Monday, January 15, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

News!

Hey guys, I have a new puppet in my collection. It's none other than the devil himself, Satan. He was a gift today from a friend. A wonderful friend who knew this fella needed a home. So now my puppet children are 20. At first I was reticent to take Satan in as he is the Prince of Darkness and direct from hell. Most folks who tango with the devil don't end up too good. However, I found him a pleasant enough feller. Check out the interview below.


Also, I have released merch as I know. And the merch item of the week is the zipped hoodie. Now that we are in the middle of winter, it's a nice way we can snuggle without you having to buy dinner or to be legally responsible for 20 puppet children. Plus you'll be warm. All and all, it's a great idea. In all fairness, it's great for everyone because my gear contains a body positive message. I tell my children no one in my family is shamed regardless of color, political status, or humoid, devil, or monster status. Therefore, no person should be shamed for their body size, shape, or whatever else. And that's the message we preach in this family.

To order click here


Monday, January 8, 2018

Photo of the Week: Time Is Up

Oprah's message struck home last night. It wasn't because it was so wonderful, it's because I have been there. She too has been there, deeper than me or anyone ever should go.

Without getting into my damage I am part of the #metoo. It's not because I don't want to share, it's that because in the scheme of things I am unfortunately the rule not the exception. This is not just professionally, but personally.

For years I felt isolated. I had female so called friends and some family members tell me that I actually caused my pain, victim blaming me. I had males cheering on my male abusers, saying I somehow deserved it. I had male police officers laugh when I complained about fearing my abuser and telling me to "get a life." I had female police officers telling me to hang up when my abuser would call me not getting that the calls weren't the issue but my safety. I had men in my profession swear to ruin me after I fought back when they treated me like chattel. I had family members-male and female-blame my profession, not the social ills that all women who have goals face.

For a long time I felt alone. I abused my body and I abused myself. I walked with a silent shame no one should ever have to endure. Not only am I no longer hiding, but I am no longer apologizing. And if God forbid I die tomorrow, I hope some young woman who needs to see this message sees it. If this is my only legacy to the world so be it. It does not matter what you wear or who you are, you do not deserve to be touched without your will. And every shape is beautiful, it's the spirit inside that defines the beauty.

I hope you don't let the misdeeds of someone else destroy your life or dictate your future. I hope you know your dreams are important and you matter. If no one has told you today, I love you.

And if you ask how I am bearing the cold back east without a man.......just fine........















Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book of the Week: Borderlands

This week I am reading Borderlands/La Frontera by Chicana author Gloria Anzaldua. Let me tell you at first I was not looking forward to it. The book is a combination of essays and poems. Part is in English, and part is in Spanish. I thought the decision to not stick to one language was conceited and made it intentionally hard for the reader.

However, I finally decided to get over my white entitlement and translate. Let me tell you she is beyond worth it and that doesn't even do her justice. Gloria Anzaldua is brilliant. The parts that are all Spanish are a choice that she made because writing them in English would not do them justice.

Anzaldua is fearlessly honest on the page in a way I only hope to be one day. She is a Chicana, a Mestiza (mix between Ameridian and Mexican), and queer. She smashes the stereotype that Latina women are either virgins or whores. Anzaldua also addresses that queer folks aren't confused, they know exactly who they are. It's society that is confused in not knowing what to do with them.

Anzaldua tells the truth. The white world has justified the slaughter and domination of non-white people of sometime. She tells the truth about toxic masculinity in the white world, but in Mexican culture as well. She tells the truth that the Aztecs also suffered from toxic masculinity and therefore it was a part of her downfall.

Anzaldua is also funny. She has a poem about a lover who's a UFO. She's spiritual. She's fearless and authentic. She's everything I hope to be as a feminist on the page one day. She's a truth teller. She's a survivor. She is also fearless in letting the world know that these people in between worlds are exploited in ways that are not just ethically wrong, but take away their personhood.

Anzaldua went from being the daughter of migrant workers to a PhD and a published author. She died shortly after defending her thesis of untreated diabetes. We also share the same birthday. This read was a challenging one but a worthy one. Gloria Anzaldua gave people who are ordinary invisible a voice, the people who live in between worlds. And maybe that's why she chose to blur genres in her work because it was blurring the edges.

In reading Borderlands, I also remembered I read several of Anzaldua's essays in college. She had recently passed our teacher said, but I remember not only she was brilliant, but I even changed my term paper so I could use one of her pieces. But alas, when you leave undergrad sometimes you read something and tragically forget all about it.

