Monday, December 15, 2008

it's your party charlie brown... i mean shia shabazz...
it's the end of an era...

no more hot-ass summers. no more searching for familiar faces in seas of strangers. no more "red state." in less than a week, my husband will be here to cart me and my children to oakland to officially begin a new life.

but i have to admit that i am a bit disillusioned. after 12 years of living in austin, i had a going away party/baby shower and was TRULY stumped at the fact that several people who i thought were central to my life and community here didn't show, didn't call... just didn't. this is not a personal indictment of anyone. it's just a rant. and maybe through the pain of this feeling of loss/this rejection, the Universe is making it easier for me to leave. and it is. today i am more focused than ever on getting Home, to my husband, my father, brother and nephew, and other family and friends awaiting my permanent arrival in oakland. but i didn't REALLY believe that i wasn't loved here, did i?

for many reasons, it's a complicated move for me and i was hoping... no i was needing to share love and time and all of the ins and outs of my new life with the people i have shared many of my years with here. that was supposed to be the night of farewells and love and bon voyage...

okay, okay... when i take the ego and hurt feelings out of the equation, the reality is that i DID share the night with people i Love and people who Love me. i am trying to be super-human here and understand how busy this time of year is for people... blah, blah blah. i have tried to focus my energies on the people who DID come and show their love and regret for my departure; the people who made me realize i WILL be missed, that my presence made a difference, an impression and that my absence will be felt. i am GRATEFUL for the belly rubs and best wishes. i can't wait to share the new life and news from the Bay as my new journey unfolds.

to all of the other people whom i somehow lost along the way, i am grateful for the years, months, days, moments we shared and every lesson i've learned. i KNOW i am a better person for the past and learning more and more from the present. you are in my heart and prayers always.

for those who continue to walk with me, i look forward to all of the beauty that is to come, up close and from afar. to our journeys, our challenges and triumphs, our setbacks and our moments of fulfillment. you help me to realize that it's all enriching, it's all Love and it really is all good.

onward, upward and westward...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what am i here for?
blatherings from the unemployment line...

what are we here for?  that's a question for God.  not you, dear reader.  i imagine you are pondering the same question in some way, be it a physical asking or a cellular one.  so i invite you inside it as well. what are we here for?

my most immediate response to that question is... to create art as a manifestation of love.  i know, i know.  but really.  that's what i believe i'm here for.  the thing is... as i try to keep my art more than a murmuring in the back of my mind, a more blaring question becomes apparent.  how am i supposed to create art if i can't pay my bills?

i've been unemployed for a month so far and it's been okay... kind of.  i've been looking for a new job since the day i became unemployed, if not well before (truth be told).  most of these days, i've felt relaxed, held up by the pats on the back and the patronizing "don't-worry-you'll-find-something's".  but i feel like i've submitted more resumes than sends out promotional CDs and still no REAL bites.  my joblessness is finally wearing on me.  it's the first time i've not had a job and it wasn't my choice.  and i know lay-offs happen all the time, but since college, in my fifteen years of working, i've never been... well... jobless.

and today, what feelings of respite i may have had transitioned into indomitable restlessness.  i found out that the one job i was waiting to hear from; the one i thought i was UNDOUBTEDLY suited for, decided they were" seeking a candidate whose experience more closely matched the job requirements."  (recruiter jargon for "thanks but no thanks.")  i try to convince myself, using all of the wisdom and cliches i can conjure, that something better, greater, more fitting is waiting.  (right?)  when one door closes, a window opens.  blah, blah, blah... 

i play them like mantras over and over again.  i affirm and re-affirm myself in the face of this rejection.  (i'm smart, talented and darn it, people like me!)  but it's tough.  because the reality is that i read every day about the looming recession.  i could barely afford gas when i had a paycheck.  and milk, on some days, is more than $4 a gallon.  with no income, these things can feel a bit more paralyzing than the passivity of "such is life."

i'm fighting the malaise of unemployment, trying to feel empowered in understanding the jog trot of the determined but unemployed.  on a daily basis, i create my workspace of a bistro table in the WiFi-friendly cafe up the street where I peruse and, online classifieds and the seemingly endless pages of company job listings.  i am in search of the job that's searching for me.  but today, with the news, i felt a shift.

i went into this search a month ago, resolute that i would meticulously make application, regarding only those positions that deserved my time and attention.  the chosen ones would be looking for the kind and caliber of professional i believe myself to be.  they would offer benefits, a open, good-natured working environment and a good work/life balance.  the kind of company you'd find at the tops of lists like best places to work, highest employee satisfaction and places you'd trade going home for.  (the offering would look so good that the salary didn't require a mention.)

