This was just what I needed! As I am fighting fear, outrage and a semi-permanently negative attitude I had to drag myself to the Amel Larrieux show I’d bought a ticket for last month. I seriously have to fight doing one thing daily I can say is ‘productive’ towards my real career and life goals as well as making enough money to survive on and it’s wearing me down. Thriving seems like a luxury right now.
I’m not sure when I decided to view life through a prism of hardships and difficulties. I remember at age eight declaring I was moving to NYC after high school and attending NYU no matter what. I wanted to be an actress, specifically to do classic theatre (Shakespeare, Moliere) and musical theatre. Yes and because I was a total fashion junkie I had to be a magazine editor. I planned on doing that 9-5 and doing a Broadway show at night. I actually thought I could do that! Youth, huh?
A funny little thing happened on the way to NYC. I didn’t get the lead in a musical my Junior year in high school which was disappointing but it was the rumblings from other students that I’d been passed over because the faculty advisor who auditioned us didn’t want interracial leads that made me realize how challenging the world can be.
The student that did get the lead gave a cute audition but she could not sing a lick. I was cast as her understudy and I tried to be a trooper and just let it go. The teacher always denied it but I grew up in Buffalo which has placed in the top five of most racist cities in this country consistently for years. That situation hurt my heart to the core and I remember feeling like I didn’t have any control over my life anymore. Now I also know that my upbringing and family life had something to do with my reaction let’s just say. I’m not going to discuss the details of that but I know I’m prone to being depressed, pessimistic and have a lower threshold for stressful situations because of it.
College was supposed to be my out and living in NYC was my declaration of independence. My response to that one situation made me falter and I started blowing off my college applications and I just remember feeling like it didn’t matter what I wanted because the deck was not in my favor. I’d been in a gifted program and actually liked school until then. I think that’s a horrible attitude for a kid to have and I see that type of apathy in many today – but theirs is far worse and is often compounded by violence.
Since then my life has taken many divergent paths. I did go to NYC. I went to a different college and I had to put that on hold for a time due to finances and got so angry about everything that I joined a cult. I didn’t realize it at the time. I left the cult and felt I couldn’t leave my house without fearing a lighting bolt from a vengeful god had my name on it. I still pursued acting and moved to Los Angeles, then back to NYC. Then to Toronto and back to Los Angeles. Then to San Francisco. Then a detour in London and back to San Francisco.
I’ve tried to live a full life and still pursue creative endeavors. I’ve skipped a lot but suffice it to say, I still want to make a living at performing and I LOVE to travel. I want to get married and have at least one biological child and adopt a child. I want to be comfortable. Hey, gotta put it out there!!
Now I want to declare to the world that I know I need to be positive which I haven’t done in a long time and I want to change it. It finally clicked that being ‘realistic’ may not be the way to go. Some of it’s external forces I have no control over and I want to be able to recognize that. The rest is up to me however. I am way too hard on myself and it just paralyzes me from doing the things I know I can accomplish.
I have always been a big dreamer even when most people in my family would not encourage or support it. Any roadblock or setback is met with this “when are you going to move on and get a ‘real’ life” or “you’re not getting any younger don’t you think you should…”. I needed real solid guidance and a Plan A, Plan B-G apparently which I’ve learned over the years through trial and error. But I wanted to be able to say I made it and I made it on my own terms. I never wanted to rely on being ‘rescued’ or having to allign myself with a man. Let’s be clear I’m not talking about a mutually respectful and loving relationship. I’m talking about the wealthy and connected men that like to hook up with younger less worldly women in exchange for money and access. I had offers to be the ‘professional’ mistress of a few older wealthy men and even a lesbian who knew I was not!
A lot of times women don’t even get these offers and are instead treated far worse. Hence the prevalence of women turning to the porn industry because it’s so lucrative financially speaking but destroys their souls that much faster. The ease with which some people can barter their bodies, time and youth and innocence just to get ahead has always astounded me. I couldn’t do it. No matter how tempting it was. I thought it was due to religious beliefs but I think it’s way deeper than that. It was my value system. They are not mutually exclusive – at least I don’t think so.
Phew! I guess I had to get that out. One of these days I’m going to come back and scrub this blog clean. No archives, nothing!! But the universe listens according to some very successful people. If they can work through their hardships then I’ll be damned if I can’t work through mine!
So back to Amel. She comes to the Bay Area every year now to play Yoshi’s. Her show was so good and REAL. People brought their children. I don’t think I can recall one concert of contemporary music where so many kids were present. I’m talking one mom had her two year old and Amel noticed her from the stage and the baby waved back and said hello! It was soooo cute. There was a ten year old who’s birthday was today and they had a conversation about her earrings. I even saw two twelve year old boys in dinner jackets and slacks.
Amel had a little trouble with adjusting her mic stand and admitted she hadn’t done a sound check. And the bass player was getting a lot of feedback from his amp. So I was going to be critical about that because that’s ‘Professional Singer 101’ to do a sound check. But she won me over in the end. It reminded me we are not perfect even if the cake didn’t rise all the way it still tastes good!
I know I’m not the average concert attendee. I’m looking at it from a different perspective. I’m split – because I want to enjoy it but I’m analyzing song selection, length of songs, band rapport, the stage show, pacing and audience response. You know stuff I’d want to do with my own show. So…. it was all really really good. She shared a lot of personal stories as well like bonding with her daughters over Project Runway. She had a really great interlude where she danced with her backup singer and the band slid into an Afro-Beat section. And she closed with her first solo single and the Groove Theory song that had a lot of women leaping out of their seats to dance in the aisle. It was a renewal of my spirit. Thanks Amel!
And onward I go…..