Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Commonwealth of Entrepreneuria

I am uprooted, but in a good way. Last week was an amazing lovefest, starting with two incredible features in Portland Maine, an offer to teach a workshop in December at 826 Boston, a surprise mention of one of my hip-hop projects in a national magazine, and a disgustingly love-dripping Boston Poet Thanksgiving.

However, this was underscored by a general sense of loneliness and unease in my living situation. For financial reasons, I'd been sharing a large apartment with three other women, all of whom were perfectly nice, but who lived drastically different lifestyles than me.

I found myself coming home after a success and having no one to tell. A house full of people who didn't "get me" was really starting to depress me. It was bringing up some bad stuff from childhood. I was the weird girl again. The outcast, even though in most aspects of my life I was being met with love and acceptance.

But as my friend Jess always says, the Universe always opens a window. Turned out one of my good friends, who I can't name here because he's the founder and director of a biotechnology company and therefore (unlike my cah-rayzee artist ass) has to be careful what gets written about him on the ole internets, had a spare bedroom that already had a freaking bed in it, and had been toying with taking on a roommate for a while. I'm partially moved in now, and we're taking it in phases to make sure it's a good fit, but I already feel more comfortable and better about life.

An inventor/mad scientist/business executive and a poet/songwriter/performance artist living together as roommates? Is this a 70s sitcom? No, it's just Somerville.

Being around people you like, relate to, and can talk to is absolutely integral for any sort of anything called happiness. It's really so easy.

Picture from Thanksgiving! Sean Conlon and I playing "Ninja" into the wee hours of Black Friday:


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shout-out in Heeb Magazine

Check it out:

The Drunk in Public video was written about in Heeb Magazine. That's pretty freaking sweet. I love that mag.

"Jewish or not, swarthy rap troupe, The Delusions, sample from ye old yiddishkeit music pages, and are pretty f****ing funny..."

"Drake aside, Jewish rap is an unfortunately under-appreciated sub-genre, but The Delusions have definitely arrived, at a place where humor meets sincerity, and skill meets buffoonery. Indie-rap still has new places to go."

Not too shabby. Shabbat Shalom.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm going to spend the day getting bloated with all my favorite poets and seriously thanking some very generous stars.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New music video!

Madame Psychosis's hip-hop collective (group), The Delusions, has released their first single: Drunk in Public (my mother continues to be proud of me).

Here's the video:

Cheers and thank you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Suicide, too, is a Cultural Construct

I've been really moved by the It Gets Better project lately. I think partially that's because I grew up feeling like something was inherently different about me, and was on the business end of more than my share of bullying, ridicule, and general nastiness. I went through long stretches without any friends, and was absolutely certain that I was completely unlovable.

For a kid or a teenager, this fucking sucks and beyond. You don't have the life experience to know that things CAN get better, because all you've ever know as a human being is feeling like a freak. What I'm trying to say is, I get why young people attempt and commit suicide, and the seemingly simple (to us old people) message, "it gets better," is an extremely powerful and novel one to a middle-schooler.

I was performing the other week and one of the other writers (someone I like and respect) mentioned the It Gets Better project, and followed it with, "I don't care how much bullying you put up with, anyone who takes their own life is a fucking coward." A few Facebook responses to this article, which I posted a few weeks ago (or a month or two, keeping track of linear time is sooo 20th century) seemed to echo the same sentiment. I didn't post any sort of comment along with the video either condoning or condemning the man's choice, just the link itself. Still, a few people seemed to become lip-quiveringly enraged over the very idea that someone would elect to take his own life. A few of the them did mention they had had friends or family members who had killed themselves, so of course that would make the concept of suicide way more personally charged. It's hard to divorce that type of emotion enough to discuss the issue in the abstract. I get that part.

What I don't really get is that the standard cultural American attitude regarding suicide is that it is inherently a selfish and/or cowardly act. I guess I could see situations where you could apply one of these adjectives, but definitely not always, or even most of the time. Of course, Americans seem to be more eager than most to decide something is "inherently," "always," or "absolutely" one way or another.

It's not just the dismissive blanket labeling of an extremely personal and profound act. It's the assumption of the people casting judgment that they understand a suicide's situation and inner landscape well enough to label their motivations. I don't think anyone comes to the decision of suicide lightly, no matter how old they are, no matter if they're a coward or not, or if they're selfish or not. It's not like, "Oh gee, I wonder if I should go to school today and maybe have Biff throw my books on the ground and give me a swirlee. Naw, I'll just shut the windows and turn on the oven and die." Suicide is literally a last resort for people in so much pain they can see no other way out of it.

