Empowerment on Heels....5" Aldo's to be Exact.

Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Empowerment Event being held a church off 56th street.  I must say, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  I knew it was at a church, which made me hesitant on my poem choices, of which I reworked and winded up printing something to read.  I walked out the door totally prepared to walk into a room full of Caucasian women, of which I would do a couple of brief poems for them and be on my way.  I had hoped to make some sort of an impression.  This is my thing.  Speaking at empowerment events, schools, etc. is what I want to do with my poetry outside of creating shows to utilize my work.  I want to be a respected author/writer, as well as a dope motivational speaker.  So I wanted to use my 25 minute time slot wisely.  I wanted to say a few things about myself and my struggles and relate that to being a survivor.  But churches intimidate me ....churches tend to live by the Sugar Coat Rules and don't like to hear about certain topics within their walls....so i was a lil extra nervous just because even though i knew it was at a church, it didnt really hit me until i was getting dressed ......i threw on my H&M dress that, according to my fb pics, i have worn every where and back, but in reality, i have only had on a handful of times....i was hoping to steer clear of cameras for that reason.....i tossed on my Aldo black heels that were a birthday gift from a special person that got the accidental shit treatment by me...smdh.....and hoped i dressed the part well....
Well, by the time I had arrived and walked in the door nervously, had no idea what I would say or how it would go.
to my surprise, I walked in and saw two things really quick: 

1. I had a friend there.  a great girlfriend of mine was also a vendor there. 
2.  It was 99% African American women of wide range of ages, with at least one table full of young pregnant women.  This was my type of crowd.  
I kind of expected an older crowd of women who were just there for the freebies, but it turned out that this mixed crowd was just what I needed. 
I was nervous before I got on stage.  I always am, but this was my first women’s empowerment event and like I said, I wanted to impress both in poetry and speaking.  I want this to be more than an every now and then type of affair.  I decided to just get up there and open up with “Check Me Out’’,  a poem I wrote for class some years ago that defines my proud-ness of being a black woman.  It went over GREAT.  Ended with a roar of applause and even people on their feet.  Mind you, this room looked a lil, dare I say, "bored”, before I got to the stage.  So it was my hope to liven this thing up a little bit.  And I succeeded.  I went on to talk about a few of my life’s experiences and about being a survivor of all things, then read the poem “Mustard Seed”.  I ended with “Bruised Muse in Heels” and I believe they were all pleased. 
As I walked away from the stage, more women were standing to join the applause as hands and arms opened to welcome me into strange bosoms.  It was wonderful.  I made a few connections, passed out a few ghetto business cards, i.e., my name and info on torn pieces of paper.  lol …what in the world did I do with my fancy business cards ???  I gathered up hugs,  thank you's, you're blessed and various other uplifting comments from these women, most of which had never heard of me before....oh and did i fail to mention, that there was one lady, who's name leaves me right this second, but i first saw her back in march at something i participated in at the State Museum and she walked up to me prior to me performing and said "i was really glad when i saw your name on here" !!!!! 
WHAT!? Where they do THIS at ??? That is what i am talking about!!!!  ...leaving lasting positive impressions that exceed how good of a writer i may or may not be....i've have long stated that i have no doubts in my literary abilities......i dont...i mean that...even on my most insecure day, i know i can write the hell out of ANYTHING i want to write...hell i wrote a DOPE article on a complete stranger based off a chopped and screwed telephone interview i conducted with him.  I made him and the magazine (?) proud.....idk how proud the mag is/was....they haven't invited me to write for them anymore but it wasn't paid so thanx for the pub and the experience....if one isn't interested in my FREE services, no problem...no hard feelings...i got a chance to exercise my writing abilities outside of blogging and writing poems, so i'm grateful nonetheless......point being, i'm not unaware of my capabilities.....but to touch ppl....to leave something in and on their mind that will be revisited....to uplift and empower the people of my community is not just my hope, it is my job....and when i realize i have done it to the most, i am elated.....so when this lady walked up and said that, it was as if she gave me the  God touch.....but she made me even more nervous at the same time...hoping not to disappoint kind of nervous. 
But i worked that event....i opened up with a bang, shot my nerves to the north pole and as i got halfway into Check Me Out, i remember hearing myself say "ok you got it now" and it was as if i were reminded that i no longer need the training wheels.  I got up there with poems in my heart, handpicked from the Creator who sent me there from the get go....

