Year One: Thank you. Thank you.

At approximately 3:05 pm on this day I completed my first year of graduate studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  Almost immediately I began to feel this huge sense of gratitude  for the road that got me here and the road ahead.  I wept on the train for happy reasons this time (v.s. my in ability to tolerate one more round of “show time” on the 2 train). None of this was on the trajectory for me even 3 years ago, and even when the blips did start to show, I was very doubtful of my ability to get accepted to a “reputable program” and excel in any way.  The truth is I wouldn’t be here had I not had the kind words, good deeds, financial support, and sweeping generosity of others.

To my family: You’re the greatest. Thanks for supporting me even when you didn’t quite understand what it is I’m going after. One day it’ll all make sense.

To my friends: Your love, light and laughter keep me going on sooooo many days.  You have no idea how many times I look back on our text conversations/emails or listen to voice mails just to feel connected when I feel like an idiot or like I’m all alone in this thing (yes, this makes me weird … and a little stalkish, but you knew this about me already.)

To my classmates: My special group of comrades in the trenches, who get how emotionally crippling it can be when plot lines don’t make sense, or your protag doesn’t have a proper antagonist, or when your story doesn’t have a dramatic arc, but by god is it fucking funny. Thank you for the time spent looking at my work and sharing your opinions in an effort to help me make it better.

(and to my Tisch Asia crew … YOU MADE IT MUPHUCKAS!!!! Party up!   I look forward to growing long friendships with you all that with any luck leads to us swimming in a sickening amount of cash … that we can then hand over to the government for our student loans.)

Ok, this is getting longer than I wanted it to be and I don’t want it to come off like some douchey acceptance speech, but I do think it’s proper to stop, observe, and give thanks because I definitely didn’t make it this far on my own.

Salute!

Rosie.

p.s. If you’ve stumbled upon this blog at a point in your life when your deciding whether or not you’re good enough for … whatever … fuck that. You are. Just do it. You never know where it might take you.

and this … cause dammit it’s inspiring

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Right? Write.

My time at Tisch and NYC in general, thus far has lead me to some realizations, startling and otherwise. Once the apartment hunting was done (The Bronx … who knew), the classes were paid for, and the first day had, it dawned on me that I had in no real way prepared for getting what I wanted. That’s right, I’d thrown so much energy into the fight to get here that I’d invested essentially none on what I would do once I was doing what I came here to do.  Hence, I have  spent the last four weeks flopping around like an epileptic at a performance of River Dance (I’m sorry, that was horrible). Moving on.

The first startling realization was that I was the only Black one in my graduating class. (Ok, so it wasn’t that startling. I sat down the first day, looked around, I was it.) I spent the first week and a half feeling like I, as one of my friends so aptly put it ,”the future of Black playwriting was on my shoulders.” This thought served to simultaneously stroke my ego; as I pictured myself doing battle with a hyper-villainous Tyler Perry driving my mighty quill through  his coonish heart, and scare the beloved shit outta me.  “Everything I say has to be so carefully laid out, my message clear and concise.  It’s so important.”  I thought as I lay around and wrote not a fuckin’ THING. I was stuck. This lead me to my second startling realization.

I had no CLUE what I wanted to write about.  I had a million lofty ideas that seem to do nothing but dance around in my skull 24hrs a day when was in Charlotte. In New York, I dunno, I think they were chased out by the sounds of trains, screaming vagrants, and  cholo cart bells (alas coconut icee, I shall miss you this winter).  The scrap of sanity I felt I had left lead me to seek refuge in my usual avenues. I met good people, did grounding things, got sound advice, and pulled my head just far enough out of my ass to have a moment of clarity which lead me to my third realization (or I should say re-realization because it always comes back to this for me).

