Me! Me! Me! A Cassendre Xavier Museletter
The "Love Letter from Shelter" Ediccione, if you will. (As it were.)
Monday, June 29, 2015
Well, if not now, then, when, eh?
The time has come to write to you whom on some level I love. For being there and having your eyeballs on these words right now. You can't buy that kind of attention. Money truly cannot buy love, and so I'm very appreciative of the value of your interest. Even if you're one of my haters (hi there!), you're here. (That reminds me of the part of Howard Stern's movie "Private Parts" in which the producers note that even people who hate the Howard Stern show listened, "to hear what he'll say next." In fact, the haters listened more! So, thanks you out there (and you know who you are)!
So, as I sit here I am writing from the computer room of an emergency homeless shelter for single women in Philadelphia. Stop! Stop it right now, mister or ms! Sir or Madam! Don't feel bad for me! Cease and desist!
This is the best thing I've done for myself in years.
When you hear the nonsense I was up to in the weeks prior to entering here, you may agree with my therapist who says my life should be made into a movie. (Well, I at least agree a book!)
Another reason I call this ediccione the "Love Letter" ediccione, is because even though I'd been embittered by my constant writing becoming only blogs or Facebook posts or museletters delivered to your inbox and not published, and with my name not on the spine of a book… I was very bitter by what felt like a waste of my literary effortational units… And then fuckin' MySpace totally broke my heart by obliterating all my blogs. I don't give a fuck that Justin Timberlake and other folks are trying to save MySpace by promoting music on it. MySpace never did much for me except get my words out to the world, which inspired folks. I mean, maybe some people listened to my music on it - I never got much feedback nor gigs from it, so I don't know. What I do know is that years of my creative nonfiction based upon my life, including the year I spent in New York including certain activities that would've made a bangin' book, were deleted. Google "writers blog angry MySpace" and you'll see I'm not alone.
But getting back to the love.
I realized I still need to write. And not just write for myself. But write and send to you. Immediately. Not just write for the porpoises (intentional misspelling) of saving manuscripts to then turn into a book, but to write for immediate sendery (aka "sendation").
Sometimes things happen to let us know which path to take next.
I had given up the blogging in favor of creating YouTube videos instead (on my way to writing books). I figured, hey, I get lots of positive feedback from my YouTube videos, even in real time - folks come up to me and say they love my videos and they're subscribers - total strangers!
But my Flip Video camera got full and something happened at my "office" where I was no longer able to empty it. And I can't empty it (upload to YouTube) at the library, either. It's all "wack", as my people say. So I figured, what have I got now? I still can't immediately self-publish my books because I don't know how to format them. I can't upload to YouTube til I find another consistent wi-fi source. I guess I better start writing museletters again.
I started getting antsy. "Full", if you will, of material. Just all kindsa full. I really needed to write. But I had a problem. I didn't have a writing schedule. I wasn't getting any writing done.
A couple of days ago I realized I need a writing schedule. I want to write books, but I'm not writing books. I'm not compiling the material I've already written. I'm just thinking about it. I'm just being bitter. I'm just being excited and hopeful, but I'm not writing. Only writing makes books happen. Not thinking about writing.
So, here's my life now:
I'm in a safe place. I left family, and went from there into homelessness while living with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I moved out of his place (where he had two active drug addicts there who hated me and made my life hell) and went straight into shelter, where I had already spent a couple of nights between my then boyfriend and hotel dates with other guys (don't get me started).
So, let me say it doesn't bring me pride to say all of this.
I'm saying these things because:
- I am a multi-media healing artist. I am here to share my life. I live it, I share it. Sharing means I talk about it. Not all of it, but damn near.
- Someone will relate and/or be helped by what I am going through. It never fails. Whenever I "come out" about something, someone else comes out to me - via private email, to say, "Me, too." And we're both, or all, healed (more).
- I believe if I don't get it out, it will harm me. 12 Step program says, "You're only as sick as your secrets." And I still love that Gnostic Gospel of Thomas passage, "If you do not bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you." I am bringing forth that which will, as the passage continues, "save" me.