Maybe you are lucky enough to have gone through a similar period of pain and have come out on the other end, and so you now have the perspective to see that yes, it does get better. Well, I'm willing to bet that you had family or friends who helped you through your darkest times. Or even if you didn't, not everyone's situation and timeline is the same. Some people get stuck in the darkness. That doesn't mean they are automatically weaker, smaller, or stupider than you.

I remember nights when I was younger when everything, everything was dark, cold, and screaming. The very fact of my existence, and of existence in general, was horrifying, and I don't mean because some kid pushed me in a locker or a boyfriend broke up with me. Breathing, moving, talking, walking around, the sky above my ceiling, the motion of the planets, was literally hopeless. One of the main reasons I didn't kill myself was because death terrified me even more than life.

Come on. Killing yourself is cowardly? Death is fucking consternating for most people. If you are in a situation in which you believe there is no hope (and I said "you believe" not "there is objectively and definitely"), then within that reality, taking your own life is braver than almost anything I can think of.

Does this come from something Protestant? I tend to blame everything I don't like about America on the Protestants, so maybe that's an unfair assumption. But something about this vitriol screams "USA! USA! USA!"

In other cultures (famously, of course, Japan) suicide has traditionally been regarded as one of the most noble and selfless acts a person can commit. It is, after all, the auto-destruction of the self as we know it. Maybe that's what freaks the hyper-egocentric Americans out so much.

Also, there's this idea in this country that the length of any given life is the most important part of that life. That anything at all that "cuts life short" is the greatest evil in the world. I had a professor in college who made the observation that Americans seem to be the only people in history who believe that if you do everything right, it's possible not to die.

I am in no way saying that suicides by bullied teens are noble. I'm just saying suicide is not necessarily cowardly OR selfish. Oftentimes suicides believe that their lives are a hindrance or curse on people they love. It may seem like warped logic to those of us on the outside of it, but to them in that time, the selfish thing would be to go on living.

Plus, who hasn't entertained the idea at one time or another? When people lash out against big-S Suicide in the abstract and start making generalizations about everyone who's ever done it, I often detect a hint of desperate fear in their speech. Anyone, after all, always has the choice to end his or her own life. For the determined, it would be relatively easy.

Holy fuck, that's terrifying, isn't it? We all know the Sword of Damocles is up there, lingering, but a simple hop on our parts would lance our cerebral cortexes with the same trueness as a snip to the blade's suspending string. Maybe that's why they're always trying to get us to keep our feet planted firmly on the ground.

Friday, November 5, 2010


looks just like me

I haven't posted here in a while. Partially, it's because I've been so crazy busy with shows and projects and planning. These are all good things, don't get me wrong. I'm performing lots of places as myself and as Madame Psychosis, and it's super fun and exciting and I'm madly grateful, but it does leave little energy at the end of the day for detailed accounts or ponderings on the day to day. The closest I've been able to manage are regular Facebook updates.

Also, other than performing and spending time with close friends, I've really been in Hermit mode lately. Even though I've been super social for the last few years, this guy has always been my card. I'm a writer and an artist before anything. There is a sort of contemplative loneliness that is integral to these "professions." I do love to perform, but the performer is alone, just in a different, more public way.

So what am I doing, day to day? Writing, working, mentoring, doing yoga, making art, playing music, cooking, eating, making kombucha, figuring out how I want my life to look. My future is very uncertain in many ways right now, but while that used to terrify me, now it seems exciting to me. The world is so big and there are so many possibilities. I am fortunate to be where I am, doing what I am doing, and I may even have some control over where things go in the next couple of years.

Previews of things to come:

  • The Delusions are finishing up their first single and EP. Video to drop this month.
  • I'm finishing up the recording of my first folk-type album this month with the help of the Amazing Lee "Wizard" Wizda and a bunch of incredibly talented musicians.
  • Caleb and I own the domain, Be afraid.

Also, I'm performing all over in the next couple of months. Here's some places to say hi.

Sunday, 11-07-10: Madame Psychosis @ BIg Night Out, The Phoenix Landing, Cambridge MA
Wednesday, 11-10-10: 11:3PM, foik music @ Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA
Tuesday, 11-16-10: featuring (poetry) @ Port Veritas, Portland ME
Wednesday, 11-17-10: featuring (poetry) @ Mama Crowbar, Portland ME
Thursday, 12-30-10: folk music @ Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA