LA: Month II

I’m late. I swear I have started to write this blog at least three times this month already, in my head. Plus, I’ve jotted notes in a sharpie pen on a legal pad at work, like a week ago. Yet, I digress. My two biggest areas of opportunity going into month three are timeliness|time management and securing financial awareness|stability. In fact, it’s sad to say that I kind of stopped using my Erin Condren Life Planner for a bit. I feel awful, but I intend to end the year strong.

Aside from the shame that comes with the dust and blank September pages of my life planner, things continue to go well for me in the city of angels. I finally feel like I am settling into my job. No, it is not on my list of things I love to do, but I am ok with my current situation. Speaking of work, its hard to deal with the amount of money I spend on transportation everyday. I actually enjoy the luxury of riding, instead of driving to work, reading, listening to audio content or sleeping.  Each day, each trip rather, uber/lyft sends a complimentary receipt via email. I have so many that I am haunted. Honestly. There is no way I can continue to ignore the amount of money I spend just getting around here. Think about it; I mean we’re talking at least two trips a day. Hundreds of dollars a month, that all adds up, and I’m sick of it!

I feel like I’m really learning what it means to have a roommate as well. Somedays (a lot of them) it feels like Franceli and I spend more time being roommates than we do being friends. So much so that I have had to find quiet reminders, remnants of a friendship bound along life’s journey. I have always known that I’m a particular person.  A creature based on habit and routine. I am a planny person (despite having neglected my planner this month). I think I live a pretty quiet life. I love my own space and the companionship that comes with the ownership of my own little corner of the world. Don’t get me wrong because it’s not that Franceli and I yield two completely different lifestyles, we just happen to have two different operating systems, ya know? She’s the droid to my iOS device. (lol) In all fairness it is the beauty of our friendship that makes this situation work. And that’s what I am most grateful for.

This month comes with fresh opportunity as well. I am so ecstatic to be a host on Afterbuzz TV. Like, beyond. Currently, I am on the panel of three after shows: This is Us, Inhumans, and 90 Day Fiance. I almost feel as if the whole world it’s opening itself up to me. Lending me her ear to speak the entirety of my vision.  That’s a feeling many of us know to be fleeting, but when it comes it’s for sure something to grasp with the grip of both hands.

I also got the chance to produce a music video that will be released later this month.  (More on this later!) That’s not something I ever imagined being in the position to do. It lets me know that there is a place for me in entertainment bigger than the little I’ve imagined. Especially when it comes to music. Y’all know my first dream was to sing back up for Mariah Carey!

This month was showing of so much. More than anything I know the work that comes with being successful. Strategy is important. Time is of the essence. And, you can’t do shit without money. Thank God for favor because I still got tricks up my sleeves!

 

LA: Month 1

I find myself navigating more and more to the balconies of LA. No matter where you are, you can look and find an apartment adorned with a patio or porch. That’s one thing that reminds me of home. I spent so many of my years on the porch of my great grandmothers’ home. I can recall the changes built around it, when there were two small IMG_7227houses next door, that now rest an empty lot. Before and after the remodel, or before it became the property of my grandmother. Back when my great great grandma chuck was still there, memories of after school pickups, soap opera watching and badminton playing.

It is easy to sit on the porch and be filled with all the warmth of home. But there is also this presence of guilt I feel oh so far away. Before I left home I wanted to be unstoppable. So much so that I prayed that nothing would get in the way of my departure. I remember having dreams that my family would experience a detrimental moment and I prayed that should anything occur, God just let it happen after I’ve left.

There is no preparation for homesickness. It comes unprecedented and you can’t place a barometer around those feelings until you actually feel them. Homesick feels like fear and anxiety. Like a void of emptiness, loneliness.

IMG_0441Soon after I got to LA I learned of the power in that prayer. My great grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, a great aunt of mine with skin cancer, and my great uncle passed as well. Up until this point I was walking the streets of LA with just the small guilt of being far removed from the everyday life of my immediate family, but this happenstance magnified that experience for me. I didn’t even think there would be a response that would allow me to assuage the entirety of that burden of guilt.