- Visibility is important. I've always felt that way. Even before I was completely out to myself, I participated in Shelley Krause @butwait 's "Lesbian Visibility Project" in the early 1990s and held Debra D'Alessandro's hand as we walked throughout King of Prussia mall. Later, we would work together at Giovanni's Room LGBT & Feminist bookstore, and now she's into her 13th year, I believe, as host and programmer of WXPN 88.5FM's Amazon Country, a show on which I've been a guest over 5 times, throughout different hosts. And I have been a subscriber to the Lesbian Connection since age 17, and maintain strong Lesbian visibility because I believe and I always say, "Wanda Sykes is not enough." It doesn't matter who you sleep with. It matters who and what you stand up for.
So I'm sharing my journey no matter how sloppy or embarrassing it gets, because someone will be helped, and because I want to show all sides of me: The productive, impressive, creative side, and the flawed, imperfect, mental health-challenged side!
I believe when we show all parts our personalities, we make it possible for more people to feel like they fit in someplace in the world. That they're not alone. That they can do it, too.
So, for years, I've avoided applying for disability - first it was because I didn't want to believe I had a problem with my brain. Later when I'd learn that other people in my family have it, going back generations, and working with a very bipolar-positive therapist, my shame dropped, but by then I'd moved and my plans to work with that therapist changed, and I was not focusing on doing this. I also had been neglecting the fact that I wasn't gainfully employed for several years. I relied on my partner Tom and lived with him and received rent money from him. So when he passed away I was for all intents and porpoises (intentional spelling), screw-ed (two syllables). Two months after that, I was in a mental hospital, and two weeks after that, I was homeless. But I didn't think of it as homeless, because relatives took me in. So I was in their home. But unable to provide a place of my own.
So, the short version for now is that from May 4 I was living with an emotionally abusive guy, staying in hotels with or courtesy of other guys, sleeping on buses, trains, and train stations, and staying the occasional night at a homeless shelter. Finally, after three weeks of that, I'd had enough, and started the process of obtaining permanent residency in a facility for women just like me. And so here I am!
I am happy that for the first time, I'm somewhere I'm actually wanted. This place is designed for me - and I'm not stepping on anyone's toes nor being a burden to anyone by being here. There are case managers and services on and off-site for me to get the help I need to once again be a fully functioning and independent member of society. No more mooching off boyfriends, relatives, or "patrons" like you. No more online fundraisers. At least I hope not!
I'll be writing more about this, and about every other aspect of my life I think may interest you.
But for now, I'll offer something that may be of value ---
Tips from the renaissance negresse!
- Kale salad - I brought this to my friend Angel Hogan's place the other day, and it had been a huge hit previously - but I forgot to put the dressing in! I'd brought 2 bottles of different kinds of dressing, but I left the salad dry and only two people ate it! Last time, not only did it go fast, with folks raving about it, but had started Angel on a kale salad kick and habit she's kept til now. She reminded me that the key, and something I'd told her and completely forgotten, is to put the dressing in, and massage the dressing into the leaves. She said she'd researched kale salad and invariably almost all the chefs said the same thing: work the dressing in. Apparently that makes all the difference in softening the kale into something much more appealing and palatable. So, if you bring kale salad to a function, or serve it at home - remember - dress it first! Thanks, Angel!
- Whole cloves as breath freshener. Not only a lightweight, healthy, sugar/saccarin/aspartame-free breath-freshener, it's also quite the conversation piece! At my Hope CD concert, folks complimented my breath, with one asking if it was "fenugreek"! You can chew it, swallow it, or just leave it in the side, bottom, or back of your mouth. My Chinese people came up with that one. Apparently a Chinese ruler didn't want his servants offending him with their breath so he had them hold cloves in their mouths before they approached him. Brilliant! I keep mine in an empty aspirin bottle, label off. I present cloves to friends and family as gifts - and my brother keeps his in an Altoids tin, on the top of his car dashboard. I recommend you buy them at an Indian spice store for best value (a big bag for about $4, maybe about a pound? As opposed to a tiny plastic container in your supermarket spice section for about $6).
- Another Indian spice shop tip: Coconut oil for your skin and hair. Also very inexpensive, it's a great value and can also be used for, um, boudoir porpoises, iffn' you know what I mean. Special thanks to raw guru David Wolfe for that tip, which I got from his book "Eating for Beauty." Thanks, David!
