may.2.2013 the tiny tour
in my head, i called this trip my tiny tour. only three shows, three destinations, one week. but. it wasn't tiny at all. it was big and wild and smelly and fun.
THIS was the plan.
hop on a plane with angel, my partner in crime.
play at boston university with some other kickass women.
go to miami. hop on a cruise ship for five days. play for the lesboz of "femme fantasy"
come back to miami. play at barry university.
THIS is what happened.
get up at 5am. drive to airport parking. shuttle to the airport. check in. finally. we're on the plane, heading towards boston. our seats have little tvs installed, so when angel falls asleep, i channel surf. flip to cnn. oh shit. BOSTONBOMMERMANHUNTSHOOTOUTPANICINTHESTREETSPANICNOWNOWNOW is basically all i see on the screen. fox news, same thing. nbc, same thing. i had no idea what was going on until we're in the air, and angel and i slowly realize that we're flying into chaos. we land. i receive a text: the show is cancelled, don't come to boston. nice. three thoughts. 1. damn. i really wanted to play that show. 2. damn. i just lost a lot of money because i don't have a booking or cancellation fee because i'm a huge idiot. 3. will we even manage to leave the airport?
in the boston airport, angel and i stumble across some other unfortunate discoveries. boston university ran out of money and couldn't pay for your hotel. didn't you get that email? no. i didn't. Also, our luggage, you know, the bags with your laptop, loop pedal, toiletries and clothes? yea, jet blue lost that shit. sorry. So. Angel and i attempt to stay positive for the next few hours. arrange to stay with sasha, one of the organizers of the event. wait for the next flight out of baltimore, hoping our luggage arrives in the next two hours. it doesn't. learn that our bags are in miami. at least they're not lost. i guess. eat airport sushi. pay too much for a cab.
When we get to sasha's house, the stress dissolves. it's sunny. the streets are empty, but there aren't cops and gunshots everywhere (as the news would have you believe). Sahsa is very sweet, and she has beer and a really cozy spare room. in real life, i don't like hotels, but hotels are better than bad hosts. and i don't know what people's mothers taught them, but there are a lot of bad hosts out there. sasha is a great host. we sit out on the stoop, then inside. talk. listen to music. angel and i head to bed early (5am flight tomorrow. hooray.) wake up at 12,1 and 2am to random men in the streets yelling "we got him, we got him! USA, USA!" really strange.
FEMME FANTASY CRUISE
3am! up and on to the airport. again. Miami bound. at this point, no matter how much i wash my armpits with soap, they are still gross. my jeans are sicking to me. teeth straight mossy. one day of travel without toiletries is starting to smell. angel and i hop off the plane and jet to a nearby seafood restaurant. there's a huge fish tank, and it's nice in there, but we're on the verge of a fight. i'm losing patience with this trip. angel is patient. but she's losing it too. back at the airport, we finally reunite with our stuff in miami and immediately change clothes. hop on a shuttle to the port of miami.
this is my second cruise, but approaching the port of miami is still a very strange and slightly terrifying experience. it's basically a line of giant white structures floating in the water, casting football field shadows on the tiny world below. the ship is a city, and a mall and a resort all at once. there are thousands of passengers and staff, three pools, 8 jacuzzis (at least), a spa, a gym, stores, bars, clubs, restaurants, art galleries. it is stupid, tacky, glutenous and shamefully wasteful. but. the moment you forget all that, it's kind of amazing. angel and i get to our room and i am immediately in love when i see the beautiful private balcony beyond the window. (i am not a social butterfly, staying at home and in a room alone is more fun to me than most things, so this sun and that water on this balcony give me a great excuse to be antisocial.) the two of us get very naked and sit out in the sun until the ship slowly drifts away from its dock. now there's water and sky everywhere and i'm cheezing like christmas.
femme FANTASY: an annual event for grown and sexy women who love women. our fist event with FF is the cabin crawl. basically everyone (who isn't already too drunk on sun and pina coladas) meets in the hall to visit folks' cabins. we pack our wide hips into small rooms, drinking warm vodka, talking shit. angel and i are the youngest folk in the room, but everyone is tipsy and no one cares. One woman, in her fifties with a nice smile and short cropped hair tells us all it's her third year with Femme Fantasy. Another woman, in her thirties smiles coyly at Angel's side. This must be her first time too. We stay for a while, hopping from room to room. Suddenly, someone's thong and cheeks are out, and though they were quite lovely cheeks, Angel and I decide to head back to the room.
the next few days are a glowing blur of sunlight, warm water, sand, beer, and music. my favorite place on the ship was the SERENITY LOUNGE, where the ladies in the group would meet at all hours of the day to sit in the jacuzzi, in the sun, tropical drink in hand and talk. I befriended Jennifer, a sweet DC native and old friend of Angel's (Jen started Angel's locks). From the first day, our poor light skinned selves were beet-red in the face and shoulders. Jennifer gave me some mango shea butter that saved my life and had me smelling like fruit punch.
