Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Advice for Creatives

I'm a writer, consultant and sometimes entrepreneur who knows a little something about something... This isn't everything I know [you'd have to pay me to get access to that], but it's certainly enough. Advice for creatives of most types! Here you go:

  • Write all the time - little by little or in big chunks. Be consistent.
  • When that light bulb idea or a wave of inspiration hits you - stop whatever you're doing and jot it down [or at least jot down the gist], or else you'll lose it. Trust me.
  • Give a rough draft a day to breathe - then edit.
  • Start little by little - flesh out one scene or concept at a time.
  • You don't need everything perfectly outlined, figured out or researched before you start. Just begin, and fill in all the gaps later.
  • Your hair, skin, nails and teeth should always be on point. If you're broke, there's ways around expensive spa treatments. A once-a-week deep conditioning treatment for your hair, a face mask for your skin type, a nail strengthening polish and whitening strips can all be found at the drugstore.
  • Have a portfolio with a variety of looks and concepts shot. You need photos that at least display: your face, your torso and your full body.
  • Show up on time. You are a hanger not the star of the show, and you will lose jobs if you are consistently tardy.
  • Not tall or thin enough? See if you'd be a candidate for niche modeling: hands, feet and petites are some alternative types of modeling work.

  • Master breath control. And don't yell.
  • Develop your own flow - practice until you find a groove that feels right.
  • Find a good engineer - you don't want your tracks to sound like they were mastered by someone hard of hearing.
  • Choose your beats wisely.
  • And if you wanna be taken seriously, be even more stringent with your lyrics/hooks etc.
  • Singers? Follow all of the above plus see a vocal coach. I don't care who you are, this is a must.
  • Designers: Make sure your clothes fit well.
  • Attend trade shows!
  • Hire an accountant! Clothing lines require quite the bit of cash and an accountant will help you figure out exactly what costs and potential profits and losses will be.
  • Network network network. Clothing lines may have to send out free swag to get their brands known, and getting a celeb or well-known name to endorse your clothing couldn't hurt!
  • Make things that people actually want to wear.
  • Stylists: When putting together a shoot, try to tell a story with the items at hand.
  • Research your client!!! And this goes for both stylists and designers. It's important to cater to them and what they would wear or would like to wear.

Tips for all: 
  • Choose your agents/managers wisely. Familiarity does not equal qualified for the job. Leave your homeboys and homegirls out of your business dealings unless they are actually qualified!
  • Sometimes you don't get a second chance, so seize opportunities when they are presented.
  • Be on your A-Game as often as you can be or at the very minimum, remain professional around the people who matter.
  • Remember: Deals and collaborations are not official until the ink is dry on the paperwork.
  • Speaking of paperwork, get everything in writing, even if money hasn't changed hands yet.
  • Always read the fine print.
  • Find someone with excellent taste to review and critique your work [for example, me].
  • Curate your crew. You don't want snakes in the room when opportunity knocks.
  • Use your network, trade favors, learn from others who have already done the work.
  • If you can't figure out where to start, start anywhere! You will figure it out as you go. Google and getting in touch with industry veterans may be a huge help to you.

The Trifecta

Read about the three dynamically different women who have impressed and influenced me recently, which is not an easy feat!

Even though Dr. Cathy's hair is sadly stuck in 1992, she did the damn thing. This 14 minute video is called "How to re-program your subconscious mind to get what you want", and I immediately decided to take a look. There could not be a more attention-grabbing title for someone like me - someone who lives largely in her own head [and is finally realizing and addressing that!] I consistently miss things that are right under my nose, I forget entire interactions with people as well as entire situations and I'm a big-picture thinker to a fault - I'm always thinking of the future, the end goal, the destination, while missing all the little details on the journey. So needless to say, this video was a game-changer for me. By minute five, my mouth had fallen open and I sunk into the deep zone watching her speak. Shit was crazy. It was the first time someone explained that 1] you can combat those pessimistic little voices in your head and 2] here are clear, logical steps on how to do that. Make a promise to work things out with your subconscious. I can do that?! Now hopefully she'll answer my email about a one-on-one session because a sister needs a boost.