but resume upon resume, rejection upon rejection... hourly pay is starting to sound pretty good.  and, well, i can put off going to the doctor until Obama gets in office, right?  who needs vacation time?  401k?  

what am i here for?  to create art as a manifestation of love.  so i am working on the unfinished screenplays.  listening to lots of impassioned art through live (and recorded) music.  i'm working out and dancing when i can.  and in this moment, i am creating art with every coffee shop moment.  with the call and response of job solicitations and answerings.  with the joy and pain of acceptance of situation and rejection of failure and circumstance.  making lemonade is an art.  mixing the sweet and sour to make something delicious.  i am reminding myself of it daily/hourly/minute-by-minute.

onward and upward...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Green" vs. Grown
Two friends, allergies and an SUV

In the middle of a recent allergy attack, a friend called, excitement brimming in her voice. Thirty seconds in, after obligatory salutations, I learn that she’d finally traded in her 1991 now-lackluster luxury car for… an SUV.

“It’s got all of the bells and whistles,” she gloats. “It only gets fourteen miles to the gallon, but it’s fly!”

And then there was silence. NOT the response she was trying to elicit.

She revived me with a few echoing “Hello? Are you there?’s”. The diplomat in me did her best to resume in support of this friend’s very grown-up purchase, with a few insincere “good for you’s.” But, to my chagrin, she didn’t buy it.

“I know it’s selfish of me but it’s my time to have a little something for me.”

As a single mom and a product of American capitalism, I completely understand her plight. It’s a symptom of the larger dis-ease from which we all suffer, and are complicit; the myth that our well-being should be measured in "stuff"; the size of our cars, the number of flat-screens in our homes, the amount of money spent on our children’s birthday parties. We succumb to bask in the bling and blah-blah-blah of waste and materialism.

Be forewarned: The non-judgmental diplomat in me isn’t writing in this moment. It’s me. The flawed and frustrated newly realized green freak. And I don't think I've become an official "tree-hugger" yet (though I'm working on the badge). Don’t get me wrong. The desire to be as fabulous as the next girl still lives in me. But there came a point when I found more importance in the future health of our aging bodies, our children’s health and the state of this planet than riding in a vehicle that has more TVs in it than some homes in East Oakland.

But she, like many of us, can’t see how every car-buying, recycling, car-pooling decision she makes has the power to impact the world.

I want to shake her through the telephone lines. Beg her to take a moment and think about it. Think about the environmental changes that have happened in the last several years. In my case, when we moved to Austin, Texas, in April 1996, it was touted in Money Magazine as one of the top ten cities in the country “to be young”. While the economy in Austin is still slightly better than many other American “big cities,” these twelve years later, the music capital of the southwest is now more likely referenced as one of the country’s top places to be a heat-exhausted allergy sufferer. But the increased numbers of coughing-sneezing-head-achy allergically affected has increased from sea to shining sea just as the numbers of allergens has increased.

Global warming and allergy suffering a coincidence? Not according to the Natural Resources Defense Council October 2007 report. It says that “global warming and rising CO2 levels could worsen air quality and threaten human health due to increased levels of allergenic pollen and ground-level ozone.”

The Medical News Today agrees, adding that "Asthma and other allergic diseases have become more prevalent in the United States in recent years. They affect as many as 50 million people, or more than 20 percent of the population. The incidence of asthma alone has more than tripled over the past 25 years and currently affects more than 22 million Americans.”

I sneeze, pop an allergy pill and finally muster the courage to be the friend she will later be grateful she has. “Well, maybe you can pack a bunch of commuters up in the back. It may not be great on gas but one of those on the road is better than four.”

“You’re right. And that’s a good idea,” she resolves, as she runs off a short list of people she might be able to tolerate in rush hour traffic. Just before we get off the phone, we are interrupted by her daughter’s unfulfilled responsibilities.

“Casey*! Did you put all of those bottles and cans in the trash like I asked you to?” Whiney protest errupts in the background.

“Cecily*!” I scold, exasperated. Has she heard nothing I've said?

“What?" She pauses then realizes, "Oh. I guess I need to get a recycle bin?”

I sigh and realize we’ve got miles to go (preferably by bike, in a hybrid or electricity-powered car) before I sleep.

