Who Moved My Mojo?

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I have lost my drive.

You probably figured that out given that my last post was quite a while ago…and if you’ve followed for a long time you may have noticed the lack of So You Think You Can Dance blogs–a show I love religiously and have blogged about since the Season 8 cast. And I actually took notes for most of last season with the kids. They’re still in note form.

I don’t know what to do. It’s been over a year since my entire life got thrown into chaos, when my work, home and personal lives all imploded. I’ve had to move in with my parents–who had ailments of their own that wound up casting me as caretaker; I packed up and moved an entire apartment into two storage units; I’m adrift as to what to do with the rest of my working life AND struggling to figure out how to cover the financial divide in the meantime; and I’m watching my marriage die from a long distance. All of it is making me lose my mind by degrees and wanting to just to do nothing and disappear.  I don’t have the option of doing that, as so many things and so many people depend on  my existence and my action, but I seem incapable of budging myself from this quagmire. I’ve tried to reinvent myself: getting fitness certification, driving for a rideshare company, joining various online groups to boost my progress in blogging, business and wealth building, even training as a Burlesque performer and reigniting my passion for dancing–but my energy bursts carry me so far then I wind up curled in bed watching TV and surfing social media to avoid having to relate to people. To LIVE.

I don’t know if anything would have been different if my kids were a factor–I probably would have been one of those postpartum moms who lost their minds and took it out on the children. Even though I wouldn’t want to. I know where my blind rage can go when unchecked, and it’s just as frightening to witness as it is to be living in it. I’m learning to control it, but back then I can’t guarantee anyone would have been safe with me. You either step up to your responsibilities or you collapse under the pressure….and I’m still trying to grow up just handling myself.

Adulting is hard. It’s a complicated, messy enterprise with no real users manual, tutorials or help desk. And you get thrown into the deep end expecting to know how to swim when you’ve never seen the pool before that moment. My limbs are tired from treading and I’m coughing up water. It’s so much easier to float but you’re aimlessly drifting with no direction. And you can’t see the edge of the pool to find the exit ladder anyway. So you just channel Dory and keep on swimming.

I may well spent yet another day holed up in my house in my pajamas, Cindy or no Cindy. I might get up and tackle the housekeeping that has overwhelmed me for months. I could take care of some business calls I’ve been putting off or even get my financial papers in order. I just need to find my carrot on a stick, my muse…that ONE THING to make me want to keep running toward that finish line.

Dr. Johnson, where the hell is my cheese?

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Bring that back here, you rascal!

 

Fruitlessly Seeking Luvvie

There are a few bloggers that I keep up with, but there are a couple that serve as my muses….and I’ve been trying to meet both for a while. I met Vitamin Q a couple of months ago (difficult not because he’s local but because he’s reclusive), but I have yet to pin down Luvvie Ajayi. If you are one of the five people on the planet without Internet access who are not familiar with the creator of Awesomely Luvvie and Awesomely Techie, she is also the author of the upcoming release I’m Judging You, and the Mistress of Side Eye. Since Luvvie is based in Chicago and jetting off to some gorgeous locale or other every few days, my chances of running into her are slim and slimmer. Then last year, McDonald’s tapped her to be their 365Black Ambassador for last year’s Essence Festival here in my hometown….

A chance to meet Luvvie. 

For free. FA-REE.

Universe, you have my attention. 

Since she was basically posting her every move under the McDonald’s banner on every social media channel imaginable, I at least had a general idea of where to find her. And, since I was going early for the workout session anyway, I figured I’d have plenty of time to meet her before I had to leave to get ready for work. Yeah….I kinda forgot about the concept of New Orleans time–where a scheduled time can be anything from 10 to 45 minutes after what’s listed. But I’m a determined soldier, so I wait like the awkward, antisocial stalker I’m sure I looked like, scanning my quickly dying phone for updates and Luvvie sightings until my personal window of time closes. I leave disappointed into the oppressive summer heat and head back to my car, upon which I plug in my phone and find this tweet as soon as I get in:

Damn you, fate!

So, fast forward to this year where I’m again going for the fitness session (wanted to ask Shaun T. in person at what point he lost his mind), when Luvvie takes to social media with this nugget:

As I’m researching and plotting, I get a notification that nearly rendered me unconscious:

Oh HELLS YEAH I’m going! 

Well, this year I had ALL DAY, and only one other presentation I really wanted to see, so I figured between my friend and I we could track her down, make my life, and still have time to see Misty Copeland and Oprah Winfrey. I was even prepared technologically, as I had my wall charger and a fully charged power bank to keep tabs in the communications black hole that is the Convention Center. (Special props to sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s for having charging stations set up for visitor use–that gave me a few extra minutes.)