We saw Kim J, a saxophonist play a jazz show. poetry show featuring jeanette houston. Watched Trinity, (one of the best comedians I've ever seen) collect material all week over the silly, strange and trifling events of the week. someone got engaged. someone got too drunk. someone broke up with someone else. the general mores of being black and women and gay.
i drank beer. meet a couple from tennessee with gravythick accents. meet a beautiful woman with no hair that jennifer and i keep calling "aunt sharon", because she reminds jennifer of her aunt sharon and she really does look like a sharon. talk about not having kids. about dc. visited jamaica.
*side note. visiting a place on a cruise ship is like having an all day layover in a very big, outdoor airport. everyone you meet knows you just came off a cruise ship. everyone you meet is trying to hustle your sorry ass. and even if you know of the "real" beaches, and the "authentic" places to go, you don't really have the time to. so we went to a small beach. swam a bit. and went back. so if someone asked if i've been to jamaica, i'd say "sort of."
as the days passed by, I became more and more anxious about the performance. no one on the cruise (save for the music director) knew my music. people asked me every day, when are you performing? what do you do? it had already been a week on the "tour" and i still had yet to sing for anyone. so i rehearsed in the room every day. a couple times a day. couldn't hurt. finally, the last night of the cruise and the night of my performance arrives.
tons of events today. a screening featuring robin lee (resident model/actress of the cruise), stiletto contest (of course, the one "dom" in heels stole the show), trinity's stand up, the concert, and the white party. Ls lane, the host and feature artist tells me i'm going first. as usual, by the time i go up, i'm nervous. set up my stuff. look up at the room full of women, looking at me. no introduction. just sit in the chair, and spit a beat into the microphone. it was so nice. sang "anything for you", "cartoon girl", "bad", "blind", then "just a flirt." I power walk away when it's over. Jennifer, bless her heart, has a gin and tonic with my name on it. talk, and talk with folks. sell more cds than ever (which makes my heart so happy because this is the audience i really write for). sit back and watch chicago's tori lee and Ls sing songs for a minute until i have to run back to the room to rest.
back in the room my mind is calm and content. this is the best feeling. i lay in bed for a while, sit out on the balcony. drink a beer. then head down to the white party. it's good to see folk dressed up and happy one last time on the trip. i'm too tired to stay long.
stand out on the balcony again. it's dark but clouds and the water are silver with moonlight. i tip my head over to see the water below. something always makes me want to jump in. if i did, i would die and i don't want to die. it's just a pull you feel. being in the middle of the ocean always make me think of the ancestors. i never thank them enough. i feel guilty for a moment. on a ridiculous cruise consuming and consuming things i couldn't afford if they weren't free. how strange it is to travel the route of thousands of slave ships in this giant amusement park with one hundred lesbians, nearly all of african descent. i still can't make sense of this.
disembarkation. miami again. angel and i hop on a bus to the best western, which turns out to be THEBEST western with its eerily empty pool, tiny cafe and nice pillows. i'm exhausted. slip into the pool. lay in the sun. shower. dress. hop in the car with steven ramos. i know stephen from the last trip to barry and i'm pleased to see his beautiful, queer, tewntyone year old face. he's about to graduate and doesn't care about anything. i feel you, stephen.
barry. the stage is set up outside. the sun is too pretty and the grass is too green. almost immediately, i see steffane. i met steffane at my barry show in november and she was by far the best person i've ever performed for. enthusiasm doesn't come close to explaining her energy. since that show, i'd received emails, emails, emails about my lyrics, my videos, what does this mean, how do you feel about this. today, she's fancy in a new button down and a freshly faded haircut. i walk to her and she hands me a present and a letter. lizzie, a mutual friend sits with us as i read the letter and try not to cry a little. steffane is nerdy and funny and boyish and disabled and black and awkward and we are sisters and she really hears my music and how did i ever deserve this love, and don't question it. just receive. ride steffane's trike. i've always wanted to ride one. i am nervous like i always get. but there is a calm i feel around steffane and lizzie and angel right now. i've never felt this kind of sincerity and generosity. all i want to do is play music and give thanks. so i do.
talk to steffane for a while. talk to amber, a new friend from the cruise. back to the hotel. the woman in the cafe gives me some beers and homemade veggie soup.
airport food. talking with angel. going home. do we have to? i know it's crazy. eating takeout and airport food all day. not sleeping enough. not getting paid enough. this isn't perfect. not even close. but it feels like getting closer to where i want to be. tellings stories, singing songs. there is nothing i love more. so onward with my stubborn journey to fulltime artist status. back to grad school finals. back to dc. back to living with my wonderful family. in my mamma's basement, as drake puts it. but the people who love me tell me i'm exactly where i need to be. i've worked as a line cook, a secretary, waiter, anything to keep some steady cash and pretend to be an acceptable adult. but then. i have an experience like this. i am spoiled by these moments of spending energy on nothing but making and sharing art and i can't see myself doing anything else anymore.