10.4.17

Fun fact. I love legal pads. Interestingly enough, I’ve long since been obsessed with the allure of them. Not sure if it stems from wanting to be a lawyer for so much of my life, or just wanting to feel important; either way, I never really pass on the opportunity to write. I’m the exact same way with post it notes. I used to write my journal entries at work on post its, in between calls, down to the call center. Now I’m using legal pads. The big ones are mildly intimidating, I much prefer the smaller pages, but any legal pad will do.

Some where along my start this morning I felt convicted, for sure as I sat in the back of the uber on my route to work. There inside me felt this massive weight of conviction, guilt that I am not working hard enough, doing enough to propel myself forward. Don’t you just love|hate when those moments creep their way into your consciousness? I swear. Yet, with as much as I’ve been able to accomplish in LA thus far I’m left knowing that there is so much more to be done, because the fact of the matter is I am only actually providing a small application of work|effort on my end, and that doesn’t please me. It does not serve me well.

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-nine-Time Stop.

You ever feel like you’re running out of time? That there are not nearly enough hours in your day? Like you have a million ideas and thoughts in your head you just don’t have the time to bring things into fruition?

*raises hand times three*

That is exactly where I am, and I am getting frustrated! I am such a person of routine, like an extreme creature of habit, so much so that when one thing gets interrupted, it all seems to go right to hell. I haven’t been to the gym in about week, haven’t used my Erin Condren Life Planner this week (gasp), and missed two days of this challenge!

Y’all.

Someone.

Send help. I’m going down.

I set a standard for myself a few weeks ago to live my life with no excuses, if there is stuff to get done, get it done! So, as disappointed as I am in the fact that I have been doing horribly with that philosophy, I find assurance, because backed into a corner, bay-bee, I always come out alive.

#XD30-five-I Do

If I were to get married tomorrow I know exactly who my husband would be. Well, kind of, and this is all predicated on the idea that I would get to pick, and that my chosen partner would just as easily accept my nuptial offering. We had a conversation on The Sunday Afternoon Podcast this week where I eluded to my marriage. More specifically, the fact that I have a good two and half men (I consider them to be gentlemen callers) that I would be perfectly content in marrying. I know that sounds strange, but when you think about it, just how strange of an idea is it?

I believe in the idea of soulmates. I believe that I have met mine, before, and for whatever the reason our stars have not aligned, and I am okay accepting the fact that we don’t end up together. Really, I have no choice but to be. That was a struggle, it’s not something easy to get over, nor is it easily understood. I would consider him my forever number one on the list of suitors. I make mention of that situation only because it’s left me mildly jaded in several ways. One of the lessons it taught me is the fact that in many instances relationships come down to a partnership and commonality of comfort, and convenience. A lot of the times that’s the sole reason people stay in forever relationships, not because there is this mystical feeling or uncanny tie to the other individual, but because they have lived life (as they know it) with that person for so long it’s something that they are not interest in living without. But, I digress. In no way is that an ideal situation for me, but it got me to thinking that I have to be ok with a second best. When I say second best, I just mean someone who isn’t him. No Mr. Big to my Carrie Bradshaw and that is just fine!  I had an unworldly experience with that man and I would be a total fool to try and compare it or hold anyone else to that standard, the level of intimacy, connective intimacy that we had is unmatched, uncanny, and I highly doubt it will ever happen again. 

That being said, when I found the willingness to move on I realized that we’re all preparing ourselves for marriage at this age anyway! HELLO! I’m thirty. I would be lying if I said I was out here getting to know people just for the hell of it. I am absolutely grooming (and being groomed) for my husband. 

The other two prospects are perfect in completely different ways. Naturally I’m more interested in one than the other because that’s the way I operate. When I’m getting to know someone I really take the time to vest a shit load of attention into them. I’ve never been a serial dater or any good at of it, because all of my energy just gravitates to the one who’s at the top of the list. Laurè said that the idea that I’d be fine marrying one of them means I don’t love either, but I disagree. I can honestly say that I love them both. I’m not in love with either, but I love them both, romantically. Also, I don’t accept the idea that my feelings for one negates the feelings I have for the other. I know both of these men in a capacity that has led me to believe that I could spend the rest of my life with them, both, I think. 

Ultimately, you can only know a person as much as they will allow. And I’ve thought about that just as much. It makes me think of other cultures of the world. All those arranged marriages, where all you have is your faith and a responsibility to meet a person where they are. Learn their behaviors, learn who they are and really be with them. All roads really lead to companionship, and that’s something you can have with, well truth be told, anyone. 

I may not be getting married tomorrow, but I’m lowkey planning my wedding! If I was held at gun point and demanded to pick a man and marry him, I can rest assured that I’m readily prepared to spend a lifetime with the man of at least one of my dreams.

#XD30-three-I’m Hungry

I’m hungry. I decided to do a 21 day fast after turning thirty. A friend of mine mentioned he would do it, so when asked if I was interested in participating I said (mind you, before thinking) yes. Because that’s the type of friend I strive to be, over a cliff. This is not my first fast. I remember a few years ago I fasted for Ramadan as well. Honestly, I said I wasn’t going to talk about this fast, I don’t want to be misguided by the showmanship of it all, but I’ve changed my mind in order to keep my focus. To center and balance my experience, an effort to keep it cleansed.