Nobody gives a shit. I don’t mean this in that too-cool-for-school Bronx Tale kinda way, but rather people are far too busy worrying about their own real lives  to give a shit about whether I can generate words for this outrageously expensive graduate program I chose to attend.  This is my “dream car”.  I have to drive it.  I have to provide the fuel that determines the type of exhaust I put out. I use regular gas. I’mma get regular assed exhaust, the kind people choke on and does the world little good. However, if I use the brain between my ears and keep the pen moving in my hand, I might be able to produce something I can be proud of whatever or whoever it’s about.*

The ideas have slowly but surely began to repopulate. This New York life has started to feel more like mine despite the people and places I miss back in Charlotte.  I can make a go of this I think. Right? Write.

Rosie.

*where the hell did that car analogy come from tho?

You Are Here: The Summer of My Discontent

For the last week or so I’ve been letting it all soak in (that and panicking over whether or not I’d receive a Grad Plus Loan). After nearly two years of highs, lows, breakthroughs and disappointments I am now poised to take my seat in one of the most prestigious MFA programs for dramatic writing in the world. Any doubts that I had about deserving to be here have been obliterated. Fuck. That. I’ve worked my ass off, paid dues, took praises, and people’s  slick shit talkin’. So why do I still feel like a pimply faced 16 year-old most of the time? As the old adage goes: No matter where you go there you are.

One truth that my experience thus far has drilled into me is human nature’s constant state of flux.  The irony is we seem to be born equipped to detest even the slightest changes and will often do the strangest things, e.g. self sabotaging (my go to strategy btw), to avoid it. I at times literally have to be dragged kicking and screaming into transition. Sometimes I’ll put a toe in the pool of transition only to have Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed shove me, lovingly, all the way in.

And shoved I was this summer. Nothing, and I do me NO. THING. Has been constant since I’ve left the safety of my job, family, and friends in sunny Charlotte, NC.  I have been living a little of everywhere.  I have been jobless since July 20th. Now … in the grand scheme of joblessness, I know this is no major deal but going from knowing exactly where your next dollar is coming from for fourteen years to not knowing when the hell I’m ever gonna work again, for me is terrifying. Calculate in my baseline fear that this shit was gonna fall apart in any second and I would be headed back to Charlotte with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, and it seems that I should very well be a basket case. These are the times that I give thanks for my grounding practices.

Recovery, yoga, meditation, great friends, supportive family, arts, and culture have collectively saved my life this summer. The abundance of it to be found for free is proof for me that the universe wants to love us through the changes that we will inevitably go through no matter what we have or don’t have. More often than not this summer I’ve felt like the kid who’d ventured out to the middle of the monkey bars and lost faith that he could get to the other side. Then I’d call or text someone and find the courage to extend my hand to the next bar.  I got my heart broken. I headed to a meeting, and was off swinging again. My job hunt was essentially fruitless. I dangled wanting very badly to let go, but then I go to yoga and listen while Amy (the most amazing yogi I’ve met thus far) tells me to “root my tree”  and just like that, I am here,  on the other side of the monkey bar … only to realize that there is a playground called life that’s full of them.

The gift of my summer of discontent is my enhanced ability to thrive through unpredictability. Finding peace within while my clothes are scattered to the four corners of Newark, centering when in the midst of the realization that I may not accomplish what I came all this way to do, and taking the next required action with my hands shaking and the tears falling has served to make me ready for whatever is next. Even if I’m not, I know help is available for the Bible, Quran, Yoga Vedas, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, and my Momma tell me so.

Rosie.

800px-You_are_here_-_T-shirt

Unity Mobs and other side effects of xenophobia.

It was the 80s. Cyndi Lauper was reppin’ Cap’n Lou Albano hard.  The then WWF was in its golden age and was the happy ending to many children’s (and adults) Saturday morning brain freeze. There were the rivalries. Oh, the rivalries! Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Superfly Jimmy SnukaRandy “Macho Man” Savage vs. The Ultimate WarriorGeorge “The Animal” Steele vs. any turnbuckle he encountered. The rivalries that really made you lick your chops though … I’m talkin’ the ones that would unite the neighborhood bully with the lithe bookworm whose ass he’d just kicked the Friday afternoon before; were the USA vs. the “Evil Foreigner” grudge matches .  The USA would usually be represented by the Sergeant Slaughters or  The Hulk Hogans of the world. The  “Evil Foreigner” would be represented by some one like say, The Iron Sheik. The shit felt real as hell too. It felt like the world was going to end and evil would run rampant throughout the planet if Sergeant Slaughter got snared in The Sheik’s deadly Camel Clutch.

