Category Archives: Creativity

And I Stare at My Cat a lot: A Gratitude List

I can’t say that I prefer working from home because the nature of what I do is hard to translate over this format. But I do like that any minute I need to step away, my surroundings are immediately calming for me. I’ve have moments of tight chestedness and stomach flipping anxiety since this all began a week ago. Unexpected things have been revealed as a result of this situation and I have had to initiate things I never thought I would have perviously. It really helped me when these things were happening to know that I could just go into my room for a moment and close my eyes or cry or laugh, or laugh and cry at the same time which has happened as well.

Today I got on a Facebook live hosted by my dear friend Cecelia Falls who shared tips, exercises and resources for people dealing with anxiety at this unprecedented, scary, and deeply destabilizing time. It was so wonderful just to see Cece’s face and I’ve always found her voice to be very calming.  I came away feeling inspired to write short gratitude list of things that made me feel good and smile today.

Face-Timing with a co-worker who is not on my team

Just shooting the shit with a co-worker pal who is marginally involved in my work was such a relief! It was so good to see her face in real time. I’ve only been in contact with the people on my immediate team for the past two weeks and that’s been a lot. As laid back as you would think working from home would be, I’m still very aware of the the way tension shapes my body when I’m talking with people I have to have my guard up around, people I don’t feel I can fully trust. When I talked with this co-worker, someone I haven’t even know for very long, I just felt like I could let down about two layers. It was just refreshing to let myself breath in a conversation that wasn’t about updates and data entry and trouble shooting and…you get the drift.

My Husband

My husband, already quite the germaphobe is on really high alert right now. I have resist the urge not to shout “OKAAAAY DAD!” at him on the daily. I have to keep reminding myself that even if I sometimes feel like he’s doing the most he’s just trying to protect me and everyone he loves in the best way he can. And at a time like this, too much is never enough. He loves me. He’s not trying to control me. The difference can sometimes be hard to discern for many of us, for a myriad of reasons that we need to unlearn immediately.

Music/Dancing: A DJ Really Can Save Your Life

I don’t need an excuse to dance even to music I haven’t selected or curated. I dance to the music that plays during the video games my husband plays in the evening. They’re usually sports,  and they play some of the best rap, dance hip hop tracks and I’m always just bopping around to that unconsciously. The now infamous IG Live DJ set by D-Nice has been an amazing way to get loose and dance to amazingly beautifully curated set list of R&B and hip hop classics old recent. Quest Love’s IG Live afterparty was also legendary. And I’m sure many other DJs are going live for as long as it takes.  This also signals my body to relax again, that it’s okay to feel safe again.

My Cat

I stare at my cat a lot. I mean I play with my cat a lot, pick him up a lot, kiss him a lot, snuggle him and pet him a lot. But I also stare at him a lot. I watch him, watching life. I watch him engaging with life, the things he pays attention to, the way he behaves when he’s on alert, when he feels tense, what makes him feel comfortable, what makes him feel safe. I never get tired of watching him sleep at the foot of our bed throughout the day. I wonder if he has a clue of how therapeutic (though a big pain on occasion, ie every morning around 5am) he is for both me and my husband. We both go to him to hold him, pet him, scratch under his chin, ease his tension or just watch him sleep and in turn it makes us feel more calm, less tense, less angry and less self fixated in general. Here is this creature curled up in an endless series of sleep shapes, trusting and vulnerable, aware of our presence and just as tolerant of what may seem like our strange behavior to him. He’s okay. We’re taking care of him. We’re okay. We’re taking care of each other.

 

 

Frames vs Snapshots

I went on my second Urban Photographers Walk last weekend. Via the Meet Up app, it is hosted by the energetic, immensely talented and delightfully hospitable Ron Louis. I learned about it from my favorite cousin in law last year. It’s a group of photographers at all levels shooting with SLRs, film and cellphone cameras called together by Ron once a month to different places in the Tri State area to take and make pictures. It’s a great thing to be able to do something you love in community. I met a guy there who lives in my building! And he’s an amazing photographer! I would never have known.

This particular walk was in Soho one of my favorite places for taking pictures on perhaps one of the nicest days we’ve had in NYC since Christmas. We visited several photo galleries as part of the walk, the first of which was a framing gallery.

