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…