Performing a dance called Metropolis (inspired by the movie), Painted Bride Art Center, 1996. Duet with my collaborator David. I’m on the ground, and he jumps over me and lands on my head, his thick foot slamming my skill into the stage floor. Flash of light in my brain, a full restart. I look around. What are all these pretty lights pointing at me? And what’s David doing? I looked down at my costume and thought: God, I would never wear these clothes.
In high school, I had a nemesis. Arrogant rich kid. I told him off in English class one day. “Are you gonna be an ignorant #*@! the rest of your life?” Our teacher—grey-haired Jamaican guy, called me SeeMohNay—told me to sit down, but didn’t get mad. Cause my nemesis was an ignorant #*@!. I walked out, pleased wih myself, and a kid said: “You dish it out, but can you take it?” That stung. Cause I couldn’t.
My dad mostly raised me, and he worked two jobs when I was in high school. We weren’t always close during those years. I could go days without seeing him. My friend, who ate dinner with both parents every night, said: “It’s like you live alone.” Until that moment, I hadn’t seen it. It seemed temporary. Haven’t seen my dad for a couple days. I’m always startled by what people—what I—can get used to, what I stop noticing.
I do work wth artists around how we make sustainable lives. A performing artist told me his negotiating trick. Figure out a good fee for the gig (say it’s $2,000) and say: “How close can you get to $2,000?” Then shut up. Don’t talk. Don’t fill the silence. Don’t apologize or offer to do it for less. Wait. it works.
We used this on the back cover minus pissing. I fought for it. Turns out, “piss my knickers” is not good marketing language. My editor wanted to make a joke, put a funny picture in an email to me, so she googled “piss my knickers.” Don’t google “piss my knickers.”