Ron talked about how we should think about printing and framing our own photos and displaying them in our homes. This is something my dad has done for years. Photography has been his passion since before I was born and though it took me years to get the bug myself (I’ve been serious since 2008) I’ve never really taken seriously the idea of framing my images in any but the most generic ways, you know like small frames on my desk or the home coffee table. It made me think about what images I’ve taken that I would consider worthy of large scale framing. This is not me saying that snapshots are not frame worthy. I love snapshots and photos taken on the move. Good street photographers are dope as hell and galleries are full of amazing images that would not have been considered for framing decades ago. But that’s the thing that I’m curious about. Understanding that the process of taking tons of photos may be necessary in order to find two incredible ones is integral for me. I truly believe that among the many, there really are only a few that can tell a story in a way none of the others can. And it’s one of the many things about photography that’s kept me engaged and curious for so long.

Thanks to smart phone technology, the number of people with the capacity to take photos is at its highest and camera phone technology will only continue to improve.

We will take gazillions of photos that we will never even see, let alone look at more than once. But always with photographers, is the fact that on assignment, self given or commissioned, we can take hundreds to thousands of photos and only a small handful will meet the standards we seek or capture what we sought to capture or accidentally reveal something we never even imagined.

Many years ago I did dabble in self publishing photo books from my images at the time but after the Soho walk I created a “Print” album in my phone of images I would consider getting framed.

I have a total of 28,735 “Recents” in my phone album. Presently I have 18 images in my “Print” folder.

This also makes me think more about how I want to be shooting in 2020, for what purpose and also what human subjects I like to photograph and what they inspire in me. I want to think more about what it means to photograph things in a way that I think is  frame worthy. And I want to focus on finding particular spaces and people to shoot for the entire year. I want to give myself more rigorous assignments and push myself more to see what else is there in me besides curiosity.

Now Accepting Cash/Experience Gifts

I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body’s movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement.

-Richard Serra

This Memorial Day weekend, I celebrated my birthday by taking a day trip to Dia Beacon Art Center in Hudson Valley with a dear friend and co-worker, another fellow Gemini whose birthday is this month as well. What I looked forward to seeing most was an installation by Richard Serra called “Band” which I saw in the Social Media feed of a friend of mine a few years ago.

Dia Beacon is not like a traditional museum per say. It’s really built for large scale installation pieces, several of them inviting viewer interaction and participation. All of this is exciting to me. It checks all my sensory, discovery and sense of play boxes. My appreciation of abstract and modern art has expanded over time. I don’t try to understand anything intellectually at first. I just tap into whatever feeling a work gives me and go from there. I felt Richard Serra’s sculpture immediately. I felt it all those years ago seeing it in a friends IG feed. I never forgot it. It’s funny sometimes, the things we silently file away in our minds. Things we never mention or talk about that pop up years later as opportunities to engage, unfold and make connections.

You can find a description of the “Band” anywhere online. What’s harder to put into words for me is the feeling of entering, approaching and taking in these mammoth cylindrical iron structures. For me, it was dark in nature (but not in the stereotypical negative way usually connoted by darkness), immensely soothing, calming, harmonious and just filled with an intense kind of presence I can’t put my finger on. I loved it.

Me in a Serra

There were other pieces I liked there as well but Serra’s was my absolute favorite. It surpassed my expectations and I was so glad we went out there to see it and just hang out and talk, laugh break bread and enjoy the silence and nature. Even the train ride there with my GemBae was a fun adventure. It was so refreshing to get out of the often draining confines of our work environment and enjoy each other’s company in a  space that inspired a different kind of contemplation, introspection and exchange.

For the last 5 or so years I’ve been drawing a blank when it comes to thinking about what I want for my birthday. Objects and material gifts, though I would never refuse them, are not really my thing  anymore. This weekend made me realize that what I really want are experiences. Experiences that challenge, inspire and sharpen with people I love and enjoy being around. I want more of that.

And cash. LOL! Cash gifts are always good.

Sex With Me So Amazing

Like so many things I cherish, Esther Perel was shared with me by our dearest Khalilah Brann. Esther Perel is a therapist and psychologist whose primary focus is relationships and erotic intelligence, which I think is so dope. Erotic intelligence. Just think about that term for a minute. What comes to mind. What do you think it means?

I watch a lot of Youtube y’all. A LOT! And I can click on just about anything where Esther Perel speaks and be completely engaged, enlightened, enthralled and just wowed by her wisdom and intelligence and understanding of human sexuality and relationships. I always think I have some idea what she will say on a particular topic but she always ends up saying some truth I never knew I always knew! LOL! And in a way I never could have imagined. In other words, she surprises and empowers me at the same time. Since that doesn’t happen very often, I know when it’s real.

In the latest Esther Perel video I happened to click on randomly, she talks about how a woman has to be turned on by her own self before she can feel like she wants to have sex.

NOW!