This sort of sentiment is not new and it echoes throughout American life. It’s like the US can’t find shit else to unite about except a tragedy reigned down upon our innocent souls by a real or imagined demonic boogie men (exclusively from somewhere else, because you can’t honest and for true be American and evil simultaneously) or our hatred of other countries/races because of their refusal to bow down to our natural superiority.  I don’t say this from an “above it all” place either.  I was sitting on my couch, crying uncontrollably, and singing God Bless America on September 12th 2001 like many other Americans. As far as I was concerned, on that day, “W” coulda rendered the entire middle east dust. The fact is, at that time,  that level of violence on American soil was extremely foreign, at least to my generation. It felt like a complete violation of who we were and something had to be done, right  then, right there,  no matter the cost. America … FUCK YEAH.

Over ten years of hindsight has removed the rose-colored glasses that allowed us to continue the view of America as “Police Officer of the World” … well  some of us anyway. Many now recognize that we  may need to sweep around our own proverbial front porches before we go about taking on the liberation and democratization of nations around the globe.  However, lately when it seems every week POTIS is headed to another American city to give a speech of condolence and empowerment, the Unity Mob mentality seems to have grown and mutated (with the help of social media of course) into this beastly caricature of stock American values that rages like a new pimple for about a week, but is salved by a healthy dose of baby KimYe coverage.

As horrible as I felt about what happened in Boston, I could not help but cringe while listening  to the post capture rhetoric that began to sound like Oscar speeches. It’s fantastic that they caught this guy alive, and that we’ll  hopefully be able to peek into the mind of people like him to find out why they carry out horrific attacks like the one at the marathon, but does there need to be an exaggerated sense of celebration in a major American city being on lock down (to the tune I’ve heard of $33 million a day?!)  There were Lock Down Parties.  Jesus M. H. Christ what does it all mean?

At this point, I’ve become a little unpatriotic to some, sacrilegious to others,  and probably both to Newt Gingrich who would probably call me an ungrateful black slut if I ever made it onto his radar, but I would really like to know where the extended man hunts are for the crime trodden streets of the inner city of Chicago? Do they  not occur because you can’t encapsulate the issues of the inner city into a neatly boxed media package that can be consumed and shat out in under  a week? Where are the Unity Mobs when our kids are being fed directly from schools into prison by a sub par education system? Where are the Unity Mobs when young black and latino teens are privy to being target by NYPD on a whim because the police have carte blanche to determine who “looks” like a criminal? Is it that these segments of America not worth getting fired up over to  the angry masses?

Or are they so busy warming up their typing fingers for the new big “it” tragedy? Maybe they’re somewhere wracking their brains trying to figure out where the dreadful folks who do this type of thing come from? Well I’ve got a theory. I believe they come from Us. Yes, the great old US of A that has been creating sociological problems and ignoring the repercussions since inception.  We made these monsters, and instead of chasing them down desperately trying to connect them to the “other” via religion or race, maybe we should be trying to figure out and take action to heal the parts of our system that is creating such beautiful minds with a propensity for death and destruction.

Rosie.

Physician Disagrees.

ImageIn 2002 I sat for the clinical exams for my RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) credential. The easiest part, at least for me, were the straight forward questions on the shit that could easily be found Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care textbook. The shitty part, and the part ironically that would tend to foreshadow what my career in respiratory care looked like, were the clinical simulations. The clinical sims walked you through theoretical scenarios. Some of the patients had blatantly obvious problems like pneumonia, COPD, asthma the stuff you knew you were signing up for as a therapist. It got fuzzy when babies with ambiguous symptoms came rolling through your virtual ED and all you could rely on were your clinical assessment skills. So, Patient Q came barreling through the door with a persistent 3 week dry cough, low-grade fever, and other symptoms that could mean everything yet nothing.