Missed her again. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. She had just finished taping a presentation (according to her Instagram), so at least I knew what she was wearing. Saw a couple of seminars that fit her MO but conflicted with other things (it’s very small comfort that I missed Todrick Hall, too). I walked by one of those stages going back to wait for Misty, and my friend and I took tag team seat breaks to stretch legs, charge phones and take care of other necessaries. But, as it happens, I fell victim to that New Orleans Time scheduling again, and as seats were filling up four seminars early for Oprah, I was kind of captive where I was. But I thought at the very least, if there’s one place I might stand a chance of spotting her, it was in the same room with Oprah. I grossly underestimated exactly how many people were willing to smash themselves into a ballroom just to see Oprah’s first appearance at Essence Fest. I’m lucky I saw my friend, and he was sitting right next to me. Looked for her after amongst the rest of the celebrities but no luck. And by the time Oprah finished, building security was herding everyone towards the nearest exit, and as my friend managed to score a free ticket to the concert that night, I had to get him home post haste.

Upon stalking social media after I got home, that cruel butch named Irony dealt me a couple of blows–first, Luvvie DID have a presentation in the grand room at the very stage I’d intended to stop and wait at earlier. Second, apparently one of those stretch breaks my friend took turned into a walkabout that found him a couple of celebrities and took him past that very stage. And the cruelest of all, Luvvie was in the Superlounges with the artists I’d have gone to see had I had a ticket….and less social anxiety. 

A family obligation kept me from renewing the search on Sunday, and an early Monday morning flight crushed the last of my hopes. I probably would have babbled like an idiot anyway…still, the fact that I’ve come thisclose TWICE and come up empty is just frustrating.

And Kim Fields too?!? We grew up together, through several models of TV screen!

Oh well…..at least there’s a book tour coming. And we friends now, so we go together for LIFE.

My dearest, HAMILTON: A Love Letter from a Really Big Fan

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"Raise a glass....tomorrow there'll be more of us, telling the story...."

My HAMILTON journey has ended. And yet it’s just beginning.

Like most rabid fans I played the White House YouTube clip over and over and over to fully absorb the newness Lin-Manuel Miranda was putting out into the atmosphere. I have followed along with Lin’s every Facebook and Twitter antic and kept up with updates on the writing process, the development journey and the various stagings, being blessed to have attended a few and to have met those involved. I have watched and listened and blogged and shared everything imaginable. I have waxed incessantly to friends about this work and endured many a side eye at my explanation of the concept. I have met and expressed my admiration to many of the performers who have breathed life into this thing (and still have many more to see–I’m looking at you, Javi, Thayne and Ariana!), I have read and shared photo spreads, think pieces and other press to help shine a pinlight from my small corner of the world….all in an effort to make sure the world knows that it’s not overhype, that HAMILTON: An American Musical is THAT special.

And now the curtain has fallen, the dust has settled, and of the 16 record-breaking nominations, our show walks away with 11 trophies. To borrow from Lin’s lyrics, pride is not the word I’m looking for. Lin made a thing, y’all. He made an incredible, inspiring, enduring thing. I don’t have adequate words to thank him or Alex or Tommy or any of the incredible ensemble and creative team for this masterwork that has transformed the Broadway stage, reached into the hearts and minds of people who may never have been exposed to live theater, worked tirelessly to get this staged in as many places as possible and just flat out created magic. I am a mere viewer who was blessed to be in a few special rooms when things happened, and for these and many other reasons makes this my show, too. It’s more than something like Wicked or The Lion King or even In The Heights, that I love and cherish as great shows that I hold in my heart. This really feels like MY show, like I had some small part, some tiny investment in its creative formation. And it won 11 Tony Awards.

I don’t know what else to say. If you can see it without mortgaging vital organs, GO. If you can’t, get the cast album. Get the book. Get the audiobook. Wait for and support the regional and international tours. Get the experience, because it’s more than just a retelling of history. It’s an outpouring of love from the stage. It’s a reminder of our humanity, flaws and all. And it’s an affirmation that we all have a story that deserves to be told, and with any luck those who tell them will be kind and fair.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for turning my world upside down in the best possible way.

When The Bottom Drops Out: Reinventing In Your 40s

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I am scared to death.

I am quite possibly literally one paycheck away from being homeless. Sadly, that’s not an April Fool’s joke.