Either way, I am a better woman for having to read her. You should be so lucky to get the opportunity too. And FYI, have google translate close


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Check Out My New Video Promo

Hey guys, not only do I have a shop where I sell merch but I even have a video trailer. Check it out and watch until the end. It was both cold and and fun to make. Fun because it is always fun shooting videos with my best friend. And this is indeed my best friend who shot this. But cold because.....if you see the video you will understand why


Friday, January 5, 2018

Flashback Friday: The Homework Card

It was the winter of my 5th grade year and my mom was away……that story is for a different time and place. The trip was sudden and emergent. Before she went, she froze a series of TV dinners for my brother Wendell, my sister Skipper, myself and my father. Her goal was for us to eat healthily while she was gone. My big task was heating them up, following the instructions.
The reason the task fell to me was because I was the oldest girl. Skipper was 8 and Wendell being a boy couldn’t be expected to do such things. My dad bemoaned my culinary skills and decided that there would be no more heating up. We were dining out at McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and on Lentin Fridays getting greasy fish sandwiches at The American Legion.
When the news that I failed to heat up the food properly reached my mom she told me she was cooking for her and her 5 siblings when she was my age. I got the barrage of the blame. Via telephone I was told I had let my family down and failed to pull my share of the load in her absence.
Yet my failure got us fast food every night. Skipper and Wendell were not only happy with me for dropping the ball, but as they announced their fast food dinners to their school friends they became the envy of the land.
My dad was the only parent on deck and that meant we were home alone for several hours. At first things were super tense because my dad was so used to my mom’s back up. She was the good cop, he was the bad cop. My mom would gently coax the confession and my dad was like the cop on those shows yelling, screaming, and finally you would break down naming names. You know, the cop who’s confession might convict an innocent person.
While the fast food diet quickly became part of the routine, my dad tried to hold fast to the no television on school nights rule. We had no cable, but TV time was TV time. Wendell was more than guilty of monopolizing it, and often knew to clear the decks as he heard the garage door. Never a fan of English class, he read The Red Badge of Courage as Married With Children played.
One evening, he had miscalculated our dad’s homecoming. Wendell was caught red handed. My dad snuck up on the 13 year old, took his book out of his hands and hit him in the head with it. There are some reading that are probably appalled, but it was funny at the time. Wendell yelped, and my dad gave him the riot act about how there was to be no television. And my dad gave him the speech about how his father had never finished high school.
After my brother’s public humiliation, we went to Pizza Hut. My dad admitted he hated The Red Badge of Courage and thought my brother’s English teacher was a little nuts. Apparently she had been divorced and let everyone know she hated her ex husband. As my dad explained, “That poor bastard probably escaped with his life.”
While Wendell was deterred for 2 days, he soon redoubled his efforts to watch television undetected. One day our dad came home surprisingly early. Wendell’s speed was a little better. He ran up the stairs but left his book in front of the television that was still on. My dad came home, shook his head, and turned off the TV. There was no lecture. Instead, it was the Pizza Hut buffet once again.
Sure, we were in danger of getting Type II Diabetes but who cared? You only live once, right?
And when we got home on that school night, my dad proposed we watched TV as a family. This was a departure from the lectures we often heard about my father’s days as a paper boy climbing up the hill both ways in subzero temperatures. Instead, we had iced cream and watched Married With Children as a family.
 “It’s your mom that doesn’t like the show. Don’t tell her I let you watch it.” My dad said, adding another scoop to my bowl. He knew out of the family members I was my mom’s ride or die and she would get the information out of me. She always did. So I kept it quiet. I was a chunky kid and for me ice cream was the best thing next to money of course.
During this time a different dude emerged. This was the anthesis of the man I had known my whole life up to this point. In both extended families- my mom’s side and my dad’s-my dad had a reputation for being strict. He was the boss. My aunts and uncles knew when one of us was on punishment we weren’t allowed to watch TV at their house because the punishment wasn’t like Dread Scott. It extended to all territories and borderlands.
My dad was a spare the rod spoil the child kind of fellow. He was a nice guy, but if you got out of line you were in for an ass whooping. Unlike my friends who were grounded, our punishments were swift yet painful. We got loss of TV for bigger things, like forging signatures on tests and homework, like my brother Wendell had so infamously done the year before. I can still hear his hooping and hollering as my dad used his belt to this very day.