I pleased the people who put on the event enough that I think they might utilize me again in the near future, which is just what I wanted !!! I left proud. 
I knocked another notch off my poetic bucket list and hopefully, I can turn this into something bigger and greater.  I am a force to be reckoned with.  I had great reason to be excited. i have great reason to push forward....there will be hard days and days i question what the fuck is really going on....i was very disappointed in forgetting to submit for Oranje and i was even more blown aback by not being able to submit for The Art Council's $3500 Grant...... but you know what.....God gave me a street that belongs ONLY to me.....and i am to travel it until nothing is left but ash in the Atlantic (or the Hudson)...i am no one's second fiddle....i'm no one fucking hype girl, background dancer or little minion.....i am the People's Poet....the most unprofessional host in the world....one of Indy's DOPESET writer's PERIOD (yeah, i said all that shit and meant it), a woman of inspiration, dedication, love and a heart of mush....i am a writer...
an artist
a poet
....a photographing, event planning, kinda-graphic-designing fashionista who does all these things MY own ghetto/high class mixing way to the fullest extent of breaking the law! 

But above all else...i am a writer...
and even better, I am nobody’s accident. 
No matter how many times I think I am, I end up in a situation where I realize there is absolutely no way on God’s earth that, that could be true.  
I AM Empowerment on heels.  ....5" Aldo's to be exact.


Brain Dead at Thirty Three.

i keep telling myself ‘’I’m 33’’
as if reminding myself of something I’ve know for the last six months will somehow re-shape the part of me that has was born brain-dead:
My heart.

I’m 33. Yesterday.
I allowed my phone to be turned off.  Not really so much “allowed” as I was financially jumped.  So my phone is off until months end.  It really doesn’t matter.  I can still dial 911 if necessary.  Plus, fuck being accessible to everyone...not that anyone calls.  Shit if I could black out online without feeling like “I should post this thought” or like I’m missing something, then it could be a perfect lie!  But.i digress.  My phone is off and I ordered a fruit bowl yesterday that I needed to go pick up.  Long story short, I went to my father’s house around the corner to use the phone and let the lady know that I was on my way.  Of course since we were in the same room, would he hear my end of the call.  After finding out the location of the apartment and repeating a few directions out loud, I hung up; to which my grand ole father had a comment in que and ready.  I confirmed for him that I was going to the east side.  When I named the Apts, it must’ve instantly jogged his memory.  I assume he’s been over there before..i guess.  I really don’t know.  Don’t even care.  But as I was standing there thinking of the fastest route from his house to the east-side, he says “those apartments is where your sister lives.” 
I left immediately. This was only my second time, maybe 3rd, in my 33 years, hearing about this "sister' chick, who apparently was born before i was....
I got in my car, with my face still in its frozen bewilderment, and drove mumbling to myself,
I’m 33. 

