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Curves Spiral turns and twists; the world is full of them. Sometimes we even have to zig-zag a corner. Even a small curve like a powerful eye-roll can transform your emotions. The sign of a tight panty mark against your booty’s curvature, causing admiration as you walk. The undervalued curve of the neck. Pure elegance, many cars are designed based on nature’s curves. They say life throws you curveballs, and well, this curveball is communal! COVID-19. A collective international curve ball! What does this teach us? I wonder? Today I sit at home cleaning my apartment for the hundredth time, and I enjoy it. This satisfaction comes from having the time. A sensation that I don”t need to rush, that no one is coming over to inspect or judge. That if a corner took me twenty minutes because I was so high when I started that I thought it would be a good idea to clean everything with a toothbrush. Well, that is ok! At this moment, you have time. I play the bass for a bit. I stretch I paint, and yes, I still avoid going through that pile of crumpled receipts I have to put into my taxes, and with all this time!
During these days, I have rediscovered that simple ways are better. We don’t need so much stuff to do #busy. We don’t have that much to prove. Yes, I want to entertain you. Yes, I want to get paid as a professional (Does anyone need a yacht?) Where does success become gluttony? How important is my own time? Am I doing this for the right reason? Is it real or ego? What am I proving, and to whom? Look at the orange Cheeto in office in the U.S.A. why do you need your apartment to be gilded in gold? Who does that? And did you treat the people that worked for you well? Because that would be real golden! Yes, I want to have my own home and not live like a twenty-year-old with roommates. Even then, with my own home, I will always have a guest or temporary people staying with me while they find there own place. I have a family of international artist friends that I love to welcome with open arms. They bring me joy and inspiration.
Nowadays, the visits are few, but my lover and sister-friend are here, and we share the space curving our needs to each other during this time. Having communal meals and focusing on encouraging good mental and physical health for one another! So much to learn from ourselves while we are in isolation. Each curve a challenge Today is April 8th, and things are feeling and looking stable in Berlin, but the hope is still low on when we will resume “normal” life. What is “normal” is not always healthy! And what was most likely will no longer be… This curve has also shifted us to be more capable of working online, including the entertainers. Our future is now different. Social distancing and social media have combined to bring in a new Curveball: Time After Internet and Plague. This has shown us no mercy for social class, you might not have a home, but you will most likely have the internet on your phone. Prepaid or not.
COVID -19 sticks to anyone; no race or age is really safe. Yes, the older are more vulnerable, and I believe we should protect our elders. So we can learn too from their stories, not lose our history care for those that cared for us and paved the way. At this time, if you are in a place of privilege and can help an elderly neighbor (go shopping for them) or a family with children (share online activities with their kids) to stay healthy and sane. Throw a person or two a curveball of empathy, love, and community while still social distancing. I am sure you can find a way! Stay Safe!
Below the waist, that was a low blow. Remember to punch up. These are things I hear all the time in comedy. What happens below the belt? When did that saying begin? They say it happened in boxing. But I think Latino families have been hitting below the belt since forever. My grandmother would say the cruelest things like: My daughter’s children are my grandchildren, But son’s children, I question. My siblings and I are the children of her son. What why was she saying this to us. I remember it well we were in the bathroom getting ready for a day of school at this time; we were only three kids. A large family already, but hey Catholics = no condoms. So looking in the mirror, my sister and I fighting for space. My grandmother approaches with a smile and almost in rhythm “Las Hijas de Mis Hijas en Duda Nunca Estan.” She did not need to finish the rest. Wow, I looked in awe at my mother as she took that low blow and ignored it.
At this time, I considered her weak for not saying anything. for playing the part of oh what I heard nothing. Now That I am in my forties and I saw my grandmother last year on a visit to Colombia. I recalled her low blows through life as she sprayed me with Lysol and said that I could never be clean enough to be saved. My grandmother is 99 – 103; we don’t really know her exact age as she has been shaving off years, even in her nineties.. Vanity does not have an age limit. She now lives with her eldest daughter; they are two widows. Looking at me, they inquired, where was my husband. I told them that it is a long story for another day. And then proceeded to remind me that I am nothing without a man. So I looked at these two widows and asked, what does that make you? The anger in the room could be felt for miles. They mocked my career as a comedian and actress and reminded me that my tattoos are the devil’s markings. At this moment, when I was getting hit below the belt, I recalled my mother’s distant stare when they used to visit in our youth a stare that I now controlled too.
