Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Music

Thoughts All Over The Place

I have started three different posts in the last month, and I just can’t. I don’t quite have Trump fatigue yet, but what I can I say that isn’t already being said? Not much. On Twitter and Instagram, I like and repost a lot of stuff that I think others need to see. I DVR and eventually watch every episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s good for my soul, like chicken soup.

I thought about something the other night. I was out with my husband and some of our best friends in New York. We were, of course, at a jazz club. In the middle of our friend’s set, playing some amazing music, we were conversing about Trump. One of our friends and his wife are Canadian, and they are worried about a number of things: visa renewals, NAFTA, whether a quick visit home could turn them into illegal immigrants. Shit is bananas. Then another of our friends started speaking about the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and threats. Shit is bananas.

It hit me that at this moment in life, I kind of feel the least under attack, at least compared to some others.

I’m worried as shit about what Trump is doing and how many people I know and don’t know that it will affect. But in terms of my body and life, there isn’t much he can do to me. I look at my husband and I worry about Trump reducing funding for arts and possible re-instating Stop & Frisk. I look at my in-laws and worry about Trump’s immigration policies. I look at my friends we’ve met since moving here and I worry about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, hell I worry about generalized xenophobia.

I’m not trying to have any babies, but if I did get pregnant, my husband and I would roll with it, and I’d do my best to match the enthusiasm he and our parents would have. My healthcare comes through my job and is not at the mercy of stock markets and whatnot. People are always going to need/get organ & tissue transplants. My pension also goes through my job. My husband and I have really good healthcare (medical, dental, eye, & pet insurance) through my job.

I’m American born and raised, and I live in a city that’s very multicultural, and people look at me and assume I’m from here. I occasionally have people assume my parents are from whatever country they’ve come from, but they always assume my parents came from said country to America, then had me. They’d be wrong because my parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc. are all American born, but that’s not really important.

My point I’m finally circling back to is that Trump can sign into law that will mess me up any more than I currently am. I live in Brooklyn, where all the cops don’t yet have body cameras, but they can somehow afford to have those airport do-you-have-a-bomb scanners. I got stopped on my way to the A train so they could swab my bookbag-style purse and lunch tote. I had the thickest attitude about it, and the cops were all don’t-hate-me-I’m-just-doing-my-job. And I was all fuck-you-and-your-job-aren’t-you-the-same-ones-who-are-going-to-be-harassing-one-of-my-neighbors-for-being-male-and-black-and-outside-in-a-few-hours?

Ugh, I’m so irritated at everything right now.

Well, not everything. There are moments of wonderfulness. Nights at Smalls Jazz Club are my favorite. That place is like home to me. Literally, I walk in and I feel as comfortable as I do in my favorite places on this planet. Obviously, there’s the caveat that I have to wear pants, but still. And including tonight, I’ll have gone to to Smalls three times in 8 days, so that always gives me happy vibes.

And then there’s the Sims 4. I love me some video games in general, and the Sims in particular. I’ve made time to play more in recent weeks, and that has led to more writing and reading SimsLit. I’m telling you, these little computer generated people & aliens provide a great escape from everyday life. One of my sims fell in love with a man who was young enough to be her son, but she gave him a chance because he’d had a crush on her since he was in high school. They hit it off and she got pregnant. When she told him, he confessed that their child would have a sibling the exact same age. He’d slept with his sister’s fiancee on the night before their wedding, and she got pregnant too. The family’s plan was to raise the children as cousins, not siblings. I promise you that the only thing I had a hand in was letting my Sim sleep with the guy who’d loved her forever. The rest happened on it’s own (with the help of a story progression mod).

And there’s my volunteer work. I finally felt useful this past week. I was helping a high school girl with a ridiculous Algebra II project based on Angry Birds. I dug the movie, but does anyone even play angry birds anymore? Fucking parabolas man. I lost 35 minutes of my life because neither she nor I could remember that the vertex of the parabola is halfway between the two x-intercepts. But it’s cool because we figured it out and she got Part 1 of the project done. I don’t often feel useful tutoring those particular kids, but I really felt useful this week.

I wish I had more cohesive thoughts for this post, but I don’t. Sorry, not sorry.