I’m high above the city
I’m standing on the ledge
The view from here is pretty
And I step off the edge

I was fired from my television job of six years on my niece’s birthday–two days before her younger son’s first birthday and five days before Easter. So I chose not to burden my family with that news on such a festive week. But everything is imploding at the same time–I have to file my taxes (for which we will probably owe AGAIN), rent and bills are due, and not only am I leveraged up to my eyeballs, but I’m now without income and health insurance. My husband is working out of the country and doing his best to contribute, but it’s so hard doing this without him. Though as we’re dealing with more than just physical distance at the moment…..

I’ve been out of work before. Two long, scary years. But at least then I had my husband to lean on, and I didn’t have the spectre of mandatory health insurance hanging over my head. I don’t know how to do this alone, and the fact that I have no other choice is not helping to spur me into action.

The pressure it increases
The closer that I get
I could almost go to pieces
But I’m not quite there yet

I have told some of my friends, and I do have some ideas for stopgap work. The job application process is so vastly different now–EVERYTHING is electronic, and other than what’s on my LinkedIn profile, I can’t access my resume to update it. Not to mention that the career path I studied so hard for and spent half of my working life doing has been slowly killing my spirit, and I want to move into something else. I don’t want to feel this lost and untethered.

See, I’ve been bravin’ crazy weather
Drownin’ out my cries
I pull myself together
I’m focused on the prize

I’m trying hard to focus and get a secure plan in place…it’s so, so difficult when you’ve been fighting your own demons the whole way through. I don’t have the luxury of a breakdown right now, but I’m in the grips of it and can’t break free.

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Will I remain the same
Or will I change a little bit?
Will I feel broken or totally complete?…

The people all are pointing
I bet they’d never guess
That the saint that they’re anointing
Is frightened of the mess

It’s hard to regroup, and I know I’m not really alone, even though I feel that way. I have no choice but to try. So I’m crying, stalling, and imagining the worst…but I’m about to take those first baby steps into a new adult reality.

But even though I fear it
I’m playin’ all my cards…
Baby, you are gonna hear it
When I give them my regards

Lord help me.

Quotes from “Broadway Here I Come,” from the Smash soundtrack, written by Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop (by way of Joe Iconis)

My Husband’s Love Has Reminded Me Why I Got Married | BlackandMarriedWithKids.com

http://www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/10/my-husbands-love-has-reminded-me-why-i-got-married/

20 Things and All That…..Playing 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag

My good friend Monica just got into blogging and decided I needed a tag for this.  As I actually like her (and want to encourage her to keep at this blogging thing), I’ll be a good sport. 😀

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If any of you would like to participate, here are the rules!

1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.

2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)

3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment below with the link to your post.

4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!

Question 1: How tall are you?

5’3″ is what’s on my driver’s license, and that’s what I’m going with….

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Most of my talents are visible: dance, writing, arts and crafts….so unless having this uncanny knack to walk into walls and furniture or somehow cut myself with every kitchen knife imaginable counts as a hidden talent, I’m at a loss.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

Deadlines.  All these amazing ideas and drafts and you have to actually act on them so the public can read them.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Um….my husband not replacing the toilet paper roll?  It would be different if he just didn’t replace it–it would still annoy me, but that’s typical.  No, HE pulls out a new roll and sits it ON TOP OF the roll that has exactly two squares of paper on it.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Depends on the genre you want to go with.  I adore Judy Collins’s version of “Send In The Clowns,” and have worn the print off of several Broadway soundtracks.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

Don’t have an Etsy shop, but one of my former students does.  All But Flowers by Andrea Stevens–she does mostly floral décor made of paper but her main creations are brooch bouquets.  She’s also branched into brooch hair jewelry and flower ink pens crafted from duct tape–my two favorite items.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

TV, Facebook, reading…and the aforementioned dance and arts and crafts stuff.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Don’t eat them as much anymore, as I could suck them up in large numbers, and they don’t taste as good as my thighs not rubbing together feel.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

Used to have fish as a child…too many to name.  The hubs and I had a beta fish he named Raiden, after the Mortal Kombat character.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

The fact that I can now call Suzanne Brockmann a friend has absolutely no bearing on my choices…. 😉  However, I can count Heart Throb, and both her Tall, Dark and Dangerous and Troubleshooters Navy SEAL series.  The nonfiction books don’t stick with me as much….

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

I am not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination, so a “favorite” beauty product–or even the concept of such–boggles the mind.  But if I have to pick one, I’m going to go with the Sally Hansen nail strips.  The speed and ease with which doing my nails in various elaborate designs AND have them last for a while is just AWESOME.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

Can I just say my entire adolescence and call it a day?