I’m grateful for every aspect of my journey in LA. Primarily because I stand firmly knowing that I made the very best decision for my life. I can hardly believe all the things I have been able to IMG_7746accomplish. Like, I have literally worked in the business (that’s what they call it out here) every week since I’ve landed. I have been a PA on different lots and sets all over Los Angeles. I secured full time employment and I continue to meet incredible, like minded people who are both showing and telling of what feels like the best season of my life. Although I miss home, I no longer walk the streets feeling displaced or burdened. I walk with my chin held high, I’m a king and LA aint got nothing on me.

 

I Live in LA…

I moved to LA just over two weeks ago. It is not a decision that was made lightly, come to think about it, its inception came with the new year. Each month at work we would plan out our calendar, filled with team outings, special events, and days of recognition. Not unlike most, with the New Year came New Year’s Resolutions. So many people have a love/hate relationship with the idea of making resolutions but it is a habit I have come to enjoy and look forward to. On our team, at work, we made vision boards to hang at our desks, this way our days would be led, both consciously and not, with thoughts and images that would propel us into the direction of our dreams and completing our goals. In retrospect, I notice that I have actually been looking at my path every day for seven months before I ever left Virginia. A vision full of quotes of inclusion, countries to visit, and a cut out of the word HOLLYWOOD. Fast forward just a bit, maybe a few months later, and I actually started to have dreams that would push me further. They were reoccurring, maybe two or three dreams that were time sensitive. All centered around me moving to Los Angeles, where an obstacle or some sort of family life almost kept me from leaving. A flight nearly missed, or an opportunity that I wasn’t able to take advantage of, yet in the end, I always made it. These dreams made me believe that I had just a small window of time to plot out and make the move, or I would miss my opportunity and live a life unfulfilled. After that I was certain. I knew that God had something to do with this, like it wasn’t just me wanting to pick up and go somewhere or be famous. I felt and I prayed that I would align myself in God’s will for my life. So, I started to actualize my vision with a plan. I decided that I would give myself to the end of summer ’17 to move to California. I prayed some more, I fasted, and I knew that by August 29, sink or swim and ready or not, I would leave my nest of home and pursue a life of passion.

IMG_2640I moved to LA July 19, a little over a month before my intended plan. The budget that I had been planning to implement, out the window, My savings account, pretty depleted. All I had to really hold onto was the fact that I was working up until that last Friday, that way I was set up to leave with a full paycheck from my employer, as well as one on the way, once I made it to California, a weeks work for that following pay period. Celi ended up presenting an option for a two bedroom in her neighborhood that we had the potential to try and secure for the month of July. Neither of us wanted to pass up on the opportunity and although we didn’t end up going that route, that was my catalyst. It left me with a date I would not be able to walk back out of and as soon as I surrendered to it, everything else fell into place. It’s interesting. I put a ton of energy into feeling like I needed to leave with a certain amount of money,or interviews and jobs lined up; yet, as soon as I trusted myself with the date, all the weary of needing the picture perfect exit plan escaped me. I felt unstoppable and it didn’t matter how much money I had on standby, I was leaving Newport News, Virginia.

There were no tears at the airport that Wednesday morning. My mother waited until we parted ways to have her moment; thankfully so, and I have yet to cry since leaving VA. I never would have imagined things would happen as quickly as they have. As soon as I landed at LAX we literally hit the ground running. These past two weeks have been a bit of a busy blur. I’ve been to Palm Springs, visited a friend from school in San Diego, hiked Runyon Canyon, and met so many people. Literally by the time we got to Sunday I was begging Celi for the weekend to be over. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun and adventure, the world never stopped, but I felt in my spirit that I needed a moment to sort of be still and plant my feet into the ground of Southern California. I needed my mind and body to recognize the fact that I was 3K miles away from home and on a journey, all on my own.

As fate would allow, I had all of about 2 days or so to come to that realization. By that Wednesday I was at an interview with a temp agency and by Friday I had booked my first industry gig, hired to work as a Production Assistant on the set of a feature film, Jezebel, through Monday. I was floored. Are you kidding me?! Let’s be clear, I was super ecstatic to even have an opportunity of this magnitude. All with little to no experience, and so quickly into my life in LA. I had another interview, (yesterday) which went really well and I can’t wait for everything that’s about to happen. This train is just getting started. I had a production meeting for #TSAP, (The Sunday Afternoon Podcast) coming very soon! Also, August 14, I am hosting a script reading for none other than my best friend, and roommate Franceli Chapman. She wrote a movie y’all so stay tuned for all this greatness.