I’d go through a specific symptom, apply the solution that I thought was correct, and would receive the heart stopping response of:

PHYSICIAN DISAGREES

By the 3rd or 4th “disagreement” I thought for sure that I’d killed my virtual patient and shat away the hundreds of dollars that I’d spent on the exam. As it turns out my patient survived because of the choices I made. I walked out of the H&R block testing center fist pumping like 80s Judd Nelson. Now let’s apply that to my real life in respiratory therapy shall we:

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve had an opinion that was the “right answer” in the direction of patient care but was summarily ignored by the physician charged with caring for the patient. The difference in real life is that lives will not be miraculously saved by a test that happens to know which care plan is better. In fact …

*Bombshell Alert*

People get very sick and or die because of physician pride, incompetence, or apathy. I wish I could say that I haven’t seen it as many times as I have in this now almost 14 years as a therapist, but it’s true. When a physician would rather Google how to operate a particular type of life support rather than ask the real live person on duty who has experience with the equipment how to proceed (yes, this happened … to ME), then there is a major problem with how the healthcare team functions and the real losers in this game are, as always, patients. Do I blame all physicians? No.

I blame the set up of the healthcare “system”. Doctors are all too often placed in a position where they cannot be vulnerable, where they can’t say “I don’t know” or appear not to, hell where a patient with no medical knowledge whatsoever can waltz into their office and tell them what to prescribe. This type of system sets doctors up to be on the defensive. They have the image of the authoritarian on all things medical to uphold after all. It’s a sucky conundrum and a large chunk of the reason why I didn’t proceed to medical school.

The only solution I see in this age of information where the patient truly is more well versed about their disease process than the doctor, is a more team based approach where the doctor is still at the helm, but know when to trust the advice of specialist that have seen certain things a time or two more that she/he has. I’ve seen this set up before, mainly at teaching hospitals, and from what I’ve experienced it works. Granted, it then places the responsibility for competency in the lap of staff, but I’d rather have my opinion respected and expected than to just be a “knob turner” at the mercy of a doctor who is burned out, apathetic, and just doesn’t want to be called anymore. Mutual respect to the benefit of those we are charged to care for: Is that too much to ask? Me thinkest not.

Rosie.

It ain’t about Django …

I and apparently thousands of other Americans went to watch Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchanged over the Christmas holiday.  This post is not about that film … really.  It is about why the film, like it or not, is an important move forward in the discussion of who tells the stories of blacks in America and at what cost.  Hollywood (film and television) for better or worse is how many people globally are exposed to African Americans and/or African American culture.  If one keeps in mind the images of African Americans that are put out through these vehicles it is no surprise that we are highly misunderstood by the much of  world at large. The fact is the “African American Experience” is as broad and diverse as the people who live it. This is a fact that is often over looked or blatantly disregarded to the detriment of Blacks in America.

Our story is this country’s dirty laundry, shoved aside, hid under humor, rage, and stock characters but never fully exposed or wholly understood.  Whose responsibility is it to tell the story of blacks in America?  The most logical answer would seem to be the people that have walked through it.  The next questions could then be:  “which” people?  Black people, white people, hell the entire country for that matter has some level of interest/perspective in African American history.  There are as many “truths” as there are people, but what I feel cannot and should not be discounted or disrespected in the telling of any  story of Blacks in America is the ugliness of the past and it’s legacy that bleeds into the Black American existence to this day.