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

So many choices…..alcoholic choice is bellini, non-alcoholic is Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red Rooibos tea.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.  Yeah, I know–if you follow me on the regular, you would probably have expected Beauty and the Beast to have crossed my lips.  And I do love that movie…but you asked for my favorite.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Nerd loner artist.  Still am.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I just want to be somewhere near the arts and the outdoors–New York City is growing on me, and growing up in New Orleans has given me a melting pot appreciation for all kinds of culture.  I really wouldn’t mind retiring to Natchitoches, LA, though–it’s where we fled after That Storm and it’s a good balance between metropolis and small town.  Plus I left some really great people up there….

Question 17: PC or Mac?

PC. Did Macs in college because I had to, and if I ever manage to get into editing like I always wanted, Final Cut Pro works best on Macs.  But for standard computing, I’ll stick with PC.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My husband would always go to the same bakery that did our wedding cake and order a small cake in our wedding colors for our anniversary.  I would complain about all of the sugar in the huge decorative roses so he eventually stopped doing it.  It didn’t occur to me until that moment that he was trying to replace our original cake topper, as shortly before our first anniversary That Hurricane That Shall Not Be Named struck, thus rendering everything in our refrigerator–including our wedding cake top–toxic.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Again, depends on your concept of favorite….Lin-Manuel Miranda naturally is on that list, as well as my adopted mama Debbie Allen (which, if you were still wondering, partially explains #14).

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

Tie between Luvvie Ajayi (aka Awesomely Luvvie) and Vitamin Q (Williams).  Q and I are FB friends, and I will eventually wear him down.  Luvvie might get a restraining order because I fully intend to get all up in that closet and steal all of her ALPHETS (you’ll have to read her glossary if you don’t get that.)  Honorable mention goes to the mind behind my sassy little friend Angry Pear.

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This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info,check out the beginning post right here.

Boy crushes Part 3: Blame It on the (Lin) Man

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A triple swoon.....my heart is all aflutter....

My nose is wide open and I have totally lost my heart.  And it’s all Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fault.

Y’all already know he’s got permanent boy crush status, and while he doesn’t quite have “drink your bath water” devotion I would sell a vital organ to get to a show of his.  So if he co-signs on something or someone I’ve definitely gonna give it a look.  Well, just like that theory that if you see a hot girl she’ll usually have a couple of hot friends, Lin doesn’t disappoint in this area, either.

Utkarsh Ambudkar and Arthur Lewis

If you haven’t been to Joe’s Pub in New York yet or haven’t gained access to Pivot TV, iTunes or Amazon “Instant” Video lately (don’t get me started), then you probably haven’t been introduced to the comical, lyrical, totally amazing, busting with talent improv-fest that is Freestyle Love Supreme.  Already a band of merry misfits engaging in off-the-dome freestyle rap, Pivot has given us a full season of the guys’ antics, including some glimpses into their everyday lives.  I dig all of the guys (who are only some of the full group–there are other members who are currently doing other projects…but occasionally manage to make a guest appearance or two), but two of these fellas have me schoolgirl giddy…and I’m at an age when that’s well past respectable.

I met Utkarsh for the first time when I went to see Pitch Perfect.  While his Donald character was not full front and center in the story, he did not go unnoticed by me.  I mean, you see how cute he is, right?  So fast forward to my trip to the first Hamilton concert and he’s singing in the cast as Aaron Burr…proof that he wasn’t just in that movie as eye candy.  This time I actually MET him, catching him after the show and bringing him (as well as the rest of the cast) a small taste of New Orleans and having a better respect for his vocal talents.  So with my third introduction, I was presented with this lyrical badass known as UTK the INC with FLS.  I was NOT ready for what was to come. Capital NOT, capital READY.  Dude can FLOW.  Dude can flow in freestyle AND make sense.  And get incredibly deep.

I’m gonna stop right here for a moment because the moment I want to show you that stole a good chunk of my heart features the other guy who took the rest.  In a show that tends to focus on the wordsmiths, the musical accompaniment could easily go unnoticed and underappreciated.  Enter my future ex-baby daddy, Arthur Lewis.  Yes, y’all….it is ENTIRELY that deep.  I am literally poised to be president of dude’s fan club.  Arthur “The Geniuses” Lewis is an indie soul artist and longtime friend of Lin’s since their childhood.  Arthur is often on the keys but is also pulled out to vocalize during some of the freestyle rounds.  And while I’m sure he’d like to just bask in that background, ain’t no way all of THAT cute is going back.  That curly-haired, buttoned-down hotness has the most beautiful voice known to humankind, and is as important an element of the show as the spur of the moment riffs the MCs dole out.

