I often think about one particular situation in 6th grade that really defined my attitude as a kid. We were living in a suburb of Chicago called Woodridge because my dad was still a substance abuser at that time. We had just left the battered women's shelter a year or so prior, my mom had found a home for us in Englewood, which was not the best area but we didn't care. Living in a ghetto was better than being homeless in a shelter in Peoria where kids weren't even able to go outside and play. When we moved back to Chicago after living in the shelters my dad found out some how, and he used to show up and harass my mom and sometimes assault her, so after a while we had to hide from him again. Since I'd lived in the shelters and hopped around schools so much, I was never able to keep tabs on what was trendy to wear. So I just wore the things that I liked. One day a boy on my school bus started teasing me badly. He was calling me ugly and making fun of my outfit. I stood up and said "I don't care if I'm ugly. I'm in all honors classes, so I'm smarter than you. I don't have to look good." From a really young age, instead of thinking about what I WASN'T and what I DIDN'T have, I based my sense of self value on my strengths. I still think that way, I always have.
It's gonna sound crazy, but I didn't actually start thinking that I was pretty until I was an adult. I knew I was capable of "getting cute." But "beautiful" was a word that I would never have used to describe myself. And after I got raped when I was 12 by boys that I knew, my self esteem hit an all time low. For a while I hid what had happened to me from people. It's a long, sad story, you wouldn't wanna read it. But one day I told a friend about it and she started crying and told me "You got raped." Honestly, I thought rape was something that only happened to grown up women by men they didn't know. So when my friend told the principal and the principal told my mom and my mom freaked out about it, nobody was more shocked and confused than me. Suddenly everybody at school was talking about it. And they were picking sides. NOT my side. My best friend at the time was a white chick named Julie. I loved her and her family. They were so.... normal. She had pets and bikes and video games and shit. My family was only 2 steps removed from the battered women's shelters. When we went to junior high, her and I started spending less time together because I was hanging out with black girls for the first time in years. So after I got raped she dropped a note in my locker that said "I'm glad it happened to you. You abandoned me and you're a shitty friend and you got what you deserved." That hurt. After that I hated white people until I went to high school in LaGrange, Illinois 4 years later and everybody treated me like a Martian except the punk kids and the gothic kids. And years after that I was dubious of white folks who WEREN'T punk or goth. I'm over it now, but still...
Julie is a bitch.
I started performing and recording while I was in high school. I had a crazy best friend named Elaine who got me into alternative and punk music real heavy. It really influenced me creatively. I got my own place when I was 18 and after a while I really wanted a boyfriend. I don't think it was lingering daddy issues or anything like that that made me wanna have a man. At that point my dad had been sober for years, and he was in my life and nagging me regularly about how messy my apartment was. LoL. But yeah... the man drama commenced. I was once told that me wanting a man so much as soon as I became an adult is because I was a molestation & rape survivor and I was striving to create a safe and controlled environment for my feelings, and blah blah blah. I love how people label and categorize and lump folks into convenient little groupings to explain their behavior. I think I officially began hating being categorized and labeled when I realized that for years I had been feeding into the label that had been applied to me. My label was "victim." There came a point in my life where I had to choose who I wanted to be. I was either gonna be the person living under the weight of my past or I was gonna be a person who was creating a future for myself. I couldn't be both, because I didn't wanna drag any of the past into my future.
So... a few years ago, part of me had to die. I had to eliminate the part of myself that had flashbacks of being molested as a little kid and being roughed up by the boys who had their way with me when I was 12. I had to kill the part that cried over men. I had to kill the part of me that felt fear, because fear was the monster under my bed that had always been there. And part of me thought the choice to kill those aspects of myself was insane, so I had to kill that part, too. And what's left is the person you see today. Don't get me wrong, I'm human, you know? I still worry sometimes, who doesn't? But I make a conscious choice not to let fear rule me. I throw myself into my career. I'm completely emerged. I have no back up plan. If I fail, I'll be poor and uneducated with nothing to show for myself but some songs and a heap of debt. But... what if I succeed? What if the glass ceiling over my head was never really there, and my hard work pays off? What if I am able to travel and see the world because of my music? What if I make a good enough living to save up and buy a nice home and have children and give them a better life than I had? With such high stakes at hand, WHY WOUD ANYBODY EVER allow themselves to be ruled by fear? Because when you operate from fear, you are automatically focused on a negative outcome. The world is hard enough. Don't make it harder on yourself.
So far, I have done well for myself. I have a nice home and pets and nice clothes now. I have close friends who love me now. I have music all over the internet and some on tv, I have national commercials under my belt, I have major labels looking at me, and I am in full control of my own life now. Finally, right? So the next thing I am doing is releasing an EP. And I AM NOT PUTTING MY EP OUT UNDER A LABEL. I am releasing it myself. I have always admired the hustle of my male friends who are in rock bands or who are rapping drug dealers. They do whatever they have to do to sell their music and get their message out to the public. So that is what I am going to do, I'm gonna sell my EP so that I can raise enough money to put out my debut album. Releasing a full album is EXPENSIVE than a mofo. You have to record it, produce it, pay musicians, then you have to pay for promotions, marketing, branding, blah blah blah, money money money. I'm gonna raise the money myself. That way, even if I do take a deal, I will have more leverage. I know you guys will support me, because you always have so I know you aren't going to stop now. I have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. (It's kinda pricey.) LoL. But I am giving it up to save money for my album. So no more shopping and eating at restaurants every night, no more staying in nice hotels when I travel, and no more new jewelry for my silver collection. In fact, I am opening up an ebay store and I'm gonna sell my shit. I HAVE TO raise money for this album. If I don't empower my damn self, who's gonna do it for me?
So Team Bad Ass, I need your support. If you've read this whole blog, you understand why I never put my faith in others. I've been let down by people before. That's why I still struggle with trust issues. But I am openly saying that I need you guys, and not just to buy my EP, I'm also gonna need you for moral support for what I am about to do. This is a call to action. You'll be there for me, right?