the part of my being that defines me for me.

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Life is so much more peace filled this way.  I make up the rules for myself as I go along.  I don’t get pissed off at myself for not playing the game right.  I don’t have to get into debates about what anything means in terms of my identity because it’s all my own.  I don’t need anyone to convert to my way of being.  I don’t feel the need to label myself as narcissist for liking selfies.  Heck, I like other people’s selfies too.  I made up the rules to live my life by all by myself (well with many life experiences and experiments for flavoring).  I checked out the things I learned growing up to see if they were, indeed, a good fit for me.  I promise I didn't even need a conference call with myself to discuss the meaning of it all for the greater good of the world or anything.  I suffer from severe suffocation when it comes to being one of the cool kids or doing things the “right way”.  I simply believe that everyone gets to have their own ways of being on their life journey.  Like one of my favorite cousins always says, “It’s your journey.  It’s not my journey.”

Life is clearly a journey.  Living a life on the road of self definition is not always a smooth and easy ride.  Some days, by my estimation, I just do it all horribly wrong.  I still prefer where this self definition road seems to be leading.  Guess why?  On my best days, I accept this and everything else about myself.  On those days, I don’t need to go on passion filled rages about how, why and what I did was wrong for all womankind (well, cuz it isn’t).  On those days, I’m at a place of simple acceptance of my perfectly imperfect self and life.  Can we make up another label like unicornist or butterflyist where the rules are that you make up your own rules & no one gets to way in on your choice to live life by your own design?  In this new term, you prefer not be contained and held to someone else’s rules or standards.  I can make up my own standards and I won’t even care if I change my mind.  I allow me to do that.  

 

I’m endlessly fascinated by how invested in the life choices of others people can be.  Please know that I have quite a firm grip on what many of the isms are just by virtue of living life as me.  I am a part of several marginalized and stigmatized cultures and communities.  Furthermore, because I suck at rules, I am a further marginalized part within many of those same marginalized groups.  Did I mention that I have never been down with the cool kids?  Simply living life has shown me a myriad of ways those with power & access will attempt to diminish my existence and value.  Yet, I choose to move through the world with the idea that I am not less than anyone.  I do not think that I am better than anyone either.  I believe that we all are one.  Call me a hippie if you want, I choose love. 

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I choose not to have the actions of those outside of myself throw my mood off.  I can throw my own mood off.  I do not need to outsource annoyance.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I say your life choices are for you to make.  If I am moved to feel  strongly averse to your ways, I can simply choose not to engage you.  Sorted :-)!  I am more than happy to only worry about what I believe to be true of me.  I’m content to work on making choices that make the world a place I like to exist in.  I accept that those I enter relationships with (friendly or otherwise) will work with me to define what it looks like for us by us.  Clear communication with each other will be our key.  It’s no one else’s business anyway.  I choose to value life's little moments of joy:  like this weekend when I shared a moment of laughter about sucking the juicy pulp out of a mango from a small hole bitten into the skin with people from different parts of the African Diaspora.  There was joy for all of us in mangoes from home.  Joy can be a cuddle.  It can be learning something new.  It can be in doing the work I love.  I don’t personally find joy in being bound up by ever changing rules unless I make them up for myself. 

You, rock on with your bad self!  Choose your choices, ist your ists.  I’ll be over here outside of the boxes, not coloring between the lines, twerking to the beat of my own drum if you need me.  I swear if I could, I would thoroughly suck the juices out of my right to be self defined.  I’d deep throat it to epic orgasms & be sure to swallow so as not to waste the energy of those precious journey juices.  Purple unicorn, heart & butterfly coochie sprinkles for one and all! *throws it toward you from blog post*

Holiday Empathy

Orande’s been shot.  Ok…  What hospital is he in?  I grew up in a place where people got shot.  I assumed that he was home in Boston and it was a drive by or some other type of mistaken identity.  He’d be ok.  “No…  He didn’t make it.”  Life stood still.  Orande was one of my friends who was not in trouble.  He was in school at Morehouse College.  We were in activities together because our parents feared that idle time would lead us to all the gang and drug problems rampant on the streets.  We would complain about how the good kids like us never got any media time.  How could he be killed by being shot?  “He was on his way to a study group and got car jacked.  He was hit in the back as he tried to get away.”  This was my freshman year right around Thanksgiving time.  That’s when we all would hang out at home.  I think about how I had punked out that summer before freshman year.  I had called him to tell him that I had a crush on him.  It was the first time I had to go to a funeral.  I couldn’t bring myself to look at the casket.

