Having a moment: The Voice

I’m walking back from State street in Schenectady. The evening is warm, but there’s breeze that justifies the cardigan sweater I wear more for security than warmth. The street is quiet in direct contrast to the busy stirring of addicts attempting to get one more and the parade of tired middle class workers heading in to Stewart’s to get that quart of milk their partner reminded them to get before they came home.

Me, I’m slightly oblivious. Here but not here when this voice, a soprano on a bicycle glide easily by on the opposite side of the street. He (I believe it is a he) pulls his bike to the side to make adjustments. He stops his song only briefly before remounting the bike. I pick up my pace be cause I want to take in more of that voice. I’m not even sure he’s singing in English which enhances my need to draw closer to this beautiful foreign sound. There has not been much sweet about my stay here, so this voice is welcome company. It floats in padded claps from across the street as a feather released to the world from a bird that no longer needed it.

I find myself increasing my pace even more. There is a light. He stops. “Thank God” I think. He stops. We are direct opposites. Him where I want to be, me where he is headed. I gaze at this small man. He is adjusting again, and opts not to remount his bike before crossing the street. The light changes. I stand firm, because I wish to encounter him in a safe place. He is coming toward me. He lets out just a note or two. I am disappointed because I want to be swallowed whole by the sweetness of his singing. I wanted to drown in it. Instead there is a light misting. I’ll take it. As he approaches. His face becomes thinner as if drawn by a sketch artist learning about the function of line. His hands are dainty clasped around the handle bares of the bike. He is in front of me and much to my amazement. He is a woman.

She doesn’t look up at me. She frees a note or two from the bottom of her throat. Then while looking past me she says:

“The Bible is telling the truth. You aren’t listening.”

In three more steps. She and her bike are a memory. Behind me. I unthaw and step carefully across the street, trying to understand what just happened. Trying to remember the voice. Trying to piece together the whole story.

Rosie.

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I want to be a part of it …

Operative words: WANT TO BE.

See. To me it seems that the closer I get to New York City, the further away it is. Nothing is lining up the way I thought it would, and that little girl in me that was always taught not to ask for too much or expect much of anything out of life is sitting on a curb picking her nose and mumbling “told you.” And I’ve learned that slapping the shit out of her is not the answer.  Loving the shit out of her is. Helping her to see that there isn’t anything that’s too above her to reach.  Including big bad New York City. No, right now it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever be a part of that mad life that is captured so beautifully and simply on sites like Humans of New York. The little girl says “All the good ideas have already been had. You’ll never come up with anything original. Why bother?”, while the ice cream cone she grasps desperately in her right hand melts. She says I don’t deserve it. My resumé begs to differ.

In three weeks, I’ll make my way from the underbelly of Upstate New York into the New York metropolitan area.  I currently have no job prospects and far less money in my bank account than I’d anticipated. Everyone says: “It’ll work out, you’ll see.” Let’s hope they’re right. Let’s hope that the nightmare complete with me sitting on dingy street corners yammering to myself  donned in a floral print muumuu , wilted coffee cup for peddled change in hand that I have painted in my mind doesn’t actualize, or even worse (at least to me) a long bus ride back to my point of origin, dreams yet again deferred, with the little girl sitting next to me unfurling her thick braids saying “I told you.”

I can be a part of it. I will be a part of it.  You’ll see little girl.  You’ll see.

Rosie.

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If Wendell can, so can I.  (photo courtesy http://www.humansofnewyork.com   check it out. dopeness ensues.)

Truths being told, foreign homes and lonely bones.

I’m rounding the curb into my third week away from home. I’m finding it incredibly difficult to settle in. This is mainly due to the fact that I have been in perpetual motion since I arrived. NYC-NJ-Upstate NY-NJ-NYC-Amherst, MA-NJ-NYC-Upstate NY-Amerst,MA- and finally Upstate NY … again. I have had some AMAZING purpose confirming experiences along the way the most brilliant being the week I spent at the Summer Training Institute hosted by Ping Chong + Company.

The Institute is a week long writing intensive during which Ping Chong, Sara Zatz, Talvin Wilks, and Jesca Prudencio of Ping Chong + Company facilitate workshops, interview, and theatre exercises that instruct the technique used to developed their interview based theatre works Undesirable Elements. The intensive was so much more than I’d bargained for in that it wound up being an exploration into myself and into others in a way that I hadn’t conceived of before.  It deepened my appreciation for the value of a person’s story and challenged me to accept perspectives different than my own. I was allowed to sit into myself as a writer/theatre artist uninterrupted something I had not done in what felt like months. The potential for my work has been broadened as a result. Simply put, it was wonderful. But …

Now I am still. And it is quiet. And I live here …

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Schenectady’s answer to the Bates Motel.  Ok, so I’m exaggerating. I’m a writer goddamit, its what I do. It is different though, and feels more like a squatter’s colony than a place anyone should call home.  There is a weird hodgepodge of folks here. Some are professionals, like me. Some are professionals, like hookers.  There are displaced families, this makes me sad. Then there’s the park. The park with its rusty playground equipment long since abandoned by children. The park with it’s seedy goings on after sun down. The fucking park that is the view from my window hence I always have to keep the blinds drawn! Shitnhellfirefuck!

