So I suppose that a lot of my readers (or folks who trash this post as soon as it reaches their inboxes) don’t know that in my real life I spend time as a spoken word artist. I use the term very loosely because I low-key do not think of myself in that way. Spoken word artists are loved by all, powerful and captivating and I am just a nerdy writer girl who likes to share out of some inexplicable need to connect. When I first started sharing live poems at open mic my stage name was WG—which is for Whiskey Girl. But for whatever reason folks like and prefer to call me Whiskey. I can dig it. But the WG moniker was also an acronym for White Girl and Weird Girl. I do think the latter is probably most fitting.
Someone asked me a few days ago how I deal with stage fright and my douchey answer was that I actually don’t get it that much anymore. I really do think of WG as a separate person—it’s just an aspect of my personality that I play up but it’s not the core of who I am. So when I have a bad night I can say to myself, “Whiskey had a bad night, Naomi is doing just fine.” That mantra has not been working for me lately. I’ve been busting my ass to try to make a reputation and name for myself and it’s like running into a brick wall. In high school, I never had to bother being a cool kid, because I just knew that I wasn’t. In this community, the creative community, it’s as if I have to try to fit in with the cool kids just to be given a chance and I think it might be wearing on my mental health a little bit. For whatever reason I keep coming to the same conclusion: I am not that likeable and I’m 32 so this is it! I pretty much am who I am :-\
I had a show a few days ago. My very own show! I decided to do my own event because I just got tired of waiting around and begging for other creatives to like and accept me enough to give me a chance. Around me folks were pairing up with mentors and I was just there, alone, going from event to event trying to connect. I also had this crazy notion that the poetry community would be a world of misfits that understood what it’s like to be part of the outcasts and misfits—instead I found that it was the cool kids AGAIN. There I am assuming the position on the outside of things. So I put on my own show, just to prove to myself that I could. I gave myself my own feature because I don’t think I am the world’s greatest poet but I have something to say, and my narcissism tells me that the message is important to communicate with others. I got the flyers, paid the vendors, bust my ass trying to sell tickets, even got some other poets on board and hash tagged the shit out of my social media and the people actually CAME! I was exhausted but I felt so good and so proud of myself, in spite of what others thought, I had proven to MYSELF that I could do it.
And it was time for me to take the stage as a headliner, and folks cheered as if I were somebody special. I had something to say and there were people that actually paid money to listen. So I spoke, and I had no trouble with the words because it’s never really me up there it’s WG. She was waxing poetic about life, and good sex and heartbreak when I kept hearing the voices of rowdy audience members override her. The voices only got louder so I watched as she moved in front of their faces and recited in front of them in an effort to bring them back in—captivate them! Because this was her show and at the very least she could pretend that she was good enough to headline it for a night. The loud voices got up and moved to the back of the room in response. Their volume increased and became more aggressive. Perhaps I, as Naomi, didn’t know how to handle it but WG did. That’s what she does, she takes the stage and she says what needs to be said in a way that compels people to listen or at least be polite. But for whatever reason, it wasn’t working this time!
That’s when I heard laughter, and I don’t know what happened to her (I am still angry at her for this) but Whiskey disappeared. It was me up there, a lowly under study that knew all the lines to the play but was almost too hysterical to perform. It wasn’t the kind of laughter that flowed out with mine until the sounds met across the room and blended into a melodious unison. No, it was the singular sound of laughter. The laughter of walking through the halls of high school in skater clothes and being made fun of for my dog collar and short hair that would just never grow. The sound of him saying that it didn’t matter how many layers of clothes I wore it was clear that I was fat underneath. It was the sound of boys laughing under their breaths, calling me sexy when just the year before I was an ugly gap toothed nobody. So WHICH IS IT? How am I supposed to gain control of my identity when people can’t even seem to decide what the FUCK it is?! Am I that loser with the clarinet and the chain around her neck and Skechers on her feet or am I Whiskey? Did you come hear to make fun or to LISTEN?
Well one thing is for sure; that night I was Naomi. This woman laughing and talking shit about me got under my skin and she triggered an old feeling inside of me I thought was long buried away. I’m never going to be the cool kid—and on some level I thought I was ok with that. I thought I had fully embraced that others were attracted to me for some indefinite reason and that I’m not going to fit into the categories they choose most often. I was a chubby girl in too much makeup and an annoying voice playing princess at my own event for the evening. I bleed on this keyboard for 4 readers and I pretend that I am making progress but I feel this event may have set me back to the beginning emotionally. I’m deciding marketing and promotional strategies—asking male counterparts for assistance and they smile and wink at me and tell me I can do the work all by myself. Because to them I am just that nerdy girl craving male attention so much that a wink and a little flirtation is supposed to be enough for me to do everybody’s fucking homework!
High school never ends—this is NOT the shit I signed up for! But I am in the midst of this shit so apparently I have to keep going. At the very least until I can find Whiskey again…
Raw. Real. Fantastic. #donotstop
It’s tough but I won’t. I promise!
Interesting piece. Thank you for sharing some of your thought process…I’m now a follower of WG and hope to catch her perform sometime.
Omg that’s so cool! I would be honored for you to meet her
She an east coaster? If so, I’ll keep them doubly peeled!
I absolutely love how transparent you are. Keep sharing your thoughts, you are impacting people. I watched you deliver the piece “Belly” and saw a woman wipe tears from her eyes as she spoke. Your voice and story are important! All may not listen but the very person that it was meant for was there and you had her undivided attention. Continue to be great!
I did not know that. WOW! Thank you for sharing that with me
Great post. I can definitely relate to the feeling on being an Outsider, especially in the poetry scene. Your poetry and blogs are dope. Keep moving forward. We might never be one of the cool kids, but at least we can say weirdos unite. =)
#Weirdos I’m glad you enjoyed it. Also share your blog with me I would love to read it– perhaps collaboration???
If you go to my site http://www.cwyounger.com, there’s a tab for my blogs.
You were amazing that night and was still able to hold it together through the rude disruption.
Yes I do agree that the artist scene can be very cliquish but never allow that nonsense to get you down. You are brave and more fierce than I could ever be. Keep pushing and doing your thing!
Thank you Honey B, I appreciate you responding! It was a tough moment and I sound so whiny but I’m over it. Just had to get it out!
I’m not an artist of any kind (you know this), but even outside of the “spoken word” culture, I too am realizing that adulthood is simply high school ALL over again, particularly in the workplace! It’s pretty sad to see “grown ppl” feel the need to validate themselves by trampling the dignity/image of others. Kudos to you for making your own path and creating personal success from THAT! Real strength has never been found in the numbers of ppl around you supporting your cause. Real strength is realized when there’s nobody around to support you, except you! I love this excerpt for reminding me of that! Thanks for sharing