DIARY OF A RENAISSANCE NEGRESSE
by Cassendre Xavier
Saturday, November 16, 2014
WHO IS THE RENAISSANCE *NEGRESSE?
Haitian/Chinese-American multi-media healing artist Cassendre Xavier coined the term *”renaissance negresse” in 2002. A musician, writer, actress, and visual artist, Xavier (who sometimes works under the names Amethyste Rah and Amrita Waterfalls, and is also an ordained interfaith minister) says the term describes a black woman who is skilled or gifted in 3 or more arts. Xavier is a recipient of a Leeway Transformation Award for her work as a community cultural arts advocate, having founded and directed several Philadelphia arts initiatives including the Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002) and the Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003), as well as several peer support groups related to personal growth, creativity, healing, and recovery. She is originally from Brooklyn, NY and has been living creatively and joyfully in Philadelphia since 1990. [*”Negresse, Negre: In the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean Islands, these words often have a connotation of affection, entirely non-racial in meaning. `Ma petite negresse, mon negre, are equivalent to `My dear, my darling, my sweet.'” [From Masters of the Dew, a contemporary classic novel by the Haitian author Jacques Roumain, translated by Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook.]
It’s amazing how much better I feel having had enough sleep over the last several days. For months I’ve been getting an average of 4 hours of sleep per night. This is due to my work and commuting schedule, for which I prayed a change, and which has happened in that at least for the next two weeks I’m working only one day per week. And by “work” I mean the bookstore job. A work week for the renaissance negresse is always full, regardless of what the day job requires.
I am feeling very bipolar these days. Grateful the weather is expressing itself fully, but really tired of the warm again gold again nonsense that has me never quite dressed right for the weather.
Particularly bummery is the overheating I experience, in house, in cars. I dress warmly for the outside, then when I’m in you could bake bread with what’s going on under my clothes.The only thing keeping me from getting sick is telling my body that i/it won’t.
Feeling very stuck in my life. Only constant conversation with the angels calms me to remember to take one step and action at a time. It seems like I have a mountain of stuff to fix. Then I remember to breathe and keep my vision focused on what I want. I am relieved in recognizing the progress and likelihood I will have what I want.
I am writing a lot. Poetry, book manuscripts. It’s very fulfilling.
It’s frustrating not having an immediate outlet. Wish I could just press a button and have these things turned into books. But no. I must do workshops, classes, learn formatting, invite collaborators, negotiate payments and other terms, prepare book proposals, all the things everyone must do. I keep reminding myself I asked for this experience of life as a humyn, being.
I am working now on making more time for what counts. I meet wonderful people and start wonderful projects which suffer because I don’t make enough time to connect with others. I am weeks and months behind in emailing people I actually care about maintaining connections with. It was careless of me to let my schedule get like this. But I have learned one thing: We have all the time in world. It’s what we choose to do with it that counts. Whenever anyone says, “I didn’t have time…” do do a thing, it just means they didn’t care about it enough to do it. We can choose always to make time to do a thing, including caring for ourselves.
I realized the other that I’m acting from fear a lot of the time. It hasn’t always been this way, but since Tom died last year my circumstances and my constitution for changing them have been at a long-dwelling low. I never realized how much support I was receiving from that relationship. I really miss having someone to talk to about my day and listening to theirs. It’s a lot harder to do well for yourself when you’re alone, and you have self-esteem issues. But I realize I’m not alone.
Self-care is always the answer. No matter what’s going on. You’re always going to be there with yourself, as long as you’re alive, so might as well be there for yourself as well.
I’ve been really enjoying collecting books that inform my writing. It’s like when I used to collect cassettes to visualize making my own recordings, then I’d make my own cassette inserts, and then years later, I actually did record and release my own music. And then I collected chapbooks, made mock-ups, then had my own chapbooks. Then I was in several anthologies. Then I published my own spiral bound book. Now I’m working on self-publishing again, online. I tried before, on Lulu, but could never figure out the formatting. Hopefully with CreateSpace of Amazon it will be easier. It will also help that I’ve enlisted my brother’s help. He actually knows about this stuff. When he said the word “bleed” among the other formatting terms as we spoke, I squealed with delight because that’s the biggest scariest word to me, and he’s got it down. The universe is grand and we are truly meant to need each other.
I’ve got no sex drive. Can’t tell if it’s depression, my changing hormones, circumstances, or both. I have no motivation to hook up, although underneath my skin I’ve released a call for companionship.
I realized something recently:
1) All my relationships come from people I meet at my work, doing what I love.
2) Most of my friendships are with my lovers.
This realization has changed the way I do things socially.
I used to go out socially with friends. I used to actually have friend. You know, that I didn’t boff. But the more time that goes by, the more projects and busier I get, the less time and patience I have in making a bunch of friends. I have no time for friendship in the sense that I used to in the olden days.
At the same time, I’ve developed as a lover, being clear on being poly, and engaging with others in that community. All my needs are fulfilled that way. I meet poly folks doing my work, attending poly conferences, and become involved in romances with people who “get it”. We’re all busy adults who know how to schedule and negotiate not only our time with our lovers, but communicate our feelings and grow individually.
When you have to come to terms with, and express your feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and tell your partner(s) and/or lover(s), you develop and strengthen your communication skills. You get to know yourself better.