People, at least black people, aren’t outraged because her feet are on the damn couch, even though that is trifling as hell. If you think the outrage is about feet, then you CLEARLY don’t watch porn, didn’t hang out with black guys and white grls in college, are naive about the politics/optics/history of black men/white women and white people/black people as a whole and are unfamiliar with the basic socialization of women and body language. I won’t call her a thot. But is she thotting? Well. 💅🏾 Get ya damn feet off the couch and close your legs, ma’am. At least TRY to look like a professional woman. You’re supposed to lean in, not bust it open. Part of what’s so infuriating of this is her casual comfort like this room of college presidents is the damn help. It’s like, you’re changing and half naked and a servant walks in, no biggie. They’re like living furniture. You’re changing and someone that actual matters to you comes in, you get embarrassed and throw something on. That she can be so casual and without f**ks and sitting in f*** me formation in the presence of White House guests, and guests of such note at that, or even her boss, is mind-blowing. Also, she is absolutely, 💯 percent putting her ***** on Orange’s sideburns. #kellyanneconway #whitehouse #potus

A post shared by Demetria Lucas D’Oyley (@demetrialucasdoyley) on Feb 28, 2017 at 3:10pm PST

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I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 2

I’m just going to pick up right from where I left off yesterday. I was telling a very long-winded story about my week of going out.

Tuesday, I was back out. This time I was at Moca Lounge. It is my spot on Tuesday nights because they have a poetry set that’s always great. A couple of drinks, some laughs, and always at least one poem that leaves the room speechless.

After Moca, I headed to Small’s Jazz Club. One of the best friends we’ve made since we moved to New York, Corey, had a gig there. His group, the Dubtet, plays and leads in the jam session every other Tuesday night. It just so happens to be the Tuesday I work in my 2 week work shift rotation. I hardly ever go because that means being awake for almost 24 hours straight.

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But I stayed out, and I’m glad I did because his girlfriend Allyson came out. And our friend Noah has his girl out, I was happy to meet her as well. Noah’s so sweet, so of course his girl is too.

I gave her a crash course on what it’s like to get thrown head first in the jazz world simply because you’re with a musician. She seemed interested, so that was a great sign for Noah. And me and Allyson too because we hardly ever see them women from the rest of the guys in the crew.

I think I got to a point where I could barely keep my eyes open, so Chris made me leave. I’m glad I listened to him because I’m no fun when I’m that tired.

Wednesday was my day off, and it takes a lot, a whole whole lot, to get me to leave the house on my day off. I do much better when I’m already out because of work or volunteering. But my friend Dericko, who I used to work with before he switched industries, invited me out.

I haven’t seen him in months, so of course I said yes. His company was having an event at Taproom 307, and there was a lot of beer to be had. I got there super late, as is my way, but I still had time to sit and have one great beer with him and his friends.

We caught up and had a lot of great laughs, then Dericko decided he had to head home because he had work in the morning. We decided to try and grab a quick bite before leaving.

One Google search later, we were at this place called Dos Caminos. This was not a quick bite, it was a full sit down restaurant. Didn’t mean to end up there at all, but I’m so glad we did. I’m not sure if that area counts at Gramercy Park or Flatiron District, but either way I would recommend it.The environment was perfect for a date or drinks out with friends.

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And the food was great. Freshly made guacamole anyone? My only complaint was the way they sliced their skirt steak. A few degrees in the wrong angle while slicing, and you take a perfectly tender bite and make it chewy. But everything was delicious, and it was great to get even more time to catch up with Dericko, and to get to know his new friend Liz.

The best thing to come out of the night was finding out that he moved into a new place. He said his place is large enough to accommodate all the people Chris and I have invited for Thanksgiving. Chris and I will probably take him up on that. We’re going to combine Friendsgiving with the McBride Thanksgiving for Traveling and Wayward Musicians.

Our tiny ass apartment was going to be really pushing it, but if his place is really big enough, that will take a big worry off my shoulders. I’ll probably still cook at home, where I’m familiar with the oven, but transporting the food over to his house shouldn’t be a problem.

Even though my DVR is busting at the seams, and I still haven’t unpacked from my visit to Chicago and St. Louis two weeks ago, I’d say it’s a fair trade off. I had a great time this past week.


The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

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I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.