Looking back, science tells parents not to do this. But my parents were trying their darnest to keep us out of the penal system the best they knew how. As a result, we did well in school most of the time and were extremely polite. Unlike today’s children, we would not dream of speaking to our parents so wickedly. What I am trying to say is, my parents tried hard to make us good people.
One day I found myself in the line of fire. Skipper had dragged her feet to get ready. Since she was a kid, Skipper has never been a morning person. She dawdled in getting her clothes on, and had gotten up late to begin with. As a picky eater, it also took her forever to select a breakfast that fitted her taste. Not to mention her stomach hurt from the Pizza Buffet the night before, the venue that had become the regular dietary staple for our family.
We missed our bus, and it was all Skipper’s fault. I could have caught the bus without her but my mother told me my job in life was to take care of Skipper. So while it was tempting to leave the sometimes pain in the ass younger sibling home, I would have gotten more grief in the scheme of things.
Of course there was that moment where I had to confess my incompetence to my dad. In past instances this was met with him telling me what a moron and a failure I was. As always Skipper would be off the hook, and it would be all my fault it took her forever to get up, get dressed, and pick breakfast. He would point out Skipper wasn’t a morning person and I should be more understanding.
It’s not that he meant it. Like Skipper he is not a morning person. And when his morning routine is thrown off, it has always been a cataclysmic shitstorm. I was ready for it.
Instead, my dad wasn’t even annoyed in the least. If anything, he confessed his regret was not getting to spend enough time with us because of his two jobs and how he was thrilled to take us to school. It was on his way to work as it was, and going in a little later he would beat rush hour. As an added bonus, we got McDonalds breakfast because Skipper had not yet eaten.
The adventure wasn’t over. I forgot my math homework. It was done, but I had left it on the kitchen table. I realized this during math class, and hoped Miss Toledo wouldn’t collect it. Sometimes she collected homework, sometimes she didn’t.
Too late.
Miss Toledo, a well meaning but high strung school marm type, gave me my homework card to sign. She was a former librarian who also had my brother Wendell for class several years before. During open house she told my parents both Wendell and I had the worst handwriting of any of her students. But our academics and knowledge of history amazed her. Miss Toledo also talked about how she loved the stories I wrote and gloated over the one about a cat named Crackle that won a ribbon. But then she opined that she wished I wouldn’t doggy ear the books I got from the library. Yet in the next sentence mentioned I also won the prize for most books read in the class.
Miss Toledo, like a kindly magistrate issuing a punishment, told me fair was fair and my homework card still needed to be signed. Rules were rules.
The last time my homework card had to be signed, my mother expressed her disappointment. She promised not to tell my father, but she lied. I experienced public humiliation at the dinner table equivalent to a tribunal. I was told such behavior would make me a failure in life if it continued. And then my dad said he didn’t want to be embarrassed if he saw my teacher in public because she would mention I forgot my homework. He was right, Miss Toledo would.
I knew the punishment would be worse but my mother had served as the good cop pointing out I did confess. My dad said that if I did it again I should expect a beating.
Sweating like a pig in a slaughterhouse I knew I was a dead woman. My dad didn’t deal well with fools or failure. While we were getting take out nightly, the verbal lashing I got when I failed to heat the food was one for the record books. My mom wasn’t here so the punishment would be free form. This was my second offense. While his mood had been good lately I didn’t want to chance it.
On the flipside, my dad’s philosophy was if you confessed and were honest, you could cut a deal on the punishment. If you lied and he found out, he showed no mercy. My dad was sort of a hanging judge though, so a deal with him wasn’t a deal at all.
Perhaps just a smack in the head. It would be over. Then he would tell me how time was passing, I was messing up, and “minimum wage retard jobs are waiting.”
Yes, the prolonged psychological smack in the beating. You know, the real wounds that cause a lot of pain but make better communal, comical anecdotes later on amongst those who were raised with corporal punishment. The thing that makes the bad cop parent like Chairman Mao, both loved yet feared.
As I got off the bus, I was chalk white.  “What’s wrong?” Wendell asked.
“Forgot my math homework. Miss Toledo is making dad sign the homework card.”
Wendell laughed with a mix of superiority and shock. “Good luck with that. But you are lucky it’s cold otherwise he might make you pick a branch from the backyard.”