Even then the question of what counts as “disrespect” lingers.  It’s all too sordid and was the main reason I left Django Unchained mildly enraged and only vaguely entertained. For me it just leaves the flood gates open for random violation of a history that has already been looted and pillaged beyond recognition. (See shit like this:

DjangoGame… *sigh*)

I wanted lay into their asses something awful, but what would be the point? There is no united front of black folks that are prepared to shut down the Hollywood machine on the strength of disrespect of our culture. (see: Jews vs. Mel Gibson‘s career)

What is there to do if anything about protecting, preserving, and presenting a diverse view of what it is to be Black in America?  Well from where I sit there are a few options:

1.  Tell my own Black story as open and honestly as I can and do my best to ensure  it reaches somebody then somebody else then somebody else …

2.  Stop depending on/expecting Hollywood to tell your, my, our “truth” (see: Awkward Black Girl)  They don’t give a shit bout nothing but a dollar, period.  If they think it’ll put asses in seats … it’ll get made.

3.  Stop feeling like it is our responsibility to make people out side our race and culture understand us. Fuck that.  We have no control over how people are going think or feel about us. If they really want to understand “the black community”* then they better damn well get off their asses and do the research.

Okay, I think I got it all out. At least for now … until the next bit of unintentional bigotry surfaces … which is probably goin’ down right now at some hipster drinking establishment in Williamsburg. (ugggh!)

Rosie.

* this term should be outlawed and those insisting on using it systematically tortured … but that’s another post all together.
 
http://youtu.be/aAthMi5Kz5g

V is for Vagina. Keep your religion and laws out of mine.

I was absolutely BUSTING to be in the middle of the melee that is the DNC in CLT when I arrived in Uptown Charlotte this past Tuesday. No sooner than my feet hit the pavement had I been greeted by the mad bullhorn ravings of the pro-lifers. They gnashed their terrible teeth, roared their terrible roars, rolled their terrible eyes, and brandished their terrible photos of mangled fetuses.  They called the president a Muslim as if it were the most wicked thing one could be. They said “Mmmmussslim”  in a tone that eerily mimicked the sound of the word Nigger in pre-civil rights Alabama.  Then in the next breath  spoke about the loving redemption to be found in Christ and how we must protect our children  against the threat posed  by the Obama administration.

For my money, the pro-lifers are far more threatening and imposing than any presidential administration I’ve ever lived through. It is not their religion, but more so the application of it that is frightening.  Using the Bible/Christianity to justify dictating a woman’s reproductive rights  mirrors the mentality used to justify the enslavement of an entire race of people.  It’s that “white-male-forefather” mentality re-imagined and thinly veiled.  It implies that there is one moral code that applies universally when that simply isn’t true.

While there are certain things that tend to apply across cultures (e.g. though shalt not kill, steal etc.) almost everything else really depends on the views of the individuals or groups within a culture.  When those “views” impeded on individual human rights then it’s time to re-evaluate those views; as was done with slavery, as was done during women’s suffrage … Oh wait, we have dealt with this shit already (See Roe vs. Wade).  Then, as was stated and re-stated during speeches and discussions after last night’s DNC coverage, “Why in the hell are we still talking about it?”

My theory:  Because  of those damn monsters!  Those control seeking, white-male-paternalistic monsters inside the minds and hearts of certain men. They  continue to seek to make their religion, their morals, their values the law of the land, all while conveniently forgetting this patch of green wasn’t theirs to begin with.  They resist the inevitable transitions happening in this country sometimes aloud with bullhorns, hellfire, and brimstone or sometimes quietly with laws and legislation designed to “protect” women and children.  Well I, as a woman and the descendant of those that were “owned”, would like to suggest that these folk shove their ideology up their asses.

I’m a grown woman who is mentally intact (on most days).  I’m fully capable of making my own decisions (“right” or “wrong”) about my body. I will resist at the cellular level any attempt to control, dominate, suppress, undermine or otherwise violate my Barbara Goodbush or the body in which she resides. I would hope any woman in her right mind would do the same.

Rosie.

The word of the day is VAGINA. Can you say that Vuh J-eye Nuuuh