Monday, December 26, 2005

a charleston highlight

if i could, i would move to walterboro to be with my uncle hiram for a long time, so he could show me how to hunt and fish and shoot things. somewhere inside of me is a true buffalo gal, a sharpshooter and a cowhand, a real frontierswoman from the 1800s. a runaway slave, probably. i would make my way to oklahoma and disappear into the black cherokee nation and become a bulldogger, like the black cherokee bill pickett. well. he invented bulldogging and he was the only one that had the balls to do it at the time, so i don't suppose i could be a girl and pull that one off...

my uncle would teach me how to skin everything, too. all i saw this time around was a bunch of squirrels. he's holding the last one of twenty. and yeah, i made a little video of him doing it. it was very martha stewart, the way he explained himself. if i stayed one more day, i would have been able to watch him skin a deer. (rats!)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

breakfast in charleston, south carolina

breakfast in charleston, sc
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
this is breakfast, the day before christmas at my grandmother's house in charleston heights. dee-lish. i hardly ever eat like this. i can't. the best i can do in the morning is usually a little fruit and some tea -- but if everyone watched me eat that palsied feast, they would have thought that there was something genuinely wrong with me. they already think i'm malnourished because i'm a size 6 -- believe it or not. i ate this to deflect suspicion and keep the peace.

i have no idea how i polished it off, but i did. and believe it or not, i didn't eat for the rest of the day. my baby brother, on the other hand, polished off two or three plates a whole lot bigger than this and later on, hit mickey dees hard on the drive back to ATL. he could always hurt a plate of food, even when he was a tot. sometimes, though, it hurts my stomach to watch him eat.

how am i going to make it back to nyc without gaining a ton of weight?

Friday, December 23, 2005

he's really home comment...
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
i didn't believe it until i actually saw him. he looked like a tree, so big and tall and strong. it seemed so impossible that he would make it back to us, after watching and reading about all the crap that's going on with the war and the military in the middle east. so many others haven't. i don't know if he'll make it back home again. then again, i don't know if any of us will. tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. life is a terminal illness. we have to pack in as much serious fun as we possibly can.

so this is my christmas present: to goof off with him like there's no tomorrow. to take lots of pictures. to look over his music set up on his compaq laptop and hear his ideas and be supportive and encouraging. to listen to the sound of his nasally voice booming through the house, laughing and arguing and thinking out loud. to not complain too much when he won't stop playing bread and america and anne murray and don henley and billy joel as we drive through the city, horsing around. to dance with him at every pit stop on our road trip to charleston, sc. to not mind at all when he makes fun of my lousy crunk dancing. to watch him down a heineken over lunch with me and little debbie and think, my God -- i changed his diapers...

it's going to be a good christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

getting there is half the fun!

so i'm in atlanta with my parents at this very moment. nothing like hanging out with the old folks at home. getting here was something of a blur. i think i slid in sideways.

after staying up all night long doing things like making bank deposits and cleaning house, i called harlem car service to take me to la guardia. absolutely everyone else i called was overbooked, thanks to the strike, including everyone's old reliable -- supershuttle. the harlem car service was on time and remarkably efficient. a tall dark slender african man was at my door before 8am, calling me "ma-ma" and taking my bags to his trunk with so much snap and energy, it forced me to attention. i actually stayed awake for most of the ride. in spite of the snags we hit with the cops and the traffic and the barricades, he got me there within 30 minutes. remarkable.

la guardia was a mob scene. the lines were endless. they snaked back around onto each other so thoroughly that you didn't really know which line you were in until it was too late. oh, the humanity. the screaming babies and bratty children and the fat people and the blue-haired old ladies being carted around. and the whiny teenagers. everyone, so badly dressed, clutching their small dogs and sitting on their luggage, eating greasy things.

i somehow mentally braced myself for all this. one thing is for certain: if i get to be a pop star with money, the first thing i'm getting is my own plane.