My sophomore year, I was in long island at my aunt’s house.  I get a call from my mother.  My grandfather had passed away.  We had been watching cancer make him a shell of himself for a while now.  It still didn’t make it hurt any less.  He was one of my ultimate cheerleaders.  He supported everything I decided that I wanted to do.  I remember everyone being so concerned when he came on a bus from Connecticut to New York to see me in my first play ever.  I hadn’t yet been told that he had cancer.  Caribbean families have an iron clad way of keeping things from the children.  I’d call him and tell him about something I wanted to do.  If someone was around he’d say”The boys and nem say 150.” I’d know that he was gonna give me $150 towards whatever I was up to.  He was the first man that ever braided my hair.  I am so blessed for all the good memories with him.  I felt like I was hyperventilating when they were going to close the casket.  This time I looked.  It was extremely hard knowing this was the last time I’d see him.

My grandfather transitioned right around Christmas time.  I started to get scared when holiday time approached.  What was it about the holidays that made people special to me decide that they were going to leave for good?  These were the first two losses I ever had.  They came back to back one year apart.  They hit with force.  Holidays were filled with anxiety not celebration.

Years have gone by without anyone I love passing around the Holidays.  However, this year, I’m acutely aware of the fact that Holidays are just not fun for some folks.  It may or may not have to do with the loss of a loved one.  It could be any number of things:  not having loving family and friends, not having enough money for food, not having adequate work, etc.  This year was my first Thanksgiving EVER not with my family.  I wasn’t sad about it but I could see how others could be very sad around these times.  I chose to serve meals at a church then had a laid back, small fun gathering of performer peeps.  So, if you are one of the blessed ones, take some time to remember the not so blessed.  It can be as simple as a prayer sent.  Send a status acknowledging this and not just pictures of bountiful plates of food.  Empathy is something we all can practice more of not just during the holiday but extra doses during this time can’t hurt.   In fact, I dare say, it might make someone feel a little bit better.  

Posted on November 29, 2013 and filed under Essence Revealed, Advice.

Submission and Power Exchange

 

“I stand behind you because I trust you to lead the way.  I lead the way because; I know you have my back.” – The Dish with Ward & June

It’s been my experience that a good sub is hard to find but hard subs abound.  Every person exposed to “a million shades of what you will” is creeping slowly out of hiding to seek safe spaces to explore alternative lifestyles.  But are they really?  There is a breed of people calling themselves submissive.  However they are not looking for any type of power exchange.  Power Exchange can happen without there being any stereotypical “kink” involved.  Not everyone is into everything.  This is why it’s important to be clear about how you want Power Exchange to be played out on your relationships.

  

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

 

I’ve had some very odd approaches from potential subs recently.  One was just downright creepy and weird.  Several emails a day only about all the sexual ways in which he would please me (how would he know when we’ve never had that kind of conversation?).  Face to face he had a scary unwavering, stare that sent the warning sirens from the depths of my soul blaring.  Could I end up in Tupperware containers labeled by body parts???  …or something like that. 

I was perplexed why a submissive would assume that he knew what would satisfy a Dominant’s desires.  This is not “one size fits your limited fantasy”.  A Domme/sub (D/s) relationship is not about absolute rule like a Master/slave relationship (even within that BOTH parties have to agree to it).  It’s my personal belief that people in relationship with each other get to create their own unique “contracts”, so to speak.  There is definitely a mutual exchange that happens within D/s.  Everyone should be getting their needs met.  However, a basic principle of a D/s Power Exchange is the strong desire the sub has to please and be led by their Dominant.  Yes, submissives get to let their Dominant partner know what they do and do not want.  The Dominant partner should know the hard and soft limits of their submissive.  However, ultimately it is about the submissive deriving satisfaction from being of service to and guided by their Dominant.

