To Me From Me (A Friendship Contract)

You are __________

Come to the realization that you cannot be defined by mere pen and paper

More

Is what you are

More love

More acceptance

More hope

More love

More joy

More mistakes

More love

More pain

More time

More love

More growth

More self worth

More love

Why do you insist on serving the least of your entity on a plate of fear and indecision?

Promise me this

Promise me that you will never stop trying.

You are not and never will be difficult to love.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda But Glad I Didn’t

“Is your heart still mine? I wanna cry sometimes.” #Aaliyah. Still on that R&B tip. Not for the reason you think though. Sometimes I just need a good sob slow jam to really make me feel alive. I forget that I miss me until I hear a good slow jam and then I be like, DAMN Cat, where you been at girl? Ride for you bae!

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s so funny, I’ve never been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day and never felt salty because of it. I automatically call my best friend whether she’s with someone relationship wise or not and we talk like we usually do and that’s my Valentine’s Day. My birthday is in a few days!!! aaaaand I still haven’t packed for LA. Don’t gimme that judgy face! I’m workin on it!

Ok. What’s the topic for today? Growth, putting myself first, work, youth, fluid sexuality, being misunderstood. etc? Basically, my usual. Well, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll do the single lady post. bahahahahahaha ohhhhh lord, I couldn’t write that with a straight face. Phew, ok. Get it together Cathy.

I was watching a web series earlier. Lemme give you the setup. So I don’t watch tv, I watch web series’. I go out of my way to find and support monetarily, web series’ done by people of color, mostly queer. The only one that is slowly becoming queer but not based in queerness that I watch is Black & Sexy TV (“It’s Black & Sexy babayyy“) because they’re dopeness. SO, I was watching this web series and that classic moment happens where (Beware: heteronormativity at work) this gorgeous black woman and man are sitting in the kitchen playing cards and the guy turns to her and says “Why are you single? Why don’t you have a man?” and she immediately returns with an answer dripping with basicity. The real answer is, she doesn’t know! So I watch to the end of the episode, turn it off and I’m actually mad at this episode not because of the heteronormativity but because of the realness. About a year ago and a half ago, that was me. I was single and I didn’t know why. The bigger part of me was like, I’m fine! Fuck it! But inside, I was like, “wait, what’s wrong with me.” It took me getting some serious alone time, getting into a heterosexual relationship and out of one for me to realize why I’m not actually “single” in the sense that society is condemning me because I’m unattached. I’m dating the hell out of me and best believe I love it.

I watched another video today by one of my favorite youtubers. In honor of V-day (teeheehee Vagina Day) she did a video devoted to all of her soul mates. She said something that I’ve been thinking for a while. I don’t think there is ONE final “soul mate”. I think there are multiple soul mates that emerge and retreat in my life. I know them and I’m grateful for their presence. Time doesn’t really matter to me. They could be in my life for 2 seconds or 12 years, sex or no sex, they are no less a soul mate by nature of intimate bodily attachment or time. So what makes them a soul mate, you ask?  Well, it’s the connection. One of my soul mates, once said to another one of my soul mates, “How do you deal with her? Isn’t she difficult?”. I think that sparked the beginning of the end of that particular relationship. We’re ALL difficult. We’re human and messy and complicated and I’ve never “dealt” with someone. I’ve learned from them and I’ve been lucky and grateful to do so. I don’t think enough people actually realize the danger in replacement. Replacing people consistently so that I don’t have to be alone to discover me. Yo…discover you. Be salty as hell on Valentine’s Day. Have meaningless and meaningful sex. Meet your soul mates and just let them teach you. To my soul mates, should you ever read this blog, thank you. But lemme back space.

I grew up in a single parent household, heterosexuality was assumed and nothing else was talked about. Most of my other cousins had boyfriends growing up and I always felt like people knew I was queer and were somehow ashamed. Didn’t talk about it, just always kinda subtly pointed out that I didn’t have a visible partner like that was unusual. Mind you, just because I didn’t have a visible partner, didn’t mean I didn’t have one or two. I was a REALLY sexual and sensual child. I was always rubbing on things, rubbing myself till orgasm. I was always touching both myself and other people. No one ever talked to me saying that it was normal and perfectly okay as long as you talk to the other person about how they feel, so I grew to be ashamed of it. I was and am still to this day a really tactile person. I LIVE for hugs and physical affection. As a young pre-teen, I experienced sexual abuse which changed things. I became sexual really quickly. Of course, black community in church surrounding me, I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it to myself always. I went to the purity conventions and just sat with my mouth wired shut tighter than Kanye’s Through the Wire. No one asked, so I never told. The older I get, the more I realize that so many people are soooooo concerned with what’s on the outside. If you look good, then that’s good right? If you seem to be doing well, then that’s all that matters, right?