*     *     *

[Amy Sacco]
I'd learned about Amy Sacco before I moved to NYC, just around the time I was getting into Sex and The City and eagerly devouring all there was to know about the town. I remember reading “The Short, Drunken Life of Club Row” which attempted to paint Amy as the genesis of what would turn out to be toil and trouble in West Chelsea. What I gleaned from it instead was that she was an ingenious trendsetter, a cool and collected hostess who knew more than a little something about how to efficiently and successfully run an after-hours establishment. She was the queen bee in a crowd full of gnats, and all of the other boys trying to play her game knew it. She moved to New York City after college at the age of 22, and worked at various clubs and restaurants before striking out on her own at the age of 30 with Lot 61; a venue that offered 61 types of martinis and catered to those in the art, fashion and nightlife worlds. Three years later, she opened Bungalow 8 which enjoyed an 8 year reign before closing and reopening as No. 8 in the Spring of 2012. Her story, tenacity and enviable international endeavors inspired me to get back into the hospitality industry, curious about what would happen if I decided to take a career in nightlife seriously.

[No. 8]

*     *     *

I am really loving Azealia Banks right now. She's like a house/hip-hop Lady Gaga: smart, NYC born and bred, young, talented and refuses to take anyone's shit. I never thought I'd warm up to her after hearng '212' and being turned off by the line “I guess that cunt getting eaten." Why? She looked like she was 16, and I worried she was another Tyler the Creator type, another kid who got a kick out of saying incendiary meaningless shit just to get a rise out of people. But despite that, I noticed something else in the video for '212': her beaming confidence and the fact that she didn't seem afraid to look stupid [that's important when you're dream chasing]. I thought her singing on 'Liquorice' was really pretty and the video for 'Van Vogue' was neat. But my favorite song of hers is '1991', because it has a neat Crystal Waters sound to it and it makes me wanna boogie. Her lyrics are quick, very provocative and show you exactly where she's at in her young life.
What sold me though were her interviews, and the way she described her feelings about New York: “Fuck all y'all. New York is full of mad haters.” [I love New York and it will always be home, but it's hard to totally love a place when you've had a lot of tumultuous things happen to you here – that's where she and I relate. This used to be a place of creativity and expression, now people hate on you when you're doing your thing because everyone else is so fucking desperate to get on. But I digress.] Despite her tiffs with various industry veterans and newcomers, I believe she's dismissive of the appropriate bullshit and properly concerned with the right things [the quality of her upcoming record: Broke with Expensive Taste]. “Little bam no fool/Intuition is G”, may Banks and her intuition have a long and illustrious career!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Ultimate Checklist for the Love of my Life

This post was written back in mid-June and was inspired by Alexi's very own list. I find her to be a little tart, but I give her points for always baring her soul and being refreshingly open, which counts for a lot these days. I've done various versions of this but have never described my ideal guy in real time. This thing is extensive and detailed, but that's pretty much the point. I encourage everyone to write one!

[EDIT: About a month after writing this and tucking it away in my drafts folder, I thought I met the guy I described here. Nope! It was a fluke. But worry not, as I met the true love of my life a week and a half after dumping the aforementioned poseur. Yep. Call this manifesting at its finest!]

Fit for a lady.