P.S. I got the job.

#XD30-four-Lifetime

Some of my fondest memories revolve around Lifetime, Television for Women. I’m not sure when it became a family staple, the movies were always so captivating, about one woman or the next in some sort of struggle or fight to save her own life. This was years ago, before all the options that come with contemporary TV and ratchet reality. I feel like as a family we always found ourselves drawn to a space that was created with the channel. We would commune on the coach, all five or six of us would easily crowd each others space, sharing chips and blankets to cozy around one television screen, together.

A lot of those experiences feel lost with our millennial generation. We spend a lot of time separate, individualized in front of the privacy of the screens of our personal devices to the point where we can miss the chance to continually connect. There are always things that will bring us back. Lifetime still has a hold on me.

We drove through the night and checked into our hotel around 8AM this morning. As easily annoyed as I can be by my family, I love the intimacy of this space. When we turned on the TV to rest up I noticed that we all were watching it together. From Criminal Minds to SVU and finally, Lifetime, we actively participated with each other. Talking back to the screen, asking what was missed when someone stepped out of the room, or even having my sister make me a sandwich when she went to grab her own food, a lot of this day reminds me of childhood.

My mother still asks a million and one questions, as if we all aren’t watching the same movie, or she finds inconsistencies that the production team must have overlooked. There was a movie today that had a young girl treated for an injury in one scene yet in the next her bandage was gone. We still are easily frustrated when the characters make stupid decisions that are common sense, and I can be caught yelling and carrying on just as loudly.

What’s interesting is the fact that just last weekend in MD/DC I found myself having the exact same experience, with friends. A Lifetime movie was on and I was completely captivated! I wanted my friends to watch just as eagerly and I caught myself telling them what was happening, as we watched. I definitely fussed about how stupid I thought the white woman on TV was being,

I probably never watch Lifetime, Television for Women, at home. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a lifetime movie, its not a channel I scope out often and I have no desire to schedule time to watch. But I love how familiar it feels to watch it in the company of others. I now see that it’s something I look forward to, that company of others. In preparation for my move to CA this summer I’m moving back home, into my mom’s house for a few months. That doesn’t excite me, at all, but I can’t wait to actively be with my family. Sharing in that love and the joy of our connection will fuel me and I need to store up on about as much as I can get before I am thrown into a new season of isolation.

#XD30-two-We Sat

We sat. I can still feel the numbness in my limbs as my feet dozed to and fro in sleep. Restlessly. We sat there for hours, an eternity of seconds since the last gasp elapsed my lips, you took my breath away. I’ve never known silence this way. The walls in this room are yellow. They beam a brightness as bold as the mustard sky. You introduced that color to me. The flowers have not escaped the last of their scent, the lavender hovers in the air, I can smell it each time I sniffle. There is nothing I can do to stop the snot and I am too stunned, too wounded and broken to move. So I sniffle, in silence, once every three inhales I wish there was breath in my body I knew how to hold longer. I don’t want you to notice me, in this moment I want the least amount of attention as possible. But, there is no more air so I inhale, so deeply I can feel the exhale rise out of my knee’s, but it does not calm me. There is no more air in this big bold room. The walls have dimmed. Through tear stained eyes I see rust and willowed leaves. We sat for hours. You over there, somewhere else. You feel far, and foreign. I can’t feel you in my spirit, the way I could before. The only reason I know you haven’t left is because I can see your feet. Across the room you sit back to pillow, upright on the hunter green coach you helped move into this space. I had you shift, turn, and cater-corner it in every direction until you finally grew exhausted in all of my angst and sat it down in its place. It fit perfectly.

#XD30-one-Dear Thirty

Dear Thirty,

Here we are, face to face. In all of my dreams I’d never thought we would meet this way. You have always been seen as something foreign, to me. A year and experience that would both be life altering and staggering. By the time I turned twenty five I had enough foresight to see that fear rested in thirty. I had remnants of the same fright at twenty five then twenty six and twenty eight. Feelings of unworthiness, disappointment, and loneliness.