my plane ticket was a buddy pass, a christmas gift from my sister-in-law, whose mother worked for an airline. this meant that i would be flying stand by -- a crap shoot on any day but this was special. all the direct flights to atlanta were oversold. i took a cue from a progressive looking brother who flat-out lied his way through the first class line baggage check to get to the gate. i could tell that he was going to atlanta. in my "which-line-am-i-in" confusion, i walked up to him and asked him if he was first class. he said yes without hesitation. undaunted, i went back in line and waited for another opening. when i finally got past security and reached the gate, he was standing there like a one-man welcoming party. and of course, he talked to me like he'd known me my whole life.

"you made it," he blurted, smiling. surprise, surprise -- he wasn't first class. he told the baggage check person that his wife just stepped through security and he was trying to catch up with her, so they wouldn't be separated. "my future wife," he explained jovially. "we just haven't met yet." after i listened to him explain how he stretches the truth to get what he wants, he told me that i should reroute my ticket into greensboro, sc or greenville, nc. plenty of seats to atlanta from there. he knew. he had already checked and was on his way to south carolina. ten minutes later, i'm in a plane i had to walk outside to get to, headed for the runway, ready for take-off to north carolina -- only to be derailed for an hour while they taxied us to the sidelines and de-iced the wings. i spent the better part of an hour strapped to my chair on a crampy little plane stuck next to a pimply sleepy shaggy-haired goateed hippy-looking co-ed who couldn't remember any of what happened to him the night before after going to see "spam-a-lot" with a bunch of friends on broadway. and yes, he looked a hot mess.

i made my connection, made it to atlanta, made it to the baggage claim. lo and behold, they lose my vanity case. the one with all my beauty products in it. my perricone stuff. my z. bigetti moisturizer. my nars mud mask. my brand new oversized bottle of freakin' kiehl's creme de corp body lotion. i checked that case as an afterthought. lesson learned. frankly, i'd rather lose my clothes. they'd be a lot cheaper to replace.

my mother and my brother come to get me. on the way home, she pulls over to the side of the road and buys a huge bag of pecans from someone that's also selling chopped firewood from the back of his pickup truck. even though i know that i won't be truly comfortable until i exfoliate and moisturize, this makes me very happy.

i get my vanity case the next day. merry christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

strike one

when i woke up and realized that the mta strike was really happening, i was all set to walk to my freelance grind in union square because hey -- you do what you have to do. i figured it'd be a good morning workout for me. i left the house yesterday as warm as toast and ready for a long haul but as soon as i crossed 135th at riverside drive, a four door car pulled over and offered me a ride all the way there. the cops wouldn't let the three ladies inside get on the west side highway unless one more person got in the car. they had been driving around for the better part of a half hour, looking for someone that was headed in their direction. they literally begged me to get in. they didn't have to for long. it was sunny and blue sky bright, which was profoundly annoying because the cold had a funny way of knocking you down when you least expected it. the next thing you know, you can't feel your feet. that kind of thing. i'm a southerner, i can't take the cold. there's no shifting gears to embrace that. i just get as much wool as possible and keep on moving.

after working a 10 hour day, the powers that be bought me dinner and got me a car ride home, which was glorious. now it's 3am and i've got to get to la guardia to catch a flight to ATL by 10am. i have no idea how i'll pull it off. i'll probably walk to the corner with my luggage and pray very hard for a cab. and yes, i called three car services and the infamous super shuttle and they're all booked through tomorrow afternoon.

i also have to clean my room (because it feels so good to come home to a well-organized living space), make a deposit at the bank and oh yeah -- PACK. my little suitcase is on my bed, looking at me like an eager puppy: where are we going now? no matter how cold it is, i'm just going to wear the same thing everyday and loaf around the house like a spazz with a mudpack on my face, cooking and cleaning and playing the piano in the living room. i would like to catch up with all the movies that are out now -- they're so much cheaper down there -- and Debbie and i have to hang out. i'm even remembering to pack german kindereggs for her girls.

