Simple Human Kindness

There are many examples to be found in today’s society of the lack of human kindness. Everyday I encounter moments that should have gone another way, but de-escalated into something inferior to what we are capable of. Little things like letting the person with a couple of items go ahead of you in the line at the store. Hurrying up to get in your car and moving on so the next person can have that parking space. Having your change ready when you get to the drive-thru window so the person or people behind you don’t have to wait so long. Actually stopping to ask that homeless couple if they’re okay and if there’s anything that they need… Recently we have been faced with people who are bothered by our very existence. By that I mean that we sit in our car some days when we’re out of money and options, and plug up our devices and watch series on them, much like you would do sitting at home in your living room. But we don’t have a living-room, the front seat of our car is our living room and bedroom and kitchen and dining room and man cave thank goodness it hasn’t had to be a restroom LOL. What I’m asking here is that, instead of coming from a place of being judgmental when you run into someone who’s not on your level who is obviously suffering or facing lack, if all you can extend is a smile, it still cost you nothing. My heart is broken every day by the cynicism and downright malicious behavior I see in the citizens in my communities, and I can say communities plural because we gravitate from place to place — not being welcomed in one for too long. Even though we don’t leave trash or make noise and we’ve shrunken down to as small as we can get, it’s still not enough. We are a reminder to everyone else that all they have to face is one or two crises to be in the same position. I’m going to get off my low horse right now and get back to watching a series on the smartphone in my living room/dining room/kitchen/ bedroom. And don’t get it twisted I’m grateful for even this and to not be laying in a tent on some concrete. Blessings to all of us, including those without so much as a tent, blanket or options…524560_10152286280792863_1366602258_n

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The Rowdy Neighbors

Last night I slept in my car. It was like many nights I’ve spent over the last several months, except that my little slice of “space” was invaded by another family who decided to park in the same area. My husband and I decided to park in a local hospital’s parking lot, considering the 24-hour access to a restroom and emergency services in the event of another crisis in my declining health saga. Anyway, this family had 2 young children who were restless and a mother who was loudly talking in Spanish on her cell phone, just as I was attempting to get comfortable and doze off. She let the kids run around the car in some type of chase game, oblivious to my discomfort and annoyance. The day had been extremely hot, and the cool breeze brought in by the night air was worth more than gold…So I couldn’t roll my windows up to drown them out. I tossed and turned for several hours as the noise grew louder and my nerves grew more frayed. I kept wishing that they would see my dirty looks and start their cars and move on, to no avail. (Her boyfriend or husband had joined them by now in his own car). Our car stopped running two months ago and we actually had it towed to its current location. When we need to travel, we catch the nearby bus line to BART and keep it moving that way. We’re attempting to save for car repair and an apartment, all while having to purchase food on a daily basis because we have nowhere to cook or refrigerate anything. This way of living is prohibitively expensive. Not to mention extremely unhealthy as most convenience store items are riddled with high sodium and sugar. Back to the “neighbors”… They finally settled down around 2 AM!!! My husband is an early riser, so when he woke up at 4 AM after being un-bothered by the ruckus, I was begging for a few more hours of shut-eye. When the sun rose at about 5 AM, it presented a new challenge of bright light and heat to contend with. While I can relate to the folks who may have been just spending their first night on the streets, I hope that they find a different place to rest in tonight, even if it’s on the other side of the parking lot. If you are housed and have walls and not just windows around you to protect you, take a moment to experience gratitude. What you have is high on my goals for my life right now. Don’t take it, your privacy or your safety and peace for granted…

Not With The Movement

17362877_1810106439316171_3875871688911474015_nIf you got all dressed up on Sunday morning and went to somebody’s church, put your hard earned money in the offering plate, listened to some preacher hold forth in judgement of your fellow humans without prior knowledge of their circumstances, and aren’t doing anything to help those less fortunate than you, you need help. The world is shifting and people are suffering out here on a level not seen before in our cities. If your heart doesn’t break at all the tent cities popping up, at all the loss and despair abounding in our communities, something is missing in and for you. I have no need to follow a construct of religion handed down to me and mine from an oppressive system to be valid as a human being. We all have access to information and research to discover and discern what is real and what is a generational lie. Many of the elders in my community have accepted the construct of religion as if it were fact. But in this age of information there is no excuse to blindly follow behind what you have been taught, just because it’s all you know. Some things just don’t make sense!! I’m not going to live my life as a lie to appease anyone else. I’m not going to take up a phony way of living just to get along. I’ve been judged and found wanting by many people who even attribute my current struggles to my lack of enthusiasm for the “religious movement”. Consider the fact that I have been in declining health for the last 4 years and my options for monetary gain have diminished as well. How about the fact that, in spite of being on literally hundreds of housing waiting lists, being comfortably housed is still one of my biggest challenges?? Before judging someone who has always given to the community at large and raised their offspring to do the same, check your religion at the door. It’s just another way for the powers that be to divide us. Like race, politics, and gender. I’m a spiritual being having a human experience and right now, being a human sucks. But my spirit will not be broken. I will continue to extend myself to help uplift others, and work to do no harm. If I have to be religious to interact with you, I’ll pass. This ends my current rant, but more may be forthcoming. I am Donella and I approve this message.