I was relieved when you brought me something different. I spent a week joking about age and how being a year older, thirty, changed everything for the worse, but in all honesty I feel the opposite. There is power in you. Like, a spark that’s been ignited that in so many ways has been the erasure of anything that may have come before. I feel invincible.

My twenties were all about the idea of finding me. From all of the hair experiences to wearing make up and being gay- navigating gay friends and gay culture in Virginia, to unreal romantic experiences and all the responsibilities that come with learning to be an adult.

I have literally spent thirty years learning to be myself. When you look at it that way it is easy to see how thirty is just the beginning. There was so much time spent pretending to be someone else, living for so many other people, to the point that I am ready to cement myself in you. I know who I am and who I want to be and you, dear thirty, are the catalyst to such a greater experience.

I received an email yesterday confirming that I am an official graduate of Norfolk State University and in that moment I realized just how successful I have become. It took me eleven years to graduate from college. I started in 2006. To see that dream deferred, complete, is enlightening. Also, it is so telling of life’s experiences. You really are the new twenty. You come with a new set of challenges; operating on discipline, facing mortality, and cleaning up all those petty insecurities that still lie within me. However, you are a shield to it all.

You give me the next few years to be free. You are the experience that we all spent all of our lives waiting for, freedom. There is no more noise or cloudiness. I can do whatever I want.

30 DAY MUSIC CHALLENGE

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Better late than never! I have been looking for a blog challenge, because I haven’t done one in so long, when I stumbled across this gem on IG. It’s the perfect prompt for me because music is such a huge part of who I am. So for the duration of the month, each day I will post a song and blog about the reason I chose it.

I’ll do the first seven days sometime between now and the 30th. I would love for you to participate with me and if you don’t want to write about your song choice, you can always comply with the challenge and share your song of the day with me. This should be fun! 🙂

 

My Brother & Me .

You ever question your love for people as an adult? As children I feel that we are reared in a way that teaches the word love without always providing the context of its meaning or actions. We are introduced to family and we are taught to say that we love them. To be completely honest, I’ve questioned the love I have for my grandparents and even for my father, a few years ago. Lately, I find myself grappling with the relationship I have with my twin brother.

I decided to post this picture, not because it’s the most attractive or appealing for either of us, nor because its the only picture you’ll find of us, together, within the past few years, but because I feel it is indicative of our relationship. It almost feels foreign, strained and weary, frayed but present. My brother asked to take this picture and I was instantly annoyed. That appears to be my inclination, a defense mechanism of sorts, my first instinct most times he asks me to do anything. But, what I love most about this picture is the depth of its honesty. The half moon smirk on his face makes me feel loved. I feel like he sees me, he is proud of me and he wants to take a picture, with me.

I get it. This all sounds extremely weird to most because the idea or image you have of twins is Tia and Tamera, or Mary Kate and Ashley, two individuals that not only look alike, but are inseparable and best friends. I can’t think of a time where that was our experience. It probably started at birth, I was born May 26 an hour and eight minutes after Kenny and we probably haven’t been much closer ever since.

Looking back on my childhood, as I survey our “twinship” I feel guilty a lot of the time. We went through all the normal twin things to do. My mother dressed us identically, despite there always being a good foot between our heights, well into middle school. In fact, we were even in the same classroom as students up until the third grade. That year my mother made a decision to hold Kenny back. Y’all know I consistently pride myself on the way I was raised; moreover, the efforts of my mother. She was seamless and perfect, to me. She saw that when it came to education Kenny was not excelling. Rather than put him through a system that would allow him to pass on and be left by the waste side later, she refuted the public school system and made the decision she felt was best, one she felt would put her child in the best position for success. I asked her a couple of years ago if she regretted that decision. She doesn’t.

I think that decision gave us space to grow apart further. Kenny has always been quiet, introverted and my polar opposite. I don’t know his experience of me during those school years and I don’t really have a clear glimpse of him in mine. I went on to excel in academics. I was active in middle school and by the time we got to high school I was a superstar. I had found my passion in theatre, played sports, did chorus, band, pep rally and continued to make good grades, but where was Kenny? What was he doing? I couldn’t tell you, and that pains me. We rode the bus together, sat side by side from the elementary all through high school and I can’t say anything that would let you know who he was.

