I’m coming in when I feel like, so turn this muhfucka up only if it feels right.
How do you thank the universe for a gift you didn’t want and with which you don’t know what to do?
I’ve been feeling conflicted about writing this, which is why I haven’t done it until now, but it’s pouring out of me and my friends are tired of hearing about it every other day.
On one hand, I am completely stunned by the success of The Read. I think most of that comes from the fact that the show requires almost no effort on our part. We literally just go in the studio and talk to each other the way we always do. I didn’t think that would be entertaining, but I guess that’s part of the reason why Kid Fury is Kid Fury and I’m no one – he comes up with great ideas.
The show took off immediately and my “life” was really flipped upside down overnight. Most of these changes are happening in my digital world, changes I frankly wasn’t prepared to accept. Over the past four months I’ve gained over ten thousand followers on social media networks, appeared on television, and been recognized at work and around the city. All of a sudden I’m getting shit like round-the-clock tweets and tumblr messages and fan mail. Fan mail. Me, the girl who works as an assistant during the day. I still can’t believe that.
We’re blessed enough to have advertisements on the show, which is nothing short of amazing given the fact that 1) most people still don’t really fuck with podcasts like that and 2) we only have fifteen episodes. Suddenly I’m meeting with people who want to see me “succeed” and receiving gifts like professional headphones from Beats By Dre. Every day there’s something new for me to feel Taylor Swift-y about, and I always feel like I’m on the edge of a major shift in my life.
But on the other hand it feels like I’m not. Despite all the many ways my life has changed since the show started, it is still the same in all the ways that really matter to me. My online world is very different now, but virtually nothing has significantly changed in reality. I still go to work every day (still love my job), still hang out with the same friends, and still live in the projects next door to screaming Dominican toddlers. I get recognized fairly often, but not enough to be annoyed by it. In my head I downplay everything that’s going on because if I am being really honest with myself, I don’t want to be disappointed if these dreams I never had end up never coming true. Things are happening quickly, but not so quickly that I can look around and say Yep, I made it. Everyone around me is gassing me up, so my natural instinct is to turn myself down.
I didn’t move to New York to “make it”. I moved primarily because I wanted to escape my horrible work situation in OKC. I found an “okay” job just a couple of weeks after moving, but I found the job a million girls would kill for eight months ago. Since then I’ve been so happy that I could have never dreamed of asking God for anything else, and unless you count a brief stint during my adolescence when I was convinced that I wanted to be Janet Jackson, I’ve never wanted to be famous.
And I still don’t. Fame is trash. But…
What if it’s possible to do something like this show, something I love and that is nearly effortless for me, and become “somebody”? What if it all does go somewhere? What if this time next year I’m in a beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side writing about how I never thought it could happen to me?
But if you look at it like that, then that’s what I’m doing right now. That’s what my life has been since I moved here last June.
And so this is the way my brain goes, in that same “what if/what if not” circle, over and over until I grow tired of myself. I spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve convinced myself that any day now people are going to stop listening to the show and the emails will run dry, that the tweets will disappear and the tumblr messages will stop pouring in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love doing this show. But because I never wanted to be in the “industry”, all the annoyances that come along with it bother me and there’s no emotional buffer of “this is the sacrifice you have to make” to soften the blows. I didn’t want to “make it” in the first place. As a black woman without representation or experience in this field, I’m terrified of someone taking advantage of me.
So I take on a more aggressive attitude than I’d like when it comes to business dealings because I want people to understand that I don’t give enough of a fuck about this entertainment shit to just agree to any old damn thing. I love what I do, but not enough to change who I am. I’m still morally opposed to doing reality TV and I’m not going to pretend to love a company or brand simply because they’re interested in paying me.
Nor do I want to take a great project like The Read, sign with the wrong people, and see it go in a horrible direction. So many young black artists find a cult audience with their indie projects only to turn into utter shit once sponsors and mainstream attention enter the picture. I’d rather not do the show anymore at all than have that happen.
I don’t have a manager. I doubt that I need one. I REALLY don’t know if I want one. Sometimes it feels inevitable, and then I tell myself that it isn’t. And that same damn circle continues…