My ultimate checklist for the future love of my life:
  • We complement each other, and make each other better.
  • He respects and supports my career, if he's excited about it that's a plus.
  • He laughs at my jokes. We have a similar sense of humor.
  • He is not a flirt.
  • He is self aware, grounded and realistic.
  • He carries himself well in public, and is pleasant and courteous to strangers.
  • We have a deep and intense intimate relationship that we engage in often and that satisfies me [I'm blushing!!!]
  • He’s successful and loves his career, and if he doesn't, he's working actively to change that.
  • We are the greatest of friends.
  • I can talk to him about anything, but more importantly, he understands my point of view and where I’m coming from, and if he doesn't initially get me, he tries.
  • We have the same or similar point of view on the important things: daily life, future goals, kids, how often we should have sex, how much time we should spend together, how much personal space we both need.
  • He isn't hairy. He's well groomed.
  • He respects and values my input.
  • He takes part in our life: planning dates, furnishing the house, planning the wedding, organizing schedules.
  • He’s taller than me.
  • He can drive, likes to drive and is a good driver.
  • He makes me feel wanted and needed.
  • He stays active or is fit. He is not bothered by the fact that I'm not outdoorsy or all that active.
  • He isn't afraid to make the first move.
  • He has a thing for skinny, hazel-eyed, kind, talented and whip-smart curly-haired brunettes.
  • He listens to or at least appreciates the music I like to listen to.
  • He has great style, when we walk into a room, we look great together.
  • He has an interest in doing lots of different activities together: long walks around the city, going to museums, dining out, attending parties/events, traveling to exotic new locales, low key nights at home, etc.
  • I feel safe with him sexually, physically and emotionally.
  • He gives me massages.
  • I can bounce creative or business ideas off him and get useful feedback.
  • He’s a man of his word. I can count on him to do what he says.
  • He can dance or at least has rhythm.
  • He is rational, logical and even-tempered.
  • He appreciates basketball, plays the sport, and is good at it.
  • He was with me shooting in the gym [paying attention?]
  • He is considered attractive by the general public and by me.
  • He has a clean record.
  • He makes grown man money.
  • He is older than me, but not by more than 10 years.
  • He is a soft and passionate kisser.
  • He is on the slim side but fit/muscular and larger than me in weight and mass.
  • He has no pets, kids or dependents. But if he does have kids, he takes the utmost care of them in ALL ways.
  • He is generous, affectionate and spoils me.
  • He treats me like a goddess.
  • He appreciates that I treat him like a King.
  • He is sexy.
  • He respects me, values me, cherishes me and adores me.
  • Being faithful and monogamous comes natural to him.
  • Our time spent together is fun, up-building and effortless.
  • He's not afraid to confront me or address the tension. He doesn't run away from problems.
  • He barely drinks or doesn’t drink, is a non-smoker, and is drug and addiction free.
  • He is confident in his looks and his abilities and in our union.
  • He is very talented in at least one thing. It can be anything: language, love-making, music, sports, business.
  • He’s intelligent enough to teach me a few things.
  • He believes in bettering himself in all ways and is open to new life experiences.
  • He treats people with respect.
  • He listens intently.
  • We never compete, he knows that we are in this together. He doesn't see me as a threat in any way.
  • He gives me butterflies.
  • He likes to look at me.
  • He likes to touch me or hold me.
  • He nurtures and respects my femininity and appreciates that I do the same for his masculinity.
  • He has a healthy inner circle.
  • He likes my writing and likes to read it.
  • He supports my hobbies and talents.
  • He has a nice voice [smooth, low, clear] and is well-spoken.
  • He is sophisticated.
  • He prefers a natural look on a woman.
  • He has an easygoing temperament.
  • He doesn't curse or use words like “nigga” a lot.
  • He speaks another language besides English.
  • He always keeps his hair cut and he smells good.
  • He communicates well with me, tells me when I'm being adorable and when I'm being intolerable.
  • He is a good cook [yes!]
  • He's clean, it's a plus if he is also organized.
  • He's tan or dark skinned with dark eyes and hair.
  • He has minimal tattoos and piercings.
  • He has pride in his background and culture.
  • He believes in good health and practices it, but is not extreme.
  • He is not religious, and if he is, he doesn't mind that I'm not.
  • He's generally a positive “can do” type of person.
  • He handles adult problems with grace and aplomb.
  • He is patient and does not get frazzled easily.
  • He does not devalue or dismiss my culture as a Dominican and American woman.
  • He's thoughtful and does nice things for me.
  • He’s a gentleman of course [nothing less for a lady!]: This means he opens doors, he says please and thank you, he doesn't shovel food into his mouth at a nice restaurant, he excuses himself, he walks on the street side of the sidewalk and he offers to carry my heavy items.
  • He has a desire to be a husband one day.
  • He lives in NYC or is willing to move here to be closer to me!
  • He’s a go-getter.
  • He never calls me names, and never intentionally hurts my feelings.
  • He’s financially savvy, and if he isn't, he is taking steps to get there.
  • He is stable: home, relationships, career, moods, personality.
  • He has great taste: it's helpful if he can introduce me to new things and give feedback on my outfits.
  • He is a man of true integrity.
  • He is independent.
  • He knows how to keep that *spark* going.
  • He knows what he has and never lets me forget it.
...And I think that's it!