 

 

 

There are no cut and paste ways to be a submissive.  Every relationship is going to have unique dynamics.  However, these are always five great elements for a submissive to consider within a Power Exchange relationship with a Domme:

1)     Integrity – Do what you say you will do.  Whether you deem the commitment small or a big deal, keep your word.  A good sub will own up to it to their Dominant, even if they would never find out.  Short comings should be addressed according to the agreement made between the two of you.

2)     Honest & Open Communication – Dommes are not clairvoyant.  Be open, honest and clear about yourself to your Dominant partner.  A small lapse in communication can easily be interpreted as purposeful insubordination.  Communication bridges the gap between what it means to be a sub behaving badly or needing a specific kind of guidance. 

3)     Trust – The space shared between Domme and sub should be the safest place in the world.  A sub should know for sure that only their best interests are being considered by their Dominant partner.  A Domme may push the edges of a sub’s comfort levels but never put them in harm’s way.  Part of leading the way is having a sincere interest in seeing your sub win.  Are their areas of improvement being worked on within this D/s exchange?  A sub may bring an issue to their Domme.  A Domme may initiate something that they think will improve their subs life: ie… goals, nutrition, making/breaking habits.  The sub knows that there will be after care, especially after intense sessions.

4)     Mutual Respect – None of the above is possible without a mutual respect of one another.  I suppose in commercial dungeons, these rules may or may not apply depending on the situation.  What I’m writing about in this blog are personal interactions.  It would be difficult to trust someone you didn’t respect.  It would be a waste of time to guide someone not worthy of respect.  With this respect comes the ability to lead and be led.

5)    Great Desire to Be of Service – Can a sub’s need to be of service be the intention behind any task their Domme asks of them?  The potentially menial task takes on meaning then.  A sub may despise doing laundry but because it pleases their Domme, it is done with an intention of care.  A sub pleasing their Domme should be satisfaction enough for them.  However, earning rewards for good behavior are a great motivation.  It can be extremely beneficial for a sub to be meticulous with the service they provide to their Domme.
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There is so much focus put on the proverbial “whips and chains” of BDSM.  It feels sometimes like there is more of an interest in a limited and particular “kink” related fantasy.  That type of curiosity could be explored with a pro Domme.  An equally curious partner may present themselves as you go thru your day that you can have occasional play with.  However, by my estimation, it is not satisfactory enough for an interpersonal D/s practice of Power Exchange.  One of my aunts always says, “Every pot has its cover.”  Therefore, whether Dominant or submissive there is no reason to be involved in relationships that doesn’t satisfy you.  Find your perfect match.

 

A Perfomer's Rant

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OOOOH how I wish my parents didn’t give me any home training or hadn’t sent me to Sunday school!  This is a performer’s rant.  Just giving you fair warning so that you can click off and away if so you choose.  This is the first time in over three years of doing burlesque I've been so moved to post a public complaint.  The majority of the people who hire me are great!  But one's like this one I'm writing about are the worst. 

I am more than a little bit annoyed by people who seem to think that all creative people are hobbyists.  It’s almost as if some people refuse to accept that there is a creature called the professional performer.  Welp, guess what?  There is.  This creature may not be a celebrity.  You may not see them on your television set every week.  They may not be on Broadway or in your mainstream movie house or major art gallery.  They probably aren’t filling arenas like Madison Square Garden.  But guess what, they are working professionals.  Let’s take a look at actors.  About 2% of them are celebrities (and often for a very limited time unless nepotism gave them an in).  The majority of actors in the US do not work as actors most of the time.  Somewhere in the middle is the working actor.  They can still do their own grocery shopping (and probably have to) without being mobbed.  They can roam freely around the world unrecognized.  However, if you were friends with them, you’d see them pop up every so often in a show, film, a commercial or hear them in a voiceover.  Perhaps, they ARE in the chorus or principal in a Broadway show. 