This account has been reconstructed with poetic license.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

THANK YOU!!! you know who you are…
even if I don’t…

so i come home last night to find a beautifully fragrant, gorgeous bouquet of flowers on my doorstep. no card. no delivery certification. no business staple. just flowers. roses. tigerlilies. and other white and pink blossoms that inspire poems in me. my friend, carole, who was with me, and i stared at the bouquet, at first lovingly... then with the kind of suspicion america imposes on gestures like these. who were they from? should i assume they are for me? because they could be for my mother, right?

well, mom (who is in NYC right now) is baffled; can't imagine who of her friends actually has her address or would do such a thing. so, (thinking the card had blown away in the wind) i immediately credited sweetiebubu... called him to gush my thanks, bookended by i-love-yous. he said, though he wanted to take the credit... it wasn’t him. *awkward* so i ran through my mind other possibilities but none seemed reasonable. i don’t THINK i have admirers like THAT. (LOL) and most of the people i know who do love me and might want to make such a gesture have the same financial challenges i do! so it didn’t seem reasonable that they would spend what was left after bill payments on this gift. (again... not that they don’t love me enough to… you know what i mean…)

whoever you are… wherever you are… THANK YOU. after the creepy feeling subsided, the flowers absolutely MADE my evening. i felt loved... special... acknowledged! isn’t that what we all want?

here's to anonymous gifts of love!



Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sharon Bridgforth Presents:
One For The Road
A Poetic Jam Session
May 12, 2008 7PM
At Resistencia Bookstore (Casa de Red Salmon Arts)
1801-A South First St. Austin, TX 78704512.416-8885

Love Offerings for Red Salmon Arts Accepted
Featuring: Lidia Marte, Samiya Bashir, Shia Shabazz
and an Open Mic Jam

Lidia Marte will read from her newly published book
El Reino de la Imagen: Memoria, Comida y Representacion(2008 Isla Negra Editores, San Juan-Santo Domingo).

RedBone Press author, Samiya Bashir, will read from
Queer Codex: ROOTED! Anthology Edited by Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Published by Evelyn Street Press & allgo.

Shia Shabazz will read from her newly published chapbook
Momentary: Poems by Shia Shabazz

Immediately following Lidia, Samiya and Shia's reading there will be an open mic.
Writers/visual artists/musicians/dancers invited to jam (up to 3 minutes)

As some of you know, though Bridgforth will be in Austin a lot/she will be based in NYC & L.A. beginning June 1 - so come on out and lets share "One For The Road" before she takes off.

More about Lidia Marte's book...
(this book is an Afro-Caribbean stew of theauthor's external and internal migrant journeys)El Reino de la Imagen es un sancocho (sopa)poético/político de una memoria proletaria yemigrante al romper del siglo 21.Ensayo visual, etnografia tercermundista,vomito existencial?Más allá de las posibles etiquetas, estelibro propone la validez testimonial de nuestraexperiencia cotidiana e históricamente específica.

More about Queer Codex...
ROOTED...QUEER CODEX: ROOTED! Features poetry, short stories and visual art from 11 queer women and trans-identified artists, Queer Codex: ROOTED! is inspired by Sharon Bridgforth's artist residency as part of allgo's 2007-2008 Cultural Arts Season: Envisioned & Created Space(s). Queer Codex: ROOTED! contributes to a growing body of literature and visual art by queer women and trans-identified artists of color, of Jewish descent, activists, scholars and cultural workers. Contributors: Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Sharon Bridgforth, Senalka McDonald, Samiya Bashir, Matt U. Richardson, María Limón, Jennifer Margulies, Cheryl Coward, Anel I. Flores, Ana-Maurine Lara, Adelina Anthony. For more about Samiya go to:

More about Shia Shabazz's book...
Momentary features poems presented in Shia's recent interdisplinary performance, produced by The Center for African and African American Studies, UT Austin, directed by Florinda Bryant. Momentary explores epiphany,and inspired moments that propel activism, inspire art/love/living and inform who we are/who we become. Shia is a Cave Canem Fellow and a member of The Austin Project. For more information go to:


Monday, May 05, 2008

supa FLY ... supa FLUSTERED
can the two co-exist? yes!!!

life these days is filled with contradiction and a whole lotta noticable juxtaposition. acceptance and accomplishment lives in the same space as rejection and illumination of my short-comings. it can make my supa FLY feel supa FLUSTERED, and vice versa. i've felt a bit of both lately.

all in all tho, this past week has been a BLAST! the moments will be dog-earred as some of the most memorable pages in the book that is my life.