I still love visiting my grandmother and making her laugh. The generational pull and strength she had to be a single mom in NYC. I am so grateful to be part of these women. Women that can throw shade and love at once. Now I keep my roasts for comics, but I will say the strongest roasters below the belt. The heavy hitters are usually the ones that know you best. In my case, it is the strong women in my family! The outspoken auntie, the religious grandmother, the successful control freak sister. Your best friend. And a few good men (that hopefully are not mansplaining) So go with the flow. Share the love and walk away from those low blows unless you are roasting Bruce Willis
As her hands moved through my hair, I felt the hands of time turning back. She braided my hair. I had been asking her for months to braid my hair, and she would laugh. One day I asked what is so funny she said I don”t do well with white hair. I looked at her in awe, my Latina curls bouncing in the light I said what are you talking about? Girl, please, you are going to do my hair! It is quarantine, and your hands are going to be able to do anyone’s hair by the time we are let out again. I grew up with my hair braided all the time! French braids, multiple braids, Beach braids, you know. Hot weather hair! We braid straight, curly, etc.! I felt younger and younger as she pulled. I even laughed, telling her to make it tighter so my wrinkles would stretch with every twist. I remembered moments of my youth in rollerblades laughing with my friend Carolina as we jay rolled. Crossing the street on our blades while rolling a joint! Miami in the early ’90s. When she finished, I looked in the mirror and laughed so hard as I looked shinny and young, my eyes sparkled, bringing even more attention to all my beautiful grey hair!
Song. Songs languages. Places Adventures… A song can take you back! I remember the songs from a kindergarten life in Miami, Florida, in the early ’80s. The hair was big, and nails had become a huge fashion statement. My friend’s mother had a fingernail that had its own earing dangling off the end. I never understood it, but I was mesmerized. My mother would wake me up to the song you are my sunshine with a heavy Colombian accent “Jew are my Sonshine. Jew are my Sonshine jew make me happy Jew know the rest.” Well, I loved and still love this song I hear it in a toy box and boom I am once again sitting next to my mother no matter where I am in the world. Play me some “Con mi burrito habanero Voy Camino de Bellen”, and there I have transported to Christmas time in Miami.
Today I play all kinds of songs and music. I mostly enjoy local talent and find myself lost when the radio is on. Most songs make me dance. my feet will move to any beat, even a car horn repeatedly can cause me to shake my booty. #latina. Within songs and memories are sensations at times my body sinks into the ground with the bass, and my feet need to be bare! I want to feel the earth between my toes. And other moments, I fly into a twirling sky with a violin. A song can have no lyrics, and yet I will sing, a song that can have no music, and however, we know it. Children sing repeating words they do not know or understand. 1 little 2 little 3 little Indians. Wondering whose culture they are learning. Songs that break our emotions apart songs that help us heal from loves lost. The power of a song to unite people. Songs of nostalgia and faith, love and hate, songs for every moment, silly songs for passing moments and most of all the songs that have been lost the languages that will never be heard again. Somewhere in the sky between the falling stars are these lost songs.
Let us keep singing our songs into the universe and moving our bodies to feel the connection to more than just self. We might be in isolation at the time, but we are more connected to our songs our people our planet than ever before. Keep sharing your song!
How does the saying go? Life happens when your busy planning. In the past few weeks, I am living in the moment. This is not a new feeling for me, but one of the circumstances I am usually a day by day woman. I plan ahead very little but do think about it. I am a comedian, and my life is a joke. Literally. I look and feel fabulous, but my account has not ever managed to reflect me. I have lived above my means since I can remember starting to provide for myself. One day at an open mic in NYC on ave a & 2nd, I remember a comic talking about budgets and living life with economic accountability.