Im 33.  The Day Before Yesterday.
I started to feel bad for not calling either of the men I deem full fledged or at least semi-failures of a father figure to wish them a lie.  Happy Fathers Day is almost like shit coming out of my mouth.  Its unbelievable and nasty.  So I don’t say it.  My dad called me.  I think that made me ultimately feel bad.  He shouldn’t have to call me.  Plus, despite the fact that he completely dropped the ball at being a father, I do love him, hands down.  As is.  My stepfather on the other hand, is a different story.  But I still wanted to cook for him too.  So I slaved.  I bought food, got off work and cooked until I almost passed out and my feet were too tired to stay in my sweaty gym shoes. Mind you, I’m cooking and cleaning as I go, in addition to trying to keep tracks on the doggies. Might sound like a small feat, but in my world, nothing is small and everything is hard.  Would be great if my life were a dick but….i digress.  Shortly after 9, I had made plates and dropped one off to my father.  I used his phone and called my mom to request she come outside.  I didn’t want to ring the doorbell and chance my stepfather opening the door.  I may have cooked for him, but the intensity of my emotions towards him have suddenly catapulted beyond my reach and just for saving face purposes, I just would have rather talked to my mom.  I fixed her a plate too.  I delivered them to her house, next door to mine, and was of course prompted by her to come in and get something ELSE to eat.  Ok.  I didn’t see his truck.  I went in. Immediately, standing at the end of the long hallway, was the man known as my stepfather.  I could never see myself skipping the “step.”  He stared or better yet glared at me until I waved and said hello and he returned my gesture with some mumbo jumbo that only he and God could decipher.  I go to the refrigerator and stand behind the door (my mom had it open) and reach for a plastic plate on the top.  While I’m doing this, little did I know, he was quickly and quietly shuffling to the same exact place.  Thank God for ice makers and water machines.  0_o. 
 In a split second, I hear my mom ask him if he’s hungry and then told him“Kendria brought us some dinner.”  I stayed behind the refrigerator door, which was still open.  I didn’t want eye to eye contact.  I just wanted him to get his plate and go away.  But I truly believe my heart was in the right place when i decided AND went thru with cooking this meal for him and my dad..  A good place.  An “I’m better than this” place.  His response: 

well that was just awkward.
He said NOTHING.  I don’t know if he shook his head or made some kind of eye blink telekinesis or what, but his VOICE, as I stood RIGHT THERE, said NOTHING.  He just got his water, and walked off....i fought those fucking tears so hard!!! I REFUSED to cry in that damn house... 
By the time I finally made it back next door, it was all I could say to myself:
I’m 33.

I’m 33.  Today.
Someone somewhere probably believes that a woman should have confronted, dealt with and forgiven whomever for any of her issues, particularly father issues, by the time she is in her 30’s.  Today, I view myself as a woman who will forever be scarred, marred, tarred and feathered by my emotional displeasure towards having two dads since I was at least 3 years old, but having zero fathers.  I never did get emotional love or affection from them.  My father does kiss me every time he sees me and tells me he loves me, but lets be serious.
I’m 33.  It matters….but it doesn’t matter now like it did back when I was kid...i mean, the mold is complete. 
I’m scared of spending my life with no one because of my issues.  Finding a good counselor is hard and expensive.  Finding friends that can relate might be easier said than done, but then who wants to talk to a stranger (or anyone less than a friend)  that hasn’t been sworn to protect the privacy of their clients??? Not me.  I’m private. I may seem open and honest about my life, and where poetry is concerned, I am….but in my general day to day life, I am private, shy and nervous.  My trust has been broken with secrets I expected to be kept and weren’t too many times, so now, I barely open up to the ones closest to me.  But I tell you….there is nothing in the world that can compare or rival the feeling you have when you feel unloved by a man, since the beginning of your time.  This has nothing to do with relationships, love/ marriage, etc….that shit is fluff.  This is about not feeling ANY form of emotional connection, love or affection by either of the men who have been a constant in my life since I got here.  My stepdad’s been married to my mom over 20 years.  The last time I believed he loved me was around …..single digits. I have long felt worthless to both of these men, who i now am entering my 4th(?) year of living right under....
This blog isn’t about making mention of everything that has hurt me between these two men.    But my dad threw me off with that “sister” comment.  It hurt me even.  And to be honest, I either don’t know or will have to put it in a separate blog on how that made me really feel. 

My stepdad…..they say the eyes are the windows to your soul.  If true, then even his soul is nauseated by me.  It makes me and has made me question myself.  Who am I or What am I, that the two men that should’ve loved me like no one else in this world, make me feel hated. Mistakenly arrived.  How dare my real dad talk about some “sister”. …..i just wanted to say so bad, dude I don’t know what kind of parking lot pimping thoughts you are over coming up with, but I don’t have a sister.
Or a brother.  Never have.
YOU apparently have children all over America.  To feel unimportant to family, with special regards for your father, is more than just a blow to the head.  That is more like a bullet to the brain but you never lose consciousness yet feel all the pain. 
But im 33.
This should not be bother me. 
This should not be affecting me.
My stepfather hasn’t told me happy birthday since ……shit I don’t know….early 20’s….and that’s a maybe…its definitely contingent on whether or not I saw him…..if I didn’t, then there was nothing…..now he was a great provider…I always make sure to toss that in…im conditioned that way…..thanx for the roof over my head, the shoes on my feet and a mom who got to be a stay at home parent….only thing, she never really did master being a father….she probably thought …well….she didn’t have to…you were there.
 We call this “Bupkiss’’