Being a creative person of any other type is much the same.  There are the “celebrity names”, the hobbyists and right in the middle are the working professionals.  Depending on their disciplines, they may do a combination of things.  Perhaps they also teach.  Maybe they do a few days or nights as a freelance something or nother.  They may piece together a few different creative careers vocalist and voice over artist, for example.  Perhaps they work in children’s television between creating commissioned paintings.  Perhaps wedding and journalistic photos to major publications fund their art photography projects.  No matter how they string it together, the bulk of their living comes from their creative work.  This is amazingly fulfilling and fun to do – except, when it isn’t.  For me, one of the most disrespectful things I have to deal with is lack of respect for my time as an artist.  It’s as if because I chose to do something fun with my life, my time shouldn’t hold the same weight as someone who clocks into an office every day. 

Here’s one of many examples I could use.  I get booked for a private event for a particular time – let’s say 10pm.  The day of the event I get called hours before to be there an hour early.  Oh, ya know, because I’m sitting around doing nothing else with my life besides waiting with baited breath to coddle clueless clientele demands.  I work it out so that I can leave the work that I’m doing earlier than I was supposed to in an effort to be a flexible, team player.  I arrive earlier than 9pm.  I’m told I’ll go on at 10pm.  There is a set list.  The set list is switched around after the show has started.  The set list is switched back about ten minutes later.  The event is not running on time.  I could have come at 10pm because it is running so late.  In the middle of the listed set an unannounced comedy act erupts on stage.  That act is disrupted by the host who goes on a diatribe in an effort to get the fidgety crowd to listen to said comic.  THAT comic then calls up two more comics.  Three comics do stand up routines in the middle of an event that is already running late.  An unannounced break happens after that.

Now, this is live entertainment and things happen.  Things often don’t go as planned.  I am well able to go with the flow.  I’m extremely easy going.  I, myself, have been on the other end of things out of my control causing me to be late (stalled trains, traffic and miscommunication, for example).  I felt horrible and was verbally and sincerely apologetic.  THIS however, was just a blatant disrespect of time.  Not once was there an apology or explanation.  The energy in the room shifted from celebratory to antsy.  “The host asks at one point is anyone in a rush to get out of here?”  I think he gets the vibe from the hushes murmur of a response that this crowd is not trying to party all night.  “I know some of ya’ll gotta go to work in the morning.”  Yep, and some of us are AT WORK right now.  In fact, those of us that are AT work right now thought that we would be OFF work already.  There is no overtime.  If I complain, I’ll seem like I’m being a diva, right?  I’m supposed to just sit silently smiling.  I’m supposed to be thrilled at any opportunity to do what I do.  How ‘bout you just pay me for my time, I go home and YOU go on stage and do what I do since it holds so little value? 

The part of it that really drives me crazy, though, is that at the end of the night:  After time jacking me from my first job, after having me perform hours after I was scheduled to perform, after having me on stage while people are walking out the door because they’re so tired of sitting there, I get asked if I have a PayPal account.  ...Pardon? 

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*moment of silence filled with curse words in my head that I am much too polite to say out loud*  

So, you mean to tell me not only did you blatantly disrespect my time but now you will also steal the service I provided?  I’m sorry, but “I’ll pay you in the morning, cuz, ya know, cash flow…” is NOT an acceptable answer.  “But you killed it!  My boyfriend, the tall light skin guy, was like she could get it.”  Perhaps, she could glean it from the look of disgust on my face.  I didn’t bother to explain to her the .000000000001% of f%#*s that I do not give about what her boyfriend thinks of my f*&^ing factor. 

When I negotiate events for myself I get a 50% deposit to hold the date.  I then have it in writing that I’m to be handed the balance once I arrive at the venue of the event.  I am doing this particular event as a favor for a favorite client and did not do the negotiating myself.  I think it is really unfair to be held captive at the end of the night waiting to be paid at a private event.  There are no tips to divide.  There’s no door split to calculate.  The fee is set ahead of time.  I've provided the service you've hired me to do already.  Now you want me to trust you to pay me via PayPal in the morning when we don’t have working relationship the first?  This will however, be the last.  Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.  When I produce (and I have not done it much), I pay my performers in the dressing room while they are getting dressed.  I have a spread of healthy snacks and sweet treats along with drinks for them in the dressing room.  I provide a table with any toiletries they may need or have forgotten.  I try my best to create a relaxed vibe for the people (whom I know I cannot afford to pay their full value YET) because I appreciate their time and talent.  There are creative people who bless me with their talents for free and I try to show as much appreciation for it as possible.