Combine these two hotties with my permanent boo Lin and you have my absolute favorite moment of the season–episode 2’s “True” section, where the three wax nostalgic on the topic “Sunrise.” (Watch this. NOW. TRUST me.)

OH. MY. GAWD.  This needs to be a track.  No, for real…y’all just don’t understand what this three minutes does for me.  Consider how much I sing Lin’s praises, even his fabulousness on this comes in a distant third behind Arthur and UTK.  Do you realize HOW incredible something has to be for me to say THAT? If UTK decided to drop a mixtape, I’d buy as many copies as possible and give them to random people so they can know this genius.  As for my curly-headed Genius….well, let’s just say my life is defined in two sections: before I knew about Arthur, and Arthur entwined in my daily existence.  He rates with folks like Oleta Adams, Brian McKnight and my Sing-Off hotties who could sing me the phone book and I’d be in bliss.

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This next one is more indirectly associated, but I’m laying this one at Lin’s feet as well:

Christian Borle

I’m still grieving from Smash. I have the DVDs to wear the digital print off of, but I miss my weekly date with that show.  And while there were a few other performers that captured the greater part of my attention, I did happen to notice Christian Borle as Tom Levitt.  I was particularly impressed with his lyrical turn as Darryl F. Zanuck in Don’t Say Yes Until I’ve Finished Talking, giving me a glimpse into the musical prowess that was underscored by his terrific acting.  I mean he HAS to be a great actor–I can’t see anybody seriously encountering Lin-Manuel Miranda in public and faking niceties. (Check their :60 exchange in Smash to know what I’m talking about.)

So when I “discover” beloved performers in other shows–particular things I’ve seen and loved and never quite noticed they were in–it’s always an interesting experience.  One of my other everlasting regrets is not having access to cable and a recording device at the same time that MTV so graciously aired Legally Blonde: The Musical in its entirety.  Thankfully, there are enough benevolent people on YouTube who have it uploaded in some capacity, so I get to revisit it whenever I want.  On a recent third re-watching I took a REALLY good look at Emmett Forrest….and I was in visual shock of what my ears should have told me ages ago.

Whoa! Is that Christian Borle up on my screen? (Anybody who’s seen the show just sang that sentence out with me.  The rest of you think I’m strange.  I’m good with that.) How did I NOT know? No seriously–I’ve watched this broadcast WAY more times, in part and in full, that the three I mentioned above, and I never made the connection.  So on my next binge watch I decided to pull my focus away from the positivity and girl-power spirit of Elle Woods and instead watch Emmett in action.  I never noticed the expanded role before (and yes, I had a major crush on Luke Wilson’s movie incarnation, sparse as it was), and getting to know Emmett better was a lovely experience.  YouTube views of “Chip On My Shoulder” and “Take It Like A Man” went up exponentially because of the checked smartassery and reluctant vulnerability in Christian’s portrayal.  But the performance of the titular song and emotional turning point of the story was my undoing.  The whole sexual discrimination and erroneous assumptive judgment is the main rallying cry for this number and the rest of the story, but I broke at the Elle/Emmett duet back at the dorm room.  I watched Christian morph confusion, desperation and fledging love into a few musical phrases, and as I sat with my eyes transfixed on the screen, my heart jumped down out of my body, walked up to the screen, and jumped into the lapel pocket of that immaculately tailored suit. THAT’S why Elle goes for him in the end.

That’s the best part,
The outside is new,
But now it reflects what’s already in you.
Couldn’t change that if I wanted to….and I do not.”

lyric from “Take It Like A Man”, Legally Blonde: The Musical

Boy did I see THAT reflection in full.  At the risk of using that controversial phrase “classically beautiful,” it’s fair to say that if your mental ideal for that character is wrapped up in Luke Wilson, Christian Borle does not fit into that category. He has a big-eyed visage that dearly reminds me of Ray Bolger, the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.  Here’s the thing, though: I loved me some Ray Bolger.  Even as I loathe nearly everything Wizard of Oz, I adore Ray Bolger, mainly for the persona he exudes from his non-traditionally accepted beauty.  The same applies for Christian, who after watching repeatedly in the “Legally Blonde” clip I scoured the Internet for his resume.  I knew about Peter and the Starcatcher but only half paid attention at the time, but was floored to discover his stint in Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Well, that part didn’t floor me quite as much as finding out he pulled Sutton Foster–a girl crush of mine of epic proportions.  Shallow reason for a crush, I know.  Thank God it’s not the only reason.

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Talent is always beautiful....

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