I’ll admit, I’m young and stupid. I know pretty much nothing in the grand scheme of living and experiencing. I’m learning. I’m gonna make so many more mistakes. But being “Single” for the past five or so months has actually been amazing. It’s sucked, it’s made me cry, it’s made me grow, it’s made me realize what and who I actually do want in my space. I always think I know what I want. I’ll say to myself, “I want a relationship with a person who identifies as a woman” but then the universe challenges me, like “are you sure that’s what you want?”. So maybe I have no idea, maybe I do have an idea. Who knows?

Marriage? I am in NO WAY ready to get married. So many of the people in my age group, friends, relatives, etc, are getting married and I’m over here like “Chocolate Icing for dinner?” I don’t understand it. We’re so young with so much to do. Is marriage a reality because that’s what we’ve been told to want or because we actually genuinely want it? I’m not ready. I don’t really know me yet. I have an idea of the woman that I want to be but I have zero idea of how I’m going to get there. Have you ever missed a memory and if you could go back to that specific memory, you would, but you wouldn’t change anything? I’ve been having a lot of that recently. Thinking over the last few months. I have so many learning mistakes and memories. How did so much get jam packed into one year? Sometimes I want to go back to them but then sometimes, I’m so sparked by what could happen next.

 

Peace, love and tons of Valentine’s half off candy!

Cathy Xo

To Balance A Crooked Room with Black Girl Magic

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Gone warn you now. This is a combo of two posts, so it’s long. I’m listening to Eryn Allen Kane on Soundcloud. If you don’t know her, stop reading this blog and look her up immediately. “Sometimes clinging to a cloud aint as easy as it seems.” Am I feeling the feels? Just a lil bit.

Antyways, Baby, it snows outside. Oy, New England, you are killing my soul in addition to my Ugg boots. I’ve been reading a book called “Color, Sex & Poetry in the Harlem Renaissance” by Gloria T. Hull. It’s absolutely boss. But then as I was reading it, I came to a strong realization. Africana Studies is one of my serious loves. It was a concentration of mine in undergrad and I continue to study it out of an academic environment. The photo above is from my notes made while reading the first page of “Blues for Mister Charlie” by James Baldwin. It’s so eerie to me that I could name all those names right off the top of my head. Modern day lynchings are so normalized and yet live in my very existence as a constant reminder, foreshadowing my own death in many ways. Fear is an interesting tool…I digress.

Last year, I moved into my first apartment at the same time when I was reading Melissa Harris Perry’s book, “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America”. In the book, she talks about the “crooked room” that black women are forced to live in in this country. Black women are constantly bombarded with both racist and sexist images and messages laced with inferiority. This causes the crooked room. We attempt to balance these images and convince ourselves that we are standing up straight, when in reality, we just moved on a different diagonal. Still crooked. For example: homonormativity, colorism, etc, are some reactions to attempting to stand straight in the crooked room. The women I see who seem to be at the top, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Viola Davis, are all in a balancing act in this continually crooked room just as the women I see passing me on the street or sitting on the bus or subway or ordering coffee at Starbucks.

The apartment that I chose to live in was in a newly renovated but still aged New England house. It slanted downward, causing the house to be crooked. I loved the apartment as I sometimes love the crooked room that is my life. I wanted to challenge myself to physically live in a crooked space. To master it physically not in trying to change it, but to let it be what it is. When I left that apartment, my physical world became straight for all intents and purposes. The apartment I live in now was chosen for me, I had no say. The apartment is straight, the foundation of the house is strong but my psychological and mental space became that of the crooked room. Same attack, different flavor. One of the things that truly fulfills me is to talk about blackness. It is fully possible for me to be comfortable in my black feminine queerness and to be lost in the comfort and conversation of blackness.

Speaking about old dead white men and women or even young white men and white women does absolutely nothing for me. They infiltrate everything. I feel like if one asks a person who their favorite actors are, or favorite film, or tv show, or book, it’s not an accident that all those answers regardless of race, class, gender, or sex involve white people at the center about 60 – 70% of the time. Ask me or any other “woke” person the same questions, and well, you receive a very different answer. I run into trouble with academics a lot. I can give facts, but I don’t speak as an academic. I speak with my heart first, with passion. I curse like a sailor, I don’t use big words, I’m pretty much the real in conversation. I don’t like theoreticals and philosophy. I don’t get high on intelligence. I’m a low-key feeler. I feel quietly. So quietly, that it’s most often overlooked.

Now I know a term was just used that’s a lil weird. “Woke”. Lately, I feel like that word has been thrown around a lot and much like “basic”, it’s now everywhere and claimed by everyone. A person who is woke is in my opinion, someone who challenges the status quo without apology. Someone who practices what they preach. A fighter, a sorcerer or sorceress. A person who weaves change into existence with passion and sheer will along with intelligence and heart. Challenges to the status quo are facilitated by the loneliness of the life of the pioneer. Life as a woke person is lonely without a tribe.