- Salt water gargling to reduce colds. I've been a fan of the warm salt water nasal irrigation for years, and now that it's not as easy to do, given there's usually a line for the restroom and I must hurry - I'm still using salt water to gargle with regularly. I'd read years ago that salt water gargling helps prevent colds and flu, and I'm pleased to say that thanks to eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, onions, garlic, greens, and taking vitamins and herbal supplements, including at least 4 Vitamin Cs every day, and keeping clean thoughts and not expecting to get sick, and making sure I wash my hands frequently with regular, lovely smelling soap (NO anti-bacterial, NO triclosan), I've remained healthy, even with living with folks who sometimes aren't, who are coughing all around me, and who touch all the same surfaces I touch. These things are important, and perhaps the visualization of myself as a clean, healthy, highly resistant to germs and sickness person, is the best tool. Whatever it is, I recommend them all, including blowing your nose whenever you feel the inkling. One of the most annoying sounds to me is of the sniffling of the nose. Especially when it isn't once or twice, but twenty times in a 60 second period. Blow your goddamned nose!!!!! Anyway, yeah, whenever I feel I need to blow my nose - I do, because I imagine there's something in there that wants to get out. As a result of these actions, I remain cold free. Hope it works for you! (For instance, after I use this computer, I'm going to wash my hands. :) )
What other news do I want to share?
- The Black Women's Arts Festival has a new office - sponsored by Bindlestiff Books, it's in the store, at 4530 Baltimore Avenue. I'm thrilled, and I'll be sharing more details in the next BWAF Philly newsletter. 9th Festival will be at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St, Philadelphia, 19104, Sat & Sun, Oct 24-25. I've already booked one food vendor: my mentor Atiya Ola of Atiya Ola's Spirit First Foods! Booked one visual artist, and two workshop presenters. I'm looking forward to telling you more about that. And I'm looking for volunteers from all over the world to help out online or offline. Lots to be done and most of it super easy! Reply to this post or message me at cxmusic(at)gmail(dot)com! Details: http://www.BWAFphilly.org I'm happy to say I made some flyers and distributed them last week. Big step for me!
- The Women's Writing & Spoken Word Series, my other "baby", happens on 2nd Thursdays, 7pm, at Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane, Philly, 19119. West Mt. Airy. Free, open to the public, includes mixed-gender open mic. July 9th features Natalie C. Felix, and in August the feature will be "Yorz Trooli" (me - Cassendre Xavier)! You can read more about Natalie's feature here: http://cassendrexavier.blogspot.com/2015/06/thurs9th-womens-writing-spoken-word.html
- I'm doing great with my raw food! I can wear a ring again that I haven't been able to wear in years, and I'm feeling very good and healthy. My menstrual cycle is raging strong (in fact, today is day 3 of a heavy flow that makes me so happy)! And the health eating, including greens and even cheese and dairy, which I'm attracted to, has been making me feel pretty good, including helping my moods and my thinking.
- I'm back in therapy and I'm very happy about that. This week I'll have my second weekly session in over a year. My therapist, from last year, likes me a lot, and we're excited to start the process of applying for my disability social security benefits for my mental health issues.
- I'm slowly dipping my foot back into the music performance pool. It has been very painful for me not to be able to work the way I want to work. Now with more resources I'm able to again. I played friend Nijmie Dzurinko's wedding on June 7 (what a beautiful and almost revolutionary event - who walks down the isle to the Rocky theme? Nijmie and Roger Michael do!), and I'll play my annual set at the Lansdowne Farmer's Market on Saturday July 18th from 10am-ish to 12noon-ish.
Well, time to wrap this baby up and put it to bed.
Hope you're well and I thank you for being here. See ya next time, and may it be soon!
Oh, as always, I thank you for your continued support of (and interest in), my art/work, and herefore, life.
Make yourself a beautiful day!
(aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
"renaissance negresse & ARTrepreneur"
Leeway Transformation Award-Winning founder & executive director of the Black Women's Arts Festival (Est. 2003) and the Women's Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002).
Musical & guided meditation albums and tracks:
At CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/all/cassendre
At iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/CXiTunes
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xrklOW
Official website: http://cassendrexavier.com