I’ve got more than a few reasons to seek God out and gain some clarity. For starters, turning thirty! Ya’ll everybody don’t make it here and I’m not interested in taking that lightly. Secondly, I am moving to L.A. by the end of the summer. That’s a huge deal. I need to know that my efforts are consecrated, that I’m not acting on impulse or want, but navigating my life in a way that services my greater purpose. I completely recognize the impact of living life on purpose, that requires a certain level of discipline, one not so easily ascertained.

It is so easy to convince ourselves that we are making the right decision. I have done it a ton of times in the past and found all too often that I was excusing myself to make the decision that felt the best to me. When I first started thinking about moving to L.A. it had come to me in a frequent of three dreams. I could easily say, “thats it. This is the sign!” To embrace the idea that it had been planted in me, that this move across the country would be the will of God for my life, and that following it would lead me exactly where I should be. I have done that before, but it’s also easy to miss the mark. Lets be clear, I don’t doubt the things that come to me, but if you don’t find a harness to stay linked to that spirituality you will yield nothing.

We live in a world that is consumed with image and the idea of what looks good. Everything is centered around perspective and illusion. Yet, life hardly ever fits that way. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be true to me, to live as transparent as possible. I am not afraid to move. At this point, I can see all that I have lived through and there is so much to see. That is a comfort to me because the worst that could happen, nine times out of ten it has already been experienced.

So, yeah. The most effective thing for me to do is to fast. I’m a few hours into a drive to Florida with my baby sister, baby brother, and mom. I am starving and irritable, but I’m quieting myself.

#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.

Lawrence Sharp, in memory…

The first show I ever did at Norfolk State University was Fences, by August Wilson. That is where I met Lawrence Sharp. From the very beginning, I can remember becoming completely encapsulated by his tender approach. His style, in acting and character was vastly different, so much so that I’ve only seen it, or experienced it with a few people. At NSU it was Lawrence, and then later in Ricky Flowers. Lawrence had enormous intellect and imagination. He was overwhelmingly considerate in his love for developing character, what he needed (his character) to say and to achieve to become actualized.

I was cast as Uncle Gabe, thinking back I notice how green I was and so obsessive with ego. Lawrence was cast in the lead role of Troy. You know, one of the reasons Lawrence became so significant, instrumental even, to me, is because of his “type”. You see, our Director, Dr. Murray, God rest his soul, was the king of double casting. And, that’s the reason I know so much of my early experiences were based in ego, because I was super excited to be one of the only actors, I think me and Anthyla, cast singularly, without a counterpart. But, listen! So, Lawrence was cast opposite Delvin Young. They were so different. Delvin was tall and athletic, handsome and charming; while Lawrence was shorter. His body more stock-ish and his spirit quiet.

When it comes to being double casted it feels like there is so much to overcome, at least there was for us at Norfolk State, under the competition that Doc loved to create. This is a lesson I would learn later, but you are faced with considering the character, the world of the person you are longing to create as an artistic expressionist, then you have to juggle the weight of the character Doc wants you to create, which at times feels like an anchor harnessed and bolted to your chest, thrown into the ocean; and, on top of all of that, you have to deal with your own insecurity, the feelings that come with having to sit and watch someone else creating the same character, and everyone else’s reaction to it. It’s a lot.

Then, there is Lawrence. I never saw him waiver. He was bold in the choices he made and when challenged as Doc’s ubermarionette, (super puppet) Lawrence would stick to his guns. He knew the weight of his own talent, the vision that he carried, and his ability to be greater, against it all. Whether he would perform one night or seven because of it did not matter. Lawrence was an actor. And, bigger than that he was an artist and that boy could paint a picture. It was a privilege to see him on stage because he was transformative. I get chills thinking about an audition piece I saw him do.

Here we are, so many years later. It is almost hard to believe that this was back in 2006. I’ve kept in contact with Lawrence over the years, not nearly as much as I’d liked to or even as much as I should have, in many ways that’s always the lesson of death. Anytime we spoke, mostly through Facebook or email, he was always so encouraging and compassionate. He was a believer in dreams, and if you had a dream and shared it with Lawrence, you know that he would believe in you, and share just a small part of your dream, relentlessly. Finding out about his passing left me stunned. I didn’t expect it, and my immediate reaction was to almost just look past it. By no means was I the closest person in the world to Lawrence, but he was deserving of so much more than just that. I compelled myself to take a moment and to experience this grief, and because we were not “best friends” my human inclination was to question the grief that began to fall upon me. I texted a few NSU Players that day, but Khalid put it to me best. I said, “I’m starting to feel bothered by this and I don’t know why.” With which he replied, “You knew him and you respected him.”

That hit me hard. I feel like if you knew Lawrence then you respected him and as tough as it can be to grieve the loss of those we love, try to hold onto the small part, that little piece of your dream, a goal, or moment that you shared with him, and remember his response to it.

I’m holding onto all the encouragement, belief and wisdom you shared with me Lawrence and I will let that drive me forward and I can’t wait to share in that moment of success with you.