I know … I know what you’re thinking. “Well why didn’t you ask your company for better accommodations?” or “Why don’t you ask to be moved to a different room?” The answer to question one is: I’m on the bus.  This is the only “extended living” situation that’s on the bus line. Question two? It’s quite in this room. If I roll the dice to be moved elsewhere I may end up floor mates with the aforementioned “professional” and have to deal with all the undesirable elements that come with that situation … but damn wouldn’t that make for a good script! *digresses*

You wanna know the truth?  I miss home. There is still so much up in the air about school, and work, and finding an apartment.  This is scary. I don’t like it. There is not the comfort of my cats meeting me at the door when I get home. There is no Zion busting into my room demanding that I listen to the new rhyme he wrote. My mother is not speaking to me with the glare from her iPad on her face as she peruses weekly sales seculars online.

I’m incredibly lonely and afraid that at any minute this whole thing will come tumbling down on my head and I’ll disappear. Maybe in that fucking park even.  That’s it the park is gonna eat me alive! They’ll find my mangled flesh scattered between the rickety swings and the rotted through chain link fence outside my window.  Ok, I’m doing it again … the exaggeration thing. I’ll stop. Right now. The money will come or it won’t. School will work out or it won’t. Either way, life will go on and I will continue to do my part to follow the path I’ve been put on and keep the faith. More to come … if the park doesn’t swallow me whole ;).

Rosie.

Under Construction

histroic marker onSchgneectady foubdingI have just spent my first week on assignment in a town in upstate New York called Schenectady.  The name sounded vaguely familiar when the company I worked for mentioned it. I wondered briefly was it was near Peekskill New York where Ms. Garrett and the girls spent their time pondering the facts of life.  I was struck by something, not literally although by all accounts this would have been possible, when I initially arrived. The streets were gutted from here to hell all in various states of reconstruction a good amount of the damage likely due to that bad bitch Sandy. The buildings though, are gorgeous old, beautiful, and well made. There seemed to be all manner of culture to dig into at the town’s center.  I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the city even though by broader assessment it seemed to have obvious deeper social issues that no amount of cosmetic repair could fix.

Wanting to know more, I decided to ask the people who lived here. My new co-workers, cab drivers, and pretty much anyone who would talk to me without averting their eye would get my question. “What’s it like here?” The vast majority of the time I’d get a deep sigh or a shake of the head. No one really seemed as taken by the hidden beauty of this joint but me. The concerns were valid and ranged from drugs, crime, and police corruption so bad that the possibility of shutting down their entire department to bring in state police was very real. It made me a little sad for Schenectady a town that seemed, at least from my point of view, to be simmering just under the surface with potential. Then it made me think about the times people come into Charlotte and if I’m having a “fuck Charlotte” kinda day, I do nothing but rumble on and on about how terrible the city is potentially ruining all the newness for the at that point unfettered newcomer.

The truth is I love Charlotte. Its true wealth comes not from its banking core but its human resources. Charlotte is a wellspring of talent and diversity that if tapped into could not only change the way the world views it, but the way Charlotteans view themselves.  Maybe this is the case with Schenectady? Maybe if the people here weren’t so bogged down in the problems of the city they could view it through the new eyes.  Maybe that view could make Schenectadians (please say this is correct nomenclature cause it’s  AWESOME) want to invest in a sociocultural facelift.  Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist that is gaining new appreciation for her own city via the examination of another. Either way, I’m here for 6 more weeks, I’ll try the tuna plate and keep exploring!

Rosie.

And away we go …

Much of my journey to grad school has felt like this unfortunate witch at 1:09 but, at long last with a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, prayers, yoga, conversations, well wishes, donated funds, donated time, and LOVE. I am FINALLY on my way. Although I’m less than two hours away from boarding the plane it still feels surreal to me.  I imagine it will for the upcoming weeks as well as I attempt to settle into my “new normal”.

I just want to take a second to thank all the friends and family that believed in me and in my talent along the way.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If I could bottle up people’s belief in me and sell it on the open market, I’d be a millionaire. I wish each of you all the love and light that you can stand.  It is my hope that everything you see in me you see in yourselves. I have amazing people in my life and I am grateful to the source of all that is that I have the awareness today to see that.  I won’t be long winded as the hardest good-byes are still in front of me: My Mother & My Son I didn’t think it was possible to love two people as much as I love them and I hope like hell that I make them proud.

Much love to any and all eyes that read this. Let my story not be apart from your own but rather living proof of what can happen when, you Harness Your Superpower™

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Rosie.