i can’t feel anymore like permanent damaged goods.
I find myself diving head first into poetry because it’s the one place where love has never been challenged from them to me.  People appear to love me and when I find out they don’t or never did, I guess that’s why I take it so hard for so long….how dare a fraud get past me….how dare you treat me like you are one of my dads……
How dare a man
Come into a womans life
And treat the woman to be
As if her creation was the biggest farce since Columbus discovered America. 

How dare my dad tell me about my “sister” as if that term is just a loose goose.  There is meaning behind that and it doesn’t stop or start with Blood.  Sorry but I really feel like fuck her, fuck Kenny (my brother) and fuck anyone that doesn’t like it. 
I love my dad.
He told me my food was delicious on this same day he acknowledged his “other daughter”.....
My stepfather…..idk if he ate it or not….just like I don’t know if he ever read the poem I sent him a few fathers days ago....Just like I will never know if he EVER loved me.  ....i do know if i or my company walk past him outside and don't make it a point to acknowledge his existence, i will hear about it until the end...i'm still paying for the accidental sins of my friends....

But I’m 33.
Im not healed.
Im not a superwoman.
Im not ok with this.  I live next door to my stepfather….so seeing him give me the fuck you look is subject to happen ANY moment. 

But i'm 33
and im just shy of being brain dead....fish food....vulture pleasures....my heart is like puddy being shaped and molded to the figure whosoever decides to turn it into whatever they turn it into ....a disco inferno perhaps? 
..not enough weed in the world can change or make me forget that sometimes, better yet, All Times, i feel like a fatherless child.....even at the ripened age of 33....and it pisses me off....how come the fuck im not healed!!!!!!!!
But im 33.
And im not ok …yet!
Lord knows I want to be.  I want to move on from these unresolved emotions that have been bottled up inside of me since before I was a teen.  how dare i expect another man out here in this world to love me when the ones gifted with the chance to shape me weren't the slightest bit of interested.

But im 33.
And now I have realized…..due in part to my location…..
That the one thing I always needed…always searched for....
 even  fought a losing battle for….the one thing that could have changed at least a little something about me…..is the one thing I may never experience....

A father.
And even at 33, that shit feels like alcohol to a 3rd degree.


Positive Reinforcement, Legends and the Streets.


last night I had the extreme pleasure of being invited to attend The Asante Children’s Theater’s showing of the critically acclaimed I Am Legend Michael Jackson tribute show.  By the time intermission had come, I had all but decided to review this show in hopes that the audience I touch, who may have not experienced it this go around, will be in line to witness it the next time they bring it back.  Today closed out a two week encore run of the show at the Madame C.J. Walker building.  I had an invite to witness it again today but unfortunately wasn’t able to make it.  Had I been free, I’d have watched the entire showing all over again as if it were the first time.

Within the first five minutes of the show, all I could think about was how many children, regardless of race but especially African American ones, do not get to experience the joys of childhood and life.  So many parents do nothing to get their children actively involved in the arts and/or the community.  Programs like ACT exist because of a desire to help/teach/inspire coupled with parents who refuse to settle for the streets raising their babies.  How does this fit in with reviewing the show?  Maybe it doesn’t.  But I would be remised if I didn’t mention that this is what came to mind as I saw these talented young black future men and women, who were being allotted the opportunity to express themselves via song and dance in front of a cheering audience of people.  You could see the hope in their eyes.  You could tell they knew the power of their voices, even if only the beginning stages.  They each sang with conviction.  Belief.  One young man was so believable of MJ.  The stars in his eyes and the conviction of his voice when he sang let us all see artistry at a young age. 