Time and time again whether the creative person acts, sings, dances, takes photos, does visual arts, etc. they’re expected to work for little to nothing and be happy about it.  My landlord and other bill collectors will not be happy about it.  Therefore, I cannot be happy about it.  Yes, I would do this for free, if I had no bills, if I wasn't a full time freelancer.  Just because a creative person is not a celebrity does not mean that they are not a working professional.  When one negotiates a fee for work, one gets paid said fee asap.  Simple.  Easy. 

 

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Why do creative people constantly have to fight for this really simple concept to be understood?  It drives me crazy.  It’s not that difficult.  End Rant.

 

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Remembering September 11th

This day always brings up stuff for me.  This will be a short one.  There will be no pictures.  We don't need any.  We remember.  I don't even want to turn on my TV.  I remember all of it.  I remember all the emotions.  I remember a friend lost and others that were way too close for comfort.  I remember the co-worker who's Dad was a fire fighter and her distraught about whether or not he was alright.  I remember feeling like I never wanted to leave Brooklyn again.   I remember the post 9/11 smell in the air.  I could go on but I won't.

The good things I remember are spending more time with friends and strangers than I had in a long time.  I remembered having that shift in thought around what was/is important in life.  I remember New Yorkers being a little bit kinder to one another.  I remember the quiet within the chaos.  I remember one conversation with a stranger and often wonder how he is.  I wonder how being down there and seeing all that he told me about affected him.  So many of us that were nowhere that near remain affected all these years later.  

At the time, I was working as a realtor 7 days a week and dancing 3-4 nights a week. This night was the first night I'd gone back to work after the towers fell.  I felt strange going into a place to hustle dances when such a tragic thing had just gone down.  It was also the first time I was going back into Manhattan.  I was far from hard hustle mode.  Apparently, no matter what, a cold, strong drink & the company of lady is welcomed.  I ended up going to sit with this guy and his friend.  They had just returned from volunteering at the towers.  "I don't want any dances, just sit here and hang out.  I'll take care of you.  Just sit."  So, I did.  We talked for hours.  At first he kept saying, "They're not telling people the truth on the news.  it is not a search & rescue mission."  I'll spare you the details of what he'd seen.   

We then were able to move onto other topics.  Some serious, some silly, all human.  I was surprised when it came out in conversation who's son he was.  I remain surprised that it takes such drastic events for us to embrace the humanity in each other.  I remain not surprised that when things get crazy in some people's lives, they know that inside the walls of the strip club are ears that are not there to judge.  If you connect with the right one, you will have a friendly, listening ear dressed in sparkly spandex to hear all about it.   

As I walk through today, my silent prayer is that it does not take drastic events for us to remember that we are all people no matter where we come from, what we experience, who we love, how we choose live - No Matter What.  Much Love and Light to us all... 

 

Posted on September 11, 2013 and filed under Essence Revealed.

A Human, Being

I’m a human, being.  A human being the best way I can figure how day to day.  I've been thinking a great deal about the imperfection that it is to be human.  Yet, here we all are human, being.  Our spirits are housed in these bodies as we have our individual human experiences.  We are all that - spirit.  Somehow, there are those among us that refuse to accept or see that we are all one.  It boggles my particular mind why the people who most likely to miss these facts seem to be wielding the most control, resources and access.  Do they also hold the most power?