The case for not settling

[This is a piece I penned back in mid July. Enjoy.] 

Cool guys?

Ever since I can remember, I've always been attracted to the “cool guy”. The guy in High School with the intoxicating belly laugh, his shirt pressed just so, hints of his cologne trailing in the air behind him: a smell reminiscent of maturity, budding sexuality and all the other things I was far too innocent to comprehend.

Since then I've learned that the men I date think themselves to be superheroes, often opting to present themselves in a near flawless light - as if I won't see what they're hiding in the shadows once the persona they put forth steps aside. I've learned that I need an introspective, stable guy better known as the "quiet confident” type - the guy in the back of the club chillin while his friends act a fool. A man who can be the man but can also nurture and protect my femininity. 

I've learned not to speak so soon. I've learned that I'm not a game player, and that although I believe in love, I'm not a hopeless romantic. Have I had terrible luck with men? I'm not sure. I've never been beaten up or cheated on - but I'd never been with someone I was proud of - never been in a union that I felt totally secure in. I've instead been with liars, emotionally stunted overgrown boys, psychotic stalkers, slackers, and just plain ol poor fits... And throughout most of these interactions, I've been taken for granted and demeaned and crushed by disappointment.

I've learned that my standards are my standards for a reason and that no one is ever worth breaking them. I learned this by, unbeknownst to me at the time, settling for years. For some reason, [probably due to my parents hot and cold responses to my affection] I put a lot of stock in men who openly desired and pursued me - mostly because I never wanted to be somewhere I wasn't wanted. So I let myself fall into courtships with guys who showed me that they wanted me - and for those desperate moments in which I so craved to be loved, those men were good enough.

I had always believed in never settling - but in the past I always had, in every single instance, rationalizing the uneasy feeling in my gut with sentiments like “Well, nobody's perfect”, trying to breathe life into things that were half dead, mostly because I wanted to believe they had to potential to be grand relationships, glorious tales of love. Deep down I knew that I would have rather stayed single than settle. But in many instances, I questioned myself, wondering if perhaps my preferences were too harsh, my standards too exclusive. My reasons for settling were due to a pessimistic concern that popped up somewhere in my thoughts – ever so tiny and shadowy but still present - a worry that what I wanted and what I was waiting for didn't exist. I'm not sure if that seed was planted by a lack of faith, or the acceptance of my bleak dating reality as the only truth. A belief that the only things possible were those within the limited scope of what I could see before me. 

And so amidst the murky haze of those musings, I made myself an available option. They would grab my hand and I would obediently follow - until a few weeks later when the uneasy feeling in my gut got too strong to bear, and things inevitably failed. I would abruptly abandon them as if just waking from the fog, and would soon after shake off the disgust and shame I felt for getting involved with them to begin with.

Every single time I've betrayed my standards, I've suffered greatly for it. That's why I don't let weak emotions lead the way anymore. I only trust strong logic. And logic is telling me that the eager little guy contacting me at 4 in the morning promising fun will only bring me everything but.

The Potential Problem

“You have so much potential!”
That's one of the worst things you could say to me. I am hard enough on myself, the last thing I need is the pressure from outsiders and bystanders, nudging me in the direction they think I should go. With all due respect, mind your fucking business.

People's unsolicited opinions is one reason why "success" doesn't appeal to me much anymore. I don't want to be accessible to the masses, I don't want their attention or their judgments. I want to be well known for good work by the people who matter, and that's it.

I remember when I was a teenager, my best friend's Dad adored me and always thought very highly of me, one day even going so far as to say he had put me on a pedestal. I'm not sure why, as I was just being myself. It made me aware of my behavior in a way that I never had been before.