Soon after, maybe my sophomore year of high school, Kenny made the decision to go and live with my Dad. He had always been closer with that side of the family, conversely, just like the nature of our relationship, I was closer to my mom’s side. Growing up we had to go to my fathers every other weekend but by the time we got to high school we were old enough to make our own decision. There is no coming back from that. Any inkling we had of closeness was surely cast out into the shadows that come with the rift of separation.

As I ponder on our childhood experiences I feel an enormous weight of guilt. It’s something I constantly try to shake but I can’t help it. I feel badly that we didn’t have a more similar experience. For years I blamed me. I felt it was my fault because I was always living in some parts of the fullness of myself. So much so that I have wondered how could he have any space to breathe? Not that he’d have to compete, I just feel like I didn’t make it easy for him to find space enough to be himself.  I know that we all have to be who we are. I can’t take responsibility for any of his shortcoming and it would be foolish to think I would ever have to deny myself the ability to be me for him to breathe; still. I can remember sleeping in twin beds that were next to each other. We had a small room and our beds were close enough in space where I could reach over and soothe a scar he’d have by tracing the tip of my index finger around it until he feel asleep, and just as easily kick him hard enough to stop his constant snoring when he found sleep sooner than me. It never stopped his snoring for too long. Sometimes I feel like I may have kicked him out of the womb of our mother and into the world that hour and eight minutes ahead of me. Time that he may have needed just as badly to come into himself wholly.

All throughout college people would be surprised to learn that I actually have a twin brother. Many times people didn’t believe me because I didn’t talk about him enough or never produced a picture. It’s ironic because whenever I’m asked an interesting fact about myself my most anticipated answer is the fact that I have a twin brother. I always say it, and then combat or lessen it by saying, “but it doesn’t  count because we’re fraternal.” What I’m really saying is that a lot of the times, I guess I didn’t really consider myself a twin because we are so vastly different, and not close. I remember making male friends in college and I would always hold them in such high regard. I revered the men in my life I was able to grow close to because as a gay man there was a yearning in me to connect to black men, and bigger than that, I had a desire to know what it feels like to have a brother, because so much of my own experience excludes my twin.

The parameters of our relationship is not something that makes me most proud. I don’t look forward to feeling the regret of not being closer, of navigating through this world  further away from him, but I love Kenny. He is my twin brother and no part of me questions that further.

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After Sunday: 10/23/16

Sometimes I listen back to the podcast and I cringe. There were so many moments, in this episode, where I felt as if I had no clue how to articulate just exactly what was on my mind. And, I do believe, that’s the beauty of this After Sunday series.

We started this weeks episode with an announcement, that low-key, went seemingly unnoticed. Perhaps it was just that natural, but LUHRAY is the official co-host of The Sunday Afternoon podcast. I’m thrilled for many reasons. Not just because we have known each other for the most of our lives, or because when I first had the idea to go in and start a podcast I wanted to do it with her, but more than anything, because we gel so well together! I believe ours is a relationship that will grow both of us, the show, and our brands, collectively and independently. There is so much work to do, but I truly am excited to move forward into all that is to come.

Also, I wanted to flush out a bit more of the conversation we had about my father and his birthday. You can check out the backstory on our relationship, here. I think that Laure’s advice was deeply insightful, to just be, and invite the man to do things that we can both appreciate, together. I won’t lie, it won’t be the easiest thing in the world, for me. However, it really changes my perspective and takes the pressure off of trying to repair a relationship and just foster a space to build with the man.

In many ways, thats the exact same sentiment we have to take with relationships in general. Getting rid of all the pressure and just learning to be with people and communicating with them. More openly and more honestly. That’s the challenge of adulting. At least as I know it to be.

The idea of support is pertinent to me. When you think about you dreams and your goals there is no way you can consider them coming to fruition without some semblance of support. The topic was liking and lurking. Which one are you? I’ve spent a lot of time considering my vantage point and changing my mindset when it comes to an assessment of social media. It’s hard y’all, because we spend so much time in our own heads consistently evaluating the way in which other people perceive us. I can save you some trouble, it leads to nowhere. Chin up and check out this episode.

https://soundcloud.com/keith-andre-3/liking-or-lurking

We’ll definitely see you Sunday. Oh, and I have a few tricks up my sleeves!