last sunday, i actually made it to and through my performance, Moments We Know. the process was SO interesting. i learned so many truths about myself (which put to rest so many of the lies i believed from people who haven't known how to love me). and i learned so many more truths thru the people who showed up (physically and figuratively). that's not to in any way accost or accuse anyone who didn't make it. (REALLY!) but i am SO grateful to those who fed me during the weeks/days/hours leading up to the show and to those who walked with me through it. and the talk-back was fascinating, to hear what resonated with people and which words/poems/thoughts prompted questions/observations/interest. i was glad to see it come... and go. it was the scariest and most exciting thing i've done since birthing my first child. all of the pains and pleasures of the experience lived in my body. and though there were many guides and coaches around to give love and support (for whom i am immensely grateful), the actual labor and birthing process were mine to bear. and it felt like a big ole baby! but it came out beautifully flawed and healthy, all major pieces intact. and i, like any new parent, am exhausted and amazed that i gave birth to such a glorious gift and gave it to the world.

sweetie bubu came in for the performance which created a-whole-nother level of anxiety and love. his brief but completely fulfilling visit made the longing for him as a part of my daily life more intense. but it also made the knowing more intense. soon...

in the week that followed i got to see my favorite smith brothers, "E" and "jubu", working it out with rhianna and maze, respectively. wading through clamoring fans at the kanye/rhianna concert, was mtv personality sway calloway, who, as it turns out, i DO know. (i've said it for years... "i KNOW that cat!") when i stopped him, he said the same thing ("i know you!") and we realized we go waaaaay back... relating thru an ex of mine, who's kin of his. anyhoo, movin' and shakin' in a town that usually stands still for me was a very cool.

this week i am back at work, but no longer working on the supa fly project i was working on. it ended... but i'm STILL EMPLOYED and ecstatic about that! but it feels like i've slowed from 110 mph to 10 mph. which in some ways is cool; but in others can be extremely frustrating. i guess i should be thankful for the breather while i have it.

anyway, i also found out that i didn't get into a program that i was told i was a "shoe-in" for. i'm taking it well, which is good. but i really hate the rejection thing. there are twinges of doubt/insecurity flaring like pimple in my mind. was it my age? why am i not a fit? is it because i am no longer a student? is it... (a la martin lawrence in Boomerang)...racial? (LOL) anyway, i guess the bottom line is that it just wasn't my time for the program. oh well... but i'm waiting to hear back from a coupla other things that i submitted to. wish me luck. better yet, put in a prayer and a bit of positive energy for me... that it is my time!

overall, my children are brilliant, i'm relatively healthy (save the re-injury of an ankle sprain or foot-something that i refuse to have treated... when are we gonna get every american insured around this mutha? obama... where you at?) my job's going well, sweetie bubu still loves me, i haven't lost all of my friends and i am still determined to keep love as the order of the day... i'd say life is very good. kisses, kinks and all...

Al[l]ways Love...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

performance by shia shabazz
directed by florinda bryant
Sunday, April 27th @2pm
Winship Drama Building, Room 2.180
(located at 23rd & San Jacinto on the UT Campus)
FREE and Open to the Public
Moments We Know is as an exploration of epiphany and the familiar; those inspired moments that propel activism, inspire art/love/living and inform who we are/who we become.

photo by M.Shawn Photography
graphic design by

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

you are a GENIUS!
remind yourself of that daily!

i read somewhere, in some book that has become a part of my walk, that you should make an effort to keep close the beautiful things people say about you. record these things in a journal and read them daily. i do this when i can but i rarely reread what i've written. i should. i need to counterbalance the things that have supplanted the gems given to me as a child. for some reason, it's easier to hang on to the voices that have espoused your deficiencies than those that sing your name to the heavens.

i'm not sure what's going on in the cosmos but the past 48 hours have been a showering of words and love on my soul and on my person. from my children, from people of my now and of my long ago, from new found friends, from the most unexpected places. no one wanting anything in return. not even acknowledgement necessarily. just offerings of love and thanks. and just when i was lamenting that at this ripe old age of 37, i have yet to find a cure for the world's suffering or contribute in some greater way to whatever my mission in this life is to be. i keep wondering... how can i create/love/laugh/dance or anything else that might inspire good in the world if i can't pay my rent? but the generosity of their words reminded me that changing the world can happen one small act as a time. all we have to do is believe we are changing it.

thank you for your gifts. gifts of memory and observation. gifts of love and friendship. the bits and pieces of my own humanity that are hard to remember when i feel like such a mule.

today, someone called me a genius; a word which i thought was reserved for people... well, people other than me, or so those voices in my head have whispered and screamed from time to time. but the giver of this compliment explained that genius (true genius) has more to do with life-brilliance than books. with desire, innovation and creative minds. her articulation was so much better than mine and the fact that i can't remember it makes me feel even less worthy. (there's that voice again.) but i appreceiate what she sees in me. and what the other people offered from their purview. i am a genius. the beautiful thing is... we are all geniuses.

shia, the genius