Another time, I was hanging out at an old friend's house in the Bronx. In walks this Puerto Rican and Italian guy from the Lower East Side [my first thought was: what the hell are you doing all the way up here? My second thought was: You're gorgeous]. He saw me, and zoned in on me in a way that I never fully understood. [People have always seemed to have a strong reaction to me. I don't know what the fuck it is. It's either immediate immense lust or immense loathing.] It was like he and I were the only ones in the room. He came over, sat next to me, pulled out a notebook and drew something for me. And then handed me the notebook and told me to write down my phone number. I was like, 16 years old and naïve as all hell so I just did as I was told. Throughout our friendship, he seemed enamored with my potential and reminded me of my brilliance and my “uniqueness” at every opportunity. At times it was flattering, at times it was befuddling, but the majority of the time, it was just overwhelming.

And this from a 7 year old letter I came across, written by another old friend: "I am most happy about the appreciation and respect... [I have] for gifts such as yours. I get to tell you how wonderfully you were made to be able to do what you can do."

And it just continues, well into adulthood.

"Brilliant. Gifted. Impressive. Clever. Talented. Lucky. Skilled. Amazing. Witty. Genius. Beautiful. Unique. Full of Light. Stylish. Great."

I wasn't sure where people wanted me to go with this. I knew that something was expected of me but I didn't know what.

[That brings to mind another question: Do people actually think I'm brilliant, or is it because the triple threat of being a woman, Latina and attractive has caused them to underestimate me? Am I brilliant period or am I brilliant despite?]

It could be worse, I guess. People could expect absolutely nothing from me. But the thing with people thinking you're above average is that they expect you to consistently produce above average fruit. People are always asking what projects I'm working on, what I'm up to, what I'm doing... and they expect to be impressed. Penelope Trunk says that living up to your potential is bullshit, and that there is no should, there is just living your life. That “if we know our goal, and we know our life, and we are working toward it, then we never talk about our shoulds.”

If the world doesn't owe me anything, why am I made to feel as if I owe it something? Why do people throw the word potential at me as if I should adopt subservience under its weight? As if it should scare me into submission, acquiescing to the whims of my future “greatness”. The mistake in that thinking is the assumption that I am not great now. People talk about defining success on your own terms but it is universally known as achieving one of two things: loads of wealth or loads of fame. Neither of which I truly want for more than one curious second. Both of those things bring challenges and responsibilities that I am not equipped to handle. So when people say I have potential, I know that they mean I have the chance of acquiring one or both of the aforementioned tenets of success. And here's where the whole thing falls apart: I don't want any of that shit.

I don't want to impress you, or spend my days clambering to live up to some imagined ideal. As brilliant and gifted as I apparently am, I just want to be.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I'm back baby!!!

Due to some technical difficulties I found myself locked out of my blog for the past month. I definitely felt a great bit of sadness about it, but this morning, I found some miraculous loophole, and was able to log back in. Fucking yeah!!! I couldn't believe my luck.

I still did a ton of writing while I was away... and a lot of it was more personal and exploratory than I'm used to. I realized that a lot my writing has always been very vague and someone else pointed out that it focuses a lot on the past and the future, but never the present. I'm an open book, but it's still difficult to put all your shit out there, mostly because I have people watching my every move and I'd rather they not.

I can't believe it's already September. This year flew by, probably because I spent most of it sitting in my bed, in front of a computer screen – a position that had it not been for having to pay bills, I would have continued enjoying.

I've made some changes... I let go all the people I felt “funny” about... including the man who inspired me to make such a change [which is a whole nother bittersweet story that I am still in the middle of "writing" processing]. My number was lost, and I don't plan on getting a new one. I'm in a weird place right now. In between what makes me comfortable and what I want. In between ideal and realistic. I'm trying to figure out what's worth pursuing, because I'll be totally honest with you, nothing seems like it is.

I feel like the happiest people are the ones surrounded by people who love them. Nothing more, nothing less. So maybe I should give the dream talk a rest, and focus on obtaining more of that.