Some days, more recently than I care to admit, I truly do think so.  I wake up not wanting to do another day.  A world that can allow Trayvon Martin to be murdered and George Zimmerman to walk free surely has an imbalance of power.  This imbalance seems to be bearing down on our backs in such unbearable, sadness and awe inducing ways.  However, when I really stop and consider it, perhaps they see too much power in us.  Is it possible that the need to control and hoard come from the fact that they can see that we are powerful beyond our own recognition?  I think about a fraction of the humans I know personally.  I especially think of the ones I call friend.  Many of them are creative and caring to a degree way higher than I've ever experienced from people I've encountered with control, resources, access.

In New York one can be privy to experiencing numerous worlds at once.  I know I have. Sometimes, it happens all in the same night.  I remember one night being in a bar uptown that was filled to the brim with people who had big titles in big companies, their own or internationally recognizable brands.  I sat quietly listening to them talk at each other about the things these types go on about: material possessions, vacations in the trendy places, clothing from labels I know nothing about, real estate locations, etc.  A woman I was sitting next to exchanged cards with me saying that we should meet up for lunch or drinks soon.  That never happened.  She LA’d (a term I coined for when people flake) me every time I followed up.  We would all know the brand she helms if I named it.  Anyway, off I went to a poetry open mic downtown.  This was also filled to the brim but with people happy to have a space to share the words they’d written.  People talked to each other about ideas, current events, and plans for future creative projects small & large.

That lady from uptown did not see me fit for her level of human after a quick Google search, I’m guessing.  Strippers are not human at all as far society is concerned.  If we are human, we certainly aren't respectable ones.  People who are involved in any kind of sex work or sex education work are for sure hugely flawed humans.  Add to the equation all of the things that these people with control, access, resources deem value-less.  I personally can add quite a few marginalized communities into my own human basket – person of color, queer, female, 1st generation (I guess I would be what they call an “anchor baby”) for example.  So what if we are all skeletons beneath it all?

Yet, I exist among a great big wide network of people creating beautiful things despite.  It is one of the reasons that I lend my talent, time and abilities to projects like The Red Umbrella Project.  I’ve certainly benefitted from being a part of the memoir writing class that they offer to current and former sex workers.  It is an amazing experience to sit in a room full of people who can see each other for the spirits we all are as opposed to the flawed human experience we exist as a part of.  This experience has led to two literary journals which tell the stories of sex workers (Prose & Lore).  Prose & Lore 2 was recently launched on July 10, 2013.  It is my hope that through sharing our stories (sad, happy, shocking or fun) all work toward the end of educating the world of sex worker’s humanity.  I think about the world before the internet where sex workers only knew the sex workers at their club or on their stroll or with their agency or, worse, in hiding going it all alone.

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I am grateful to be a part of different communities which strive to share with the world the stories of our humanity despite and in spite of our flaws (women, people of color, queer, managing mental illness, survivors, I could go on.  You get the point.).  They are not perfect worlds.  Even within this world, issues of marginalization breed ignorance and callousness.  There is an unwillingness to simply empathize without feeling threatened or becoming needlessly defensive.  I personally find myself in a space that is never enough for anyone.  I’m not militant or loud enough for the activists or feminists.  I’m not gay enough for the queer community.  “How dare you say you’re a sex worker,” say the strippers.  “How dare you say you’re a stripper,” say the burlesque performers.  Daggers for being thin though I’ve worked out like an athlete since the age of twelve (for years with trainers).  Mind you, I’d also get daggers were I overweight.  “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  There’s no such thing as depression,” say the "positive" thinkers.  It never ends.

At least, however, even with that, we are able to harness true power by creating, community building and bringing awareness to society at large.  This tribe which is not cut from mainstream cloth has issues.  It is surely not utopia.  But every merry band of misfits I know finds their own chosen family within which they can build no matter what lack of control, resources or access society at large imposes.  It’s because the things we do, we do because we HAVE TO for our own survival and peace of mind.  Those of you in the tribe know exactly what I mean.  To those of you not in this tribe it probably makes no sense.  Yet, when we serve it to you as only our creatively unique selves can, you get it a little more each time.  I hope.  I have to believe that these are the things that change the world.  This is the power within us that is feared and attempting to be extinguished.

  ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She's been published in two anthologies: Pros(e)Prose & Lore 2,  &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.