and i'm going to fast. a detox fast. during kwaanza. and yes, i'm totally serious.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Merry Christmas...

this is me and j. walter hawkes, relaxing at jc and shell's holiday party last night. (photo taken by his wife leslie.) i think it's probably the only one i've been to all season. maybe that's why it doesn't really feel like christmas. actually, it would feel a lot more like christmas if i had kids that were asking me about santa claus every five minutes.

i'm so "bah humbug" i didn't even put a wreath on my front door. by the time i get back from ATL with all the season's cheer i can stomach, it'll be time to take all that stuff down. and everyone's christmas trees will be turned to mulch.

still and all, it was nice to have some grog, stand near a christmas tree and touch base with people i haven't seen in awhile. and believe it or not, i actually reconnected with some folks and came up with a few interesting ideas for my upcoming projects. funny how all that stuff works itself out, somehow. funny to watch it work itself out while i'm in the thick of it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

singing at the slipper room's burlesque night...

queen esther
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
oh the fun i had, goofing off with seamus and liberty and ralph until the wee hours of the morning. we even stuck around for the burlesque show, which was tremendous. i always have a good time there. it's never been a disappointment. yipes, those gals definitely know how to work a crowd.

The Good Lord only knows what i was really thinking at this particular moment. probably sizing up a heckler, i imagine. fun stuff.

it's moments like these that remind me: i'm living my dream -- to live in new york city and to be a vocalist, a songwriter, a creative artist. there's so much stuff going on that i have to be told by a photo that i have a great life and that although it doesn't seem like it most of the time, i'm accomplishing a lot. all of a sudden, everything's fine -- especially when it's not.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

wonder woman wonderment

i've made enough internal readjustments in my time here to have some idea as to what to expect with any situation. what i can't anticipate, i can dodge until i get my wits about me and scheme my way around it. the problem is, the stress of the day-to-day bump and grind wears me out without my realizing it. all of a sudden, i wake up feeling like i've run out of gasoline.

i guess i could say what everyone else says -- "i'm sick of this crap" -- but it's really a matter of perspective. dealing with all of this nyc stress as a non-new yorker has forced me to grow muscles and backbone and stamina that i didn't think i had -- for better or for worse. i don't suppose i'll ever lose any of my superhero powers. it's official. i'm wonder woman.

my body seems to know what to do when i reach my limit. before i know what's going on, something in me has me staying home and drifting around in my bunny slippers sipping mexican hot chocolate and perfecting my oxtail soup recipie. now that the first snow has hit, i definitely don't want to leave the house. okay, okay, i go to church. and certain exhibits. and i make myself go to the gym every morning. i can't let my body turn to mush -- i'd be miserable if that happens. besides, i'm too cheap to buy larger-sized clothes. i'd rather lose weight and fit back into what i've already got. but i digress...

i keep shifting everything around on my netflix list absentmindedly so i'll be in the mood to watch whatever lands in my mailbox. i even know when the mailman is going to show up in the afternoon, so i won't have to go outside to send them back. technically, there's no reason for me to leave my place, unless the phone rings and it's money calling. i'm relieved that i've found a sensible way to deal with stress. thank God. it's a good life.

here's the problem: i'm a little manic about having something to show for my time when my days are this free and uncomplicated. so far, i've come up with a lot of song ideas, fleshed out quite a few, cherry-picked my way through a batch of relatively obscure standards for a cd project and * drumroll, please * kept off the 20 lbs. that i lost last summer. here's the kicker: my piano teacher says i'm making progress. so far, so good.

i figure if i'm going to end the year on a high note (no pun intended), i've got to do three things:
  1. do a cleansing/detox fast
  2. record 7 original country blues songs and 7 jazz standards
  3. organize all my reciepts
there's plenty of really great news that's blooming all over the rest of my life but all i can think about is that my baby brother is coming home from iraq for more than three weeks. wow.