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?

ETC - Awkward bullyingWell 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…


Why Is This A Thing?


Image from: tasramar.com

Oh, it’s just so adorbs to be awkward, right? I mean, you got your Zoey Deschanel, Ana Faris and I can’t walk by a hipster without hearing the latest insight about Awkward Black Girl. (I, for one, have never seen an episode but I am fairly sure if I ever watched one I would probably be “you go girling” at the screen a la Ricky Lake circa 1995). However, *YAWN*, I’m over it. Not to sound bitter, but this whole awkward stuff? This was not cool when I was in high school. I call bullshit on the whole thing. Awkward certainly does not mean a 6 page spread in Vogue, a size 2 figure and alluring blue eyes…not where I come from anyway.


Image from: features.rr.com

I think of myself (and my oldest, dearest friend) as the original awkward black girls. If you had spoken to us in high school we would have bombarded you with wise sarcasm, talked incessantly of our love for the rock band Korn, and casually mentioned suicide all in the same breath. We were all about laughter in the wrong moments, uncomfortable love confessions to crushes and bad clothes. I mean, I was in marching band and she was a flag girl for crying out loud!! (And I say things like “for crying out loud”) The shit that is portrayed as “cool” on television now, I’m sorry to say it just wasn’t true about 10 years ago and it still isn’t now. It gives young girls the impression that it’s ok to be yourself as long as you’re absolutely adorable about it, and of course you have to be secretly hot. So wear those bifocals your optician prescribed, but also wear miniskirts with cute sweaters and spout feminist mantras every now and then. Oh Hollywood, you have skewed reality again.

I didn’t have that story in high school. The popular cheerleader was not my dense arch nemesis because she didn’t even know that I existed. Nor was the captain of the football team strangely attracted to me because, guess what? He didn’t know I existed either. I was not bullied to the point of slushies thrown on my face in a comical matter– but I did hear them whisper about me behind my back and in some way that was worse. It was as if I was not person enough for them to even address me directly. There was a dark side to the “awkward” because it was not a bragging right it was something that left me feeling isolated in the most painful way.

Even in adulthood I’ve had a hard time curbing it in my professional life. I met a divorce lawyer at a work function and in response to hearing his chosen occupation I said “Dun dun DUUUUUN!”  Shit was hilarious, right? No. He shot me a weird glance and carefully avoided me the rest of the day. I can’t turn a corner without clipping it slightly with my shoulder, I time my sarcasm wrong, I get sweaty palms when anyone of the opposite sex talks to me when I am not inebriated and WAY too many people on the streets of DC have seen my underwear because of a gentle cool breeze! Awkward is not the thing to be! I feel I want to be normal and articulate, and arrestingly gorgeous. But I’ll always be a little weird, a little off and a little inappropriate. I’ll always need makeup in my life to earn a second glance from the guys and my personality will always be an acquired taste. It took me a long while to finally accept myself as being different from everyone else and to conclude that I will always be peering into lives of others from just outside of the box. With that, comes the oppressive feel of isolation the frustration of being misunderstood and the struggle to maintain a healthy self-esteem. So, no. I must say I do not appreciate Hollywood glamorizing the concept the “awkward girl”– especially if they can’t tell the truth about it. Guys will not think you’re hot, you will not be hilarious (not to everyone, anyway), you will not be so readily accepted into society because last time I checked, the definition of awkward was not “super cute and fun”.

Be who you are rather it boring, basic, mainstream or something that can’t even be labeled. For every person that appreciates and loves you there will be five more that hate your guts—may as well DO YOU.


The original awkward black chicks! Me and the bff Traci (apurplepaintbrush.com)