What R U Prepared To Do??

We can’t be distracted by what celebrities or entities that we may admire do. We are here living real life. Even these sports figures that our men get so emotional about are not paying a bill or fixing a plate. Not buying shoes or schoolbooks or supplies. WE are the ones who need to learn survival skills (Our veterans can teach us a lot of that.) How to plant gardens and have them thrive–Our seniors can teach us that…Law, living off the grid, basic stuff like building fires ( and putting them out) and making temporary shelters, how to sanitize and save water, basic and extreme triage in emergency situations. How to do search and rescue in our neighborhoods and homes, how to bury a generator to muffle the sound, how to secure our homes from intruders— I know y’all get the picture. We have a grip of work to do and I as a sistah need my brothers who know and believe me to 13307211_1696242427303946_5938438446396074305_nstep up and help me. Enough talking when our children are being shot down in the streets like dogs. When a reality star and his stripper wife may be running things from their puppet level in government. When churches raise billions and do nothing to build revenue and resources in the community (like a Black Wall Street). I’m gonna step down off my high horse of love for my people… But let’s get it started!!! ( No Hammer.)

Purple Blues

I can’t begin to express the loss to me of Prince as a living artist and humanitarian. His influence on me is so profound, going all the way back to his appearance on American Bandstand, when he threw Dick Clark off his game. My friend Ennis Hooker and I went to see Purple Rain at the movie theater that used to be across from Oakland Technical High School, dressed all in purple. My mother made me take my little sister Darice along, and I made her sit way in the back of the theater, trying to be cool in front of my friends. (She’s still holding it against me.) Harold Lowe won Student Body President by starting his election speech with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called school…”(with “Let’s Go Crazy” playing in the background) –we lost our minds!! (Of course he won). My children’s father serenaded me with “Adore” after a disagreement early in our marriage. I couldn’t listen to the song for many years after we broke up. As a teenager in the 80’s the magazines we read were always trying to get us to choose between Prince and Michael Jackson. I loved them both, but the freaky side of Prince stole my heart more. His incredible talent with instruments, his lyrical artistry, his vocal interpretations, the emotion he drew from me as a listener all contributed to my adoration of him. As a teenager working at Parklane Hosiery at MacAthur Broadway Mall , I sold many pairs of hosiery to Rosie Gaines, who was just gaining traction as a vocalist. She and I were friends for awhile until her career took off and I left work to begin motherhood. She went on to record many songs with Prince, including “Diamonds and Pearls”. My new husband just recorded a tribute song to Prince– less than 3 months ago!! The list goes on and on in my life…The interview which came out recently with Don Lemon and Van Jones made me cry when I think of all the ways the World makes us into private people, and how many more lives we could have touched if I had the chance to know him personally. I learned about much of Prince’s philanthropy and generosity. I learned how deeply political and revolutionary his mindset was. I am inspired to do more with my gifts and to bring joy to others with my music, food, comedy and other projects which are in development. I think I owe my little sister a re-do on the movie. I can relate to his need for privacy and seclusion the more I live and interact with humans…

Music As Magic

I am that savage beast that music calms. From as early as I can remember, sound has resonated with me on a cellular level. The timbre of bass in my man’s voice when he speaks can raise goosebumps on my neck. The percussive patter of raindrops creates dance . The ecstatic squeal of a giggling child can lure me into giggles of my own. Music transports me to a place where  all is right with my spirit. By its variety of genres, there is something for every situation.

In July of 2014 I was visiting the Main Library in Oakland when I met a writer who wanted to collaborate on a screenplay about music. At the end of the meeting, he shared some poetry with me. I was impressed and asked for more. He then shared some of the raps he had written, which knocked me off my feet. My enthusiasm and suggestions led to me becoming his manager. What started as an opportunity to write for a screenplay led to me recording music in the studio for multiple projects! Magical…

To understand how significant this moment was, you’d have to know about the many times I’ve worked on music and creative projects only to have them come to naught. I had developed a small fan base around the country from performing spoken word in clubs. I went from flowing over popular instrumentals to fronting live bands! I had studio sessions where we made great tracks. Some of these lyrics wound up in the hands of Grammy-Award winning artists, who profited on the lack of copyright on my part. You read that correctly. My lyrics have made others rich. As the young folks say, “I charge it to the game”. That means live and learn, basically.

Entering the studio with my artist, Joe-G was a dream come true. My son Jay Jay of Jayphace Records had been my previous producer. Our chemistry creatively was great. But the sensual and outright raunchy lyrics on some of my tracks made production a bit uncomfortable for him. Joe-G had no such limitations on our work. The result has been 4 mix tape albums in a year. More than 60 songs, numerous shows, 10 duets, video and comedy projects under our belts. Magical…

In February, Joe-G and I had a session during which he recorded one of his many stunning R&B tracks entitled “Betcha Didn’t Know”. The song is about a man confessing his love to the woman in his life. Turns out, it was a true confession from Joe-G to Rhymistress!! In April he proposed. We were married in November. Need I say it? Music is magic. Through music I have rediscovered my muse, created compelling and controversial content, and found the love of my life.

To enjoy some of my music, head on over to http://www.reverbnation.com/rhymistress. You can hear my new husband on his link: http://www.reverbnation.com/joeg2