So, I know there are online personals where people meet, and I’ve used them successfully. In fact, Tom and I met at one. But I keep getting psychic signals that my work is where I’ll meet my next significant lovers. The challenge is foregoing the beauty and efficacy (efficiency?) of writing exactly what I’m looking for and putting it out there for likeminded lovers to find and respond to, as have in the past. The answer is, “Write erotica.” Which I have been doing, and which hopefully will be “out there” soon.
I met Former Main Squeeze at the 7th annual Poly Living Conference, where I also met 3 others whom I developed burgeoning long-distance relationships with. Main Squeeze was the one that lasted for a couple of years. By the way, I recently submitted a workshop proposal to the 10th Anniversary Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, February 2015. And I received an email this week that it was accepted! I will be presenting my workshop Soulmate Attraction for the Rest of Us: Dating & Relationships for the Poly, Recovering, Survivor & Tantric, which I presented at SisterSpace Weekend in Darlington, MD this past September. I am beyond thrilled about this, because I’ve been writing and living this stuff for years. Most recently, I’ve had articles about this published by Wisdom Magazine’s online edition. Related link: http://tinyurl.com/CXWisdom. I met my first serious relationship (with a woman) at a gig at Borders Book Shop. Something told me to mention that I was Haitian in my bio, and sure enough, she who had lived and worked as a nun for two years in Haiti, she who spoke Kreyol better than I did (although I did have the accent), came to see what was up. I have a “friend” now with whom I speak regularly, and he organized one of the most recent concerts I’ve done. Two of my most significant past lovers I met as a writer. One I “picked up” with a CD of my music. He later attended my Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series, and being a writer himself, became interested in my work and we soon hooked up and maintained a connection and communication that remains to this day. He, and another writer/lover, attended my play “Sex for Survivors” (which co-starred spiritual performer O, vocalist/composer/cellist Monica McIntyre, and poet Samantha Barrow). I met the man who would deflower me through my drummer at the time. They were best friends. And there are more.
I can’t see how, the more into my work I get, that I can’t meet people who pique my interest in the world of romance and high quality bootknockery. As the past has shown, it’s simple math and must happen thusment.
I’m making time to write. This makes me happy.
I had a transitional dinner tonight, 30 minutes after 26 ounces of green smoothie.
In the raw world, transitional means cooked food on the way to being fully raw vegan. In my world, it means transitioning from this to better and better. Enjoying what you have now and working to make it better next time. So, tonight I had steamed yams, collards, and lightly onion-sauteed mushrooms, with frosted mini wheats cereal with soymilk and molasses for dessert. All of this is rich in vitamins, minerals, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B6. Very little fat – only oil for sauteeing and cold-pressed coconut oil in the yams. The best things about this meal were that they were shared (eating with others is one of the most healing things we can do), by someone with similar health issues as I do, and the fiber, water, and fat in them curbed my urge to eat something less healthy.
I’m not happy that the job applications I had on my things to do list today didn’t get done. But I’m happy that I set my alarm to wake up for a task I’d promised to help out with today, and that I also set the alarm to watch Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (very important!), and that I’m writing this.
I’ve been thinking about writing every single day. Every single day I think about writing, and I write on the train and bus, in notebooks, and I write outlines and mini chapters, and poems and I dream. I want so much time in front of the computer.
I want to write letters to my friends (the ones who I either was lovers with or may become lovers with, or maybe neither of those things but who are my friends – and by the way I’m recalling something I read once about Alice Walker who apparently had similar theories about friends and making the love with them), etc…
I don’t even have a desk now. What has become of my life? This is why I’m so grateful to be writing on “Life Skills” issues. As a multi-healing artist, it is a tremendous gift to have art as a outlet for the challenges we all go through. The only difference between me and some other biplar depressed chyk with a lifelong eating disorder and who also experienced child sexual abuse and is a writer and artist is that I get to use this stuff to help myself and hopefully help others heal, too.
How will I get myself out of this? We shall see.
Meanwhile, thanks for being here.
This is what I listened to while writing this:
Firestarter (Tease) http://youtu.be/sTBfI7Dpf-0
Let Me Be the One (Expose) http://tny.gs/11rvCEd
Toujou Remen’w (Shedly Abraham remix of Wham!’s Careless Whisper) http://youtu.be/QYr0xewkkt4
(Per serving) Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal: 0 mgs sodium, 200 mgs potassium
8th Continent Vanilla Soymilk: 85 mgs sodium, 460 mgs potassium
Wholesome brand organic molasses: 0 mgs sodium, 730 mgs potassium
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the problems of the day or your entire life problem(s):
a) Take a deep breath. Keep breathing deeply. Close your eyes. Smile. Breathe again.
b) Call upon the higher forces of the universe to support you.
c) Believe you can move forward.
d) Release the need to know how the problem(s) will be solved.
e) Take action. No matter how small, step forward.
f) Ask for help. Talk to a friend. Contact a professional. Build a support team. You are worthy.
g) Release all guilt or shame for seeking assistance. Remember, the most powerful people ask for the most help, and only people with high self-esteem ask for help without feeling guilty about it. You can be one of those people!
[Pics of Cassendre Xavier taken at the Lansdowne Folk Club, October 23, 2014, by Anne Burghard of Germany.]
Make yourself a beautiful day!
(aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
“renaissance negresse & ARTrepreneur”
Visit Cassendre’s Amazon song singles page: http://amzn.to/1xrklOW
(c) Copyright 2014 by Cassendre Xavier. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint parts or all of this article, for free, non-commercial use only, provided full author credit plus official website URL are included as follows: Diary of a renaissance negresse, by Cassendre Xavier http://cassendrexavier.com.