Yesterday I was trying to just begin telling you the why and how and when and what’s coming with Listen & Be Heard. It seemed appropriate to start at the beginning of the story. But everything I wrote seems to me, today, to make it appear like I was so adventurous, or trying to paint a glamorous picture. Maybe you imagined me touring around Europe with a pass for all the trains. Maybe that was the dream when we left New York to give Europe a try.
Trying to tell my story can be tricky. But, I’m not trying to tell my story. I’m reading you the previous chapters of Listen & Be Heard from my faulty memory, because there is another chapter coming. But in many ways that story is my story. I said I wanted to be really, real with y’all. So here is another angle of the same story.
I was knocking around Europe for about five years with a jazz musician more than twice my age. We had previously been living together on East 3rd Street in the early eighties, just after I graduated from high school. I had a severe case of low self-esteem. Our daughter was born in Paris under dire circumstances. I wrote a bad check to get out of the birthing clinic. Eventually both our relationship and living situation hit rock-bottom. It finally dawned on me that this was no way to raise my daughter.
In 1990 I was twenty-six, estranged from my well-to-do family, a single mom in the East Village, struggling to work and raise my daughter. I found some feeling of family from a couple places. One was A Gathering of the Tribes, where Steve Cannon gave me both employment and encouragement. The other was WBAI Radio, where I had an opportunity to volunteer as a producer and on-air host. So much of what I still want to do with Listen & Be Heard is informed by what I learned while I was involved with both those institutions at the same time.
I had a sort of bravado that allowed me to step on stage or talk on the radio, but those were moments of clarity that vanished when I had to communicate with people face-to-face. Mostly I felt like a fraud who didn’t belong anywhere. When I said that Pedro Pietri saved me from falling into a deep depression after I bombed at the Nuyorican, I wasn’t exaggerating. Sometimes I was my own best detractor. I need to offer myself a way out of my own cage. If I don’t, I would be more lunatic than queen in the jungle that is my mind.
I’m not sure where that urge to be heard comes from. Generally, at first, I am intimidated by aggressive people. But the things that I don’t get to say when I feel intimidated, when I allow my fight or flight instincts to take over, those things, keep churning in my mind. It can be like racing on a hamster mill. Until something dramatic happens that wakes the sleeping tigress. I have learned some of this about myself over the years. But I know it’s not just me who has these feelings. So thanks for listening. Please make it a conversation by leaving your comments or getting involved in launching the L&BH podcast.
See you soon.