I found that 5 min “set” very informative. No one ever really spoke to me about bank balances or budgets. To me, money has been a JOKE! Money rules the world, and mostly old perverted white men had the money. But to hear this young brown comic speak made me think. About the way, I made money and how I never missed it. How I had just enough to cover my costs, and still, I lived this fabulous life. I looked and dressed current with style and class. I went to fancy places, usually VIP or performing. I met creative, talented people one night, Tango Dancing Isabella Roselini said to me, “You are Beautiful.” I felt I could go anywhere at any time. Like doors and opportunities open for me. I am now 42. I live in Berlin, Germany, and I still have the same budget and money habits I had at 24; yes, I understand more. But somehow, no matter how much I plan How much I try to get ahead to create my income as a producer and performer. I find myself in situations that I can not control. Now the whole world is on lockdown, and all y income creatively has come to a halt. Yet I am loving every minute of having to slow down and regroup. Stay healthy and remember money is a joke, and life is worth living!
Am I happy with the person I am?
The end of the year is near and we must all (should all) do a little check-in with ourselves. I try to do this not just yearly when everyone else is making their lists but also on a shorter and more often timeline. I Liliana Velásquez M. am now 42 years old and I did not expect to be where I am. Never in my wildest dreams would I be living in Germany and succeeding as a performer. I have definitely lived an exciting life so far. In my youth, I dreamed of being a Broadway star! A triple threat. I feel like I have accomplished what it takes and then some extra threats. My path has been rocky at times but mostly because I took risks. The adventurous spirit and invincible mentality of youth lead me to NYC. I walked down those streets in my twenties still believing that one day I would be married to a man maybe have my career and children to raise… The children were very far back in my mind. Not one of my goals but something that felt like well it happens to the best of them… almost like catching a cold. But I must have been vaccinated against children because let me tell you pregnancy is not something my body is good at! more often then none I have taken the morning after pill or done rails of cocaine (cheaper than the pill for me) to make sure I was not pregnant… Turns out I could have saved time money and the bad company had I known how impregnable my body is. I guess you live and learn. My previous partners now have children and wives. And I am living the same life I had in my 20’s but with better choices knowledge and company. I find myself guiding other artists and making the best out of this freedom. Now I am this magical 42 and out of a whim I ended up in Berlin. With love and support of a funny German man, that offered me, unconditional love! Something I had never witnessed before. Something that is difficult to understand. But it happened. He died this past year. It is still something difficult for me to believe. I talk to him daily and have his voice always in my head. He changed my life for what I would like to believe is better. As the government in the USA went downhill. I began a new life in Berlin the only part of Germany where you don’t need to speak German LOL, but you should still learn it, as I am learning now.
Am I happy with whom I have become? YES I represent the migrant life, I represent Women of Color, I represent freedom and femdom. Not many women have made and learned from these mistakes. I have tackled my demons and abusers I have overcome my own addictions and mental states of despair. I have learned to love my flaws and to encourage others to accept there is no NORMAL. Take that society’s pressure to fit in. There is no in or out, there is only is “to be or not to be”. And you and only you can decide what you want to be. Only you can ultimately make that person a reality. So ask yourself Am I happy with the person I have become? And remember there is almost always time to become the person you want. Lead by Example! Understand that we are fallible and pick up the pieces when they break sometimes broken is even more beautiful and strong! Find your tribe and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Tact is something that I am still learning as my mind is strong and willful with a loud Latina tone! So if anything for 2020 my new goal is to be gentler in my delivery of NO (my favorite word) I will continue to ask for what I deserve, I will continue to grow in all directions mind body and soul, and I will continue to allow people opportunities and also cut them out of my circle if they overstep. My boundaries are clear to me and yes they fluctuate I pray to the Goddesses that surround me to give me strength and kindness. To allow me to stand up for myself and be forgiving. To let this NEW YEAR represent the best I have to offer. Happy New Year Beautiful Humans!
As a freelance artist I constantly need to check value vs time and learn to speak up for myself.
I have often said too many people that negotiating is a skill that needs practice . I have been learning the hard way and I have no regrets.
So every time I come along and article of knowledge for freelancer negotiating skills. I would like to share it with my fellow artists I hope this helps you as much as it has me . Enjoy this great read or Audio if you ate a medium member
“You Can’t Afford to Be ‘Polite’ About Money” by Felicia C. Sullivan https://link.medium.com/vG1y3naBL2