“All I wanna say is they don’t really care about us!”

One of Michael’s most underrated songs.   Everyone who knows me, knows I love dance.  Dance is in my blood.  I once wanted to be a choreographer but I was one of those kids who needed my dreams reinforced by someone.  I needed to be told that dream was possible and beautiful.  That there was a market for what I hoped I could be and they’d see to it that not only did I get the practice, that I would stick it out when it was tough.  I was one of those children.  And lacking that turned me in other directions.  Again I think of all the children with no positive reinforcement.  How beautiful was to see these kids re-enact the sequence from this video along with some additional choreography.  It felt so powerful.  It really felt …..Powerful.  Surely these kids know their power. 

Someone has told them.  Someone took the initiative, the first step, and enrolled them in something other than reality TV and fast food sandwiches.  To get to a point of “showing” a show, much practice has taken place.  As a creator of various shows, I know how much practice I do (and don’t ) put into stuff and the results of it.  Therefore, I can say without doubt that these kids were probably pushed to their limits and beyond.  They were prompted to rehearse when the new episode of their favorite show was on.  They probably fell down a couple times and struggled with a couple of steps.  They may have even cried, or wanted to quit.  But they were pushed.  I have never met Deborah Asante but I have heard great things about her and know several of her alumni.  Another safe bet is that she pushes these kids. 

And it shows in the performance.  Thriller was so well crafted and executed that I think the entire audience either was or SHOULD HAVE BEEN on their feet.  I know I was.  They were great.  The show includes a live band, live song, great dance choreography, a few skits and ……..

…..spoken word.  Poets Allyson Horton, who I came on the scene admiring and Camea Osborn, my poetry-niece did a SUPREME job representing our genre of artistic expression, as well as giving us a different perspective of Michael Jackson.  By the time Camea was finished with her piece, The Glove, I could no longer contain the tears.  It was as if I FINALLY began to mourn MJ.  In one first act, I came to terms with the fact that Michael not only created some of the best music, but he’s gone.  And he was tortured.  And he loved us.  People he’d never even meet.  He loved us.  Through these pieces, we were told his life thru a sequined glove and blue colors.  And the  tears continued well into the next scene.  Again I thought of those children who will never know life outside the prison they are born into.

Michael would have thought of those kids.  Michael would be proud of these kids! Every scene in this show was well thought out and perfectly placed.  Each singer had the right song choice.  In fact, one singer (possibly Jasmine Baily?) had quite possibly one of the most beautiful-est voices I have EVER heard in my life!!! Her range, her sound and the way she handled that song and her voice……it was amazing. Every dance step was loaded with a harmonious collaboration.  I was pleased.  A standing ovation was the least we could have done.  Each and every cast member should feel proud and celebrated.  Every set ended with loaded applause and cheer. 

And again I think about those kids who will never get to experience this.  They don’t stay kids forever you know.  They grow up no matter who does or doesn’t raise them.  Chicago just had 40 people shot and 7 killed in ONE week.  Some of the killed were as young as 17, maybe even younger.  People don’t just grow up numb to not being cared for as a child.  They don’t grow up with a lack of respect  for life for no reason.  Children need to be shown the lights of the world.  Darkness is all around us.  Violence, death, sadness and war surround us daily.  Children need to be shown how to be free.  How to find solace in peaceful environments and inspiring ways.  They need to know how to exist OUTSIDE the hood.  They need to be challenged positively and they need to have their desires and dreams nurtured.  I wish this for all children.  Will putting them in an arts program save their lives?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it will definitely show them they do have many options.   I wish they could all be in the lights just like the cast of I Am Legend.  No matter what the avenue, whether it was acting or dance or music or building or karate, etc, etc…..the list can go on and on.  The ACT did a beautiful job giving tribute to a range of songs from the MJ collection.  I hope this show and the energy this wonderful casts put out into our universe inspired everyone else in the room as it did me.  My only wish is that more children could experience these kinds of lights instead of police lights…..ambulance lights…..

lights out.