It took 1.1 seconds for me to know this to be true but I’ve always thought that this quality in me was narcissistic and wrong because of the messaging I get from society about the evils of that kind of “self pleasuring.” But Esther doesn’t mince words. She’s not here to judge. She’s just saying it plain and she even uses the word narcissistic. But she’s not saying it’s bad. She’s just saying this is what it is that women need. We need to feel like we are sexy in order to have sex. “If she doesn’t want to make love to herself, she won’t let anybody else do it either.”

Nerisa

Cut to another woman Khalilah turned me onto, a Sistah named Nerissa Nefeteri, the self acclaimed “FemHealth Activist” whose Nene Feme Yoni wash stays in my bath time and shower rotation, the Sistah who brought us Yoni Poppin. I follow her on IG, another social media tool I am immersed in as much if not more than Youtube. Nerrissa will post a sexy random photo of herself and or her and her man (father of her beautiful children) in whatever position, wearing or not wearing whatever, whenever she sees fit. I can tell she gets off on herself but it’s not remotely similar to anything I would compare with pornography because she does it for herself, and not a male gaze. She could give a shit about what men are watching, though she know fully aware that they are. But these images are for herself and she shares them with us in an effort to promote a self awareness in Black women that really challenges notions of how we feel about our own  bodies, both physically, spiritually, emotionally and practically.

I’m not gonna lie. I sometimes will catch myself feeling like damn! I wish I could use visual mediums to be that bold and liberated about my own sexuality but I do worry about what people will think and about having to ward off harassment and other unwanted attention. Because I think this kind of expression is truly beautiful and sexy as fuck in a deeply transformative way. Any super sexy photos I have taken stay strictly between me and my husband. But there are times when I wish the world was not so inclined to the violence and perversity and destruction of the unleashed female imagination.

Thanks to women like Esther Perel and Nerrissa Nefeteri, and Cardi B (did you catch her Grammy performance?) I don’t feel quite as ashamed of needing to feel sexy or seeking pleasure in my own sexiness as I once did. It’s okay for us to be in love with and creative with our own sexual power. As to sharing that with other people, social media has seriously changed the game on that front by providing permanent as well as temporary options to express our exhibitionist qualities whenever the mood hits. In this Snaphat seflie thirst trappy culture, the average person can’t help but take at least one or two sexy photos of themselves that go out into the internet galaxy. The option to keep it to yourself is also always a sexy option. The idea is not to feel pressured to express your sexuality in any way that does not make you feel…sexy and safe, to understand truly what sexiness means for you.

My hope is for a future that continues to evolve into a place where women can continue to be sexually fearless. Because our sexual liberation, self care and being comfortable in our bodies usually leads to pleasure, joy, creation and community for all.

Sunday Morning in Bed with Two Geminis

kanyepaul

“I know you’re happy, cause I can see it

So tell the voice inside your head to believe it.”

Yesterday, one of my friends posted the story about Kanye fans not knowing who Kanye West is. I didn’t bother to read it but I thought my friends’ own written byline, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Was hilarious.

This morning I discovered by chance that the story was the result of a song the two recently collaborated on together. I went to my itunes app just to see what was new and saw a photo of Kanye and McCartney representing a new single, “Only One.” I had a happy flip out, listened to a sample and then bought it.

I knew nothing about the song but I knew it was sung from the spirit of his mother the minute he began to sing. She is his heart. Tears came to my eyes as I listened and felt every word coming from a divine place. Later on, reading that his daughter was sitting on his lap when the words came to him was just the most incredible way to start off a rainy Sunday in a new apartment I could think of. Especially after talking with my own mother, an incredible woman I love, for hours last night.

So much about this collaboration is huge. The generosity of a music giant to fall back and support this Black Genius while he channels the spirit if his beloved mother while his beloved baby daughter sits on his lap. It’s just…beyond. The amount of trust that requires is just so deeply moving to me, so fragile and strong at the same time. Okay, I’m getting emotional again. Like I’m just overwhelmed with feelings I cannot put into words here which means that I might have to get a bit abstract and write a poem about it over on eternalista.

This is what I love about music! Its ability to mend, to build, to bring together, to heal and to channel the divine is just…hope giving. It’s magical, spiritual, miraculous and political all at once!

Geminis like to have their fingers in a lot of pots at the same time. As a typical Gemini sun, Gemini rising, I know this first hand. Sometimes it wears us thin and fizzles out, and sometimes it produces something unforgettable. But I’m starting to learn that what’s important is focusing on the process living a creative life, if you so choose and not the outcome. Dedication to the process ensures the outcome will always be what it should. Success has a multitude of faces.

Kanye and his mother are still together, still collaborating all the time. He’s always felt this. I feel it as well. Kanye’s fearless sharing through art is always an inspiration.