Yes, sometimes we had to get our own beating stick from the backyard. This was more frequently reserved for Wendell who hid my dad’s actual beating stick on several occasions. Wendell figured it would get him out of the punishment that was coming. Instead, my dad sent him to the backyard to get a branch. Wendell, still thinking he could outsmart my dad, would come back with twig after twig. Finally my dad picked the branch himself.
The way my brother whelped probably woke a few of the dead in the cemetery down the street. Mind you this was after Wendell saw it fit to bury his report card in the backyard claiming he never got it.
 “It’s my fault. I could tell dad I’ll do your dishes after your beating.” Skipper offered.
“Why not just talk him out of it?” I insisted. She owed me that much.
“I can’t do that. Sorry. It wasn’t my homework.” Skipper then went off. She didn’t want to be around for this. She was much too slippery and smart…..and I was snake bitten by my own family.
Then Wendell offered, “I could forge dad’s signature…….I got pretty good at forging mom’s. It’s not super hard. He doesn’t even have to know….”
This was like the guy getting out of the joint offering to do another burglary with you even though he was caught red handed. Sure, he led the police to him but he had experience. “No thanks. You get caught.”
“If you get beat, we can get that over with and then maybe go to Wendy’s.” Wendell said trying to make things better. “You suck as a cook and dad likes fast food anyway.”
Time inched by as if it was molasses in a barrel. My dad came home and his mood was hard to read. The pit of my stomach lurched. Doom was immanent.
Before I could confess, Wendell, in order to detract from his covert television watching proudly announced,  “April forgot her math homework and needs you to sign her card.”
Snake bitten by my own family again.
Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, Wendell wreaked like the street snitch who had ratted out an accomplice for a lighter sentence. He knew my dad had seen him turn off the television and run up the stairs. He knew his one job to take the trash up was not done because he was busy watching TV. He knew he had accidentally left his required reading in the TV room and it didn’t accidentally walk there.
Meanwhile, Skipper was hiding upstairs. She knew when Wendell or I got it if she was out of sight out of mind she could be perceived as perfect. The air was thick. As for Wendell, the white of his teeth showed and the sicker I got. I hated my brother, but I dreaded what was coming in seconds.
Would it be the belt?
Would it be the stick?
Would my dad be in an extra terrible mood and make me get a stick from the yard as the snow fell?
Would he be merciful and just backhand me upside the head and have it hurt for a minute?
Instead, my dad tiredly grumbled, “Get the damn homework card and let me sign it.”
He laughed as he saw the notation Miss Toledo made. “That woman needs to get a life or a husband. Something. Anyone with handwriting that neat needs to get a life.”
Wendell and I stood shocked, completely speechless.
And then he looked in my direction and said, “Listen, just remember your homework from now on. This will be a bill someday, okay?”
I hadn’t gotten beat with a stick, belt, branch or backhand. There was not the usual “idiot,” “moron” or “retard” my dad had grown so fond of calling us when we screwed up. There was no horrendous story about how he had to walk to school or on his paper route in the frigid cold. Where was my beating I feared? I had been preparing myself all day for my punishment. The death knell had been playing in my mind. Instead, there was this anti-climatic ending to the whole story that was both a disappointment and a relief.
However my brother wasn’t quite off the hook, “Were you watching TV?” My dad said. “And why aren’t the cans up?”
Wendell stammered to make some excuse. He mentioned he was doing homework. Granted, he was reading The Red Badge of Courage while watching Roseanne, but he was trying. My brother ran out to take the cans out. Minutes later he returned. There was no fight. There were no insults. My dad was tired and he just shook his head.
And then my dad asked, “Anyone in the mood for Chinese?”
“Sure.”
When my mom returned things came back to normal. My dad again became the hard line disciplinarian. However, my mom was beyond outraged our father had not only fed us take out for two weeks, but there had been TV watching on a school night…….especially Married With Children as a family. But you know what they say, when the cat’s away the mice will play.

Bottom line, my dad was way more cool and chill than I gave him credit for. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

That's So Vegas

Hey everyone, just did an amazing appearance on That's So Vegas. It was one of the many wonderful events that were a part of the most breathtaking weeks I have had in years. Christine McKellar is charming and talented, and to say I had a great time was an understatement.

Not only was it incredible to be profiled, but many well-known Vegas headliners have been on the show. This includes but is not limited to The Bronx Wanderers and Kelly Clinton Holmes. I know this is just the beginning of a new chapter of my life that includes splitting my time between NYC, Las Vegas, and LA. Also this new chapter has me earning my MFA in creative non-fiction, modelling more, and being a mother to my 19 puppet children.

Enjoy my interview, and hopefully Christine will have me back again. Grateful and blessed for all I have been given. God is good (all the time).