This weekend, I took part in Brown University’s Writing is Live acting in a staged reading. Three of the four plays this year were writing by playwrights of color that I admire SO much. With every word, I was given SO MUCH LIFE. For the first time, I felt like the words included me. I don’t think that is just because the writers were of color or because there were brown bodies on stage and off, although maybe that contributed to it. The room was alive. It vibrated with creation and static. Art was being made. It was uncomfortable, challenging, questioning, unapologetic. It was magic.

As a young actor, I think that I’m a classic “artist”. I’m self-conscious, needy, unsure, unstable, etc. Constantly in criticism. As a black, queer, femme, who deals with depression I forget very often that I am a black girl who possesses magic. This weekend, someone introduced me to another person and said “This is Cat, she’s Black Girl Magic.” I had to go home and meditate on that one and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. My ancestors came to this land mass with chains weighing down their dreams, existence crushed. They became the children of massa and lost connection with their African selves. Massa’s side came from Europe somewhere, hoping to make a new life and instead lost track of humanity and created life without a thought to nurture, just produce on stolen land. The creation of all that heartbreak, led to my existence. Led to me. My very existence is magic. So yes, I am Black Girl Magic and I live and love in the crooked room.

When I was a little girl, every time I experienced racism and/or sexism, my mother would say, “I know you’re hurting, but think of that little girl who comes after you. How much will she be able to break through because you cracked the door?” What a thing to tell your child. What a connection. When I look at beautiful brown girls around me, I get filled with so much love. They too are magic. All around me, we thrive, despite our pain. Let us continue to uplift, to BE magic, not just facilitate it.

 

Peace, love and magic,

 

Cathy Xo

 

 

Headlines & Horizons

“I might be too strung out on compliments, overdosed on confidence. Started not to give a fuck then stopped fearing the consequence. Drinkin every night because we drink to my accomplishments, faded way too long, I’m floatin in and outta consciousness.” Yo. I been ON a Drake moment lately. But I’m not all in my feelins though. Don’t try to play me! Okay. Maybe I am all in my feelins. But I’m allowed! Dag nabit! Soooo I’m writing this on my phone in the theater because I’m on book for tech because I’m tryna make some money so I could go to LA wit my sister for my birthday. The struggle, she art real.

I digress, it’s time to get into topic time. I haven’t been sleeping lately, which leads to me having some real conversations and moments because my usual guard is SO down because I’m running on reserves. I actually prefer my life on reserve sometimes. I appreciate and observe the world in such a different way when completely exhausted. I digress twice, I have yet to get real theatery on this blog. Well, get ready.

My current favorite play is a piece of work written by Angelina Weld Grimke written in 1916 by the name of Rachel. If you haven’t read it, get on that shit. It is dope. It is dated. It is a representation of life in 1916 for a black queer woman who has the world on her shoulders and no way to split the weight. As a black queer theater creator, I’ve been wondering why I’m in the spaces that I often find myself in. I’m weird. I’m not just an actor, dancer, singer, director, writer, etc. I don’t fit in. I feel called to do many things. To wear many hats. I get so excited and grateful to be in the space. All I ever want in life, is the chance to be in the space and soak up information around me like a sponge. I will never be able to gain enough knowledge. Lately, I’ve been acting more than I have in a long while, jumping from gig to gig without room to breathe and it feels wonderful. I get to do what I love! But as I’m feeling so blessed, something is also off. I find myself questioning my role in the room dominated by “well-meaning” white people as a black queer woman and also theater creator who speaks very directly and truthfully without apology. How do I use my voice? Do I use my voice? Should I use my voice? Why do I feel silenced?

The other day, when walking home with a friend, I was given SO much information that I needed a day to really absorb. One of the things we spoke about, was an amazing woman by the name of Mama D. Mama D, is a singer/songwriter, activist, actor, photographer, basically anything you can think of. Her music is soul deep. (Side note: Mama D’s website is http://www.horizondancer.com, she’s dope af, look her up) She calls herself a horizon dancer, which my friend then explained to me. True to form, let us head to the land of Merriam-Webster.

Horizon: (noun) the line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet

or

the limit of a person’s mental perception, experience, or interest

My friend’s definition of a Horizon Dancer, was a person who lives as the horizon. Unexplainable, maybe not even real, an illusion, truthful, straight to the point, beautiful, in solitude. “One of the things that Mama D pledges her life to is solitude.” He explained. This threw me for about 50 loops. Solitude is one of the most important elements of life in my mind. What do I find in solitude that gives me a voice? How do I filter these spaces and not lose me?

All these unanswered questions! In all honesty, I’m not concerned with answers. I don’t always want to figure everything out. Let me flounder a lil bit. I never want to be comfortable. I always want to be questioning and living in enough discomfort to keep me active and searching. So am I uncomfortable overall? Yep. Is it fucked up? Yep. Do I want it to end? Nope. I still have so much to learn.

This sleep deprived moment is a pure example of my brain. All over the place and never quite getting back to slide A. Oh well, maybe that’s just what makes me special.

 

Peace, Love, and Solitude

Cathy Xo